Guilin Travel Guide

Li River Cruise

Fisher and cormorant
Fisher and cormorant

The cruise along the Li River (Li Jiang) from Guilin south to Yangshuo passes through landscape that seems lifted straight out of a Chinese scroll painting. The shallow river weaves between sheer-sided, 980-foot (300-m) karst peaks, all weathered into intriguing shapes and interspersed with the villages and bamboo groves so typical of southern China’s rural areas. People here still travel the river on low bamboo rafts, often using trained cormorants to catch fish. Cruises take about six hours and usually include a buffet lunch. Foreign visitors are charged more than Chinese tourists and sail in separate boats.

Guilin - Li River

Visitors' checklist

  • Guilin to Yangshuo 52 miles (85 km), 6hrs
  • 11 Binjiang Lu, Guilin, 0773 286 1623 (CITS for booking)
  • to starting point and from Yangshuo provided
Pointed fengcong karst formations near Yangdi
Pointed fengcong karst formations near Yangdi
Bamboo rafts, for navigating the river during winter’s low waters
Bamboo rafts, for navigating
the river during winter’s low waters

Elephant Trunk Hill
Located on the riverside in downtown Guilin, Elephant Trunk Hill is an endearing symbol of the city. It resembles an elephant who has placed its trunk in the Li River waters for a drink.

Dragon Head Hill
Visitors to Yangshuo are greeted by this imposing peak, said to resemble the head of a dragon with its gaping jaws wide open.

Downstream from Gulin, Daxu is a Song-era market town, whose cobbled main street still retains many timber and stone houses over a century old, as well as an attractive Qing bridge, just outside town.

Penholder Peak
Just past Yangdi and facing Writing-brush Mountain, this sharp, vertical outcrop does indeed resemble a traditional Chinese penholder. This section of hills is the beginning of the most spectacular mountain ranges.

Scenery at Xingping
Xingping, an old, wooden town and ferry port, marks the start of a spectacular 12-mile (20-km) stretch of scenery. Pick of the peaks are Five Fingers Hill and swirly-patterned Snail Hill.

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China Tours including trips to Guilin, China