Hi, I'll try to answer it all.
GUILIN. There is a minibus that goes to the centre after each flight arrival. It costs 20 yuans and takes about 20 minutes to the centre. It makes several stops in the centre. I stayed at the Guilin Flowers Youth Hostel which is near the railways and bus station and clean, but it was a hostel, not hotel.
RIVER BOATS. Touristic boats from Guilin to Yangshuo are, IMHO, a tourist trap. They take all the morning to get there and the only interesting part is at the end, near Yangshuo. What I did was to take a bus to Yangshuo (1 hour), sleep there and from there make a trip on a bamboo boat for the interesting parts of the river, which are basically between Yangshuo and Xinping.
HOTEL IN YANGSHUO. I stayed at the Morning Sun Hotel, which is a medium (about 3 stars) local hotel with a nice patio, A/C and hot water for 180 yuans (single room). Itis well located, 1 minute from the main pedestrian street. There are many hotels there but avoid those in the Jie Xie pedestrian street, they are too noisy. The RiverView Hotel (http://www.riverview.com.cn/orderen.asp) is a good option too, by the riverside, with views to the Li river and reasonable prices.
TO DO IN YANGSHUO. Take a public bus to Xinping. Nice village and you can take there a bamboo boat to cruise the river for 2 hours.
Daytrip to the rice terraces (you can do this from Guilin too) the best way is to joina group at a local agency.
Hire a bike and go to Jiuxian village. I just asked a girl at the hotel reception and she arranged everything, hired 2 bikes and helped me as a guide to the rice fields around Yangshuo and to the rural village of Jiuxian. Half Day
Take a bamboo boat to the Yalong River. This river is smaller than Li, less crowded and similar landscape (not so dramatic but OK). Half day.
YANGSHUO TO AIRPORT. You can take the local bus Yangshuo-Guilin and from Guilin bus station take the minibus to the airport. Or take the train Guilin-Yangshuo.
In the fast developing cities, it's easy to loose the image of China.
Big buildings, large avenues, compose quarters that could be...everywhere else in the world.
However, here and there, even in the most transformed cities, it's possible to see the views that filled our imaginary. Fir Lake in Guilin is one of those places.
In the 50 km from Guilin to Yangshuo, long segments of the river seem desert.
Here and there, ducks and a few buffaloes, make us understand that the people is there, but living from something else than the river, disturbed by the out comers.
We come to a place with a series of expectations that sometimes are confirmed, some other… they don't.
Traffic was an example: I was expecting the crazy hustle and bustle of India, or Thailand.
Wrong. The traffic is intense, but normal. There is discipline, order, and… efficiency. A very positive surprise, but... I'm going to Shanghai!
Half of the main street, in central Guilin, is closed each night for the night market (at least while we were there!).
For several hundred meters, three row of stalls sell all kind of crafts, for locals and tourists.
Next morning the traffic flows normally, without signs of the crowds and huge deals of... a few hours before.
I couldn’t see any difference between the ambiance and social conditions of Guilin, and any touristy city in the west.
Modernity, mass consummation, expansive youth, safety in the streets, only one warning: pickpockets! Once again, as in most western cities…
All the times that I separated some meters from Fernanda, a new kind girl offered to be my friend. That's not too uncommon, also.
Just back from Guilin three weeks ago.
We took a taxi from the hotel in Zhongshan Lu which is located in downtown to airport at 10.00am we paid RMB100 which we asked him before we boarded the taxi. The taxi driver was asking whether we want to go by highway we have to pay for the toll. We said we have plenty of time so he took another road. He did not use the meter.
When we took the taxi from the Guilin airport to the bus station near Zhongshan Lu, we paid RM88 inclusive of 3 tolls of RMB10 each. The taxi uses the meter.
So what is a Karst landscape? Well, it's all due to limestone that has been dramatically eroded. The warm wet climate in the southwest of China speeds up the weathering of limestone by acid rainwater and chemicals in rotting plants. Surface streams lose water to cave systems developing in the limestone. Surface drainage is diverted down sink holes to below the water table. Peaks then start to develop from the land left after erosion by the streams. The cave system gets larger as fast-moving subsurface streams bore through the limestone and the water table drops. Much of the limestone has eroded past the caves down to a layer of shale whilst the limestone peaks remain, such as the one's found in the Guilin area.
There are two types of Karst features: Fenglin karst is characterised by peaks that rise near vertically, like trees, 100 to 250 feet (30 to 80m) above the surrounding flat ground. The other type is known as Fengcong karst. Their peaks are more cone-shaped and one hill meets the next across a depression or doline and are clustered together. If you travel down the Li River on a cruise, it starts with Fenglin karst before gradually giving way to the dense Fengcong as you reach Yangshuo.
These are great appetisers! Pickles are popular in Guilin. There are so many types to choose from and you will be "lost" as to which one to buy. We bought two packets of different types to try - the crunchy zucchinis and the silvery threads of seaweeds. Both tasted yummy. Lots of chillies pieces are seen on top of these pickles and they looked spicy but the taste is not really spicy - more like sourish , sweet and crunchy. Some are with specks of sesame seeds thrown in. There are some pickles which are threaded into sticks.
Prices of pickles depend on the type of pickles. Price range from RMB1.50 to RMB3.00 per packet and per stick of pickles : 1yuan to 2yuan.
See more pics on pickles and those that we have chosen.
You can get these slices of juicy watermelon from the make-shift stalls along the road. Vendors will just sliced the huge watermelon into slices and display them on the table. Take your pick - each piece costs RMB1. Some of the watermelon are seedless and most of them are sweet in taste.
See another vendor selling slices of watermelon - attached pic
Chestnuts can be found everywhere. It is either in the roasted form or the steamed type. I prefer the roasted ones as I find them to be more delicious in taste and has a stronger "nut" aroma. The chestnuts are firstly cleaned and slits are made to the nuts for ease of peeling and also them to be cooked in a faster manner. The roasted chestnuts are roasted by frying them over some special black coarse salt. Steamed ones are basically steaming them over hot fire.
Chestnuts are sold by weight. Each kati is about 6yuan to 7yuan
See another pic attached on roasted chestnuts
Well, this booth which looks like a booth for Tourist Information is pretty misleading. This little booth is located right in front of Guilin Bus Station, along Zhongshan Nanlu. We thought it was the Tourist Information Centre and in hope of getting some information on how to move about Guilin - but well, it's not an Information Centre. It is actually a booth set up selling tour packages to various places of interests in Guilin. Initially we wanted to move off from the booth but then after looking at some of the packages, we were kinda interested in some as we were having a time constraint and to move on our own will take up quite a bit of our time. The tour packages that we took are :
Day trip to Crown Cave ("Quan Yuan") and Gudong Falls : RMB150/- per pax
(Inclusive of entrance tickets to both the locations, excluding the fee for hardhat and grass sandals for hiking up Gudong Falls, lunch on own account)
Day trip - City tour Guilin covering Princess City Solitary Beauty Park, Third Sister Liu Garden, Chuanshan Cave/Tunnel Cave and river cruise along LiJiang to see Elephant Trunk Hill : RMB35/- per pax
(Inclusive of entrance fee to Beauty Park and 3rd sister Liu garden, inclusive of river cruise but excluding entrance fee to Chuanshan and tunnel caves, lunch on own account)
The tour company is Guilin Wan Tong Tourism Sdn Bhd. Tel: 2800318
Pickup will be at hotel entrance. Time :8am and to return by 5pm for each trip. Tour guide speaks Mandarin. Arrange for English speaking guide - think that would cost a little bit more.
Tour buses are clean and with AC.
See more pictures attached on tour buses and tour guide..
Guilin Bus Station is also located along Zhongshan Nanlu . It is a big station and you can buy your tickets in advance (for some) for most of the places you wish to visit in China. We bought the tickets for our travels to Longsheng and Yangshuo here. Lots of tour operators and people trying to sell you tour packages and bus tickets. It's best to purchase your tickets at the appropriate counters in the bus station.
See another pic attached
Guilin Train Station is strategically located along Zhongshan Nanlu. It is near to lots of hotels and shopping stalls - well, it is along the busiest road of Guilin. The station is swarmed with lots of people - locals and visitors. During weekends, it's really horrendous - lots of local tour groups arriving via the trains. At this station, you can purchase your tickets to the various provinces of China. Tickets are best purchased in advance. The tickets are electronically generated as such the seat number and timing are clearly stated in your ticket.
Location of Guilin Train Station : Zhongshan Nanlu, Guilin
See more pictures attached on scenes at Train Station
Persimmon - a fruit that looks like the tomato. when it is unripe, it is greenish yellow and turns into a deep orange colour when it's really ripe. The taste is really sweet and juicy and the flesh is tangy and soft. You can eat the persimmon in a dried version - it's brown and flattened. Taste is equally sweet. You can find the fresh persimmon and the dried ones in the fruit stalls along the West Street and the Pantao Road.
Fresh persimmons - about 3-4yuan per kati (about 3 medium sized persimmons)
See 1 more pic attached on dried persimmon sold in packets.