Guilin is a smaller Chinese city sitting on the Li River with carst landscaped hills. The city is the transportation hub for the area, with an airport and main railway station.
Things To Do
Consider buying one of the many “through tickets” which provides entrance to multiple of the Guilin sites. The ticket can be purchased at the ticket office of any participating attraction. Note: Upon purchase of a “through ticket,” a “slip” is provided for each site. Take the “slip” to the ticket office at each location to gain entrance to the attraction.
1) Reed Flute Cave
Located just outside of the city center, this is the cities top attraction. Take a trip into the natural limestone cave that is illuminated by colored lights. Many different natural shapes can be spotted in the rocks with a little imagination (and the help of the signs posted in both Chinese and English). Entry into the cave is in groups of about 40 people lead by a guide. The guide makes multiple stops broadcasting details via a speaker. Tours in English are limited. We joined a Chinese tour and still enjoyed the cave formations and lighting. (Note: You can pretty much move at your own pace once in the cave.)
Best way to reach is via taxi. The metered rate is approximately 20RMB from the city center. The taxi will offer to sit and wait; or you can bargain with one of the taxis waiting to pick up a fare at the exit. (Expect an initial offer price of 30RMB and you can negotiate down at least to 25RMB). Additionally, city bus #3 runs between Guilin and the caves (~2RMB pp each way).
2) Diecai Hill (Folded Brocade Hill)
This park area has two small hills (Bright Moon Peak and Crane Peak) that offer beautiful views over Guilin and the Li River. Climb the couple hundred steps to the top of each. Bright Moon Peak is on the route for tourist groups, however, you are likely to have Crane Peak to yourself. Admission is included in many of the “through pass” options.
3) Elephant Hill
This small area off of the Li River has a hill that vaguely looks like the profile of an elephant. Lots of tourist groups make the stop to snap photos from the shoreline. You can walk to the top of the hill for some not so interesting views of the city. Overall, this stop does not warrent much time. Admission is included in many of the “through pass” options.
4) Seven Star Park
If you have time to kill in Guilin, you can spend a few hours wandering this park area. There are a few nicely manicured and picture worthy areas. The site itself does not warrant a special trip. Admission is included in many of the “through pass” options. Admission to the Seven Star Cave is extra.
5) Fubo Hill
Due to our time limitations we did not visit Fubo Hill. We were able to see this hill from Diecai Hill. This attraction is offered as a part of one of the “through pass” options.
6) Li River Cruise
Many tourist opt to arrange a cruise on the Li River from Guilin. A trip on the Li River is definitely a highlight while in the area, however, we would recommend basing yourself in Yangshuo and taking a bamboo raft down the river. (See details in our recommendations for Yangshuo.)
1)New River Cafe
Located less than a block from the Sheraton Guilin, this cafe offers a fair selection of Chinese and Western food options throughout the day. The staff was friendly and spoke good English. We stopped in and enjoyed an early dinner.
The Sheraton Guilin is located directly off the the Li River with easy access to all of the key sites in Guilin. This upscale hotel is a little dated, but still a great accommodation option while in the Guilin area.