Taxis are plentiful in Guilin and are the most convenient way to get around the city. The minimum fare is 9 RMB, which is about $1.50. It is hard to run up a fare above $5 unless you are going well outside the city, such as a trip to the airport.
The vast majority of Guilin's taxi drivers do not speak English. Therefore, you will need to have your destination written in Chinese characters before entering the cab in order to avoid misunderstandings if you do not speak Chinese. Some drivers refused to take us due to the language barrier. However, most were helpful and honest. It definitely helps to learn basic taxi Chinese, such as the words for left, right, turn, straight, and stop.
Buses are the primary form of public transportation for getting around Guilin. The buses run frequently and cost 1-2 RMB per person per ride depending on the type of bus (regular buses are 1RMB and double-deckers are 2 RMB). We took buses numerous times while in Guilin and never had any problems, although some people did warn us about pickpockets.
I flied to Guilin from London, stopping at Kuala Lumpur. This way you don't have to go to Beijing or Guangzhou, you fly directly into Guilin.
Air Asia is a low cost asian company, with all the advantages (price) and disadvantages (the rest) of low costs. All their flights go to Kuala and from there you can connect.
In Guilin you can take a river Li cruise that will take you down the river to Yangshuo. The plan is roughly this:
- Morning sailing down the river and watching the amazing landscapes of the mountains.
- Lunch at Yangshuo
- Some spare time in the town
- Back to Guilin by bus
The best views are near Yangshuo so a good option is to take the bus to Yangshuo and hire there a 2 hours tour along the river. Cheaper too.
Though many tourists arrive to Yangshuo by boat tour from Guilin, I found that a waste of time and money. I chose to take the public bus to Yangshuo (1 hour) and from there I made the river trips to see the mountains.
The buses to Yangshuo leave from the main bus station.
Descending Li River all the tourists, camera in hand, waited anxiously for the cliche: a raft standing in the river, with a fisherman covered by the traditional hat.
Now, life depends on tourism, and fishing is less rewarding than travelling tourists. The rafts were there but with colourful umbrellas over a comfortable chair.
I don’t know if the announced number of 70 000 people descending Li river each day is correct or not. What I know is that we feel like being part of a long caravan, always with a couple of boats ahead and behind us.
70 000, with 100 people per boat makes 7000 boats, which seems too exaggerated, but, anyway, you do never count on a calm and lonely presence in the river.
Guilin International Airport is located in the Liangjiang Town of Guilin City, about 28 km (about 17.4 miles) southwest from the city center (40 minutes by car).
After searching for a while to find flights` schedule from Guilin to Beijing and vice versa, I found this site below. Hope it helps.
You can take an airport coach bus to go to the city. The cost is 20RMB ($2.5) per person.
It costed us $191 (per person) to fly from Beijing to Guilin and $242 (per person) for the way back to the capital. Flight duration was 2 hours something.
I very much enjoyed Yangshou (about 2 hours away from Guilin). We stayed in Guilin just because it was the city we flew into, but didn't spend much time in that city becuase it does take a while to get from one place to another. Options for getting from Guilin to Yangzhou:
1) Local bus - 2 hours and gives you the option to roam around, get a boat ride, rent a bike, etc. at your leisure in Yangshou.
2) Guided boat ride - I think this is an all day excursion including lunch. This option is more of a group activity, so just depends on your interest.
I recommend considering very carefully flight and train options as you look at your itinerary. China is a gigantic place and getting from one destination to the next, not matter which transport you use, may take surprisingly longer than you think. Enjoy!
I booked my Li River Cruise at the Backstreet Youth Hostel, where I was staying, and it cost RMB400 which included a bus pick-up from the hostel and lunch on the boat. This was the "western" boat cruise where the boat and food are better than the cheaper "Chinese" cruise. It's probably better to do the Western cruise even though it's more expensive as you're with other western travellers even though were still quite a few Chinese as well.
I took the overnight train (No. T38) from Guangzhou's main train station to Guilin which took about 11 hours. I decided to take comfy soft class which cost RMB383 but it was well worth it. The train left on time at 19:50 and not soon after boarding I took myself off to get something to eat in the buffet car where I got talking to some western tourists. The train arrived in Guilin on time at about 06:45.
I then left Guilin on a double decker train to Nanning (No. N701) that was absolutely packed with people. The train left on time at 08:22 and arrived at 13:00. The seats were small with very upright backs that were a bit comfortable for the 4.5+ hour long journey but it was helped along by me speaking to a young student guy who spoke some English. I was a great source of fun with my fellow passengers as I was showing them my British passport and money which they had never seen before! The train only cost RMB65.
We took the express train from Liuzhou to Guilin at 1.12pm. The train that we boarded was from Nanning and it stopped at Liuzhou station to pick up more passengers. This is a double deck train ie it has two levels. Seats are all numbered and it is clean and with AC. Travel time from Liuzhou to Guilin was about 2hrs + (we arrived at Guilin Train Station at 3.35pm). Fare : 29yuan per pax one way. During the train journey, it made a couple of stops at major towns. You can buy food and drinks on train as there are pushcarts inside the train that sell stuffs.
Train tickets can be purchased in advance at the Main Train Station in Liuzhou.
The train journey from Liuzhou to Guilin is pretty scenic. See more pictures on travelogue titled "Scenes along Liuzhou to Guilin - Train ride"
See more pictures attached on this double-deck train.
There is no bus service between Guilin Liangjiang International Airport and Yangshuo County.
Yangshuo is approximately 95km away from the Guilin airport and it may take you about 1.5 hour by taxi.
Usually the taxi you call at the airport is from Guilin city and they will charge you RMB250+ to Yangshuo one way, however, you may contact your hotel/hostel at Yangshuo for arranging a pick up. They usually only charge RMB200 or even cheaper if you book a round trip.
We flew with China Eastern air from Chonqing to Guilin . It was about an hour and a half. Good and easy trip . Snacks served...could really get used to that back home.The airport is about 30km from the town center. Taxis cost about $15.00 but there are shuttles that are cheaper. We were surprised by all the loghts on the shrubs and trees...looked like Vegas!
We took a sleeper bus from Guangzhou to Guilin and it was the worst experience. There were only 3 people on the bus who bought legitatmate tickets from the ticket office. The driver illegally sells tickets directly to locals at a lower price and overfills the bus. Not only was our bus old and disgusting with gross blankets, the aisles were packed with people sleeping right beside you. Never again! I hear the regular sitting buses are fine though. They are more expensive but probably worth the extra cost!