We took a flight from Xi’an to Guilin and landed at the afternoon. From the airport we took the shuttle bus to the city (25RMB) and from the bus station we took a taxi – if you are 2 – 3 people you can just take a taxi from the airport directly, it will cost the same.
Once we got to the guesthouse we dropped off our things and went out to tour the city.
The city is beautiful – nature all around and my personal favorite – a big variety of street food!:)
Can you see the elephant trunk?
There is one really cool street you should definitely check out – it’s called ‘Binjiang street’, and it stretches along the Lijiang river, and if you’ll walk along it you will come across with the famous ‘elephant trunk park’, which is nice – but don’t get your expectations too high – it’s just a nice park with a little extra.
If you do go – try going early morning, that way you will see the local people doing Tai Chi and some sports, and it will not be crowded (we went at 07:30).
There is another really nice (free) park called ‘Lijiang river scenic area’ – it’s very nice, especially afternoon – so you get to see it during day time and night with some impressive lights.
There is one park that I heard of but we didn’t get a chance to check it out – it’s called ‘Two rivers and four lakes scenic area’ – this one I would recommend not taking via the guesthouse as it’s inside Guilin – just take a bus or a taxi there.
Another nice place to visit is a cool pedestrian street called ‘Zhengyang’, it’s really nice especially at night – they sell really tasty chicken on a stick – don’t miss it! Small chicken wing is 2.5 RMB and a calf is 5.5 RMB, I took the calf and really liked it.
Also, they sell tasty skewers on the same street – 4 for 10 RMB, we took the chicken – it was good and spicy:) Make sure you get those tissues ready.
Plastic bamboo lookalike boats with a motor – nice but mostly for the breeze
Now let’s talk about the reason you come to Guilin – nature, nature and more nature, no?
There are 2 ways that I know of to get to the areas you want to get to (Li river for example).
One is pretty simple – just take a bus from Guilin. But a ticket for the boat ride is around 100 RMB, and once you get to Xingping village you need to get a bus to Yangshuo (7 RMB) and then another bus back to Guilin (25 RMB).
Another simple(r) way is to book a tour via your guesthouse – it might be a little bit more expensive, but if you’ll do the math it’s not much expensive and much less of a headache (if you’ll go alone it will be not less than 130 and via the guesthouse it’s 200, with a private bus).
“It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness.” Thomas Jefferson
We chose option number 2 – 220 RMB for a bus to the starting point, ticket for the boat ride, a short ride in a golf cart in Xingping and then a bus from Xingping to Yangshuo.
Can be romantic;)
From out guesthouse a bus picked us up with a nice English speaking guide, and he explained on the way what is the route of the tour and offered another tour (see below).
On the way we went out from the big busy city (not really) to the quiet and beautiful green countryside.
We saw small villages, cows, farmers, some rice fields and a lot of agriculture and nice scenery.
The only downside was that a car run over a small veil and we watched the cow (mom) licking it in confusion, and then kind of yelling after she understood he is not alive, sad.
Once we got to the docs we run into the boats (after 10:30, according to the guide, no small boat can go because there is a big one coming) and we started our cruise.
It was pretty nice – but if you ask me – you can skip the Li river cruise (not real bamboo and they use a motor, plus it’s very touristic, which is a downside, at least it was for us) – unless you really have plenty of time, and then do it, but don’t miss the amazing Yulong river!
Lady cleaning her house – Yu Long Cun village
This brings me to the second tour the guide offered us on the bus – which again – you can do by yourself, but I think it’s better and more convenient with a guide.
After we finished the first tour we went from Xingping to Yangshuo and had around 2 hours to roam around.
Basically from what I saw and read, there is one main place to see in Yangshuo – the west street (pedestrian street).
Happy seller at Yangshuo’s west street
It’s very touristic as well but really nice and cool, a lot of small stores and a lot of restaurants – Chinese and German mostly but you can find Italian and other kinds of food.
me and my Chinese name on a bone:) 亚当
There is something which is pretty nice – you can get a small ‘bone’ with your name carved on it – try checking if you have a Chinese name, or the guy there can also help you figure it out and you can make a keychain or a necklace for 30 RMB.
The fisherman with the bird, a unique sight
After finishing the west street (mostly shopping and food) we went on a small van and drove to a nearby village called Yu Long Cun, where we went on a small bamboo boat (real one, without an engine!).
The bird with a fish in its throat
Yulong river is also a little touristic but much less the Li, and it’s much nicer in my opinion.
You will see beautiful mountains, trees and green everywhere, and you will also get to see the most crazy trained bird fishing! The fisherman train the birds and the birds are diving, finding fishes and retrieving them for the fisherman. It’s truly amazing to watch, the bird doesn’t even need a word – she dives, get the fish and climbs back onto the bamboo boat to give the fish to the fisherman.
While on the river you will pass 2 small 1 meter drops, it’s awesome! Don’t fear.
While passing the first drop someone will take a picture of you – you can decide if to buy it or not – if you know you want in advance – make a funny face;)
It’s common to give the boatman 10 RMB as a tip (for 2 people), as he did work pretty hard, rowing all the way and back.
Calm people in Yu Long Cun
After finishing the boat ride we went back to Yu Long Cun and roamed a little bit.
The village is very simple and truly old, although you can see hints of tourism – signs in English etc, but not too many.
Don’t be scared from getting lost – go check out the village if you have time, go into the small hutongs (if you can call it a hutong) and see the villagers and the way they live, it will give you some perspective, I can promise you that:)
After the tour we were taken back to Guilin with the bus and were dropped not far from the guesthouse.
We got a little lost but eventually we got to the guesthouse, tired but happy, and called it a night after eating some (so so) gongbao chicken.
Small tip – if you went to a more foreign oriented guesthouse – don’t eat Chinese food:) just walk down the street and find something proper.
The morning after we went to the rice terrace – to read about it check out part B
Some pictures I took during the trip: