Li River, once called Gui River, flowing through Guilin, the third largest city in Guangxi Province, has formed the world-famed Li River Scenic Spot. The 83 km waterway from Guilin city center to Yangshuo County (under Guilin jurisdiction) is the essence of Li River, even the background of the new edition 20 yuan banknote depicts the scene of this part.
Guilin has a typical karst landform. Limestone spreading all over the city has been through weathering and erosion for billions of years and forms the world-renowned Guilin scenery, praised by numerous Chinese poets and artists and can be described as “thousands of pinnacles stand towering around, a river winds its way about the city”. The 83 km Li River is also called as a hundred-mile scroll. Along the crystal clear water of Li River are numerous green mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, oases and shoals, just like a classic scene in Chinese landscape painting.
There are two kinds of boats cruising on the Li River: cruise boat and motor-driven raft.
If you want to cruise Li River with more comfortable environment and convenient facility, cruise boat is your first choice. The route for cruise boat is the essence of Li River, also called as full-section Li River Cruise. The whole cruise is about 4.5 hours, and all cruise boats provide free lunch, toilets, hot water service and places to store luggage. The cruise will start from Zhujiang Pier or Mopanshan Pier and end at Yangshuo Pier. Zhujinag Pier and Mopanshan Pier are very close; however, they serve with two kinds of cruise boat.
Boarding time: from 8:00 to 11:00
Zhujiang Pier serves with the two kinds of luxurious cruise boats. One is luxurious air-conditioned boat, free Chinese lunch, two seat decks and one observation deck. The other one is super-luxurious boat, free Chinese buffet, two seat decks (one of them is dining area) and one observation deck, more luxurious facility than the previous one, and this is the most expensive cruise boat.
Mopanshan Pier serves with normal air-conditioned boat, free economic Chinese meal, one seat deck and one observation deck, and it’s the cheapest cruise boat.
For now, there is no direct bus commuting between Guilin city center and the two piers, which are 20 km away from city center. For individual tourists, if you buy the cruise ticket on your own, the only way to get the cruise pier is by taxi, which will cost about ￥100. If you buy the cruise ticket through travel agency or hotel agent, they will charge you ￥35/person as car fees and guide service fees. Under this situation, the tourist bus will pick you up at your hotel.
For our customer, we will arrange a private car with a professional guide to escort you all the way, and you don’t need to worry about anything, just enjoy your trip!
When the water level declines in the dry season (January ~ March usually), the cruise route will be changed to offer tourists a better viewing experience. The changed route starts from Yangdi for Hua Mountain (画山) and then back to Yangdi. The boarding pier, also the disembarking pier is Shangzha Pier (上榨码头). The whole cruise takes about 2.5~3 hours. Please note the cruises depart at 10:00 and 10:40.
Guilin – Shangzha Pier: There are daily buses running from Guilin Bus Station to Yangdi Tour Park during 7:30 ~ 14:00 usually. It always takes about 1~1.5 hours. In the park, you can take the electric vehicles to the Shangzha Pier directly. The electric vehicles are free for tourists with cruise tickets.
Yangshuo – Shangzha Pier: There are also available buses traveling between Yangshuo and Yangdi Tourists Park which cost about 1 hour. Then you can easily take an electric vehicle.
For those who want to have a close contact with Li River and prefer a shorter trip, take a motor-driven raft is a good choice. The route for the motor-driven raft is the most beautiful part of Li River cruise. Start from Yangdi and end at Xingping. Many famous attraction sites are located along this section, like the 20 yuan banknote scene, Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Huangbu Reflection, etc. The whole rafting is about 1~ 2 hours and there is no toilet on the raft, so make sure you answer the call of nature before boarding.
Normally, the motor-driven raft is bound with 8 PVC tubes, on which covered with a layer of aluminum alloy panel to make the raft more steady and flat. The raft is equipped with canopy for sun-shade and rain-protect. Motor on the rear, all rafts are also equipped with life jackets and buoys. Except for the rafts man, the raft is allowed to carry four passengers. As long as no heavily overload, the raft is definitely safe. There are some spaces in the rear of the raft for storing passenger’s luggage. However, if you have too much luggage, we suggest you take the cruise boat rather than the raft.
Ticket: $216/person, under four passengers, the raft will charge ￥30 for each vacant seat. After debarking in Xingping, there are free battery car to drive you to Xingping bus station, and you can take bus from there to Yangshuo County.
Boarding Time: 8:00 ~ 18:00
1. Lunch on the craft will charge you extra fees, and normally, it’s not cheap, so it’s suggested to take some food with you and have a lunch after you get to Yangshuo County.
2. Some people choose to hike along Li River. For ordinary tourist, we don’t suggest you to do that. Hike along Li River is a great way to appreciate the beauty of it, however, it needs some hiking experiences and strong physical strength. Plus, the Guilin Travel Bureau expresses that the hiking route is still in construction, so it demands that tourists should not hike along the river until the construction is finished.
April to October is the most beautiful time of Li River, however, each season has its own charm and unique scenery.
Li River will enter into rainy season in the late spring. During this time, the water level will rise rapidly, and the rapid flow cause water turbidity, which is bad for reflection watching on the water surface. However, the temperature is very cozy at this time. In the rainy day, surrounded by a fine drizzle and mist, everything is just like a classical scene in traditional Chinese painting.
In summer, after the rainy season is over, Li River is very peaceful and clear during this time. White clouds dotted in the azure sky, while green hills reaches to the far along the crystal clear river.
In autumn, the air transparency is very good, thus, the sunrise in this time is extremely beautiful, and the most beautiful rosy dawn of the year will appear at this time.
Almost all classic photos of Li River are shooting from Yangdi to Xingping section. No matter you take cruise boat or motor-driven raft, it’s better to pay extra attention to this section, you don’t want to regret after the journey for missing the chance to shoot great photos.
Most people who love Guilin scenery will also have a crush on the fishing scene: poling on a little bamboo raft, the fisherman light the kerosene lamp with a cormorant standing next to him and are ready to catch the fish. This classic scene is rarely to be seen since people who make a living out of fishing are less and less. Thus, if you want to shoot this classic scene, you need to arrange everything in advance.
Normally, you can shoot this scene at Xingping, where you can hire a fisherman with his raft and cormorant as your model. Best time for shooting is dawn and dusk.
For more photography information about Li River and Guilin, please refer to Guilin Photography Tour for detailed information.
There are two old towns along Li River: Daxu Old Town and Xingping Ancient Town.
Located in the east bank of Li River, north and very close to Mopanshan Pier, Daxu Old Town was established 200 BC. The old street of the town is not wide and paved with over 15,000 blue stones. The houses standing by the street are two-floored Ming and Qing style architecture. Many ancient manual workshops, like bamboo waving workshop, grass medical clinic and old style barber shop are still operating. The old town is very quiet and stands aloof from worldly success. It’s a great place for those who fancy into ancient-style things.
How to get there: take the commuting bus between Guilin Bus Station and Crown Cave to Daxu Old Town. 40 minutes’ drive for 15 km, $12/person.
If you take the raft cruise from Yangdi, you will arrive at this little ancient town. Located in the east bank of Li River, Xingping Ancient Town is 25 km from Yangshuo County. The background for 20yuan banknote is also in here. The fishing village of the town was called as President Fishing Village for it’s been visited by then President Clinton in 1998. The town is rather small and old, paved with smooth flagstone, everything here is just simple and unsophisticated. Sparsely populated all year around, the Xingping Ancient Town is very suitable for nostalgic tourists.
How to get there: (1) if you take the motor-driven raft from Yangdi, debark in Xingping Pier and you will get there. (2) take a regular bus from Yangshuo Bus Station to Xingping, depart every 20 minutes, $6/person and about 40 minutes’ drive.
Each adult tourist can bring one child shorter than 1.2 m for free, and children between 1.2 m ~ 1.5 m can enjoy half-price tickets, while those who are taller than 1.5 m should buy full-price tickets.
2. Notice Should be Paid on Board
To protect the environment, please don’t throw any wastes into the river. Smoke is not allowed in the cabin. For safety, do not stride over the handrail to take pictures, and take care of the children brought with.
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