Guilin & Yangshuo

Guilin, Yangshuo and the Li River between them have an abundance of natural scenery hot spots and other tourist sites, and their mountains and rivers attract millions of domestic and foreign tourists every year.

Located in southern China’s Guangxi Province, Guilin has long been hailed as one of the most beautiful places in China. It is a pleasant place to visit at any time of the year with its mild subtropical climate. In autumn, blossoms (sweet osmanthus) are in bloom, the fragrance of the blossoms permeates the air. The shrub grows everywhere in and around the city; the name Guilin, in fact, means “forest of sweet osmanthus”.  The city is surrounded by boundless natural beauty which simply cannot be overlooked or ignored. The city of Guilin owes its popularity and status as tourist destination entirely to its geographic location.

Sightseeing

Around Guilin:

  • Reed Flute Cave located almost 6km northwest of Guilin city which goes 240 meters (790ft) into the mountain. The name of the cave is derived from ludi cao (reed grass), which grows in front of the cave and is used to make flutes. The grass covered the entrance to the cave, so the people of the area used this cave for many centuries as a hideout in times of war. The cave is filled with many bizarre stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is a part of the Reed Flute Park (ludi gongyuan).
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    Elephant Trunk Hill which is the symbol of Guilin. The hill resembles as an elephant drinking water from the river with its long trunk.

  • The Longji Terraces are situated in Longsheng County about 2 hours drive from Guilin. The rice terraces are built into the hillsides. The terraces resemble the great chains or ribbons as they meander from the foot to the top of the hills. This smart construction makes the best use of the limited arable land and water resources in the mountainous area. The Terraces were first started in the Yuan dynasty and finished d in the Qing dynasty by the Zhuang people.

The area around Yangshuo contains some staggeringly beautiful panoramas. An almost extra-terrestrial topography of limestone peaks dominates the skyline, intersected by the Li and Dragon Rivers, whose waters reflect their surroundings in postcard photography. Whenever you see a Chinese scroll painting portraying mountains and rivers, the chances are it will be a scene from Yangshuo.  Yangshuo is a popular backpacker hangout, and great place to visit for a night. Temperatures are mild in winter and hot in summer.  In such an “East-meets-West” environment, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by schoolkids in English.  Beer fish (píjiǔyú) is a Yangshuo specialty.

  • West Street (Xī Jiē), bisecting Yangshuo, is the heart of the town, alive with a range of restaurants, cafes and bars. It is lined with small shops and stands selling souvenirs and street snacks. Chinese teenagers mingle with a young laowai (foreign) crowd in internet cafes, feasting off apple pie, T-bone steaks, ice cream sundaes and other hard-to-come-by staples of the Western diet.  Although light years away from representing the real China, and scorned by many for its lack of authenticity, West Street is undeniably a good place to relax, satisfy any cravings for high-calorie Western dishes, and also sample some local Chinese food.
  • Impression Sanjie Liu show premiered on March 20th, 2004 at the Sanjie Liu Sing Fair, one mile from West Street (Xi Jie). This is the world largest natural theater which utilizes the waters of the Li River as its stage, with the hills as its backdrop. Mist, rain, moonlight, hills and their reflections in the river all become the ever-changing natural background with the audience on designed terraces, surrounded by plants.The performance is divided into 7 chapters, scored with both modern and classical music and in excess of 600 performers, all of whom are local people of the Li River.  Admission Fee: ~ RMB 198 to RMB 680

Xingping Village located about an hour’s drive from Yangshuois is one of the oldest towns in the area, and is renowned for its dramatic scenery along the Li River – a very pretty and interesting.  Xingping has a history dating back more than 500 years – founded during the Ming Dynasty in 1506, the town contains numerous traditional residences that are remarkably well-preserved.  Special features include blue brickwork, black tiles, sloping roofs, horse head walls, cornices and carved windows, and the houses represent classic examples of Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasty architecture.  President Clinton visited there.  If you do the raft down the Li River, plan on spending an hour or so with a camera walking around.  Just be prepared for the onslaught of tourist touts trying to sell you river boat cruises and local handicrafts.

Warnings

Due to the high volumes of tourists traveling from Guilin to Yangshuo, there are a number of scams that you should be aware of:

  • Tour guides waiting at parking lots or docks
    At the big tourist sites or by the ferries there will be a lot of self-proclaimed private tour guides waiting to offer their services. They often speak a little English, and aim to only get custom from foreigners, helping you get your tickets, hotels, and other things sorted, offering to take you to the biggest attractions. They are not real tour guides, and trick you with their lowest prices, but it is not worth the trouble. Some of the attractions they take you to will get them commission, meaning higher prices for you.
  • Taxi drivers 
    Taxi’s do not use meters in Yangshuo (they do in Guilin, except for airport transfers) since it is unlikely they will be able to pick up someone else where they drop you off in the countryside or hotel so taxi rates generally include a return transfer for the driver. ALWAYS clearly agree on the fare when meters aren’t used and write the agreed fare on a piece of paper and show it to the driver – making sure he sees and acknowledges it – to avoid problems. If drivers get really angry and aggressive it generally means they believe you are trying to rip them off so be very clear about it. Always negotiate a price before you engage in any service. It will not only save you money but hassle too.​ If you do not need a certain service, refuse them to take any of your belongings.Refuse to use taxi drivers promoting tourist attractions. Most of them will wait at the airport or around the big hotels, waiting to take you to a hostel, tourist attraction, restaurant or a shop. All of these places will be in cahoots with the driver and will pay them commission.
  • Motorbikes
    It is best to avoid taking them, as they ignore traffic rules, endanger your safety, and sometimes will stop in the middle of nowhere and demand more money for the trip. There have been many reported cases of drivers getting aggressive and even threatening physical violence.
  • Buy tickets ONLY from official tourist offices or BIG hotels
    The ‘Impressional Sanjieliu’ is Guilin’s most famous performance, and is worth watching, however, ensure that you get your tickets from an official travel agency or a big hotel. Some smaller travel companies will offer cheaper tickets but the seats will be really far from the stage where you can’t see or hear anything, and its not worth it. The same goes for touts selling tickets outside, which although cheaper, really do not give you great seats and are a waste of time. Generally the 198 RMB tickets are good, and you can really enjoy the show from these seats.
  • Be careful of fake bank notes
    When shopping, make sure that any change you get is real. The same goes for when you are exchanging money. Some of Guilin’s streets have fake currency exchanges, and be vigilant if vendors ask whether or not you can break their large bills, or offer to give you change. The most common counterfeit denomination is the 100 RMB bill.

What to Bring

What to bring

  • Toilet paper: Yangshuo in particular and China in general is not a toilet paper oriented culture. Many public rest rooms will have limited if any toilet paper, so it is a good idea to carry tissue or wet wipes with you. In better places you will find sprayers on the wall or built into the toilet seats, so you can wash off and then pat dry with tissues.
  • Hand sanitiser: A day out in the countryside offers plenty of opportunities to try out the local foods and fruits you may often seize yourself. Peeling fruits will get your hands sticky and often meat or fish dishes carry lot’s of bones that require some assistance of your hands. Not all places provide clean running water and paper so to carry a pack of pocket-sized hand sanitiser and kleenex when venturing away from your hotel will come in very handy!
May 23rd, 2018|

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