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Guilin Travel Guide

Guilin Overview

Located in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China, Guilin is considered to be the pearl of China’s thriving tourist industry on account of the natural beauty and historic treasures. Also Guilin is a world-famous scenic city, famous for its unrivalled karst landscape, exquisite mountains, limpid rivers, wired caves and beautiful rocks. Besides the unparallel scenery, the city also boasts its time-honored history. Guilin has been the political, economic and cultural center of Guangxi since more than 1,000 years ago. The Lingqu Canal built 214 B.C. in Xing’an County has witnessed the change during these 2,000 years.

Guilin has a history of more than 2,000 years. In the 6th year of Yuanding During the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (111B.C.), Guilin was a county, called Shi An County, and from the Song Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, it was the political, economic and cultural centre of Guangxi. In 1921, the North Expeditionary Army led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen joined forces in Guilin, and the headquarters was sited in the Royal Palace at the foot of the Solitary Beauty Peak. The city acquired its present name in the year of 1940.

Guilin is a well-developed tourist center with convenient transportation, communication and accommodation facilities. You can enter Guilin by air, by train or by bus and get around on free buses. From luxury hotels to cheap hostels, from splendid restaurants to local snacks, you are sure to find that your needs will be met beyond your expectations.

As one of the majority cities in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin is the home to more than 10 ethnic groups, such as Han, Zhuang, Miao, Yao , Hui and Dong.

Guilin Facts
Guilin Geography
Guilin Culture
Guilin Climate & Weather
Guilin Transportation
Best Time for Guilin Travel
Best Places for Guilin Travel

Basic Information

• Chinese Name: 桂林
• Location: south of China, northeast of Guangxi
• Dialing code: (+86) 0773
• Zip code: 541000
• Area: Guilin has an area of 2,000 square kilometers
• Main attractions in Guilin: Li River, Yangshuo, Elephant Trunk Hill, Longji Rice Terrace, Reed Flute Cave

Administration Distribution

Administrative Division: From the administrative perspective, Guilin can be divided into five city districts, ten counties and two autonomous counties

Population: Guilin is a compact community by scores of minority nationalities. The population from 28 ethic nationalities such as the Zhuang, Miao, Yao, and Dong accounts for 8.5% of the total population in Guilin.

Guilin is located 109°E longitude and 24° N latitude in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, a city with typical karst landform area. The Guilin Government covers an area of 4,195 square kilometers. It is in a basin surrounded by the Yuecheng Range, Ocean Hill, Jiaqiao Range and Tianping Hill. Guilin is located almost due west of Hong Kong and about 1 hour fight.

The seven major characteristic cultures of historical and cultural Guilin: prehistoric culture represented by Zengpiyan site; the ancient military water conservancy culture represented by the Ling canal; Moya carved stone and landscape poetry culture represented by Guihai Steles Forest; seignior culture of the Ming dynasty represented by Jingjiang King’s Tomb; Anti-Japanese War culture represented by southwestern opera and play; Chinese revolution culture represented by the Eighth Route Army Guilin offices former site and the Monument Park to Martyrs of the Red Army  who broke through the Xiangjiang River during long march; and culture of former residence of celebrities represented by Li Zongren Mansion and former residence, and Xu Beihong former residence.

Guilin has developed tourism performing arts, cultural entertainment, cultural tourism and cultural exchanges with other countries, such as 8 categories of culture industry, with “Impression Liu Sanjie”, Yuzi Paradise, Wutong Farmer’s Painting three national cultural industry demonstration base. In 2011, Guilin won the honor of “the Most Chinese Cultural City”.

Guilin lies in a region with a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate, with mild Winters and long, hot, and humid Summers. The monsoon season is long, lasting from March to August, and a pronounced dry season occurs in Autumn and Winter; the total annual rainfall is 1,920 millimeters. The weather is controlled by the tropical monsoon, which generates distinct seasons, pleasant temperatures and abundant rainfall. The native people describe the climate with this proverb “Scarcely snowing in winter, perennially flowers blossoming”.

Weather character of the four seasons in Guilin
Spring in Guilin is pleasant with sufficient sunny days and plentiful rainfall. In the early spring, the temperature is still low and thick coats are necessary.

Summer days are hot and humid. The temperature may peak at 36 ℃ to 38 ℃ lasting about one to two weeks. There is usually a heavy fog by mid-morning.

Autumn is dry with cool and fine weather. This season is very comfortable with clear skies and colorful scenery; a good time for photography.

Winters are cold with an average temperature of 2 ℃. Cloudy days with morning mists on rivers and lakes and rainy days with a high wind-chill are common at the time, surprisingly, it’s another great time for artists in Guilin.

Climate Data Table for Guilin

               Month
   Item
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
maximum
temperature
(℃)
11 12 16 22 27 30 32 32 30 25 20 15
minimum
temperature
(℃)
5 7 11 16 20 23 25 24 22 17 12 7
Rainfall (mm) 52.5 87.5 127.5 252.5 357.5 342.5 222.5 172.5 77.5 87.5 72.5 47.5
Days of rainfall 15.1 15.5 18.6 20.2 19.0 17.5 16.1 14.8 8.2 9.7 8.7 9.1

By Air

Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) is about 28 kilometers (about 17.4 miles) from the city center. About 50 airlines connect the city with domestic cities as well as foreign countries such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, etc. In particular, airlines schedule several flights daily to and from major cities in China like Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Haikou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Kunming, Macau, Nanjing, Nanning, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taiyuan, Wuhan, Xian, Zhengzhou, Dalian, Shantou, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Tianjin, Jinan, Wenzhou, Changsha, Fuzhou, and Zhuhai.

The airport shuttle bus runs between the airport and the Civil Aviation Mansion located at No.18 Shanghai Road and the bus fare is about CNY20. The bus leaves for the city center following the flight arrivals. In the city center the bus leaves for the airport every 30 minutes from 6:30 to 20:00. Remember to take the bus two hours before your fight. It costs about CNY80 for taking taxi.

Ticket Office: Airport Terminal
Ticket Booking Telephone (Enquiry): 0773-2152222

By Train

The Guilin Railway Station (South Station) and North Railway Station (North Station) are the two main railroad passenger transport stations in the city. Every day many trains arrive and depart, as the city is a hub of the Hunan-Guangxi Railway and Guilin – Guangzhou High Speed Railway. The South Station is located to the south of the city center and is more easily reached than the North Station. The North Railway Station is situated in the northern suburbs of the city and has less convenient links with the city center. If the train you take stops at both of the stations, it’s better to get off at the South Station where handy transportation to the surrounding places is available, as well as trains connecting to China’s major cities.

Tip: It’s not easy to buy sleeper tickets at the Guilin sales office, as the city is a mid-route stop rather than a terminus. Therefore, it’s better to buy tickets departing from the city in advance.

By Long-distance Bus

Because most coach buses which bound for the surrounding cities in Guangxi and other provinces like Guangdong depart from the General Bus Station, here the bus schedule of this station is offered for reference: There are three bus stations: the General Bus Station, the Chengnan Bus Station and the Beimen Bus Station. The General Bus Station is at No.427 Zhongshan Road (South), just a 10 minutes’ walk from the Railway Station (South Station). You can take city bus No.1, 3, 11, 22 or 51 to reach there. Most buses set off from this station for surrounding cities in Guangxi, Guangdong and Hunan provinces. The Chengnan Bus Station is located at Cuizhu Road and can be reached by city bus No.26 and 27. The Beimen Bus Station is at Zhongshan Road (North) and can be reached by city bus No.18.

Destination Departure Time

Guangxi

Longsheng departing every 30 minutes between 06:50-19:00
Yangshuo departing every 30 minutes between 07:10-20:00
Nanning departing every 20 minutes between 06:30-22:00, 23:50
Beihai 8:30 9:20 22:00 23:00
Liuzhou departing every 20 minutes between 7:00-21:30
Rongshui 14:50
Baise 21:10
Yulin 8:20 9:20 14:10 16:00 18:00 23:00

Guangdong

Guangzhou 9:00 20:30 21:30 22:30
Dongguan 19:10 21:20
Shenzhen 19:00 21:20
Zhuhai 19:00
Destination Departure Time

Guangxi

Sanjiang 6:00 6:30 7:10 7:40 13:30
Wuzhou 9:00 19:50 21:30
Liuzhou 9:50
Rongshui 6:50 7:10 8:40 09:00 10:00 12:00
13:00 14:30
Yulin 19:20 19:30

Guangdong

Guangzhou departing every 15 minutes between 17:30-19:50
Dongguan departing every 20 minutes between 16:50-18:30
Shenzhen 15:30 17:40 18:40 19:10 19:20
Jiangmen 11:30
Zhuhai 11:30 16:30 17:20

Note: The first table above refers to the nonstop coaches, and the second shows the buses with several stops along the journey.
It is worthy mentioning that the long-distance bus  is available to Yangshuo which is a popular tourist destination located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of the city center. Tourists who reach Guilin either by air, by train or by long-distance bus can also get to Yangshuo easily.

By Water

There are two main docks for passenger transport service in the city. One is Mopanshan Passenger Transport Dock which is near Mopanshan Mountain, 28 kilometers (about 17 miles) from downtown area. Covering an area of 233,350 square meters (about 0.09 square miles), this dock is designed to look like a beautiful garden and has well-equipped establishments including five waiting halls. In the city center there is no public bus to the dock, so tourists have to spend approximately CNY60 for a taxi to reach this dock.
Another dock is Zhujiang Dock which is 32 kilometers (about 20 miles) southeast of the city center and two-kilometers (about 1.2 miles) by waterway from Mopanshan Dock. Covering an area of 48,200 square meters (0.0186 square miles), Zhujiang Dock is 400 meters (about 0.25 miles) long and has nine berths, a big waiting building, and a parking lot. This dock is mainly designed for foreign tourists and is the must-use dock for high officials from both China and foreign countries.

Every year more than 300,000 tourists take the cruise ship from Zhujiang Dock to travel along the Li River. Traveling the Li River to Yangshuo is a journey of about 54 kilometers (about 34 miles). The cruise ships from the berths downtown to Yangshuo usually set off at 9:00 and 9:30, and will take about 4.5 hours to complete the journey. A gentle breeze will caress your face and picture postcard riverside scenery will please your eyes as the beauty unfolds around you. However, remember that in winter the water level is rather low, so the cruise is limited to just 10 kilometers (about 6.2miles) instead of the normal 82 kilometers (about 51 miles)

The best time for Guilin travel is from April to October in a year, during this time there will be October 1st National Day golden week, which is also a tourism peak season. The climate is suitable in Guilin so there will be a lot of tourists, the room reservation and transport is also in full swing, prices rose at ordinary times, so it’s best to avoid this time and select a off-season to travel, and experience the beauty of Guilin.

♦ Spring (March to May): When the north of China still is covered with a thick layer of snow in the early spring, Guilin has already become green. And it is flower season and is the perfect time for outdoor activities. In March, the average temperature is 13 degree, and sometime there are rains at night.

♦ Summer (June to August): Summer is the rainy season in Guilin, precipitation in this time accounts for more than one half of the total precipitation of the year. Therefore, traveling during this time, tourists should pay attention to bring umbrella. Though rain brings some inconvenience to tourists, it creates a hazy poetic imagery. Through the misty rain to see landscape of Guilin, tourists will have a feeling of fairyland.

♦ Autumn (September to October): is perfect time to travel to Guilin. At that time, the air is fresh and the wave is smooth as glass when is the best time to see the reflection of mountains and peaks.

♦ Winter (November to next February): the lowest temperature of Guilin is around 8 degree which makes people cold but it is not as braving freezing temperature as northern China. October of early winter, the average temperature is around 20 degree, and it is the season of sweet-scented osmanthus, different kinds of osmanthus decorated Guilin as a flower city and its fragrance spread all over the city. Owing to the climate, it is hard to see snow in Guilin.

Dressing Tips

♦ Spring (March to May): temperature is moderate, but it is a little cool with rains. A thin coat is enough.

♦ Summer (June -August): temperature in summer is usually above 30 degrees, with strong sunshine. Sun protection is necessary, such as sunglasses, hats, umbrellas, etc. T-shirts with skirts, shorts or slacks are the best choice for summer when the temperature can be rather high. Summer is the rainy season, especially in May and June.

♦ Autumn (September to October): autumn is windy and cool. Temperature difference is a little large. So a thick coat is necessary.

♦ Winter (November to February): the lowest temperature in winter can be between 5-20 degrees. Winter is cold and moist, especially in January, but can still be very pleasant when the sun is out. So coats are a must. Girls should put long boots on.

Li River – Located in the eastern part of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, it belongs to the Pearl River water system. The Li River originates Mountain Mao’er at Xing’an County in the northeast of Guilin. Mao’er Mountain is a place of excellent ecological environment that has luxuriant vegetation and the fresh air. It winds and meanders its way for 170 kilometers, passing through Guilin, Yangshuo to the outlet of Gongchen River in Pingle County. Li River, according to its different scenes, may be divided into three sections: Guilin to Ox Gorge, Ox Gorge to Water-Dropping Village, and Water-Dropping Village to Yangshuo.

Elephant Trunk Hill – also known as the elephant hill, lies on the junction of the Li River and the Peach Blossom River. It is the famous landmark of Guilin city. The whole hill looks exactly like a huge elephant stretching its trunk drinking water of the Li River. It is the masterpiece of karst landscape, composed of pure limestone deposited on seabed 360million years ago.

Longji Rice Terraces – reached from Guilin by mountain roads amid spectacular scenery. With a history of more than 700 years, Longji Rice Terrace is still being used for growing premium quality rice by Yao and Zhuang villagers. The rice terraces are built into the hillsides and look like great steps cut into the slopes as they wind around the mountainsides. This ingenious construction makes best use of the scarce arable land and water resources in the mountainous area.

Reed Flute Cave – It is 5 kilometers away from the centre of the city and lies in the northwest of Guilin. It is a famous attraction which mainly providing a magic fairyland of stalagmites, stone columns, curtains, stalactites and flowers in varied amazing shapes and colors while appreciating landscape and rural scenery.