Guilin

Travel Guide Asia China Guangxi Guilin

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Introduction

Guilin

Guilin

© Q'

Guilin (桂林) is a city on the banks of the Lijiang River in the northeast of Guangxi in southern China. It owes its name to the fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees in the city and literally means "forest of the Sweet Osmanthus".

Guilin and the surrounding region are among the most scenic areas in China and the most popular tourist destinations both for Chinese travellers and the international backpacker set. Guilin is the hub for trips to the surrounding area's karst terrain, limestone mountains eroded into fantastic shapes. Apart from its sheer visual beauty, karst terrain also provides many cliffs suitable for rock climbing and many caves.

There are many scenic places within short traveling distance of Guilin. These include Longsheng with its famous Longji rice terraces; the Lijiang River, a scene of which is printed on the back of ¥20 bank notes; and Yangshuo, a small county downstream from Guilin. This makes Guilin an excellent base for exploring the northern end of Guangxi Province.

Guilin is a beautiful city. The town center is surrounded by two rivers and four lakes and studded with sheer sided karst mountains. Outside the city center, the buildings are less well kept. The main industry in the city is tourism so the city is much cleaner than other Chinese cities.

Guilin is like most other medium size Chinese cities, other than that it has a large number of western-style hotels, tourists and is relatively free of air pollution. Many Chinese domestic tourists also flock to this area. What makes it special is its proximity to many picturesque limestone mountains and formations.

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Sights and Activities

Central Square (桂林中心广场; Guì​lín Zhōng​xīn Guǎng​chǎng). 51,400-m² large gathering place in the centre of town. Here you can watch a giant atlas on the ground and an artificial waterfall every evening at 20:30.
Jingjiang Prince City (靖江王城), 1 Prince City, ☏ +86 773 2803149. In the center of the city lies a small forbidden city, once home to the princes of the area. The palace buildings are now a museum. ¥120.
Moon and Sun Pagoda (Near city center). Although there is nothing much to see inside the pagodas, the view from the outside as well as the surrounding lake offers a good respite from the traffic and noise of Guilin's city center.
Guilin Art Museum (桂林美术馆), 173 Longchuanping Rd, Xiangshan District (象山区龙船坪173号) (Take bus 33 and get off at the last stop.), ☏ +86 773 3902889. 08:30-17:00. Free.
Guilin Museum (桂林博物馆), West Pinggui Road, Lingui District (临桂区平桂西路; Pingguixi lù) (in Lingui New District, 16 km from Guilin Railway Station, bus 91 or 65), ☏ +86 773 2897308, +86 773 2898862. 09:00-17:00, no entry after 16:30, closed on Mondays. The museum's collection includes over 30,000 pieces of culture relics including 22 pieces of national first-class relics, 687 pieces of national second-class relics and 2592 national third-class relics. For foreigners, passports may be required to get free admission tickets. The Guilin Library and the Guilin Grand Theatre can be found in the same building complex. Free.
Jade Culture Museum (玉石文化博物馆), 3 Taohuajiang Road, Xiufeng District (秀峰区桃花江路3号) (Take bus 213 and get off at the tool factory (工具厂) bus stop), ☏ +86 773 2891168.
Ronghu Art Museum (榕湖美术馆), Level 5, Panhu Hotel, Ronghu Road North, Xiufeng District (秀峰区榕湖北路十六号榕湖饭店五号楼) (Take bus no. 21, 22 or 205. Get off at the Guilin Normal College Xinyi Campus (桂林师专信义校区)), ☏ +86 773 2885333, ✉ 3228509664@qq.com. 10:00-21:30, closed on Mondays. Free.
Black Hill Botanic Garden (黑山植物园; Hēi​shān Zhí​wù​yuán), 206号 West 1st Ring Rd (环城西一路206号; Huán​chéngxīyī​lù) (bus 1, 6, 10, 19, 201, 202). 24 hours. One of the oldest botanical gardens in China. Free.
Seven Star Park (七星公园; Qī​xīnggōng​yuán), Qixing Rd (on the east side of the city and 15-20 minutes walk from the main pedestrian area in the centre of town). A large park with a small zoo area on the east side farthest from the entrance with the main attraction being the giant pandas and the red pandas, additional fee to enter the zoo of ¥32, the staff host a small show with monkeys, bear, tigers and lion at scheduled hours. Additional ¥60 fee to enter Seven Star Cave inside the park. ¥50.
West Hill Park (西山公园), 2 km west of city centre. Park with a lake, temples and hundreds of Buddhist statues. In the park is also the Hidden Hill with a number of caves. Guilin Museum is also here, see separate listing.
Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village (雄森熊虎山庄; Xióngsēn Xiónghǔ Shān​zhuāng) (bus 4, 8 or 16). 09:00-17:00. 300,000-m² area with tigers, bears, lions and other wild animals. Here you can witness research, breeding and entertainment. The place is a bit shabby and you will not see the animals in their natural environment, but you get close to the animals and can see them being much more active than in a zoo. ¥80.

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Events and Festivals

  • Guilin Dragon Boat Festival - On the 5th May of Chinese Lunar Year, dragon boat racing will be held on Li River. local people will flock by to see the contest.
  • Guilin Mountain and River Festival - Guilin Mountain and River Festival is a grand ceremony introduced by Guilin Municipal Government. The festival incorporates the mountain and river sightseeing with the performance of local folk lore and traditional artistic performances to give visitors the impression about Guilin's beauty and history.

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Weather

Guilin's weather mostly is relatively warm and humid, though winter temperatures can get quite low sometimes. Summers last from late May to early October when temperatures are averaging between 28 and 34 °C during most days. Nights are a balmy 20-25 °C. Winters are from December to early March, but with temperatures between 12 and 16 °C it is actually quite comfortable. Nights are 5 to 7 °C, so bring a sweater. Winters is also the dry time, with around 50-75mm of rain a month. From April to August it's very wet, with May and June having an average precipitation of around 350mm! Autumn (September-November) is a good time to visit.

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Getting There

By Plane

Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) (桂林两江国际机场) is the nearest airport to Guilin and is about 28 kilometres (17 miles) from the city. This medium size airport serves almost every major city in China, including Beijing, Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Guangzhou. It also has limited international service to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei Hong Kong and Macau. The budget airline Air Asia has service to this airport (to/from Kuala Lumpur). The only way to reach the airport at this time is by taxi.

By Train

The train station is located in the center of town. This is a major train station with direct trains to almost every city in China. Remember that most trains might be filled by the time they reach Guilin, because most of the trains start in Kunming or in Shanghai, making standing tickets the only ones available during busy times. Also right outside of the train station there are direct buses to Yangshuo that start at 7:00am and end around 9:00pm.

There has been bullet train operated in Guilin, so it has been easier for travelling from changsha, nanning and other cities; after bullet train operated between guangzhou and Guilin, there will be more travel choices then later 2014

By Car

There are some expressways locally and within the province, however for any long distance journey, it is a two lane road.

By Bus

Buses serve main cities througout China, and many regional destinations as well, including regular services to Yangshuo and Longsheng (gateway to rice terraces, Dragon's Backbone).

By Boat

There are passenger services to/from Yangshuo, but mostly for tourists, as (mini)buses are much faster. Cargo services exist as well, but capacity is limited.

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Getting Around

Getting a local map from a tourist guide or shop for ¥5 is a good idea. This will show the location of most of the sights as well as details of bus routes. Buses are an ideal way to get around Guilin on a budget. Many city parks and river spots can be accessed easily by bus. All the buses starting with 5# are free. A useful one is bus 58 which runs from the train station (and bus station) to many of the attractions. Bus fare are capped at ¥2 per trip.

Taxis are also inexpensive and easily hailed within the city. Usually hard to catch during peak hours (17:30-19:00).

Another inexpensive way for a day-trip to scenic spots in the city area of Guilin is to get a driver for a whole or half day. Most hotels or hostels arrange this service, also telling the driver where you want to go if one is not capable of speaking Chinese.

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Language

As anywhere in China, standard Mandarin is almost universally spoken as it is the language used in education and governance. Nevertheless, the local variant of Mandarin has a non-standard pronunciation characteristic of most regions in southern China for many basic Mandarin sounds and also exhibits influence from Cantonese and some local minority languages.

Cantonese is also spoken and understood by a number of locals, especially in the service industry and among younger populations.

English is not widely spoken but you can expect reasonable-to-excellent English from staff in most hotels and hostels (especially those popular among Westerners) and tourist shops. Elsewhere, English proficiency is none-to-limited, therefore it is recommended to have hotel staff write down your intended destination for taxis or to carry a bilingual map and phrasebook.

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Eat

Like everywhere in China, food is all around. The best choice for any traveller is to taste the food in the local shops. Be sure to try out Guilin mifen (rice noodles), found in about every street in the city. Also, what is more fun than going into a local place, with nothing but Chinese on the menu, and to the point and be surprised trick. Guilin cuisine is influenced by Cantonese and Hunanese styles, but with more use of fish and spices and often prepared using stir-frying or steaming. For western food, check out the youth hostels and some places near the walking street.

Things to eat when in Guilin: Guilin Rice Noodles, Steamed Mung Bean and Meat Wrapped in Lotus Leaf, Water Chestnut Cake, Glutinous Rice with Mung Bean Paste, Guilin Water Glutinous Rice Cake, Yangshuo Beer Fish, Oil Tea & Lipu Taro Looped Meat.

Rosemary's, decent western food, in a side street of the main walking street.
Little Italian, also known as Zheli bar (the Here bar). Good pizza's and pasta. In Binjiang Lu, next to the river, south of Jiefang qiao (liberation bridge).
Hao Heng Shi Jia, 2nd floor, 9 Middle Zhong Shan Rd. Good steaks, western and Chinese food. Located on the main shopping street. Internet cafe just upstairs.
Islam Restaurant, 55 Xicheng Rd (西城路55号), ☏ +86 773-2819737. Owned by the Islam Association of Guilin. Serves traditional halal food.
Jufulin, 10 Zhengyang Rd (near the Central Square). Serving standard Chinese dishes. Seating in and out: inside can be a bit crowded, but outside is nice.

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Drink

Despite its status as a tourist hotspot, Guilin does not have much of a bar culture. Western style bars and good live music are hard to find. If you are not fussy, and not too worried about your finances, try your luck around the walking street in the city centre. Local drinks are Liquan beer and some local brands of Baijiu: ErHuoTou, SanHua for example. Guilin gets it's name from the fragrant Osmanthus tree, which is also used to make tea. There are some bars and clubs. If you do want some quality, ask your guesthouse to direct you to a cool spot, or check out one of the following places:

Le Feitz Irish Pub. Exiting place with live music and parties located in Guilin's universities area (100m near Guangxi Normal University campus).
Kaya café & bar. Recently opened in a quiet street close to the centre, this bar is one of the few good drinking spots in the city. Very laidback atmosphere with regular concerts, parties or other activities (big screen movies, parties). It has another branch in Yangshuo. Zhonghua Lu 6 (from walking street walk north to solitary beauty peak, go right and first left again, 50m ahead.)
Suan Le bar only opens for concerts and parties, but it is the the top spot for some great live music, mainly underground. At Jing Ji Lukou (Jing Ji crossroad with Liu He Lu), close to Guilin university of electronic technology.
UBC Cafe (Shangdao Kafei), Yiren Rd (near the Central Square). This is a Shanghai chain coffeehouse also serving Chinese and Western food. The coffee card appears reasonable, but sometimes you get the feeling they serve more or less the same regardless of what you order. Large place with a piano player.
Kaya café & bar, Zhonghua Lu 6 (from the walking street, walk to Solitary Beauty Peak (North), at the gate, go right and first left again, 50 meters on your right side). One of the few real bars in Guilin. Very laidback atmosphere. Located in a quiet street near the center. Offers chilled out music. They also have a branch in Yangshuo.
West Bank Café, 4/F, Binjiang Building, 18 Binjiang Rd, ☏ +86 773-2882259. Decent coffee accompanied by jazz music and river view.
100 C, Binjiang Rd (near sheraton hotel). Very good bar with great music.
Red Lips - On the Road - Usual Place - Go In, Chuanshan South Rd (street to Chuanshan Park, at the corner of Lijiang Road, close to Li River Chuanshan Bridge). Four bars nearby, each nicely decorated and with relaxed atmosphere, some with Internet access, young audience, often English-speaking Chinese students. Also Sharon's Coffee for excellent Western food (e.g. steak, schnitzel, burgers and baguettes) close-by.
Logo (formerly Le Feitz), 1-8 Chaoyang Rd, 540004 (100m from Guangxi Normal University north gate), ☏ +86 13737734082. 19:00-03:00. Bar/club, often has a cover band playing and/or DJs very loud, but not a bad atmosphere if there's a good crowd.
Lakeside Inn, No1-1-2 Shan lake Building, Shan Lake North Road, ☏ +86 7732806806. 07:30-00:00. Drinks and German beer, at the other side of the ShanHu Hotel building, right between the Central Square and the Sun and Moon Pagodas. English-speaking staff and visited mostly by tourists and expats.

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Sleep

Guilin is a tourism city. There are many hotels, more than 30 five-star hotels, 100 four-star hotels, and 200 three-star hotels.

Guilin Central Hostel, 3 Renmin Rd/人民路3号(Across from the Sheraton Hotel) (taxi from train station is ¥10. Be sure to have the address in Chinese written down for the driver. Free pickup is also readily available), ☏ +86 773 2819936, ✉ guilincentral@hotmail.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Most well established hostel in the heart of the city center. Bright and fun atmosphere in the main lounge. All essential services are included: Free Wi-Fi, international calling and Skype, Western- style restaurant and fully licensed bar, tour packages(Bamboo raft to Yangshuo along the Li River and 1-day tours to the Longsheng Rice Terraces), bicycle rental, towel rental, heating, transportation services (ticket booking, airport pick-up & drop-off), common area, hot water, clean drinking water, laundry, storage room, and weekly events. Extremely well trained, competent and informative English speaking staff. Spacious, clean rooms at ¥35 for 6 bed dorms with air conditioning. Private twin and double rooms at ¥120 for members, ¥140 for non-members.
Wada Hostel (瓦当旅舍), 212 Huancheng Xiyi Rd (环城西一路 212号) directions=, ☏ +86 773 2154888, ✉ guilinwada@hotmail.com. The most popular backpackers' youth hostel in Guilin, they are a member of the YHA China, HI, IYHF. Very knowledgeable English speaking staff. Amenities include free internet/Wi-Fi access, International calling/Skype, great tour packages to Yangshuo/Longsheng rice terraces, transportation booking for bus/train/air, western restaurant and licensed bar, heating, BBQ, lounge, laundry, pool table, TV/movie room, reading room, video game room with Nintendo Wii, board game room, drinking water station, karaoke, outdoor patio, storage room, bicycle and boat rental. Directly across from a botanical garden, mall, movie theatre, and amusement park. Dorms at ¥40/person. Private rooms at ¥140/room for members, ¥150 for non-members.
Dozycat Hostel, No.13 North Liumashan Lane 桂林骝马山北巷13号 (A 5-10 minute gentle stroll into the centre of town), ☏ +86-773-5657548, +86 773 2861086, ✉ dozycat@yahoo.cn. Nice hostel in a quiet area a 5-minute walk out of town. Cheap eats nearby and very clean rooms. Staff are extremely helpful. Dormitory ¥40 but can be as low as ¥15, Twins and Doubles available.
Fu Yuan Hotel, Chuan Shan Lu 9 (from railway station or main bus station with bus #16 to Chuan Shan Qiao bus stop), ☏ +86 773 5875826. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Nice hotel with friendly staff and clean AC rooms. Rooms with PC & Internet access are available. Sharon's Coffee with Western food nearby. Single bed ¥88, Twin bed ¥118, double prices during Chinese holidays.
Overseas Chinese Hostel (花俏大沙), 13 Zhongshan Nanlu (中山南路13号), ☏ +86 773 3820290. A little inconveniently located, but clean and a good alternative to a full FYH. ¥60.
Ming Cheng Hotel (桂林名城大酒店), No. 4 Zhengyang Road, Xiufeng District 正阳步行街四号, ☏ +86-773-2882008. It offers air-conditioned rooms, all of which have cable TV, refrigerator, telephone, and hair dryer. Some of its amenities include business facilities, free transportation, and a 24-hour front desk and security. While staying here, you can visit some interesting places like Yulong River, Reed Flute Cave, and Seven Star Park. ¥180+.
Ming palace hostel (桂林王城青年旅馆) No.10-3, Donghua Road, Xiufeng District, Guilin. (桂林秀峰区东华路10号王城青年旅舍(中华小学旁,王府花园对面)) dorm rooms from ¥16-30, clean rooms, very helpful staff, free washing machine, very close to west gate into solitary beauty peak walled area, river, tourist area. Offers the usual tours.
Soluxe Qixia Hotel (3 minutes walk to Li River, 5 minutes walk to Seven Star Park and approaching Liberation Bridge). 366 rooms, with stylish decoration, neat and clean environment and free internet access. Free airport pick up service.
Guilin Bravo Hotel, 14 Ronghu South Rd, Xiufeng District, ☏ +86-773-2898888. Offers air-conditioned rooms, all of which have satellite TV with free in-house movies, mini-bar, refrigerator, and high-speed Internet access. Some of their restaurants are Lijiang Restaurant that serves local dishes, Restaurant with Guangdong and Sichuan cuisines, and Skylight Lobby Bar. Best rates on official website start at ¥622.
Guilin Osmansthus Flower Hotel, No. 10 Zhongshanbei RD, Guilin, Guangxi, China (in the downtown of the city, 5-min walk to the train and bus station.), ☏ +86 - 773 215 3666. A good 3-star hotel located in the downtown. ¥150 for a standard (double/single) room.
Eva Inn, 66 Binjiang Rd, Xiufeng District (in front of Sheraton), ☏ +86-773-2830666. Looks out over Li River and Elephant Trunk Hill. It has 113 rooms and a gourmet restaurant with terrace dining. Ask for disccounts.
Grand Link Hotel, No. 42 Chuanshan Road, Qixing District, ☏ +86-773-3199999. Standing on the banks of the Li River, the hotel places you in one of the most beautiful spots in the city. The four-star Guishan Hotel in Guilin, China is surrounded by Li River, Elephant Trunk Hill, and Seven Star Cave. The spacious, air-conditioned rooms are each equipped with cable television, free Internet access, a private bath, and hair dryer.
Shangri-La Guilin, 111 Huan Cheng Bei Er Lu Guilin, Guangxi, ☏ +86 773 269 8888. Luxury hotel, a little ways away from the tourist core.
Guilin Lijiang Waterfall Hotel - Da Pubu Dajiudian, 1 North Shanhu Rd (near the main shopping area), ☏ +86 773 2822881, +86 773 2823050, fax: +86 773 2822891, +86 773 2825992. Check-in: 27 3 2012, check-out: 2 4 2012. The most ostentatious place to stay in Guilin, it features a man-made waterfall which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. There are 646 rooms, indoor swimming pool, VIP health club and saunas.
Sheraton Hotel. Good location on the river, 2 minutes walk to main pedestrian area, 3 minutes to the Sun and Moon pagodas and 5 minutes to Elephant Trunk Hill park. Popular with westerners and probably the best western breakfast buffet you'll find in Guilin.
Hotel of Modern Art, Yuzi Paradise, DaBu Town, Yanshan district (Approx 30 minutes drive from the city center), ☏ +86 773 3867888, fax: +86 773 3867999. This hotel is set inside Yuzi Paradise, a park full of stunning modern art in a remote rural location.
Guilin Merryland World Resort (about a 1-hour drive north of Guilin). The resort offers two types of accommodation: 5-Star Hotel, or Forrest Village.
Guilin Inn (桂林驿·皇家别院), No.117 West Ring Road, ☏ +86 7732586888, ✉ guilininn@qq.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. content in Guilin central park -- the botanical garden, Guilin Yi Royal Palace(Guilinyi) is a garden landscape view hotel covering an area of 120,000 m². This hotel is well provided with pleasant environment no matter inside or outside it. Moreover, it is close to 101 pleasure ground and TOO Commercial Plaza, the biggest recreational and commercial district in Guilin, about 5-minute drive from the railway station and the bus station as well as 30 minutes from Liangjiang International Airport. It is pretty convenient for dining, shopping, sightseeing and traffic.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.

Post

China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 25.2791
  • Longitude: 110.276299

Accommodation in Guilin

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Guilin searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Contributors

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Guilin Travel Helpers

  • AnnaSui

    I have been in Guilin for over 10 years, after graduated from Guangxi Normal University. I have spent many times in and out of Guilin by biking, car or through some walking. I love Guilin very much and would like to be of help so that more people can know more about this city.

    Ask AnnaSui a question about Guilin

This is version 68. Last edited at 14:03 on Dec 24, 19 by Utrecht. 11 articles link to this page.

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