How to plan a trip to Guilin?

Reading Guideline

Q: Why Visit Guilin? 

Guilin (桂林) ,located in the southwest of the country, is labeled as "the rural side of China". Enjoying the praise of "the finest scenery under heaven", Guilin is one of the top destinations in any China Tour. Fine weathers all around the year equipment with unique karst beauty landscapes plus the Li River which has been countless praised since ancient years, Guilin is a city that has its owe incomparable beauty never mind it is lacking of some sort of royal ambience like that in Beijing nor does it ever envy not in a slightly chance the striking skyscrapers of that in Shanghai.
 

Generally, if you just come to see the most iconic sights and get a taste of Guilin, 3-5 days are good enough.

Q: What to Expect in Guilin?

how to plan a trip to guilin

  • Li River, highlight of sightseeing during any Guilin tour, originates from Mao’er Mountain, its most picturesque section is the part flowing through Guilin to Yangshuo. Taking a Li River Cruise in Guilin is must-do in your trip here.
  • Yangshuo, a famous Chinese saying goes that Guilin has the finest scenery under heaven, whereas Yangshuo has the finest scenery of Guilin. The West Street is one of the many reasons to go to Yangshuo. This over-thousand-year history street now has mingled with  west style harmoniously with proper western catered restaurants and bars to be found at every twenty steps along the pedestrian.
  • Elephant Trunk Hill is the city mark of Guilin. Looking like an elephant stretching its trunk drinking the Li River water, this hill is a master work of Guilin karst landscape creation. Sitting in the junction part of Li River and Taohua River, the hill possesses a perfect view point in Guilin downtown. This is a picture taking site that many tourists would come for the exact reason.
  • Reed Flute Cave is another master work piece of Guilin karst landscape creation. The Reed Flute Cave locates 5km northwest to Guilin downtown. It offers a wonderful fairyland of karst caves,displaying colorful illuminated stalactites, stalagmites and stone pillars in the shape of somewhat coming from another creepy world.
  • Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces, apart from its amazing bird view of the rice terraces in different seasons, the local minority folk culture of Yao and Zhuang villagers here is another reason that will make the Longsheng trip from Guilin so much more worthwhile.

Q: What to Prepare for Guilin Trip?

Visa policy in Guilin.

Though foreign citizens are required to obtain a visa for travelling in China, poplular travel destination like Guilin is among those 72-visa-free cities in China since 2014Generally speaking, if you are just transiting in Guilin and can provide flight ticket to a third country, you can apply for72 hours visa free in Guilin. Learn more about China visa application knowledge  and China Entry and Exit Tips.
 

Do I need to buy some Chinese currency before arrive Guilin?

We recommend you to get some Chinese currency in your country first or mostly recommed to exchange enough amount of Chinese cash in entry city like Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Though there won't a big problem getting and exchanging currency in those mordern moprlians cities, Guilin is a different case. International frirendly factors are not her strenghth in the market.
 

Q: How much will it cost roughly for a trip to Guilin? 

Answer to this question varies a lot depending on your budget, generally speaking, Guilin is a relatively less costly destination in China compare to Beijing or Shanghai.
 

  • Top-end everything: If you stay in 5 stars hotels and eat in Michelin style restaurants with taxi rides to every place you go, you’re taking about 1800 to 2500 Yuan or more per day (260-362$/ 197-273£/ 225-312€).
  • Economy: But for clean and economy 3 stars chain hotels near travel sites and eat in local restaurants, you can get by on 450-650 Yuan a day (62-94$/ 49-71£/ 56-81€).
  • Budget: Travellers on budget stay in hostels and eat basic food can easliy survive on around 200 Yuan a day (29$/ 22£/ 25€).(Rates on 16th,Oct,2018)

yulong river

Q: How to get to Guilin?

There are rarely or simply none flights fly directly to Guilin from either USA or UK etc, the common routes are most international flights will make a stopover in Beijing International Airport , Shanghai Pudong International Airport or Hong Kong International Airport. Hence we suggest you fly to those entry cities first and spend a few days there, as they are the name card cites of China and really worth to stay and have a look. Then you can book flight ticket from Beijing to Gulin. On c-trip there are 10 flights fly to Guilin from Beijing every day, the journey takes about 1h20m, choose some major airlines and try to get a discount!
 

If you choose Hong Kong as entry city, a brilliant news is that the newly established high-speed railway between Hong Kong and Guilin, passing Shenzhen and Guangzhou en route, has just set to fully operation to public since 23rd Sep,2018.  You can fly to Hong Kong and spend a few days in this interesting city, then purchase high-speed rail ticket to Guilin instead, which is much more money efficient and time efficient as well because the journey will take just around four hours to Guilin from Hong Kong.
 

  • When you are booking a discounted flight ticket, please make sure to check that you have enough luggage allowance attached to your ticket. Sometimes, cheap tickets don’t come with any allowance at all. And if that is your case, you can always purchase some luggage allowance on their official website in advance, avoiding being charged three times more at check-in counter at airport.
  • The high-speed train linking Guilin and Hong Kong is actually taking Hong Kong and Guangzhou station as its start station and terminal, one need to purchase a ticket to Guangzhou first then purchase a ticket from Guangzhou to Guilin, of which the trains depart quite frequently in almost every 30 minutes.

west srteet in yangshuo

Q: How Difficult will it be to Travel Guilin on my own?


Guilin is a city where you are strongly recommended to join a travel agency to help you survive.

  • Language barrier can be a problem here on top of everything else. Local people speak a dialect called Guilin Hua which is diverted from mandarin Chinese and has a strong accent, it is not easy for mandarin speakers to understand it not to mention for foreigners. Though some popular bars and restaurants owners and waiters/waitresses can manage some English accordingly in those occasions, the overall English speaking level here among the citizens is better not to be expected too much, not at all in fact. We suggest you find a smart travel translator app to run efficiently on your phone if you are travelling independently in Guilin.
     
  • Getting around in Guilin won't be easy to handle for language barriers. Except some popular tourist destinations are singed and indicated in both Chinese and English along road signs boards, the rest of the roads signs are in Chinese, plus without an efficiency bi-language(Chinese and English) subway system, getting around here for a language barrier dealing with all the buses and taxi drivers can be really stressing.

longji in guilin

Q: When to go to Guilin?

Guilin is suitable to visits all the year around with different views to fill your memory with astonishing beauties. The best period is between April and October, as the winter here during November to February can be chill and cold sometimes especially worsen by its humidity in the air. Traveling here in summer from July to September can meet its monsoon season, yet don't let it make you down, because its never like those monsoon rain in South Asia where it rains non-stop for months. A short shower in the morning or so in Guilin is more like a fresh gift for your sweating summer hiking tours. National public holidays need to be avoided are Spring Festival, National holiday and May holiday.

Q: How Long to Stay in Guilin?

  • Generally speaking, 3 to 5 days is good enough to see most of the must-sees of Guilin.
  • Day 1 organize Elephant Trunk Hill+ Seven star park in the morning and a trip to Reed Flute Cave in the afternoon for day 1 as a very productive schedule;
  • Day 2, take a cruise trip to Yangshuo ancient town and spend the night there to experience the famous west street;
  • Day 3, back to Guilin city and have a easy day walking along the tourist street Zhengyang pedestrian and east west street, or take a city cruise ship to enjoy pleasant view of Guilin’s name card water system--Two rivers and four lakes before you departure;
  • Other additional trips from Guilin to Longsheng rice terraces or Sanjian will need another one or two days.
     

3 Days Guilin Essence Tour

li river
3 Days Guilin Essence Tour

Li River, Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave

Q: Where to Stay in Guilin? 

You can check Guilin downtown layout and its tour sites locations in this Tourist map produced by Top China Travel. Hotels with good faculties and reputation we are recommending and also using ourselves are Lijiang Waterful Hotel.  We also recommend Shangri-La Hotel (5 stars) and Sheraton Hotel(4 stars), learn more detail about where stay in Guilin please click here.
Guilin city map for tourist

Q: Getting around in Guilin 

Unfortunately, though Guilin has been a famous tourist destination in both domestic and aboard, subway has not been installed in Guilin yet. Partly because of the water system dominated city layout and the complicated karst landforms, Guilin is not an ideal city to run an efficient subway system.


For tourists in Guilin, getting around here is mainly by taking taxi rides, especially if you are planning to visit Longsheng Rice Terraces, Yangshuo or Sanjiang. A car rental trip to the above sites is quite common among both Chinese and foreigner tourists in Guilin. Usually your hotel can sort thus trips for you or like we suggested in the first place, join a local travel agency and this is where you get your money best paid back.


Good news is that Guilin is not a super large city to locate yourself, if you manage to get Google map working on your phone here, you will find out downtown travel sites like Elephant Truck, Seven Star Park, Two Rivers and Four Lakes, Solitary Beauty Peak, Folded Brocade Hill and East West Street etc, they are all kind of next to each other and within walking distance.

Articles related:  How to Get to Yangshuo from Guilin     How to Get to Longji Rice Terraces from Guilin
 

How to Get to Downtown from Guilin Liangjiang Airport?

  • Airport Shuttle Bus: Guilin Liangjiang Airport T2 to Guilin Minhang Hotel (桂林民航酒店)will take you to downtown area of Guilin. It is very convenient and the cheapest option heading Guilin downtown. The cost for single trip is RMB 20/per person. It takes around 40 minutes for this 30km-journey.
  • By Taxi: A taxi ride from Guilin Airport to downtown will take around 30 minutes and the cost is around 80 RMB.
  • You can also contact us at sales@topchinatravel.com to book an Airport Transfer Service to your hotel or vice versa.
  • Learn More details about How to Get to City Center from Guilin Liangjiang Airport


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