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Things to Know for a Self-organized Guilin Trip

Last updated by meimeili at 2013/12/11; Destinations: Guilin

Guilin is known far and wide as being one of the most beautiful and visually arresting places in China and the world. Thanks to its lush mountains and lively waterways, Guilin has been blessed throughout history with some truly magnificent landscapes. If you are planning to visit Guilin on your own, keep a few of our tips below in mind for a more successful, interesting, exciting, and safe trip.

Main Neighborhoods and Zones

    City Center – As a visitor, this will be your main area of interest and is very easy to navigate. The center is surrounded by 2 rivers, 4 lakes, and dramatic mountains with deep drops. Outside of the city center, you will find residential and business areas.

Getting Around

    Although the city center is very easy to get around, it is recommended that you get a map of Guilin in order to orient yourself, see what the nearby attractions are, and have an idea of how the public transportation routes operate.

    Bus: Getting around by bus is the easiest and most cost efficient way to get around Guilin, a rather peaceful town compared to the likes of Beijing and Shanghai. Most of the major city parks and rivers can be reached by bus. All buses beginning with the number 5 are free for all riders. Bus Line 58 is particularly useful because it runs from the train and bus station to the top destinations Guilin has to offer. Trips via local bus cost no more than 2 Yuan.

    Car: Since there are so many varied and dispersed natural attractions in Guilin, it may be prudent to hire a private car and driver for the day. This can be around 500 Yuan for the day. This way, if you are short on time, you can still see the main highlights at your flexibility.

What to Wear/Pack

    As Guilin is a natural and adventure center, it is best to bring your most sturdy and comfortable walking/hiking shoes. Closed toe is best.
    The sun can get quite strong depending on where you go and what activities you embark on. Sunscreen and other sun protection such as long sleeves and a hat are also recommended.
    The rainy season is long since Guilin is located in a subtropical zone. An umbrella and waterproof clothing is always a good idea.
    Insect repellant should be packed.
    Depending on the types of mountain and water activities you wish to try, be sure to bring the related equipment in order to properly enjoy your excursions. Based on the excursion, your tour operator may have some items included or for rent in your package for the day.

    Summer (April to October) – In the springtime and summer, also known as the rainy season, it is important to have waterproof clothing (including shoes) and an umbrella with you. During this time, temperatures are still rather low so bring warm clothing and layers. In the summer, typical hot and humid weather clothing can be packed such as t-shirts, shorts, skirts, and other light clothing items.

    Winter (October to March) – In the fall, the days may be warm or hot but the nights can be chilly in the mountains. As winter comes about, warm clothing will be needed such as a coat, gloves, scarves, and more. Ice may form on the streets so be sure to wear the appropriate footwear.

What to See

    Moon and Sun Pagodas – Found on the edges of Banyan Lake, the Moon and Sun Pagodas are 7 stories and 9 stories tall, respectively. The Moon Pagoda is like a glass tower while the Sun Pagoda has copper, gold, and silver details. There is also an 18 meter long underwater aquarium that links the two structures! A stroll around the lake with views of the pagodas at night is especially wonderful.

    Central Square – This public arena is a focal point in Guilin. It is a fine place to people watch and gather for cultural events that are held on occasion. The Lijiang Waterfall Hotel is just next to the square and every night, it hosts a delightful waterfall show at 8:30pm.

    Guilin Museum – Right next to West Lake is the Guilin Museum, a place which has gathered an extensive collection of the best cultural and folk artifacts from the region. The items are organized chronologically, varying from the Stone Age until the Qing Dynasty in the 20th century. Be sure to stop by to gain a deeper understanding of the region’s significance.

    Li River Folk Custom Center – The Li River Folk Custom Center is a community focused place which showcases the local folk customs, traditional, arts, gastronomy, and architectures of the region’s minorities and nationalities such as the Zhuang, Yao,  Miao, and Dong groups. There are often events such as dancing and live music at the center.

    Li River Cruise – The Li River is a peaceful and fascinating highlight of Guilin. One of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful sights is to take a short cruise where you can admire the landscapes even more intimately.

    Pagoda Hill Park and Tunnel Hill – These 2 highlights of Guilin form a single mountain range and a wonderful park zone. Views of the city from the top of both hills are spectacular.

    Fubo Hill – On this hill are some historical stone carvings dating to the Tang Dynasty as well as various Buddhist inscriptions. The hill itself is also very visually impressive.

    Elephant Trunk Hill – The Chinese are very fascinated with natural illusions and this attraction is another example. This hill has a large natural archaeological cut into it, making it look like an elephant drinking from the river. This scene has become an icon of Guilin and its tourism. A boat tour is the best way to see this elephant sight.

    Peach Blossom River – This river cuts through the western part of Guilin and is a peaceful place for casual relaxation. In the spring, the banks are flooded with peach blossoms; in the autumn, there are millions of red leaves.

    Reed Flute Cave – This is Guilin’s most impressive limestone cave with dramatic stalactite and stalagmite formations. Taking a tour, your guide will point out a number of formations that look like animals such as moneys, lions, and more. There is even a very colorful lights and laser show held inside the cave itself!

    Yaoshan Hill Park – Take a detour from the tourist map and visit Yaoshan Hill Park. It is a large country park with some peaks to easily summit. There are foot paths but also a chair lift and wheeled toboggan for descending. The park is a fun place for all ages.

What to Eat

The cuisine found in Guilin is a mix of flavors especially from the Canton and Hunan regions. Fish and heavy spices are other characteristics. Other typical ingredients include chili paste, fermented bean curds, and fruits not found elsewhere in China. Some typical foods:

    Daxu Clear Water Fish – made with salt and ginger
    Fengli – steamed, dried, and fried rice paste with ham, celery, cauliflower, or green garlic)
    Old Duck Stewed with Gingko – made with the famous Guilin gingko
    Snails – prepared with sour peppers, shallots, and ginger
    Lotus leaf wraps – the leaves are used to sweat meats such as duck and pork
    Sweet tofu – a snack with flower aromas infused within
    Horse hoof cake – a crumbly cake snack with red bean filling

Where to Stay

Guilin’s main industry is tourism so there are countless hotels of all categories, price levels, and locations to choose from. Most of the best ones are located in the city center. Zhongshan Road is long and has many hotels and restaurants along the way.