Guilin Travel Guide: Top 55 Things to Do in Guilin, China

Welcome to Guilin, a picturesque city located in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China. Known for its breathtaking landscapes, Guilin is often described as a “natural paradise” and is celebrated for its stunning karst mountains, crystal-clear rivers, and lush greenery. With its captivating beauty, Guilin has long been an inspiration for poets, artists, and travelers from around the world.

The city’s name, Guilin, means “Forest of Osmanthus,” referring to the fragrant osmanthus trees that adorn the area. As you explore Guilin, you’ll be enchanted by its harmonious blend of natural wonders, rich history, and vibrant culture.

Guilin is renowned for the Li River, a ribbon of water that winds through majestic karst peaks, creating breathtaking vistas at every turn. Cruising along the Li River is a must-do activity, allowing you to soak in the tranquil beauty of the landscape, with its towering limestone formations reflected in the calm waters. The scenery is often compared to an ink painting come to life.

In addition to the Li River, Guilin boasts other scenic gems such as the Reed Flute Cave, a mesmerizing underground world adorned with colorful stalactites and stalagmites. The Seven Star Park, one of China’s largest urban parks, offers lush green spaces, ancient stone bridges, and the famous Seven Star Cave. The Elephant Trunk Hill, resembling an elephant drinking from the river, is another iconic landmark that you won’t want to miss.

Immerse yourself in Guilin’s cultural heritage by exploring its historic sites. Visit the centuries-old Jingjiang Prince City, an architectural masterpiece that once served as the residence of local princes. Discover the Daxu Ancient Town, a well-preserved riverside town where you can wander through narrow lanes, admire traditional architecture, and experience the town’s timeless charm.

Guilin is also known for its vibrant ethnic minority groups, including the Zhuang, Yao, and Dong people. Take the opportunity to learn about their unique traditions, music, and colorful costumes by visiting minority villages and attending cultural performances.

As you explore Guilin, be sure to savor the local cuisine, which showcases the region’s fresh produce and distinct flavors. Taste the renowned Guilin rice noodles, flavorful fish dishes, and unique bamboo tube rice. Guilin’s culinary scene is a delightful blend of local specialties and regional favorites.

Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or culture seeker, Guilin has something to offer. Its captivating landscapes, rich heritage, and warm hospitality make it a destination that leaves a lasting impression on all who visit. Prepare to be captivated by Guilin’s natural wonders and embark on a journey of discovery in this enchanting city.

Guilin Travel Guide: Top Things to do in Guilin, China

Guilin City Guide: A Brief History Of Guilin, China

The history of Guilin spans over 2,000 years and is rich with cultural heritage and historical significance. As a traveler exploring this captivating city, understanding its history will provide a deeper appreciation for its landmarks, traditions, and local customs. Here’s a brief overview of the history of Guilin:

Ancient Times: The area around Guilin has been inhabited since ancient times, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Neolithic period. The region was originally settled by various ethnic groups, including the Baiyue people and later the Zhuang and Yao ethnic minorities.

The Qin Dynasty: During the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE), Guilin was incorporated into the Chinese empire. The first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, established Guilin as a county and used the region’s natural resources for construction projects, including the Great Wall.

The Tang Dynasty: The Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) is considered a golden age in Chinese history and brought prosperity to Guilin. The city became an important cultural and economic center, attracting scholars, artists, and poets who were inspired by Guilin’s natural beauty. Many of the famous poems and artworks depicting Guilin’s landscapes were created during this period.

The Song Dynasty: During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), Guilin grew in prominence as a political and military center. The city became an important hub for trade and commerce due to its strategic location on the Li River.

The Ming and Qing Dynasties: During the Ming (1368-1644 CE) and Qing (1644-1912 CE) Dynasties, Guilin continued to thrive. The city’s population grew, and its status as a cultural center flourished. It became a hub for education, attracting scholars and intellectuals.

Modern Era: In the 20th century, Guilin played a significant role during the Chinese Civil War. It served as the temporary capital of the Republic of China in 1940 and became an important military base. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Guilin underwent rapid development and became a popular tourist destination, known for its breathtaking natural landscapes.

Today, Guilin remains a symbol of China’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. The city’s historical sites, such as Jingjiang Prince City and the ancient town of Daxu, provide glimpses into its past. The appreciation for Guilin’s landscapes and the preservation of its cultural traditions continue to inspire visitors from around the world.

As a traveler in Guilin, take the time to explore the historical sites, visit museums, and engage with the local communities to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s fascinating history.

Guilin Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in China

Set among some of Southern China’s most spectacular karst scenery, Guilin is a must visit destination for those that are captivated by the beauty of nature. The natural landscapes in this section of the country are so notable that it is featured on the back of the ¥20 note, bearing witness to its popularity not only with tourists, but with the residents of China as well.

Though Guilin was an industrial town as recently as several decades ago, the forces of the economy have pulled them away, and the ensuing popularity of this place among foreign tourists has led to it becoming one of the cleanest cities in the nation.

Combined with the peaceful Lijiang River and the abundant limestone karsts sprout up everywhere in the region, Guilin is a destination that will likely prove to be a relaxing escape from the more polluted, crowded and hectic centres located further north and east of this quiet corner of China.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Before beginning your explorations of this small city and the countryside surrounding it, make some time to learn about the area’s history by paying a visit to the Guilin Museum.  Containing 20,000 artifacts from the Stone Age, through the many millennia of Chinese civilization straight up to recent times, this trove of historical relics will astound you.  Exhibits that should not be missed include a hall that focuses on folk culture, as well as a collection that shows a wide variety of materials from the period of resistance against Japanese aggression in the past century or so.

As far as landmarks go, the Sun and Moon Pagoda are the most easily recognizable sights within the city limits of Guilin. Set on Banyan Lake in the midst of the city, the time to see this attraction is most certainly at night.  At that point, they are both lit up brilliantly, showing off the Moon Pagoda’s seven storey glass spire that gives off a white glow, and the nine storey copper and gold Sun Pagoda, which provides the perfect contrast to its partner.  Both pagodas are linked by an underwater tunnel, and the Sun pagoda has an elevator within its core, making it one of the few monuments of its kind that can be ascended in this manner.

The Guilin area is home to many ethnic tribes that have wandered the area in previous ages; for those seeking information and demonstrations of their cultural heritage, the Li River Folk Custom Centre is the perfect resource to seek out. The primary groups that are represented here are the Zhuang, Yao, Miao, and Dong, and through this centre, you will get a chance to experience their culture through their songs, dances, food and their crafts.

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Guilin, China

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

The most famed attraction in the Guilin area is the Longsheng Rice Terraces, a breathtaking site that is well known for the steep rice terraces that have been carved into the side of the seemingly non-arable mountainous terrain.  Using the determination and ingenuity that was deep inside them, the local people over the countless generations have managed to live here and feed themselves against the odds, a fact that will give you a fresh appreciation of the human spirit when it is faced with a problem.  Though it is located 100 kilometres from Guilin, the trip here is two hours each way, so plan for a full day of sightseeing when heading out to see this spectacular place.

Those seeking to witness the natural bounty of this region without straying far from town will want to start by checking out Elephant Trunk Hill, which is a limestone hill with a natural arch eroded into it.  The formation appears to be the trunk of an elephant dipping into the water to get a drink, making it a worthwhile picture to take as you wander just outside the city centre.

Those who would like to see the interior of a limestone cave, but don’t fancy getting dirty or strapping a lamp to their head will want to check out the Reed Flute Cave. Boasting significantly sized stalagmite and stalactite formations lit up with various coloured spotlights, this cavern provides an easily accessible exception to the dank tight quarters that most subterranean caves have in store for any that choose to enter. Tours are moderately priced, but come with a snazzy light show at the end.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Finally, cap off your visit to Guilin with a Lijiang River Cruise.  Several companies provide this service, but no matter whom you choose, this is the best way to experience the mind-blowing karst scenery that unfolds around you, as if you were in a surrealistic dream.  Some groups stop at small fishing villages en route, but inquire with your tour provider to ensure that your sailing will involve this option.

Top 55 Things To Do in Guilin, China For Visitors

When visiting Guilin, China, there is an abundance of activities and attractions to explore. From breathtaking natural landscapes to cultural experiences, here are 55 top things to do in Guilin for visitors:

  1. Take a scenic Li River cruise: Embark on a leisurely boat ride along the Li River and immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty of Guilin. Marvel at the iconic karst peaks that rise majestically from the water, creating an ethereal landscape that has inspired countless poets and artists.
  2. Explore the Reed Flute Cave: Venture into the mesmerizing world of the Reed Flute Cave, named after the reeds growing near its entrance. Marvel at the intricate stalactite and stalagmite formations illuminated by multicolored lights, creating a surreal and enchanting underground spectacle.
  3. Hike or take a cable car to Yao Mountain: For spectacular views of Guilin, hike up the winding trails or take a cable car to the summit of Yao Mountain. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the city’s skyline, the meandering Li River, and the surrounding karst peaks.
  4. Visit Elephant Trunk Hill: Discover one of Guilin’s most iconic landmarks, Elephant Trunk Hill, which resembles an elephant drinking water from the Li River. Explore the park surrounding the hill and climb to the top for breathtaking views of the cityscape and the river.
  5. Explore Seven Star Park: Wander through Seven Star Park, one of China’s largest urban parks, and immerse yourself in nature. Admire the scenic beauty of the park’s karst hills, visit the iconic Seven Star Cave with its stunning stalactite formations, and encounter the playful pandas at the Guilin Zoo.
  6. Take a bamboo rafting trip on the Yulong River: Experience the tranquility of the Yulong River by embarking on a bamboo rafting adventure. Drift along the clear waters, surrounded by lush greenery and towering karst peaks, and soak in the serenity of the countryside.
  7. Enjoy a traditional cormorant fishing demonstration: Witness the ancient fishing technique of cormorant fishing on the Li River. Watch as skilled fishermen send trained cormorant birds into the water to catch fish, a practice that has been passed down through generations.
  8. Discover the Longji Rice Terraces: Venture outside of Guilin to the Longji Rice Terraces, also known as the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. Marvel at the intricate terraced fields carved into the mountainside, which create a stunning visual effect, especially during the planting and harvesting seasons.
  9. Visit the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces: Another stunning example of terraced fields can be found at the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. Take a hike through the terraces and immerse yourself in the picturesque landscapes while interacting with local ethnic minority communities.
  10. Explore the picturesque town of Xingping: Take a trip to Xingping, a charming ancient town located on the banks of the Li River. Stroll through its narrow streets, admire the well-preserved architecture, and immerse yourself in the town’s old-world charm. Xingping is also known for its scenic spots, including the famous “20 Yuan View” depicted on the Chinese currency.
  11. Take a bicycle tour through the countryside: Rent a bicycle and embark on a leisurely ride through the countryside surrounding Guilin. Explore charming villages, encounter friendly locals, and enjoy the serene landscapes of rice paddies, bamboo groves, and karst formations.
  12. Learn about local minority cultures at Longsheng Hot Springs Village: Discover the fascinating cultures of the ethnic minority groups in the Longsheng Hot Springs Village. Visit the traditional wooden houses, interact with locals, and witness their unique customs, colorful costumes, and traditional performances.
  13. Explore the scenic beauty of the Crown Cave: Venture into the Crown Cave, renowned for its unique karst formations. Explore the illuminated underground caverns, marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites, and take a boat ride on the subterranean river that flows through the cave.
  14. Visit Moon Hill: Journey to Moon Hill, a unique hill featuring a natural arch resembling a crescent moon. Hike up to the hilltop for panoramic views of the surrounding karst landscape, or simply enjoy the scenic beauty from the base.
  15. Take a cooking class: Indulge in Guilin’s culinary delights by taking a cooking class. Learn how to prepare traditional Guilin dishes such as Guilin rice noodles, stuffed river snails, and bamboo-tube rice. Experience the flavors and techniques firsthand while gaining insights into the local cuisine.
  16. Visit the Guilin Tea Science and Research Institute: Immerse yourself in the world of tea at the Guilin Tea Science and Research Institute. Learn about the tea production process, from cultivation to brewing, and participate in a tea tasting to appreciate the nuances of different tea varieties.
  17. Explore the ancient town of Daxu: Step back in time as you explore the ancient town of Daxu. Wander through its well-preserved streets lined with traditional houses, ancient bridges, and stone-paved lanes. Experience the town’s rustic charm and immerse yourself in its historical ambiance.
  18. Embark on a guided photography tour: Capture the stunning landscapes of Guilin with a guided photography tour. Benefit from the expertise of local photographers who will guide you to the best vantage points and help you capture memorable shots of the city’s natural wonders.
  19. Visit the Mulong Lake Scenic Area: Escape the city and venture into the Mulong Lake Scenic Area. Explore tranquil lakes, hike through mountainous terrain, and discover beautiful waterfalls. Immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the serenity of this scenic retreat.
  20. Explore the Peach Blossom River: Experience the beauty of the Peach Blossom River, particularly during spring when the peach trees are in full bloom. Take a leisurely boat ride along the river, surrounded by vibrant pink blossoms, and relish in the enchanting atmosphere.
  21. Take a cycling tour around the countryside: Enjoy the scenic beauty of Guilin’s countryside by taking a cycling tour. Pedal along winding paths, pass by rice fields, and encounter local villages, immersing yourself in the serene rural landscapes.
  22. Visit the Ling Canal: Discover the ancient Ling Canal, an impressive waterway system that connected the Yangtze River and Pearl River during the Warring States period. Explore the remnants of the canal, including locks, sluices, and ancient bridges, and learn about its historical significance.
  23. Explore the Guilin Merryland Theme Park: For some family-friendly fun, head to the Guilin Merryland Theme Park. Enjoy thrilling rides, vibrant shows, and cultural performances that showcase traditional Chinese art forms. The park offers entertainment for visitors of all ages.
  24. Take a night tour of the Guilin Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Area: Experience the enchanting beauty of Guilin at night with a tour of the Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Area. Admire the illuminated bridges, pagodas, and landscaped gardens, creating a magical ambiance along the waterways.
  25. Attend the Guilin International Tourism Expo: If you happen to visit during the Guilin International Tourism Expo, make sure to attend this annual event. It provides a platform to learn about Guilin’s tourism industry, cultural diversity, and attend exhibitions and performances showcasing the region’s attractions.
  26. Visit the Guilin Solitary Beauty Peak: Ascend the Guilin Solitary Beauty Peak for sweeping panoramic views of the city and its surrounding karst landscape. Marvel at the rugged rock formations and take in the breathtaking vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see.
  27. Explore the Guangxi Guilin Landscape Geological Park: Venture into the Guangxi Guilin Landscape Geological Park, a vast area encompassing numerous scenic spots and geological wonders. Discover hidden caves, crystal-clear lakes, and remarkable karst formations that epitomize Guilin’s natural splendor.
  28. Participate in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony: Immerse yourself in Chinese tea culture by participating in a traditional tea ceremony. Learn about the art of tea preparation, including proper techniques for brewing and appreciating tea. Engage in a serene and meditative experience while sipping on a variety of fragrant teas.
  29. Attend the Guilin International Mountain Water Sports Festival: If you’re a sports enthusiast, consider timing your visit to coincide with the Guilin International Mountain Water Sports Festival. Join in the excitement as participants engage in various water sports and activities, including kayaking, dragon boat racing, and water polo.
  30. Explore the Yaoshan Scenic Area: Venture to the Yaoshan Scenic Area and embrace the beauty of Guilin’s highest peak. Take a cable car ride to the summit and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, or hike through the lush forests to immerse yourself in nature.
  31. Visit the Guilin Art Gallery: Immerse yourself in Guilin’s art scene by visiting the Guilin Art Gallery. Admire a diverse collection of artworks, including traditional Chinese paintings, calligraphy, sculptures, and contemporary art pieces, offering insights into the local artistic expression.
  32. Discover the Xiangshan Scenic Area: Explore the Xiangshan Scenic Area, known for its towering karst peaks and picturesque landscapes. Take a leisurely hike along well-marked trails, discover hidden caves, and revel in the stunning views from various vantage points.
  33. Attend the Guilin International Lantern Festival: If you’re lucky enough to visit during the Guilin International Lantern Festival, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this annual event. Marvel at the elaborate lantern displays, watch cultural performances, and take part in traditional festivities that celebrate Chinese heritage.
  34. Experience a traditional Chinese foot massage: After a day of exploration, treat yourself to a traditional Chinese foot massage. Relax as skilled therapists use ancient techniques to alleviate stress and promote overall well-being. This rejuvenating experience is a great way to unwind and recharge.
  35. Explore the Guilin Modern Agriculture Demonstration Park: Gain insights into Guilin’s agricultural practices and rural life at the Guilin Modern Agriculture Demonstration Park. Discover organic farming methods, learn about crop cultivation, and even participate in hands-on farming activities.
  36. Take a calligraphy class: Embrace the art of Chinese calligraphy by enrolling in a calligraphy class. Learn basic brush strokes, practice writing Chinese characters, and gain an appreciation for this ancient art form.
  37. Participate in a traditional Chinese music performance: Immerse yourself in the melodic sounds of traditional Chinese music by attending a live performance. Listen to the harmonious tunes of traditional instruments like the guzheng (zither) or pipa (lute) as skilled musicians showcase their talents.
  38. Enjoy a traditional Guilin-style banquet: Indulge in a sumptuous Guilin-style banquet, featuring an array of flavorful dishes made with fresh local ingredients. Experience the unique flavors and culinary traditions of Guilin as you feast on delicacies like beer fish, lipu taro stew, and stewed duck with gingko nuts.
  39. Explore the Guilin Folk Customs Center: Delve into the region’s cultural heritage at the Guilin Folk Customs Center. Learn about the customs, traditions, and rituals practiced by the local ethnic minority groups through exhibits, interactive displays, and live demonstrations.
  40. Visit the Guilin Institute of Tourism: Gain a deeper understanding of the tourism industry in Guilin by visiting the Guilin Institute of Tourism. Engage in informative discussions, attend lectures or workshops, and learn about the sustainable development of tourism in the region.
  41. Attend the Guilin International Auto Show: Car enthusiasts may want to plan their visit around the Guilin International Auto Show. Admire the latest automotive models, enjoy exciting car displays, and engage with industry professionals in this grand event.
  42. Explore the Fubo Hill Scenic Area: Journey to the Fubo Hill Scenic Area and marvel at the ancient inscriptions, intricate rock carvings, and stunning pagodas that adorn the hill. Take in the serene surroundings and panoramic views of the Li River from the hilltop.
  43. Participate in traditional handicraft workshops: Get hands-on with traditional Guilin handicrafts by participating in workshops. Learn techniques such as bamboo weaving, fan painting, or paper cutting, and create your own unique souvenir to take home.
  44. Visit the Guilin Institute of Fine Arts: Appreciate the works of local artists by visiting the Guilin Institute of Fine Arts. Explore the galleries showcasing contemporary artworks, sculptures, and installations, providing a glimpse into the dynamic art scene of Guilin.
  45. Explore the Guilin Museum of Modern Art: Immerse yourself in modern and contemporary art at the Guilin Museum of Modern Art. Admire the diverse collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations, which reflect the evolving artistic expressions of Guilin’s creative community.
  46. Experience traditional Chinese opera: Attend a traditional Chinese opera performance to witness the artistry of this ancient form of entertainment. Be captivated by the colorful costumes, intricate makeup, and melodic voices as talented performers bring classic tales to life on stage.
  47. Visit the Guangxi Guilin Culture and Arts Center: Immerse yourself in Guilin’s cultural scene by visiting the Guangxi Guilin Culture and Arts Center. Enjoy theatrical performances, musical concerts, or dance recitals that showcase the region’s rich artistic heritage.
  48. Take a calligraphy or painting lesson from a local master: Deepen your understanding of Chinese calligraphy or painting by taking a lesson from a local master. Learn the traditional techniques, explore different styles, and create your own artwork under the guidance of a skilled mentor.
  49. Attend the Guilin International Cartoon and Animation Festival: If you’re a fan of cartoons and animations, don’t miss the Guilin International Cartoon and Animation Festival. Enjoy screenings of animated films, engage in workshops and seminars, and meet renowned artists and animators from around the world.
  50. Explore the Guilin Planning Exhibition Hall: Gain insights into the urban development and planning of Guilin at the Guilin Planning Exhibition Hall. Discover the city’s future development projects, urban infrastructure, and architectural visions through interactive exhibits and multimedia displays.
  51. Visit the Guilin Institute of Geology: Delve into Guilin’s geological wonders at the Guilin Institute of Geology. Learn about the formation of the karst landscape, the geological history of the region, and the ongoing research conducted by experts in the field.
  52. Take a meditation or tai chi class: Engage in a peaceful and contemplative practice by participating in a meditation or tai chi class. Learn ancient techniques to calm the mind, improve physical well-being, and cultivate inner harmony in tranquil surroundings.
  53. Attend a traditional Chinese tea ceremony: Immerse yourself in the art of tea appreciation by attending a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Learn about different tea varieties, brewing methods, and the philosophy behind this ancient practice. Enjoy the meditative atmosphere as you savor the flavors and aromas of fine tea.
  54. Explore the Guilin Night Market: Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Guilin Night Market. Stroll through the bustling stalls, sample local street food, and browse for unique souvenirs, handicrafts, and traditional Chinese products.
  55. Take part in a traditional lantern-making workshop: Unleash your creativity by participating in a traditional lantern-making workshop. Learn the intricate techniques of lantern crafting, create your own personalized lantern design, and witness the magical glow of your creation when illuminated.

With these 55 diverse activities, you can truly immerse yourself in the beauty, culture, and traditions of Guilin, making your visit a truly memorable experience. Enjoy your exploration of this captivating city!

What To Eat and Drink in Guilin, China

When it comes to culinary delights, Guilin offers a unique and flavorful dining experience. Here are some must-try dishes and drinks in Guilin:

  1. Guilin Rice Noodles (Guilin Mifen): This iconic local dish consists of rice noodles served in a flavorful broth with toppings such as braised pork, pickled vegetables, peanuts, and chili oil. It’s a popular breakfast or lunch option and can be found in numerous street stalls and restaurants throughout the city.
  2. Beer Fish (Pijiu Yu): This famous Guilin specialty combines fresh fish (usually carp or tilapia) with a savory sauce made from beer, chili peppers, garlic, and ginger. The fish is typically cooked in a clay pot, allowing the flavors to meld together and create a deliciously fragrant dish.
  3. Lipu Taro Stew (Lipu Taro Tang): Lipu Taro is a type of taro grown in the nearby Lipu County. It is often stewed with pork, dried bamboo shoots, and various spices, resulting in a hearty and aromatic dish. The taro becomes tender and absorbs the flavors of the stew, making it a comforting and satisfying choice.
  4. Stuffed Snails (Luosu): This unique Guilin delicacy features small river snails stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, garlic, and spices. The snails are cooked until tender and are often served with a spicy dipping sauce. They provide a unique texture and taste experience for adventurous food enthusiasts.
  5. Bamboo-Tube Rice (Zhutong Fan): Bamboo-Tube Rice is a traditional dish where rice, meat, and vegetables are packed into a bamboo tube and then steamed. As the rice cooks, it absorbs the flavors and aromas from the bamboo, resulting in a fragrant and delicious meal. It’s a must-try for those looking to experience authentic Guilin cuisine.
  6. Osmanthus Jelly (Guihua Gao): Guilin is famous for its osmanthus trees, and one delightful treat made from the fragrant flowers is Osmanthus Jelly. This translucent, sweet jelly is infused with the aroma of osmanthus and often served as a refreshing dessert or snack.
  7. Guilin Tea (Guilin Cha): Guilin is also known for its tea production, and trying the local Guilin tea is a must. Green tea is the most common variety, with its delicate flavor and refreshing properties. You can enjoy a cup of Guilin tea at tea houses or purchase some to take home as a souvenir.
  8. Rice Wine (Sanhua Jiu): Rice wine is a traditional alcoholic beverage in Guilin and is often served during festive occasions. Made from fermented glutinous rice, it has a mild sweetness and smooth texture. You can find rice wine in local liquor stores or try it at traditional restaurants.
  9. Yangshuo Beer Fish (Yangshuo Pijiu Yu): While technically not in Guilin, the neighboring town of Yangshuo is famous for its beer fish. Similar to Guilin’s version, it features fresh fish cooked in a beer-based sauce, but with the addition of local ingredients and flavors. It’s a popular dish among visitors to Yangshuo.
  10. Guilin-style Snacks: As you explore Guilin’s street markets and snack stalls, be sure to sample a variety of local snacks. From crispy rice cakes (guibaogao) to Guilin-style sticky rice cakes (guifen gao), and various savory pastries, there are plenty of options to satisfy your cravings.
  11. Duck Stewed with Gingko Nuts (Yinxing Duck): This specialty dish features tender duck meat stewed with gingko nuts, which adds a subtle nutty flavor to the dish. The combination of savory duck and delicate gingko nuts creates a harmonious and flavorful combination.
  12. Stir-Fried River Snails (Xiangxi River Snails): Another popular way to enjoy river snails in Guilin is by stir-frying them with a mix of aromatic spices, chili peppers, garlic, and fermented black beans. This dish offers a spicy and savory taste, perfect for those who enjoy bold flavors.
  13. Lijiang River Shrimp (Lijiang Shrimp): Guilin is known for its freshwater shrimp, and the Lijiang River is a prime location for catching these succulent crustaceans. The shrimp are typically stir-fried with garlic, ginger, and scallions, resulting in a fragrant and delightful seafood dish.
  14. Steamed Pork Wrapped in Lotus Leaves (Ye Pian Rou): This traditional dish involves marinating slices of pork with spices, wrapping them in lotus leaves, and steaming them to perfection. The lotus leaves infuse the meat with a delicate aroma, creating a tender and flavorful dish.
  15. Tofu with Preserved Vegetables (Suan Cai Dou Fu): Guilin is known for its delicious tofu dishes, and this particular dish features tofu cooked with preserved vegetables. The combination of the soft tofu and tangy preserved vegetables creates a savory and satisfying dish.
  16. Guihua Wine (Osmanthus Wine): In addition to Guilin tea, you can also try Guihua Wine, which is made by infusing rice wine with dried osmanthus flowers. This aromatic wine has a sweet and floral flavor, making it a pleasant drink to accompany your meal or enjoy on its own.
  17. Guilin-style Fried Noodles (Guilin Chao Mian): If you’re in the mood for noodles, try the Guilin-style fried noodles. These thin, flat rice noodles are stir-fried with vegetables, meat, and seasonings, creating a flavorful and satisfying dish.
  18. Guilin-style Barbecued Pork (Guilin Char Siu): This local take on barbecued pork features tender slices of pork marinated in a sweet and savory sauce, then roasted to perfection. The result is succulent and flavorful meat that pairs well with rice or noodles.
  19. Osmanthus Tea (Guihua Cha): Another delightful way to enjoy the fragrance of osmanthus flowers is through Osmanthus Tea. The dried flowers are steeped in hot water, creating a fragrant and soothing tea with a subtle sweetness.
  20. Glutinous Rice Cake (Youcha Gao): Glutinous Rice Cake is a popular dessert in Guilin, made from glutinous rice flour and filled with various sweet fillings such as red bean paste, sesame paste, or sweet taro. These chewy and flavorful cakes are often enjoyed during festivals or as a sweet treat.
  21. Snow Lotus Seed Soup (Xue Lian Zi Geng): Snow Lotus Seed Soup is a traditional Guilin dessert made from lotus seeds, rock sugar, and other ingredients. It has a smooth and creamy texture, with a subtle sweetness that makes it a comforting and nourishing dessert.

With these delectable dishes and refreshing drinks, you can embark on a gastronomic journey in Guilin and savor the unique flavors of this vibrant city. Don’t hesitate to explore the local food scene and indulge in the culinary delights that Guilin has to offer.

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Guilin?

After exploring the beauty of Guilin, there are several destinations nearby that you can consider visiting to continue your journey. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Yangshuo: Located about 65 kilometers south of Guilin, Yangshuo is a picturesque town surrounded by karst peaks, rice paddies, and the Li River. It offers stunning natural scenery and a relaxed atmosphere. Explore West Street, take a bamboo rafting trip on the Yulong River, or go cycling through the countryside. Yangshuo is known for its outdoor activities, charming villages, and vibrant arts scene.
  2. Longsheng Rice Terraces: Travel northeast of Guilin to the Longsheng Rice Terraces, also known as the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. This remarkable agricultural marvel features terraced fields that resemble a dragon’s scales. Hike through the terraces, interact with local ethnic minority communities, and admire the panoramic vistas.
  3. Sanjiang: Located in the northwest of Guilin, Sanjiang County is home to the Dong ethnic minority group. Explore the well-preserved Dong villages, such as Chengyang and Ping’an, known for their unique wooden architecture, drum towers, and wind and rain bridges. Immerse yourself in the traditional culture, enjoy local folk performances, and appreciate the Dong people’s intricate craftsmanship.
  4. Zhaoxing: Another Dong village worth visiting is Zhaoxing, located in southeastern Guizhou Province, near the border with Guangxi. It is one of the largest Dong villages in the region, known for its traditional wooden houses, stone-paved streets, and picturesque surroundings. Experience the Dong culture, witness traditional ceremonies, and savor the local cuisine.
  5. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: If you’re up for more stunning natural landscapes, consider a trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Located in Hunan Province, it is famous for its towering sandstone pillars, dense forests, and breathtaking vistas. Explore the park’s hiking trails, ride the glass elevator to Tianmen Mountain, and marvel at the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, which served as inspiration for the movie.
  6. Fenghuang Ancient Town: Travel to Fenghuang Ancient Town, situated in Hunan Province, to experience a well-preserved ancient water town. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its picturesque riverside setting, traditional wooden houses, and cobblestone streets. Explore the town’s rich history, visit ancient temples, and sample local delicacies.
  7. Nanning: If you’re interested in exploring the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, consider a visit to Nanning. This vibrant city showcases a blend of modernity and traditional Chinese culture. Discover the Guangxi Museum, explore the beautiful People’s Park, and immerse yourself in the local cuisine.
  8. Hong Kong: If you have more time and want to experience the bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere of Hong Kong, you can take a flight from Guilin to this vibrant city. Enjoy the iconic skyline, indulge in delicious street food, shop in bustling markets, and explore the cultural landmarks that make Hong Kong a unique destination.
  9. Guangzhou: As the capital of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and vibrant culture. Explore iconic landmarks like the Canton Tower, visit historical sites such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, and immerse yourself in the city’s culinary scene, known for its Cantonese cuisine.
  10. Macau: Known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” Macau is a former Portuguese colony and now a special administrative region of China. Experience the unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures as you explore the historic center of Macau, visit grand casinos, and indulge in Macanese cuisine.
  11. Hainan Island: If you’re seeking a beach getaway, consider visiting Hainan Island. Located in the South China Sea, Hainan offers pristine sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a tropical climate. Relax at beach resorts, explore nature reserves, and discover the unique cultures of the island’s ethnic minority groups.
  12. Zhangzhou: Journey to Zhangzhou, a city in Fujian Province, known for its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Explore ancient temples, stroll through traditional streets lined with ancestral homes, and enjoy the coastal scenery. Zhangzhou is also famous for its delicious local cuisine, particularly its seafood dishes.
  13. Guilin to Kunming: If you have more time and want to embark on an epic journey, consider traveling from Guilin to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. Along the way, you can explore stunning destinations such as the Stone Forest in Shilin, the beautiful city of Dali, and the historic town of Lijiang, known for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town.
  14. Guizhou Province: For a deeper immersion into China’s ethnic minority cultures, consider exploring Guizhou Province. Visit cities like Guiyang and Kaili to learn about the traditions and customs of the Miao and Dong ethnic groups. Explore ancient villages, witness colorful festivals, and enjoy the picturesque landscapes of the region.
  15. Chengdu: If you’re a fan of pandas, a visit to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, is a must. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where you can observe these adorable creatures up close. Additionally, you can explore the city’s vibrant culinary scene and visit historical sites such as the Wenshu Monastery and Jinli Ancient Street.
  16. Jiuzhaigou Valley: Known for its stunning natural beauty, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Sichuan Province. The valley features turquoise-colored lakes, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. It’s a paradise for nature lovers and photographers, offering a serene and otherworldly experience.
  17. Xi’an: Travel to Xi’an, the ancient capital of China and home to the world-famous Terracotta Army. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, walk or cycle along the ancient city walls, and visit historic sites such as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Muslim Quarter.
  18. Shanghai: Experience the modern and cosmopolitan vibe of Shanghai, China’s largest city. Wander along the iconic Bund waterfront, explore the historic Yu Garden, marvel at the futuristic skyline from the Shanghai World Financial Center, and indulge in the city’s diverse culinary scene.
  19. Zhangye: Venture to Zhangye in Gansu Province and witness the mesmerizing Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park. These technicolor sandstone formations create a stunning natural landscape that appears as if it’s been painted with a rainbow palette.
  20. Lhasa: For an extraordinary cultural experience, travel to Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Visit the magnificent Potala Palace, explore sacred Buddhist monasteries like Jokhang Temple and Sera Monastery, and immerse yourself in Tibetan culture and spirituality.
  21. Harbin: If you’re visiting during the winter months, consider a trip to Harbin in northeastern China. This winter wonderland is famous for its annual Ice and Snow Festival, featuring intricately carved ice sculptures, ice lanterns, and various winter activities.
  22. Dunhuang: Explore the historical and cultural treasures of Dunhuang, located in Gansu Province. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mogao Caves, an ancient Buddhist cave complex adorned with intricate murals and sculptures. Experience the stunning sand dunes of the Mingsha Shan (Singing Sand Dunes) and enjoy a camel ride in the desert.
  23. Beijing: Extend your journey to China’s capital city, Beijing, and discover its rich history and iconic landmarks. Explore the Great Wall of China, visit the magnificent Forbidden City, admire the Temple of Heaven, and experience the vibrant street life of the hutongs (narrow alleys).
  24. Chengdu to Leshan: Travel from Chengdu to Leshan to witness the awe-inspiring Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone Buddha statue in the world. Marvel at this UNESCO World Heritage site and explore the surrounding lush landscapes.
  25. Yunnan Province: If you have more time, consider exploring the diverse landscapes and ethnic minority cultures of Yunnan Province. From the enchanting old town of Lijiang to the stunning landscapes of Shangri-La, Yunnan offers a wealth of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary delights.

These are just a few options for extending your trip after visiting Guilin. Each destination offers its own distinct attractions, cultural experiences, and natural wonders. Consider your interests and the time you have available to choose the best continuation of your journey.

Guilin City view from a high vantage point overlooking the buildings and karst mountain in China

Guilin Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Guilin, with its captivating beauty and rich cultural heritage, offers a truly remarkable travel experience. This enchanting city in southern China is known for its stunning karst landscapes, crystal-clear rivers, and a wealth of historical and cultural attractions. From exploring the picturesque Li River to marveling at the iconic Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin has a plethora of sights and activities to keep any traveler enthralled.

One of the highlights of a trip to Guilin is undoubtedly the Li River. Cruising along the river is an experience that takes you through a breathtaking landscape of towering limestone karsts, lush greenery, and serene waters. The famous scenery immortalized in traditional Chinese paintings comes to life as you float past stunning formations such as the Nine Horse Fresco Hill and the Yellow Cloth Shoal. The river cruise also offers opportunities to observe local rural life, as you pass by fishermen casting their nets and farmers tending to their fields.

Guilin’s natural wonders extend beyond the Li River. The Longji Rice Terraces, also known as the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, present a spectacular sight. Carved into the steep slopes of the mountains, these terraces form a mosaic of cascading fields that change with the seasons. Visitors can hike through the terraces, interact with the local ethnic minority communities, and witness the timeless agricultural practices that have sustained the region for centuries.

Within the city, Guilin offers a range of cultural and historical attractions. The Reed Flute Cave is a remarkable underground world adorned with stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and rock formations. Illuminated by multicolored lights, the cave creates a magical ambiance as visitors walk through its chambers and admire the intricate natural beauty.

Elephant Trunk Hill, one of Guilin’s iconic landmarks, is a rock formation that resembles an elephant drinking from the Li River. This unique geological formation is a symbol of Guilin and offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes.

Guilin’s cultural heritage is also on display at attractions such as the Guilin Museum and the Yao Mountain Park. The Guilin Museum showcases the city’s history, art, and traditional customs through a collection of artifacts and exhibits. Yao Mountain Park, on the other hand, offers stunning views from its summit and provides insights into the culture of the Yao ethnic minority group.

To fully appreciate Guilin’s vibrant local life, a visit to the colorful markets and bustling streets is a must. The Zhengyang Pedestrian Street is a vibrant hub of activity, lined with shops, restaurants, and lively street performers. The markets offer a sensory delight, with stalls selling fresh produce, local handicrafts, and street food. This is the perfect opportunity to try Guilin’s renowned culinary delights, such as Guilin rice noodles, beer fish, and lipu taro stew.

In addition to its natural and cultural attractions, Guilin serves as a gateway to other captivating destinations in the region. Yangshuo, a charming town located downstream from Guilin, offers a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. It is surrounded by breathtaking karst landscapes and provides opportunities for outdoor activities such as cycling, rock climbing, and bamboo rafting on the Yulong River.

For those seeking a deeper immersion into the local culture, nearby ethnic minority villages in Guizhou and Guangxi provinces offer a glimpse into the traditions and lifestyles of various ethnic groups. These villages, such as Zhaoxing and Longsheng, are known for their distinctive architecture, vibrant festivals, and rich cultural heritage.

Guilin’s location in southern China also makes it a convenient starting point for further exploration. From Guilin, travelers can venture to destinations like Zhangjiajie National Forest Park with its towering sandstone pillars, the historic city of Xi’an with its Terracotta Army, or the bustling metropolis of Shanghai.

With its stunning landscapes, warm hospitality, and a wealth of attractions, Guilin is a destination that captures the hearts of travelers. Whether you’re seeking tranquility in nature, cultural immersion, or culinary adventures, Guilin has something to offer everyone.

So, pack your bags, embark on an unforgettable journey to Guilin, and prepare to be enchanted by the beauty and charm of this remarkable city. From cruising the Li River to exploring ancient caves and indulging in local delicacies, Guilin promises an experience that will leave you with cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for the natural wonders and cultural heritage of China’s southern region.

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  1. says: Wai

    The Longshen Rice terraces are truly amazing and well worth a visit. We have also been to the nearby Hot Springs which were most enjoyable and should be included in any trip to the area!