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Situated on the west bank of the Li River in Guangxi, Guilin is the most attractive tourist destination in South China. Its dreamlike landscapes feature rock mountain formations of all shapes and sizes seemingly dropped from the sky. Crystal clear rivers weave to and fro through the abundant greenery and numerous caves hold underwater springs and more small scale rock formations. According to a popular Chinese idiom, the mountains and water in Guilin are the most magnificent under heaven.

The name of the city in Chinese means "forest of sweet osmanthus". When summer comes, the fragrance of sweet osmanthus blossoms fills the city, refreshing visitors. One of the most enjoyable activities in the area is to take a boat ride down the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo. This allows tourists to relax and enjoy the smooth, cool ride, while taking in all of the beautiful countryside.The town of Yangshuo itself, with its multicultural West Street and opportunities for cycling and hiking, is a popular stopping-point for visitors. Besides the unparallel scenery in the area, Guilin is important for its more than 1000 year run as the area 's political, economic and cultural center. Meanwhile, Guilin is the home of more than 10 ethnic groups, such as Han, Zhuang, Miao, Yao, Hui and Dong etc..

Guilin History

GuilinGuilin was not officially brought into the Chinese kingdom until 214 B.C. when the first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.) set up Guilin Shire in this region. The strategic importance of city was solidified by Qin Shihuang's decision to build the Ling Canal, which made Guilin one of the gateways between the Central Plains and the Lingnan Region (current Guangdong, Guangxi and part Hunan, Jiangxi).

In the Song Dynasty (960-1127) Guilin was the capital of the area encompassed by the modern Guangxi Autonomous Region and Hainan Province. The importance of Guilin was further enhanced under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as it became the residence of successive generations of Jingjiang princes--all influential descendants of a grandson of the Taizu Emperor. Guilin was the capital of Guangxi from the Ming Dynasty until 1912, after which the location of the capital moved several times before finally settling in Nanning in 1949. During the war against the Japanese before and during World War II, Guilin was the site of an air base from which many attacks were launched against Japanese forces. In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of four cities (the others being Beijing, Hangzhou, and Suzhou) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage, as well as natural scenery, should be a national priority.

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Guilin Transportation

Getting to Guilin

By Air
Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) is 28 km (17.39 mi) from the city center, and connects Guilin with most domestic cities as well as Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Macao, and Hong Kong. Flight times to major domestic and international cities are: Beijing - 2.5hrs; Qingdao - 4hrs; Chongqing - 1hr; Guangzhou - 1hr; Hangzhou - 2hrs; Shanghai - 2hrs; Hong Kong - 1hr; Shenzhen - 1hr; Bangkok - 2hrs; Macau - 1hr; Fukuoka - 5hrs; and Seoul - 4hrs.

The airport shuttle bus runs between the airport and the Aviation Building located at 18 Shanghai Road at a cost of RMB 20. The bus departs the airport following flight arrivals, and leaves the city for the airport every 30 minutes between 6:30am and 8:00pm. The journey time is about 40 minutes. The taxi fare between the city and the airport is about RMB 80.Guilin Airport

By Train
There are two railway stations in Guilin: Guilin Railway Station and Guilin North Railway Station. Guilin Railway Station (South Station) is south of the city center and more conveniently situated than the North Station. Rail journey times to major destinations are: Nanning - 6hrs; Liuzhou - 2.5hrs; Shenzhen - 13hrs; Beijing - 15hrs; Chengdu - 13hrs; Zhanjiang - 8hrs; and Shanghai - 10hrs.

It is 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 is best to make reservations five days in advance or even 10 days prior to travel during holiday periods. The booking service fee is between RMB 20 and 50 per ticket.

Getting Around in Guilin

By Bus By Taxi By Bike By Tourist Boat  

By Bus
The fare on most public buses is RMB 1.2, with a 90 per cent discount for IC cards. The fare on number 98 and 99 buses is RMB 2, as they are air-conditioned. There are also eight free bus lines (numbers 51 to 58) which serve major tourist destinations. The buses operate from 7:00am to 7:00pm every day. This is a popular service, so the buses can get very crowded between 9 am and 5 pm.

By Taxi
The taxi fare in Guilin depends on the vehicle type, is charged by distance and includes a per-journey oil price surcharge of RMB 1. The distance fare is RMB 7-8 for the first 2 kilometers, and RMB 1.4-1.6 per kilometer for the next 2 km, rising to RMB 2 per kilometer beyond that. This fare is significantly less than in major cities like Beijing or Shanghai. Rates are slightly higher between 11.00pm and 6.30am.

By Bike
Guilin's compact layout makes bicycle touring an attractive option. Bicycles can be rented by the hour or the day at most hotels and at other locations around the city, especially Zhongshan South Road. The daily rate is approximately RMB 15, with a deposit of RMB 100-300.

By Tourist Boat
A trip on a cruise boat down the Li River to Yangshuo is a splendid way to enjoy the pleasant outdoors. Vessels depart in the morning and take about eight hours to complete the journey. Depending on seasonal water levels, the boats can either be boarded in the city center or further downstream at Mopanshan Wharf and Zhujiang Wharf. Zhujiang Wharf provides an English tour service.

Guilin Maps


Guilin China Map
Guilin China Map
Guilin City Map
Guilin City Map
Yangshuo Map
  • Map of Yangshuo
Map of Li River
  • Map of Li River
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