Seven Star Park (Qi Xing Gongyuan in Chinese) is Guilin's largest park (120 hectares) and is a pleasant place to spend and afternoon or morning. The park contains seven small mountains with numerous hiking paths and viewpoints. One of them contains a cave that is open to tourists. The park also has a large flat section, with walking paths, ponds, and restaurants. In addition, it contains Guilin's zoo, which features pandas, red pandas, monkeys, and a yak.
There is an admission charge to enter the park, which is a bit steep (about 100 RMB if you want to see the zoo or the cave in addition to exploring the park). If you just want to see the zoo, you have to enter the park from the southern side (Longyin/Qixing Road).
In the middle of Guiin's downtown area is a huge open square that is at least 100 meters on each side in terms of size. The square hosts numerous public activities throughout the year, including concerts. It is also where people go to watch the nightly waterfall that gushes down the back of the Waterfall Hotel. At night, the buildings surrounding the square are lit up, with video billboards located on top of some of them.
The square's pavement features a huge world map, which is drawn Chinese-style, with Asia in the middle and Europe and the Americas on the edge. It is always fun to try to find your hometown on the map.
Adjacent to the square are stands selling souvenirs and toys, as well as a small children's amusement area with rides for toddlers. Another fun thing next to the square is a stall that sells you bottles of fish food with which you can feed a tank full of koifish. That was one of our daughter's favorite activities in Guilin.
The Zheng Yang Pedestrian Street (called the Downtown Walking Street by the locals) is the main pedestrian shopping street in downtown Guilin. It is lined with dozens of shops, restaurants and bars. Its sidestreets also contain numerous smaller shops and stalls selling clothing and souvenirs. While it gets numerous tourists frequenting its bars and restaurants, the vast majority of the people strolling the walking street on any given night are Chinese.
On weekend evenings, we watched some musical performances on a stage in Guilin's main square. The performances were free, and featured songs and dances from Chinese opera, with the perfomers dressed in lavish costumes. While we only understood a fraction of the words and the plots were sometimes tough to follow, it was fun to watch something so different from our western musicals and opera.
There are no seats, so you either have to stand up through the performance or sit on a railing or bench away from the stage.
Every evening, the facade of the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel in downtown Guilin is turned into a giant waterfall for about 10 minutes, with tons of water cascading down the building from the rooftop. The best place to watch it from is the main square in front of the hotel.
The most popular tourist activity in and around Guilin is to take a cruise down the Li River to Yangshuo, a smaller tourist city located about 70km from Guilin. The scenery along the way is some of the best in the world, with hundreds of jagged limestone karst mountains jutting up sharply from the surrounding rice fields and towns. The cruise takes about three hours, with the best scenery in the middle hour. One of the sights to look out for is the set of mountains that are featured on the back of the 20 yuan bill. Most of the tour boats have food and drinks, for which you may have to pay extra.
Most people take the cruise in one direction and then return to Guilin by bus. Allot most of the day for the round-trip, since you will probably want to spend an hour or two exploring Yangshuo while you are there. If you like to party, you should stay in Yangshuo overnight, sinc Yangshuo's doens of bars and clubs make Bourbon Street in New Orleans look quiet.
I recommend you to go to the Longsheng Rice Terraces. October is the harvest season and you see golden field throughout the mountain. Noramlly you could catch the bus provided by the inn on the rice terrace, stay one night there, see the sun rise. Would be a very good experience.
Although it would seem impossible to top the beauty and magnificence Guilin, amazingly enough there is such place, and even better its a next door neighbor. The Longsheng Rice Terraces are arguably the most beautiful and awe inspiring place in the entire region and thats saying quite a bit. The rice terraces are about three and half hours from Guilin and then seemingly straight up into the mountains from there. The rice terraces cling to the mountaintop in a almost impossible fashion, like a tight fitting dress that hugs and showcases every curve. The essence of China is hidden among the rice fields from the intoxicating smell of fresh rice and chili peppers to the picturesque pointy hats the locals wear.
Your visit will start and the bottom of a village that winds its way up the mountainside to the rice terraces. The houses are built on stilts that run up right against the steep crevices and mesh perfectly with the mountain. There are many different vendors along the way offering everything from fresh chili peppers to cold Coca Cola. Don't miss out on eating at any of the amazing restaurants that serve freshly prepared bamboo chicken and sticky rice, you will never taste any fresher than here. Eventually the path up will lead to the crown jewel of the region, the rice terraces, and the dragons backbone. You will wander among the terraces and take in the literally intoxicating views from above. Its as close to heaven as most people will ever get.
Getting there is not difficult but somewhat time consuming, you can take one of several buses from Guilin to Longsheng which takes about three hours. From Longsheng you take another bus up to the rice terraces which takes about an hour. If you are going to spend a couple of days at the terraces than I would take the local transportation. However if your looking to do a daytrip like I did then it would be best to book a tour. Normally I'm not the tour type but it was reasonably price ($20 US) and very convienent. You can usually book the night before (though I would try and book at your hotel in advance as it could fill up) at the hotel desk. The tour picks you up from there and takes you to the rice terraces directly, it gives you about three hours to explore the rice terraces. I would of preferred spending much more time there but being that it was a daytrip it was about as good as it gets. Next time though I will plan on staying several days at the rice terraces, so if your planning your trip try and set aside several days! Enjoy!
The best way to get to Yangshou from Guilin is not by a smelly crowded bus, one could do that anywhere in the world, without a doubt the way to get to Yangshou is by boat! There is nothing quite like drifting slowing down the gentle Li River with the towering Karst rock formations looming over you like skyscrapers. There are different ways of drifting down the Li River, you could spend a "boatload" of money on one of the many Li River Cruise options. The cruise option is the only way to see the river from a big boat with catering options, but it is expensive, anywhere from $65 to $200.
As a budget traveler that option was out of the question and besides I hate big boats, I would much rather be as close to the river as possible. From most budget hotels you can book a smaller Li River cruise that takes you to Yangshou on small converted bamboo rafts. It cost about $25 US and was worth every penny. Its a round trip tour but if your headed to Yangshou as the next destination it will serve that purpose as well. The tour will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the small town of Yangdi. From there you will transfer in small groups of four to the converted bamboo rafts (you can take your luggage on the raft) and float down the river to the small town of Xingping. Its about a two hour trip and the views of the Karst peaks are truly marvelous, plus on the bamboo raft you can dip your toes into the cool waters. Something not quite possible from a cruise boat.
From the town of Xingping the tour will put you on a local bus that will take you on a 40 minute journey to Yangshou. The tour will offer a seperate more expensive option of a authentic bamboo trip down the smaller Yulong River which I would highly recommend taking. The Yulong portion is smaller with far less river traffic and better views of the farmlands and Karst peaks. The raft only holds two people and you have your own boatman to wisk you down the river. You will get the chance to see and feed water buffalo and also to see the famous Dragon Bridge (which was beautifully filmed in the movie "The Painted Veil") From there the tour will take you back to Yangshou where you can end the tour if your staying there otherwise they will put you on a bus back to Guilin.
Descending Li river, you may receive a well detailed map, that gives a name to almost all the geological formations in the banks, and to some villages hidden in the green of the trees.
Yangti is one of those names, meaning... nothing. We may see one or two roofs, maybe a child by the river, but it's hard to imagine the whole village that stands behind. Unless you travel by road, you will stay restricted to the magnificent performance of nature, that slides by your boat, without a real look of Chinese life.
This a full day daytrip from Guilin. Though you can go there by public buses you'd have to change buses a few times and is complicated. So you better book one of the many tours at hotels and agencies.
The minibus leaves early and arrives there in about 1 hour. Then you visit some ethnic minorities, see some mountain villages, have lunch and in the afternoon you visit the famous terraces taht make unbelievable landscapes of ebdless rice terraces.
I was expecting a Li river full of live, with lots of villages bordering it and living on it.
We saw animals (not many) and a few houses, but many of them seeming… abandoned.
I understand that the boats passing by are not significant to the local’s life, and business is only placed at both ends of the itinerary, but water is life, China has billions…
Halfway down Li river from Guilin to Yangshuo there’s a promoted cave.
I don’t know if it is announced for being interesting, or just for being there.
There were some boats stopped nearby, but I saw no one entering it, and we had no chance to leave the boat, too big to approach the entrance.
One of the attractions in Guilin is the show that each night, at 8.30 PM, takes place in the rear of the hotel: from the top, a cascade of water descends along the glasses of the wall, with music in the background.
It is, indeed, the most spectacular way to … wash windows!
Now it's the address for Guangxi Normal University. The Solitary Beauty Peak is just at the vicinity. Visiting this place you can see students attending classes. In the ancient days, this is the city for princes of the Ming Dynasty. Perfectly combining the natural landscape and historical sites, it is praised as a "City inside a city" since ancient time. The whole compound is vast with Solitary Beauty Peak, halls, bedrooms, gardens, lake and temple. The area is fortified with a wall of 3km in length.
Once you entered the front gate, you will be guided into a museum with some simple introduction of this place and all the princes in the Ming Dynasty.
At the foot hill of Solitary Beauty Peak, there's a Yueya Lake with small little bridge and a gazebo. Scholars of the olden days like to study here. There's also a monument commemorating Dr. Sun Yat Sen.
In the Qing Dynasty, Jingjiang Princes City was converted to be the Examination Hall for scholars who wants to gain a position in the Imperial Palace. Tourist will be required to sit for a mock-up examination in seprate cubicles answering four questions. Write your answers with the chinese brush and ink provided on the yellow colour exam paper. One tip for you while visiting this place: listen attentively when the tour guide is explaining. You will be rewarded if you pass the exam. You will then be given an instruction from the emperor and become an officer in the Imperial Palace. You will have the chance to undergo the ceremony with full costumes. Enjoy and act like you are in a movie.
Entrance fee is RMB20.