How to Plan a Trip to Guilin

Located in the south of China, Guilin might not be among the must-visit targets for many people in their first times to China yet it rewards those with keen eyes. It lives up to expectations for nature lovers, photographers, outdoor enthusiasts and travelers who are in need for a break between a week-long (or longer) China trip. Planning it wisely is the key to make Guilin your own oyster, which involves weather information, accommodation and itinerary ideas.

Guilin travel tip

The Best Time to travel to Guilin and How Long to stay there

The very first question is to tantalize timetable. The best time to visit Guilin falls during springtime to autumn. Weather during April to October is just lovely to explore natural landscapes, soak up in local lifestyles or simply laze off. This can also mean bigger crowds, though.

In my own case, I managed to beat the crowds during late October, which rewarded me with less-crowded sightseeings, great deals for accommodations and most im-portantly some authentic experiences with friendly locals. As one of the best-developed tourism destinations, its well-around infrastructure makes it possible and enjoyable no matter when you decide to come. And China's numerous (and mostly free!) travel tools (eg. Ctrip, China Train Booking app or online travel websites) take the load off for planning.

As for duration, I had 3 days in Guilin (2 nights in Yangshuo and 1 night in downtown Guilin city before departure) and I wish I had more. Believe it or not, I am already planning my comeback for 5 days now (ideally 2 nights in Yangshuo, 2 nights in Longsheng and 1 in Guilin). For travelers in general, 3 days and 2 nights will be totally sufficient.

plan a trip to Guilin

Connection: Entry to Guilin and Departure of Guilin

I have to give it to China's railway system: fast, punctual, comfortable and suitable for every budget range. This connects Guilin with Guangzhou, Zhangjiajie, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Chongqing and even the far-away capital Beijing without a hitch.

Although it is not a go-to option for international travels, some great deals for airfares can be found flying between Guilin and Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Taipei, Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta, Siem Reap and Nha Trang. A new airport terminal is under construction for the moment and more international routes will be added once it's done.

As Guilin is often planned as a mid-travel stop, it makes perfect sense to fly down from Xi'an, Chengdu or Beijing and then connect international departures in Shanghai, Guangzhou and even Hong Kong. A new high-speed train running straight between Guilin and Hong Kong is to launch late September 2018; awesome news for those seeking airfare deals with transit in Hong Kong.

plan a trip to guilin

Guilin travel Accommodation Guide

There are three major choices for place to stay in Guilin: downtown Guilin, Yangshuo and Longsheng. Subject to specific travel focuses, they bring along different overnight experiences. Hotels, hostels and airbnb, you name it, Guilin has them all.

Downtown Guilin provides easy transportation for short trips within 2 days. 3 to 5-star hotels are mostly located around the river system (namely Liangjiangsihu, meaning Two Rivers and Four Lakes in Chinese) with prices ranging from USD20 to 120 per room per night.

For longer stay, 3 to 4 days for instance, take Yangshuo into consideration. Boutique resorts and stylish hotels with great views are partially what draw travelers to Yangshuo. Staying near Xijie (West Street) or by the riverside, somehow I found it hard to decide so I spent one night near the bustling West Street and 1 night in a quiet family-run boutique resort near the Yulong River (Meeting-Dragon River in Chinese).

Got more than 5 days? Then don't forget about Longsheng, a couple of nights at a hotel or resort above the rice terrace fields counts as a superb travel experience. Most accommodations are own and run by local ethnic minorities. Wood and bamboo construction yet equipped with air-conditioning and western-style bathroom, plus refreshing morning air and amazing views outside your window, what more would one ask for at a price less than USD80 per night (during the shoulder season, price doubles or even triples during October when the rice terrace turns gold).

With all the perks offered by Guilin, however, choice runs short for family travels es-pecially during the peak season as most hotel rooms are only ample for a 2-person stay. Not all hotel prices include breakfast, and don't expect too much for those do include. Only a handful hotels, mostly in downtown Guilin, provide free airport shuttle transfer. Pictures or facility details on are not always accurate; neither are the ho-tels' websites (90% are in Chinese). Some professional assistance is still needed for certain special accommodating preferences. I turned to an online travel agent for details of my preferred hotel as I desperately needed a room with a bathtub (understandable after a 15-day travel, right?) and they provided another option, which turned out to score. Some of them offer delightful packages of hotels and private day trips and this just saved me a fortune for planning and booking.

plan a trip to guilin

Guilin tour Itinerary Ideas

Featuring with idyllic countryside, colorful ethnic minority cultures, fascinating karst landscape and unwinding atmosphere, Guilin serves as a rest stop and also a treasure hunt for outdoor fans and photographers alike. Travelers in general might refer to my own itinerary as below:

Day-01 Guilin arrival and overnight in Guilin

My flight from Xi'an arrived in the afternoon, good time for a sunset walk by the Li River after check-in. I stayed at the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel in downtown and took an hour-long walk along the Binjiang Road, featuring street-side bands, two pagodas casting reflection on the lake, distant look at the famous landmark Elephant Trunk Hill and also a great numbers of nice cafes and restaurants to soak up the coziness. Day-02 Li River Cruising to Yangshuo and overnight near the West Street

I booked the 4-hour cruise through an online travel agent and the boat departed at 0900am. The pier is 40-minute away by car from my hotel. A simple lunch is included in the fare and the views change from cityscape to picturesque rural realm as the boat approaches Yangshuo. A on-boat English-speaking tour guide introduced the city, its history and names of the mountains during the cruise, which was an excellent intro for a first-timer. I didn't plan much for the afternoon yet lucky enough to pick up a cooking class near the West Street. The 2-hour session gave a comprehensive understanding to Chinese culinary, as well as some you-can-try-at-home recipes; tomatoes fried with eggs made it to my personal favorite dish.

Spent the night at a cafe chatting with the locals and foreigners. Night breeze in late October was truly intoxicating, I must say. Day-03 Yangshuo countryside, bamboo rafting and overnight at a riverside resort

A guided biking trip was included in the package I got from the agent. The local guide, Tiger, was born and raised in Yangshuo and we took an hour to ride to his home in a small village by the Yulong River. Farmers were busy with harvesting and so was I with photo-taking. Took a short break at a local farm house whose owner was my guide's primary school teacher. The nice lady offered us some home-cooked meal, and Youcha (Oil Tea in Chinese, tea brewed from oil, tea leaves, ginger and other ingredients).

Took a short but fun bamboo rafting by the Yulong River before getting to the river-side resort. Nothing beats a cool night with stars over my roof. Day-04 Guilin departure

After a leisure morning, I got back to Guilin, just in time for the high-speed train to Guangzhou. Perfect ending to my Guilin trip. It might seem like a take-it-or-leave-it destination, yet Guilin's charm exceeds beyond words. Planning it all by yourself is possible and choosing private customized services boosts up the experiences. Either way, you will not regret.