How to Plan a Guilin Tour
Guilin is an incredibly beautiful city in the northeast of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in South China. With “the finest scenery under heaven”, Guilin is one of the best-known tourist destinations in China, ranked as top four destinations to go after Beijing, Xian and Shanghai.
When people speak of Guilin, it really means Guilin - Yangshuo / Guilin - Yangshuo - Longsheng as a whole. Whether it’s your first time or your next time in Guilin, there’s so much to see and do that you might want to stay here for 3~5 days! From unbelievable Karst landscape to amazing rice terraces, relaxing Li River cruising to enjoyable walking/cycling and more, you’ve got a lot of inspiration here!
But, how to plan your Guilin tour in 2023 & 2024? We’ve listed some essential travel information, like best to go, how to get to and travel within Guilin, top places to visit, inspiring activities to experience, where to stay in different places...for your amazing Guilin trip. Hope this may help you make a more reasonable, useful and smooth trip plan. Check now!!!
Best Time to Go / When to Go
The latitude longitude coordinates for Guilin are 25°16'54.98"N, 110°17'11"E, thus Guilin belongs to subtropical monsoon climate with four distinctive seasons and comfortable climate conditions. The annual temperature is around 17.8℃ (64℉). Generally speaking, the best time to visit Guilin is from April to October. Try to avoid Chinese holidays such as the Chinese National Day (the beginning of October) and the Labor’s Day (the beginning of May). Meanwhile, avoid traveling during December - February if you can for the weather tends to be depressingly cold and rainy almost every day with fog that obscures most views.
To have a perfect exploration in Guilin, you should make clear the best time in different places with different sceneries - Guilin downtown area, Yangshuo County as well as Longsheng County. Check specific weather information about each hot destination and you may have a clear idea about when to go in and around Guilin.
- ● Guilin downtown area (altitude: 155 meters): It can be visited all year round.
- ● Yangshuo (altitude: 136 meters): The best time to travel is from April to October.
- ● Longsheng (altitude: 300-1100 meters): The best time to travel is April ~ October.
- For mirror-like irrigated terrace and rice transplanting scene: go mid-April to late June.
- For green terraces: go July to mid-September.
- For golden terraces and harvest scene: go late September to early-November (National Holiday in October will be the harvest time for Jinkeng Rice Terrace).
- For silvery terraces: go late December to early February.
To know more detailed information about Guilin climate and weather, please go and check our Guilin Weather, Seasons & Best Time to Go in 2023.
Golden Longji Rice Terrace in Autumn, Shoot at Nine Gragons and Five Tigers
How to Go to & Travel within Guilin
After deciding your suitable time to go to Guilin, you may still wonder how to reach Guilin - a paradise with many picturesque limestone mountains and formations. You can get to Guilin by air, high speed train (as well as normal train), distance coach, private car and taxi, etc.
Travel to/off Guilin by Air or Train
- ● Flights to / off Guilin: There is one airport called Guilin Liangjiang Airport, about 28km to the city center. Over 100 flights are connecting with Guilin and 76 cities including Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Kunming, Lijiang, Hangzhou, Haikou, Lanzhou and etc, with a few international flights from Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Flights are conveniently connecting Guilin with most of tourist destinations in China that you can feel free to select your tourist destinations before or after your Guilin trip. Learn more about Flights to Guilin >>
- ● Train to / off Guilin: There are altogether three train stations in Guilin, called Guilin Railway Station, Guilin North Railway Station and Guilin West Railway Station.
High speed bullet trains (G trains and D trains) can bring travelers from different regions to Guilin, such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Ku8nming, Changsha and Nanning. To get a deeper understanding about China and its fabulous land and people, and absorb stunning natural scenery, it is highly recommended to take the fast and modern high speed train to Guilin. Learn more about Trains to Guilin >>
Travel within Guilin:
After landing in Guilin downtown area, how to transfer between the top favored destinations, like Li River, Yangshuo, Longji Rice Terrace, etc.? Within this city, convenient distance coaches would escort you among them with great efficiency.
- ● Guilin - Li River (distance: 35 kilometers): Mopanshan dock is the main dock used for taking a Li River cruise. It needs about 50-80 minutes’ driving from Guilin Liangjiang Airport, and about 40-50 minutes’ driving from Guilin city center.
- ● Guilin - Yangshuo (distance: 65 kilometers): Taking a 4-5 hours Li River cruise is the most classic and recommended way to transfer from Guilin City to Yangshuo. Meanwhile, it takes only about 1.5 hours to get to Yangshuo from Guilin by car and about 2 hours when there is some light traffic jams. To know more about transfer about Guilin to Yangshuo, please view our Guilin to Yangshuo & Yangshuo to Guilin Transportation Guide 2019.
- ● Guilin - Longji Rice Terraces (distance: 98kilometers): Longji Rice Terrace is consisted of three main terraced fields - Ping’an Rice Terrace, Jinkeng Rice Terrace and Longji Ancient Zhuang Rice Terrace. At present, only Jinkeng Dazhai Rice Terrace has direct coaches traveling between Longji and Guilin. To visit Ping’an and Longji Ancient Zhuang Rice Terraces first, travelers should take coaches from Guilin to Longsheng County first and then transfer to Longji. The whole bus ride takes around 2~2.5 hours. To know more specific transportation plan between Guilin and Longji Rice Terrace, please go and check Guilin to Longsheng & Longsheng to Guilin Transportation Guide 2019.
If you have more questions about how to travel within Guilin, you can drop us questions at any time you like and our professional travel experts will solve all your problems and help you make a satisfactory transportation plan in Guilin.
Top Destinations to Visit in Guilin
There is a saying “East or West, Guilin Landscape is the Best”. Besides the picturesque Karst landscape and idyllic painting-like countryside scenery, there are more to see and explore - brilliant ethnic minority folk customs and culture hidden among the gorgeous rice paddy fields.
Guilin administers seventeen county-level divisions, including 6 districts, 8 counties, 2 autonomous counties and 1 county-level city. Among them, three parts including Guilin Downtown Area, Yangshuo Town and Longsheng Various Nationalities Autonomous County are worth your time and effort to visit.
Guilin Downtown Area - Transfer Center & Symbol of Guilin
No matter where you come, you should arrive in Guilin downtown area first. This is the transfer center and from here you can head north to Longsheng and transfer south to Yangshuo.
Short on time? Spending about half day exploring this beautiful city center is enough. Visit the hot spots of Guilin and its magical surroundings that include Elephant Trunk Hill (symbol of Guilin and its shape resembles an elephant drinking water through its trunk) and Reed Flute Cave (impressive natural beauty of its stalactite and stalagmite formations), and if you like, enjoy the sparking night view by taking the Two Rivers and Four Lakes cruise.
>> Check more Top Things to Do in Guilin
Yangshuo Town - Heaven for Natural Lovers
Yangshuo is as popular as Guilin, well-known for its karst peaks, rivers, caves and villages, as well as its laid back cafes and bars. Cruising leisurely along Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo is the best way to appreciate karst mountains, winding river and beautiful rural scenery. Slow down your pace and mind to indulge in the visiting no matter which style you choose - walking, hiking, cycling, bamboo rafting or kayaking, you will enjoy yourselves to the fullest. The must-see sites include West Street, Yulong River, Moon Hill and Big Banyan Tree.
>> Check more Top Things to Do in Yangshuo
Longsheng County - Capture the Finest Rice Terrace Scenery
The reason to come to Longsheng is mainly for Longji Rice Terraces. (In English it’s called Dragon’s Back Rice Terraces. They’re also known as Longsheng Rice Terraces.)
The 600+ year-old terraces are still very much in use and feed the local Yao and Zhuang communities. This large area is divided three scenic spots - Ping’an Rice Terrace, Jinkeng Rice Terrace and Longji Ancient Zhuang Rice Terrace. The terraced fields are built along the slope winding from the riverside up to the mountain top, with an altitude rising from 300 meters to 1100 meters. The rice terrace is layer upon layer, like the changing ladder created by nature leading to the blue sky, forming a majestic painting between Heaven and Earth.
No matter when you come, you can take an enjoyable walk through the fields, shoot hundreds of beautiful pictures, as well as have in-depth understanding about the locals - Zhuang and Yao ethnic groups.
>> Know more about Longji Rice Terrace, Hiking & Photography
Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin
Moon Hill in Yangshuo
Longji Rice Terrace in Summer
Inspiring Activities to Do in Guilin
No matter what kind of travelers you are - seeking for leisure pace visiting or adventurous exploration, Guilin will never let you down. There are much to do to meet all your interests and demands. Not all the inspiring activities can be done in one trip. Just feel free to select your likes. Try??!
Activity 1: Cruising along Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo
Reputed as “Hundreds miles of Li River, hundreds miles of art gallery”, Li River flows 83 kilometers from Guilin to Yangshuo. It was selected as one of the world’s top 10 watery wonders by America’s National Geographic magazine. Almost every traveler who come to Guilin will take the 4-hour Li River cruise. These boats departs in the morning from Guilin Mopanshan Pier and arrives at Yangshuo Longtoushan Dock. You won’t miss the marvelous scene of the Nine-Horse Fresco, image on back of the 20 RMB note at the Yellow Cloth Shoal.
Learn more about Li River Cruise - Best Ways from Guilin to Yangshuo
Activity 2: Biking/Cycling in the Idyllic Yangshuo Countryside
Hop on a bicycle and head towards to the Yangshuo countryside with breathtaking karst landscape passing by! The biking distance ranges from 15 kilometers to 30 kilometers, taking around 2~6 hours in total. There are four biking routes to suit different travelers no matter you want classic route or in-depth discovery.
Check detailed Yangshuo Biking Routes & Maps 2023
4 Days Leisure Guilin Tour with Half-day Cycling in Yangshuo >>
Activity 3: Bamboo Rafting on Yulong River & Li River
Taking a bamboo raft is truly a highly recommended way to have a real close-up to the hills and waterscape. Usually, travelers choose to float along Yulong River and Li River. You can enjoy 50-90 minutes’ bamboo rafting on Yulong River and appreciate the comparatively more serene countryside view and authentic lifestyle of local residents. Bamboo rafting brings more fun, joy and excitement on Li River and slow your pace on viewing the well-known Xingping Town, Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Yangdi and other karst mountains. Time ranges from 50 minutes to 2 hours in total.
Check detailed Yangshuo Bamboo Rafting Routes & Maps 2023
Activity 4: Hiking along Yulong River & Longji Rice Terraces
Hiking is regarded as the best way to link yourselves with the local land. Hiking chances are a lot when traveling in Guilin. In Yangshuo countryside, enjoy hiking time along Yulong River. It is a good opportunity to see some old and peaceful villages along the river. The hike usually starts from Yulong Bridge or Jinlong Bridge, following the downstream of the river and ends at Gongnong Bridge. In Longji Rice Terraces, seize the moments to do some light hiking in Ping’an Rice Terrace to “Seven Star around the Moon” and “Nine Dragons and Five Tigers” and do some in-depth hiking to Jinkeng Rice Terrace which is less commercial at present.
4 Days Li River Cruise with Yangshuo Hiking Tour >>
Activity 5: Doing Meaningful Cooking Class
Engage in an authentic cooking class in Yangshuo cooking school and you’ll learn how to make traditional Chinese cuisine on your own hands. The morning class is available from 9:30 to 12:30 and the afternoon class starts from 15:30 to 18:30. The whole class lasts for 3 hours including visiting local market to learn about ingredients and local life, preparing, cooking under the guidance of professional chef. Of course, enjoy your dishes with your family and friends.
Learn more about Yangshuo Cooking Class & Its Cooking School
Activity 6: Watching Amazing Shows at Night
To enrich your nightlife in Guilin, you can kill your time in bar and cafe’, and how about watching a large-scale open-air show on the shores of the Li River with stunning backdrop of mountains and rivers? This enchanting performance is called “Impression Liu Sanjie”, directed by famous Chinese director - Zhang Yimou. It lasts about 1 hour usually performed at 20:00 every night. Just about 1.9 kilometers away from West Street.
Activity 7: Encountering Yao & Zhuang Ethnic Groups
Guangxi and Guilin are home to 12 different ethnic minorities besides the Han Chinese. To deeply encounter with Yao and Zhuang ethnic groups, the first choice is Longji Rice Terraces. Reach Huangluo Yao Village see the Guinness long hair women, with the longest of about 1.7 meters. When hiking among rice paddies, you have the chance to meet Yao and Zhuang local people and they would like to share stories with you. If you like, come to one local resident’s house to learn how to make traditional bamboo rice. Interesting, isn’t it???
Activity 8: Photography
Guilin is the darling paradise for photographers. The subjects are a lot, and you can shoot Karst landscape, Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Yellow Cloth Shoal, buffalos, old villages, old bridges, countryside view, farmland, sea of clouds, mist Li River, sunrise and sunset, ethnic minorities and their villages, rice terraces paddies in four seasons...Don’t worry about the best locations and best time to shoot, just check our Guilin Photography Guide and you can get professional ideas.
6 Days Guilin In-depth Photography Tour >>
You’ve already got so many to do, how about trying more like calligraphy, Tai Chi, rock climbing, kayaking outside?
Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo
Romantic Cycling in Yangshuo Countryside
Li River Bamboo Rafting in Summer
Longji Ancient Zhuang Village Hiking with China Discovery
Attend Cooking Class in Yangshuo
Yangshuo Xianggong Hill Sunrise
Decide your Travel Length & Suggested Route
For most first-time travelers, they put Guilin into their long China tour (such as Beijing Xian Guilin Shanghai tour) and usually arrange 3 days & 2 nights in Guilin to cover all the highlighted attractions. To visit Guilin and Yangshuo, it costs three days and to cover Guilin, Yangshuo and Longji altogether, it takes about four days. Or, you can contact our professional travel consultant to customize your trip based on your time, date and likes.
The 4-day sample itinerary is regarded as the classic route covering Guilin Longji Yangshuo.
Day 1: Guilin Arrival - Longji Rice Terrace, transfer 2.5 hours to Longji Rice Terrace and accommodate in Ping’an Village;
Day 2: Longsheng to Guilin, shoot sunrise and enjoy breathtaking view at the best locations;
Day 3: Guilin - Li River Cruise - Yangshuo, pay visit to Yulong River and West Street after 4-hour Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo;
Day 4: Yangshuo - Guilin Departure, transfer back to Guilin for a sightseeing tour to Elephant Trunk Hill and Reed Flute Cave.
Check details about 4 Days Guilin Highlights Tour (Guilin / Longji / Yangshuo / Guilin ) >>
Check details about All Guilin Tours 2023 >>
Yangshuo West Street
Where to Stay in Guilin?
Usually, you’ll stay 3 nights in Guilin if you plan to visit Yangshuo and Longji Rice Terrace combined with downtown area in a regular trip.
That’s to say, you’ll accommodate one night in Guilin downtown area after your arrival in Guilin or your trip of Longsheng County, stay one night in Longji Rice Terrace area and enjoy your accommodation for one night in Yangshuo. Choices are a lot and you can select your favored hotels, hostels and resorts in the best locations for the finest scenery.
Accommodation in Guilin: Hotels range from luxury 5 star to budget ones, mainly situated along the Li River. You can choose to stay in Shangri-La Hotel Guilin, Sheraton Guilin Hotel and etc., where you can overlook the downtown area from your hotels and transfer to the iconic site - Elephant Trunk Hill easily. It is about 28 kilometers from Guilin Lijiang Airport within 1 hour’s drive. Read more about Hotels in Guilin >>
Accommodation in Longji Rice Terraces: It is highly recommended to stay one night in Ping’an Zhuang Village of this area. You can capture superlative terrace scenery when open your window and do dome walking just step out of your hotel and hostel. Also, it brings great convenience for travelers who want to shoot sunrise and sunset. Read more about Hotels in Longji >>
Accommodation in Yangshuo: You have three major areas to choose from, including the West Street at the center of Yangshuo, Yulong River a little far away from the center, and the nearby villages. Meanwhile, from the high-end luxury resorts, deluxe international brands, mid-end comfortable hotels, featured boutique hotels, to common budget hostels and warm homestays, you can find what you want in Yangshuo. Read more about Best Areas to Stay in Yangshuo & Recommended Hotels based on Type >>
Get your own ideas and requirements about accommodation in Guilin? Please feel free to tell us and our professional travel experts will customize a tour totally based on your interests and likes.
Yangshuo Mountain Retreat
Guilin Park Hotel
Extended Destinations & Travel Beyond Guilin
Traveling for 3 to 4 days in Guilin is not complete for your China trip, it is a good idea to visit other destinations in China before or after your discovery.
To consider the transportation convenience and value of other destinations, we recommend you to combine Guilin with Hong Kong, Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Yangtze River Cruise, Yunnan, Zhangjiajie, Lhasa, Guiyang, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and so forth.
If you have other travel ideas or any questions, please feel free to contact us and our experienced travel consultants will customize a satisfactory for you.
HK Victoria Harbor Morning View
More Popular Guilin Travel Articles
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- From Guilin to Yangshuo
- Where to Stay in Yangshuo
- Where to Stay in Guilin
- Yangshuo Biking Experience
- Yangshuo Bamboo Rafting
- Photography in Yangshuo
- Guilin Photography Tips
- Cooking Class in Yangshuo
- Hiking in Guilin
- Yangshuo Climbing
- Top 3 Ways to Visit Li River
- Free Time in Guilin
- Guilin Nightlife
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- All Guilin Travel Articles
Extending Readings for Guilin Travel Planning
Recommended Guilin Tours
Top 3 Guilin tours chosen by most customers to explore Guilin in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
- 4 Days Guilin Highlights Tour (Li River, Yangshuo & Longji Terraces)
Guilin / Yangshuo / Longsheng
- 5 Days Best Guilin In-depth Vacation (Li River, Yangshuo & Longji Terraces)
Guilin / Longsheng / Guilin / Yangshuo
- 6 Days In-depth Guilin Tour from Hong Kong
Hong Kong / Guilin / Longsheng / Yangshuo / Guilin
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.Customize a Trip
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