Guilin is famous for the beautiful scenery, but are there any other things to do there? Read on to find out how to spend your time in this wonderful city!
Most people visit Guilin to take pretty pictures of the terraced rice fields. That was our plan but it didn’t quite work out how we wanted it to! However, there ARE other things to do to keep yourself busy in this charming city. Just make sure you remember your camera!
Terraced Rice Fields
Visiting the terraces is an all-day event. From Guilin, it takes 3 hours to drive to one of the villages within the Longji Rice Terrace. There are many to choose from and you can ask your hotel to arrange a driver. Expect to pay your hotel around 300RMB (£32) per person to drive you there. They’ll wait for you to hike up, show you where to eat lunch and drive you back.
It takes a couple of hours to walk to the top, stopping to admire what you can see and also to just take a breath!
Stop at the Nine Dragons and Seven Tigers lookout, and the Seven Stars Around the Moon. Both are great, even without perfect vision, and at the top there is a little shop where you can purchase and send postcards for 10RMB (£1). There are plenty of stalls on the way down selling souvenirs and clothes that you can haggle for.
There are a few restaurants about halfway down the hill. The prices range from 30RMB per dish to upwards of 130RMB. Be aware if you choose the whole chicken dish! When they say a whole chicken, they literally mean you will get every single part of the scrawny little chicken. They also serve sticky rice inside a bamboo tube!
There are lots of different ways of seeing the terraces. You can hire a taxi guide, a private tour from a company or even get the bus there yourself. I personally would only recommend the first option, as private tours can be really expensive and unnecessary. Getting the bus is understandably tricky if you don’t speak Chinese! There are a few different ones you have to catch and it’s quite confusing. If you miss the last one you’re stuck in the mountains!
Most cities have these but each will be different. You’ll always find at least one thing that will interest/shock you! About a ten minute walk from Guihu Lake, the pedestrian street is buzzing with food, clothes and toy stalls.
Lined with shops, bars and restaurants too, you’re guaranteed to find somewhere you’ll want to check out! There are turnings off the main street – wander down here and you’ll find more authentic restaurants and bars.
At the very end there are stalls that appear to be more ‘markety’, if you like. Hand-made jewellery and clothes, weird porn-themed dice and small little decorative trinkets all feature here. If you’re looking for souvenirs or gifts, this is the place to come.
The Reed Flute Cave
A natural beauty and a must-see if you are in Guilin. A 15 minute taxi ride away, the Reed Flute cave area offers fantastic views and a fun day out.
You pay a 120RMB entrance fee which is pretty high, but you’ll probably spend a few hours there so you’ll get your money’s worth. The caves themselves are situated relatively high up. You’ll either need to jump on the train and pay 35RMB or walk up the steep stairs. The stair option gives you the chance to view your surroundings, but you’ll be knackered by the end of it!
There are Chinese guides who take groups into the caves, but they do give the tour in Mandarin. Inside, the rooms are huge and lit with colourful glowing lights, which give a great effect to the stalagmites and stalactites.
Once you’ve seen the caves, you can stroll around the park. You’ll find a small waterfall which is gorgeous to watch, and a large lake where you can rent little bamboo boats out from the locals.
Visit the Li River
If you’re looking for picturesque scenery, then you’ve come to the right place. Famous for being printed on the back of a 20 yuan note, the Li River stretches for over 430km all the way from Xing’an to Wuzhou.
We didn’t get the chance to take a cruise but they are very popular – the main part of the river that the boats pass through is Guilin to Yangshao which takes 4 -5 hours.
If we had had more time, we would have taken a cruise to be able to appreciate the magnificence of the mountains and the hills surrounding the river. The tours can be quite pricey but most tend to include lunch and time to explore local life in Yangshao.
Eat southern Chinese food!
Chinese food in China is different to Chinese food we know back home. The people who own takeaway joints in England use Cantonese recipes, dating back to the time when Britain owned Hong Kong.
The further south you go, the more similar the food is to what we’re used to from home. We found lots of little restaurants and they served some of the best food we have had since we moved to China. Don’t get me wrong, food in Beijing is awesome but you sometimes have to work to find it! Some of the restaurants in Guilin have pictures and an English (badly translated) menu, but some don’t.
Always branch out and try something you’re scared of because chances are, it’ll taste good! If you walk past the Forrest Gump restaurant and are as intrigued by it as we were, go straight in! To this day, we have no idea what the reference was because the restaurant was a standard yet well to-do Chinese establishment.
If you’re planning to go to Guilin, you’ll want to spend at least three or four days here. Grab some fried noodles, watch the fisherman on the lake at night time and take in the authenticity of the city!
Have you ever been to Guilin? What were your favourite things to do? Let us know in the comments below!