After being in Guilin
for almost a year as a student I have thought through the ten most worthwhile things I have got up to in Guilin:
10. See the city on foot
While many visitors come to Guilin to enjoy the amazing beautiful cityscape not everyone get manages to get out of their coach and walk around the city; the best way to experience Guilin is defiantly by foot. Walking by the Two Rivers and Four Lakes
on balmy summer nights is the only real way to appreciate the amazing Karst formations that surround the city, walking across through the pedestrian mall is the best way to soak this beautiful city.
9. Eat at Niu Jiao Japanese Restaurant
This restaurant feels like it doesn't belong in Guilin, it's feels like it should be on the top floor of a sky-scraper in Beijing or on the trendy boardwalks of Shanghai. The Japanese food here is as nice as that I have ever had. For 65 Yuan (US$12) per head you can order as much as you want and whenever you want. The food is of excellent quality; freshly roaster fish, fresh beef or pork ready to be barbequed, calamari, dumplings, and the most delicious sushi available in Guangxi, there is an inexhaustible array of delights to order, beautifully complimented by the simple elegant décor, this is really a hidden gem, it's difficult to find, hidden upstairs behind a shop-front so keep your eyes peeled.
8. Diecai Peak / Folded Brocade Hill
Situated in the northeast of Guilin by the Li River, Diecai Hill
is one of the most popular attractions in Guilin, known for its amazing scenery and stone carvings. Because of the resemblance of its rock formations, piled up layer upon layer on each other, to a folded brocade, it is known as Folded Brocade Hill. Many other special names have been given to this picturesque travel destination: Gui Hill, derived from the laurels that have spread across the slopes since ancient times; Wind Cave Hill, due to the remarkable Wind Cave on the hill, Four small hills, Yuyue Hill, Siwang Hill, Crane Peak and Bright Moon Peak all surround the Diecai Hill. Definitely one of the highlights of Guilin.
7. Play a round of Golf at Yaoshan
There are a lot of golf tours in China, and although the best courses are in Guangdong (Canton), Guilin also have a few courses, the best course being outside Guilin City near Guilin's highest peak (Yao Mountain
) - Guilin Landscape Golf Resort, a beautiful landscapes course surrounded with large Karst Peaks that makes teeing off in the morning a visual feast; a 27 standard hole course is very much suited to beginners, one of the special features of this course is that instead of driving buggies it's possible to ride on horseback between holes; there is beautiful four-star accommodation attached to the course which means you can play over two days while enjoying the serenity of the surrounding countryside.
6. Trekking along Li Jiang / Li River
This is certainly one of the most worthwhile and relaxing things I have done while In Guilin; traveling along the Li River
by boat to Yangshuo
is something that most visitors do, but it doesn't allow you to really capture the beauty and scope of the mountain scenery, it also gives trekkers a chance to experience the hive of local life that exists along the river, stopping for a hot cup of Chinese tea or a fish freshly caught from the Li River is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable day-trips I have had in Guilin, walking from Xingping to Yangshuo takes around 6 hours depending on how fast you walk, there are some truly astounding rock formations around Guilin, so make sure to bring your camera also for a shooting tour!
5. Longsheng Hot Spring
This was something I did with my classmates in late March early April and I have such fond memories; a truly natural hot spring experience; although it takes several hours to get to the spring but the journey is something that is to be savored; a winding two hour journey through true wilderness and ethnic-minority territory, it's truly beautiful and something that's never left me throughout the whole year. The springs themselves exceeded my expectations, I thought It would be a concrete monstrosity, in reality the Longsheng springs
are a tastefully terraces series of hot pools with different pools heated naturally to different temperatures; the whole complex is surrounded by dense rainforest, there is a luxury hotel located next to the springs but in truth one day is enough. The best time to visit is March and April.
4. Merryland Theme Park
This Merryland theme-park
bizarrely located literally in the middle of nowhere still strikes me, a place that has left a comparatively strong impression on me; typically Bohemian in a way that only Chinese people can manage, this theme-park features camp cowboys, a flume, a pirate-ship, and a ride called 'Pirated of the Caribbean' which is like a tumblebug ride that spins way too fast in way of too many directions, I feel incredibly sick after getting off, I feel sometimes you need to visit places like Merryland to understand what China is all about. Bring your own food if possible!
3. Gudong Waterfall
I visited the Gudong waterfall
during the summer with a large group of Chinese classmates; Gudong was just fun. Again, traveling to Gudong was a visual treat for lovers of great open natural landscapes, the highway eventually peels off and becomes a small dirt-road at which point you flash through several small villages where life remains the same as it was fifty-years ago. Gudong waterfall is something of a tourist-trap, but getting there only costs Y30 (US$5) and there are plenty of things to keep you busy, the highlight being climbing a 50 meter long waterfall! After reaching the top of the waterfall there is a long trek around some beautiful virgin forest, there are also some wacky ways to amuse the easily bored including a flying-fox and a mini-rollercoaster.
2. Longjing River White-water Rafting
I visited the Longjing River Three times during my stay in Guilin, it is easily the most fun I have had in a boat for some time. There are lots of different white-water courses around Guilin and Yangshuo, Longjing River is easily the best! Once again getting to Longjing River which is located just an hour from the small rural town of Xingping, the white-water course is not only long enough to keep even the most adventure hungry souls happy, last around 90minutes from top to bottom including huge rapid sections and drops of up to 7 meters! The water is fresh and chilly making it the perfect for combating hot summer days, I couldn't recommend it enough. Tickets are priced at around Y150 (US$30).
1. Yangshuo and Aishan
Out of all the travel that I have done around Guilin this is the place that left me with the deepest impression; the sad thing is that the beautiful untouched nature of Aishan and the small ancient rural communities that exist beneath the towering Karst peaks will soon be replaced by large-scale hotels and a high-speed rail-line; Aishan is a region of untouched beauty that sits within half an hour of one of China's most dynamic tourist destinations. The best way to explore Aishan is by electric buggy which are available at the entrance of West Street. The tour to Aishan includes meeting locals, seeing how farmers cultivate crops and produce food as well as freely wandering through this small villages which seem to transcend time, all the time being in the shadow of eerie but magnificent Karsts, altogether an overwhelming experience and a memory that I will treasure forever.