Li River

Last updated by vivian at 2017/9/14

Quick Facts

  • Chinese Name: Li Jiang (漓江)
  • Source: Mao’er Mountain (Mountain Cat), North Guilin
  • Length: 437 kilometers
  • Best Part: From Yangdi to Xingping
  • Highlights: Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Yellow Cloth Reflection, Yangdi Scenic Area, Xingping Ancient Village
  • Best Seasons to Visit: Spring, Summer, Autumn
  • Tour Types: Boat Cruise, Bamboo Rafting, Hiking
 

Li River, originated from Mao’er Mountain (Mountain Cat) in Xing'an county, is a bright pearl in Guilin. It’s about 437 kilometers in length, passing through Guilin City. As a saying goes, “Guilin's scenery is the best in the world”. And Li River is a must-see highlight. Hanyu, an ancient poet, describe Li River as a blue silk ribbon, and the mountains as emerald hairpins. The most beautiful scenery of Li River lies in the section from Yangdi to Xingping, about 18km long and is like an artist's masterpiece. The landscape is decorated with crystal clear waters uniquely shaped Karst hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves and rice paddies, and is lined with bamboo groves. The “Guilin Li River Scenic Area” was listed as the key national scenic area in 1982, enjoying priority protection from the government. In the misty day, the scenery of Li River looks more charming. Everything is shrouded by mist and rain. Immersing yourself in the boat on the river, you are often puzzled whether or not you are in the fairyland.

Famous Attractions along Li River

Yangdi Scenic Area

Yangdi is the first attraction in Li River of Yangshuo, located at the north part of Yansgshuo County. Yangdi got its name from the shape of two mountains behind the village, which is like a sheep hoof. It stretches 18 km along and is a remote area without disturb from the noisy city and pollution of the industry. Han Yu, a well-known poet in the Tang Dynasty wrote these verses about the River “the river winds like a ribbon of the blue silk, hills tower like hairpins of green jade”, and people title Yangdi part as the golden waterway without dry as cruise still go on when Li River is in dry season.

Nine Horses Fresco Hill

Nine Horses Fresco Hill is a famous attractions along Li River, with 400 meters high and 200 meters wide. The cliff facing the Li River has images of a flock of horses. And horses on the cliff assume different poses: running, playing, jumping, drinking, neighing or just lying there. Those gestures are as lively as real horse, inspiring visitors endless imagination. Ancient poets described this scene as a work made by a drunk god.

Yellow Cloth Reflection

Yellow Cloth Reflection lies only 500 meters after Nine Horses Painted Hill, and the river becomes wide and quiet from here. The water is clear and turquoise and the reflection of hills on the glassy surface of the river forms an impressive picture. Seeing the river from the ship, there is a yellow rock in the river which is like a yellow cloth covering the river, that’s why it got its name.

Xingping Ancient Village

Xingping was the largest town along the Li River in ancient times. Historic sites, like ancient ferries, pavilions, temples, bridges, enhance the mystique a lot. And the town is really a beautiful place, surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery, including Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Screw Hill, and Five Fingers Peak. It’s a great photographic location, where visitors can see the scenery is the same found on a 20 Yuan note.

Best Time to See Li River

Spring-March to April

What to expected to see: Spring is quite comfortable for visiting, as Li River is warm and green. There are more spring drizzles, making the weather misty and humid. When cruising along Li River, visitors will have great chance to see magnificent scenery of misty rain covering the river and mountains. T-shirts,shorts, raincoat will be enough.

Summer-May to August

What to expected to see: Summer is the rainy season, with over 50% of annual total rainfall. It’s mostly short-lived downpours and it become very clear after rains. There are also stormy downpours and lasts for a few days. And weather is very hot during the day. Visiting in rain and fog makes visitors feel as graceful as a fairy. White clouds dotted in the azure sky, green hills reaches to the far along the crystal clear river. Cruising along the river, visitor can see buffaloes are resting in the water and children are swimming in the river. T-shirts with skirts, shorts or slacks are the best choice for summer.

Autumn-September and October

What expected to see: Autumn is the golden season for travel, with crowded of visitors. The weather is mostly clear and cool, and the water in the Li River is as smooth as glass. It is an optimum time to enjoy the reflections of the mountains and the yellow paddy field on the river bank. Comfortable, casual and light clothes such as long-sleeved T-shirts or shirts plus thin jackets would be enough.

Tour Types for Visiting Li River

Boat Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo(Recommended)

Boat cruise is highly recommended for visiting Li River and it’s becoming an indispensable itinerary for visitors. Li River gives life to the whole of Guilin, with a post-monsoon stretch of some impressive greenery that hugs the entire trail of the river. Along the river you can see magnificent karst hills, bamboo groves, countryside scenery, crystal water with rocks and plants and rocky shoals. Highlights along the way include Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Yellow Cloth Reflection, 20-Yuan Bill Hill, and Xingping Ancient Village.

  • Route: Mopanshan/Zhujiang Pier (20km southeast of downtown Guilin) to Yangshuo
  • Duration: 4-5 Hours, depend on the water level (one-way trip)
 

Boat Types for Cruising

4 Star Cruise Ships

  • Departure location: Mopanshan Pier (40km from Guilin city center)
  • Departure Time: 09:30am to 10:30am (only for reference)
  • Seating capacity: 72-80 persons
  • Onboard language: English and Chinese
  • Classes of seating: 3 functional layers - standard class on first floor, business class and VIP class on second floor, sightseeing deck on the top layer
  • Eat/Drink: Chinese/Western buffet meal, various drinks, refreshments (vegetarian can request for appropriate meal in advance)
  • Facilities: air-conditioning, toilets, hot water service, places to store luggage, LCD televisions, mini-bar
  • Price: 580 CNY per adult, 300 CNY per child (1.1m-1.4m tall), Free with no seat (>1.2m tall), above is only for reference and can be change with seasons The 4-star cruise ship is deluxe. Facilities includes air conditioned seating, clean bathrooms, comfortable seats. As it only takes 72-80 persons on-board, individual space is larger and visitors will be much more cozy when admiring the stunning Li river scenery. Eating and drinking are at an excellent level. Lunch is Chinese or western buffet meal, all in various flavors. Hot coffee, beverages and tea are also served on-board.
 

3 Star Cruise Ships

  • Departure: Zhujiang Pier
  • Seating capacity: 120-150 persons
  • Classes of seating: 3 functional layers - random seats on first and second floor, sightseeing deck on the top layer
  • Eat/Drink: Chinese lunch box (extra meal and refreshments can be ordered at additional charge, vegetarian can request for appropriate meal in advance), various drinks.
  • Facilities: air-conditioning, toilets, hot water service, places to store luggage, LCD televisions, mini-bar
  • Price: 350 CNY per adult, 200 CNY per child (1.1m-1.4m tall), Free with no seat (>1.2m tall), above is only for reference and can be change with seasons The 3-star cruise ship offers a covered air conditioned seating area on the first and second floors, bilingual tour guide and a pretty basic lunch box. There are usually crowds of visitors and individual space is relatively narrow. The open deck on top layer is for sightseeing. And the cleanliness is also fine. Overall, it’s service and facilities are qualified with its price.
 

Things to Know When Cruising

  • Security check at the pier: according to government regulations, all visitors should provide passports and ID card when doing security check.
  • Visitors should leave hotel to the departure pier at least one and a half hour in advance, as it will take 45 minutes on the road.
  • Travel agents do not provide booking service for boat ticket individually, as boat ticket is bond with tour route.
  • Boat cruises usually set off around 9:30 am. Visitors who arrive on early flights (before 7 am) will be able to catch a boat. But if your flight is delayed, you will miss the boat. We suggest tourists spend at least one night in Guilin, so you will not miss the boat and have a chance to appreciate the beauty of the city.
  • There is no direct bus to the boat pier, so taxi is recommended. It costs about 70 RMB and takes about 30 minutes from the city to the pier. Some travel agencies pick you up from your hotel and take you to the pier.
 

Bamboo Rafting

Bamboo Rafting is a different way to admire the fantastic scenery along Li River. Compared with cruising, distance maybe shorter but it will be much more flexible and private. There are three route for bamboo rafting.

Route 1: Xingping → Nine Horses Fresco Hill → Xingping (1-1.5 hours)

Rafting upriver along the Li River, visitors will have chance to see the famous Nine-Horses-Fresco and graceful bamboo groves, as well as magnificent karst hills. The raft is now managed by the government and has unified ticketing. The government uniform price for the whole tour is 98 RMB / person. All bamboo rafts have 4 seats, and guest must fill the seat. If the numbers are insufficient, visitors must make up the difference 25 RMB / person. Opening periods include 08:00-11:00am and 13:30-17:00pm.

Insider Tips:

  • 1. Child that less than 7 years old or below 1.2 meter height, and senior over 70 years are not allowed to take the bamboo raft.
  • 2. The Motorized Bamboo rafting is not available during the raining season when there are floods along Li River.
  • 3. Visitors should wear life vest onboard until go ashore.
  • 4. No standing while rafting and no photographing on the prow. Can’t stop and go ashore for sightseeing.
  • 5. There are short-time stops at some spots for taking pictures (20 Yuan Banknote Hill, Yellow Cloth Reflection, Nine Horses Fresco Hill).
  • 6. Suggested touring time: 8:30-9:00am and 16:00pm. Other time, there will be lots of tourists group. Hence Li River will be crowded with bamboo rafts, and the motor noise will affect the tour.
  • 7. Battery car and the ticket office are all at the pier. Tourist bus from Yangshuo could stop at parking lot there for purchasing ticket, then get in the battery car to the pier.
  • 8. The terminal point of battery car is at Xingping Town pier.
 

Route 2: Yangdi → Nine Horses Fresco Hill → Yangdi (1 hour)

Visitors will need to take bus from Yangshuo or Guilin to Yangdi first. Then boarding private raft to explore the spectacular Nine Horses Fresco Hill, as well as immerse yourself in fresh air. After arriving at Nine-horse Fresco, Bamboo raft will go back to Yangdi by the way it came. And you get another chance to take pictures of the magnificent scenery.

Insider Tips:

  • 1. Child that less than 7 years old or below 1.2 meter height, and senior over 70 years are not allowed to take the bamboo raft.
  • 2. The Motorized Bamboo rafting is not available during the raining season when there are floods along Li River.
  • 3. As the water level changes a lot, time schedule of Bamboo rafting is unstable, especially in summer. It will be shut off if there is flood. Not recommend for visitors who book tickets over 3 months ahead.
 

Route 3: Yangdi → Xingping (2.5 hours)

Rafting downstream from Yangdi to Xingping is a great way to appreciate the scenery along the rive. Here boasts the most impressive part of the Li River with giant limestone peaks, sub tropical forest shading the banks and long white pebble beaches. If there is mist, it will be stunning to watch mountain appearing from nothing in layers.

Insider Tips:

  • 1. Child that less than 7 years old or below 1.2 meter height, and senior over 70 years are not allowed to take the bamboo raft.
  • 2. The Motorized Bamboo rafting is not available during the raining season when there are floods along Li River.
  • 3. As the water level changes a lot, time schedule of Bamboo rafting is unstable, especially in summer. It will be shut off if there is flood. Not recommend for visitors who book tickets over 3 month ahead.
 

Hiking

Hiking Route: Xianggong Hill → Lengshui Ferry Boat (5km, 2 hours ) → Nine Horses Fresco Hill →Xingping Town (5km, 2 hours )(tickets for Xianggong Hill and ferry boat are included)

You need to drive to Xianggong Hill from Guilin, which takes about 1.5 hours. It’s highly recommended to spend 30 minutes or more climbing the Xianggong Hill for taking panoramic view of karst mountain peaks along Li river and taking amazing pictures for a noticeable Li river bend. Then start your hiking tour to Xingping, which is about 10km (4 hours). Hike along villages on riverbank until arrive Lengshui ( about 2 hours). Upon your arrival in Lengshui by the Li river side, you will take a ferry boat to the opposite of Li river, to the famous attraction-Nine Horses Fresco Hill. Then you will continue the hiking from the Nine Horses Fresco Hill to Xingping Chaobanshan Pier along Li River side (about 1.5 hours). After lunch in Yangshuo CTN Li River Hotel at the pier, you can head to the terminal - Xingping Town (about 30 minutes).

Hiking along the Li River gives you a great opportunity to see the gorgeous natural scenery and the life of the farmers who live by the river. The path lets you experience the Li River from a different perspective, as well as taking you through small local villages, rive fields, orchards, bamboo forests, unique karst mountains , and then reach the old town of Xingping. Along the shores of Li River, there are usually very few tourists, which you can count how many horses on the famous Nine Horses Fresco Hill and take a picture at Xingping which is featured on the 20 Yuan bank note in a slow pace.

 

Li River Helicopter Tour (GUANG XI ZHANZHUO GENERAL AVIATION CO.,LTD.)

Route 1: Gaotian → Big Banyan Tree →Gather Dragon Pool →Ten-mile Gallery → Moon Hill → Gaotian

  • Time: 6 minutes
  • Distance: 8 km (round trip)
  • Highlight: beautiful views of the countryside

Route 2: Gaotian → Chaoyang Pier →Xiatang Pier → Gaotian

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Distance: 16 km (round trip)
  • Highlight: Yulong River (also name "little Li River"). Rolling karst hills, green bamboo forests, water buffaloes wandering the fields, rice paddies.

Route 3: Gaotian → Camel Hill →Li River → Nine Horses Fresco Hill → Xingping → Xianggong Hill → Fishing Village → Gaotian

  • Time: 25 minutes (luxury)
  • Distance: 50 km (round trip)
  • Highlight: It covers all “essence of the Li River”, such as Nine Horses Fresco Hill, Xingping Village, Li River Bend, Xianggong Hill, Yulong River

Things to Know When Taking Helicopter Tour

  • 1. No landing during the whole tour.
  • 2. Visitors will be divided into groups or separated by staff for security reasons.
  • 3. Your passport or ID card is required when taking this helicopter tour.
  • 4. A helicopter can accommodate 3 passengers, excluding the pilot. If your group has less than 3 people, you may need to share the helicopter with others, or you'll need to pay a supplement.
  • 5. This helicopter tour is inappropriate for children under 4 years of age, seniors over 80 years of age, and people with hypertension or cardiac problems. Age from 4 to 14 should go on board with adult.
  • 6. The tour can be operated every day if weather permits, but may be delayed, rescheduled or canceled in case of bad weather.
  • 7. Reach the airport at least 30 minutes in advance. Visitors who miss flight can only endorse the ticket one time for free on boarding day. If not flight for it, the ticket turns invalid and cannot be refunded.
  • 8. If it’s overtime flight, visitors go on board according to presenting order.
 

Photography on Li River

The Fishing Lights on the Li River

The classic shot of Li River is the one called "fishing lights on the Li River", together with sunrise or sunset. In the past, local fishermen paddled their bamboo raft and went fishing on the Li River as night falls. A magical scene appears when the river is dotted with fishing lights. It's a scene that shows an intimate relationship between human and nature. Nowadays, if you wish to take such photos, you need to arrange fishermen on bamboo rafts with charge.

The Panorama of Li River

The Xianggong Hill is the best spot to get a wide perspective view of the most beautiful part of Li River. On the top, you will see thousands of strange-shapely karst mountains and the winding Li River is cradled in the arms of hills. The sunlight and shadows, cloud sea after the rain, sunrises, and sunsets are all breathtaking sceneries, deeply loved by photographers.

Recommended Hotels along Li River

Sheraton Guilin Hotel (Downtown)

  • Star: 5 stars
  • Address: 15 Bin Jiang Road Guilin, Guangxi, Xiangshan 541001 Guilin, China
  • Room type: Premier Suite, Premier Double or Twin Room, Deluxe Room, Elegant Double or Twin Room
  • Price: CNY 470- CNY 2200
  • Breakfast: Included under room type of suite
  • Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, restaurant, free parking, free swimming pool, airport pickup service, bar

Jolie Vue Boutique Hotel Guilin (Downtown)

  • Star: 5 stars
  • Address: No.8, Binjiang Road, Xiangshan, 541002 Guilin, China
  • Room type for viewing Li River: Suite with River View
  • Price: CNY 560- CNY 700
  • Breakfast: Included
  • Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, restaurant, free parking, free swimming pool, free pick-up service from Guilin Airport or Guilin Railway Station, gym

Green Lotus, River View Hotel (Yangshuo)

  • Star: 5 stars
  • Address: No.1, Guan Lian Rd, Yang Shuo Xian, 541999 Yangshuo, China
  • Room type for viewing Li River: Suite with River View, Deluxe Double or Twin Room with River View, Double or Twin Room with River View, Limited Offer-Deluxe Double or Twin Room with River View
  • Price: CNY 550- CNY 3000
  • Breakfast: Included under room type of suite
  • Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, restaurant, free parking, free swimming pool, airport shuttle, gym

Solo Adventure Tips:

Location:

Li River is known as the Mother River of Guilin. It originates from the Cat Mountain and is 437 km long. From above, the river resembles a long green ribbon as it winds its way from Guilin to Yangshuo.

How to Get There?

The marina is 40km from the city proper. A ride by taxi costs about 70yuan.  

Ticket Price:

Opening Hours:

The cruise boats depart at 9:30 or 10:00 every morning, and the trip lasts about 4 hours.

More Tips:

  1. It’s advisable to book a boat or raft journey in advance, especially during the peak season and festivals (e.g. May Day and National Day).
  2. Many visitors are scammed by dishonest businessmen, who offer cheaper prices but shorten their trips or take visitors on shopping tours. 
  3. Most hotels provide ticket-purchasing services, or you can simply contact us to help book tickets for you.
  4. Visitors who want a panorama of the river need to go up the   mountains on either side.
  5. There are many ways to get to Xingping village and you do not need to spend a whole day there.


Information accuracy:

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