Things to Do in Guilin
Along the banks of the Li River (Li Jiang) as it winds south from Guilin, dramatic karst peaks, dense vegetation, and the winding river itself create magical vistas that loom large in the Chinese imagination, having inspired art and verse for centuries. From Guilin to Yangshuo, there’s never a dull stretch along China’s most beautiful river.
Located 3 miles (5 kilometers) from downtown Guilin, this famous limestone cave is one of the top attractions in Guilin. It’s named for the reeds that grow outside the cave, which are used to make flutes. The cave stretches for 787 feet (240 meters), and is colorfully lit inside to highlight the interesting collection of stone pillars, stalactites, and stalagmites found within.
Formerly a sleepy fishing village along the Li River, Xingping town (or Xingping village) is now a popular visitor destination for its rural landscape and well-preserved ancient architecture. Hiking and biking are popular ways to soak in the scenery, and Xingping is also the starting point of many river cruises as it’s on an especially beautiful stretch of the Li River.
For the farmers who reside in Southern China’s Longji region, rice terraces are simply a way of life. Yet for the thousands of annual visitors who make the 2-hour journey from the city of Guilin, the Longji Rice Terraces—nicknamed the Dragon’s Backbone—are an iconic symbol of Chinese agriculture and one of the most photographed sites in the country.
A landmark in Guilin since the Tang Dynasty, and considered by many to be a symbol of the city, Elephant Trunk (Xiangbishan) Hill got its name because it’s said to resemble a giant elephant drinking water from the Li River. Towering more than 180 feet (55 meters) above the water, it’s one of the top attractions in Guilin.
Situated in northeast Guilin, beautiful Fubo Hill (Fubo Shan) sits half in and half out of the Li River, causing the passing water to swirl and lending it its other name: “Wave-Subduing Hill.” With a height of 695 feet (213 meters), Fubo Hill offers spectacular views of the city and river views from its summit.
The extensive Seven Star Park (Qixing Gongyuan)—arranged around the seven peaks from which it derives its name—ranks among Guilin’s oldest attractions. A pavilion sits atop Putuo Mountain in the center of the park, while Seven Star Cliff contains several illuminated caves. A fish pond and the Guilin City Zoo are popular with kids.
Take a step back in time at Daxu Old Town, one of the four ancient towns of Guangxi Province. Located on the eastern banks of the Li River, southeast of Guilin, the town is known for its cultural sights, historic architecture, and traditional artisan shops.
Rising 217 feet (66 meters), Solitary Beauty Peak (Duxiu Feng) has been a famous scenic spot in Guilin since ancient times. Also known as the “Pillar of the Southern Sky,” it’s one of the area’s highest peaks. Climb to the pavilion at the peak to take in sweeping views over the city.
The highest of the bizarre rock formations that jut up from either side of the Li River is Yao Mountain at nearly 3,000 feet (900 meters. Views from the peak extend out over the hills, rice fields, and rural villages outside of Guilin. The peak was named after the Yaoshan Emperor Temple, which can be found about halfway up the mountain.
More Things to Do in Guilin
Jingjiang Wangcheng City, also called the Jingjiang Mansion, was the seat of the Jingjiang Family, who reigned in this part of China between 1368 and 1644. The mansion was designed to function as the inner city of Guilin, with extensive halls, pavilions, and more than 40 secondary buildings surrounding the main mansion.