Think beautiful limestone karst hills – that is Guilin. In this Guilin Travel Guide, we share everything you need to know before visiting this beauty.
Found in southern China, Guilin is a city built amongst a dramatic landscape with the stunning Li River running through it.
With the Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave and Li River, you won’t get bored visiting Guilin. Plus, Guilin has some of the best food in China – rice noodles, Li River fish and crawfish!
Budget: ¥50+ for a dorm bed and ¥60 – ¥100 for budget hotel rooms.
Midrange: ¥200 – ¥600 for a private room in a nice hotel.
Luxury: There are a handful of 5 star luxury hotels in Guilin which start at ¥500.
Transport: Taxi’s and Didi’s (China’s Uber) will cost around ¥7 – ¥20 for journeys across the city centre and around ¥250 for a Didi to the Longji Rice Terraces. There are also tours available at most hotels and hostels, if you would rather an organised group trip.
Average cost of food:
Dishes in most restaurants start around ¥50.
Dinner for two with alcoholic drinks costs around ¥300.
Cost of Travel in China full guide
Best time to visit Guilin
Guilin is one of the Southern cities, meaning you can visit all year and expect pleasure to warm temperatures. Visit from April through to October for the best weather and vibrant green colours.
July and August are busier times to visit because of the school holidays so if you can, travel outside of these times. However, Guilin doesn’t suffer from over tourism so do not worry if you can’t avoid this time.
The Longji Rice Terraces aren’t far from Guilin and is a reason many people flock to this area of the world. During the summer, expect endless terraced fields but head here in May to see the paddies waterlogged and sparking in the sunlight.
Whilst planning your trip, you also need to avoid the Chinese national holidays – Golden Week runs during the first week of October and Chinese New Year lands around February, with a handful of long weekends throughout the year.
Where to stay in Guilin
The Sky Palace Hostel offers dorm beds for as little as ¥45 and has a great community feel to it; with a rooftop lounge area and bar.
The Ming Palace International Hostel is also a popular choice and costs as little as ¥30.
Junshe Boutique Guest House is a favourite budget hotel, with rooms costing ¥120 whilst The Moon Reflective River Inn is a favourite of ours, with rooms starting at ¥155 including options with gorgeous balconies.
The Guilinyi Royal Palace is a beautiful resort surrounded by the natural beauty of Guilin; double rooms start at ¥541.
Guilin Bravo Hotel Grand Wing is another fantastic option if you are looking for a five-star hotel in a great location.
Save money in Guilin
China is a relatively cheap place to visit in the world but there are still ways that you can save even more money in the country, allowing you to travel for longer.
- Visit off peak – The winter in Guilin is colder so very few tourists visit. You can expect cheaper hotel rates and better deals in local restaurants.
- Eat locally – Stick to the local food and restaurants in Guilin You can get a delicious meal in a restaurant for as little as 40RMB whilst Western meals will cost you 100+ RMB.
- Don’t tip – it is not expected in China.
- Avoid the Western chains – Whether you fancy a coffee or salad, opt for a local or Chinese brand over global chains such as Starbucks.
- Use CTrip – CTrip is an app and website which compares hotel prices. Generally, you can find cheaper prices on this app than any other comparison site for China.
- Travel by train – You can travel by train to Guilin and it often works out the cheapest option. Flights are available but prices fluctuate throughout the year.
- Enjoy the free attractions – head to the Sun & Moon Pagodas and Zhengyang Pedestrian Street for some free experiences in Guilin.
- Take the bus – Longsheng Rice Terraces is a must whilst in Guilin. To save some serious money, take the long distance bus which departs from the Guilin Bus Station at 8.30am, costing just 30RMB. Taking a taxi is easier but will cost you upwards of 250RMB.
Best things to do in Guilin
Sun & Moon Pagodas
Elephant Trunk Hill
JingJiang Princes’ Palace
Reed Flute Cave
Eat rice noodles
Xicheng Pedestrian Street Market
Guilin’s Wayao Wholesale Market
Guilin Tea Science & Research Institute
Dreamlike Lijiang show
How to get to Guilin
Fly – Guilin Liangjiang International Airport offers domestic and international flights and also has a good bus service from the airport into the city centre.
Train – Guilin Railway Station (South Station) and the North Railway Station are the busiest stations, ideal for those looking to visit Guilin from nearby Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Bus – Long distance buses are available to the Guangxi and Guangdong provinces.
How to get around Guilin
Taxi’s or Didi’s are the quickest and most convenient way to get around most cities in China but Guilin is also a fairly walkable place to visit. Pick up a business card from your hotel to show your taxi driver when heading back from a day out.
The Sightseeing bus is another popular option, taking you to all the major tourist attractions in the city.
Renting a bicycle is also a great way to see the city and beyond. For as little as 10 RMB, you can rent a bike for the day and cycle to your chosen sights.