Cormorant fisherman at sunrise, Li River, China

Guilin and The Li River

Offering plenty for those who are seeking some of Chinas natural beauty with stunning panoramic landscapes and interesting cultural tribal groups.

Guilin is located in Southern China and makes a lovely inclusion to any China holiday.

As well as a vibrant night market and lakes that are prettily lit at night, Guilin’s charm lies in its magical scenery which has inspired poets and artists for thousands of years.

Sunset overlooking the Li River near Guilin, China

The Li River

It is now an area known for its green hills, clear waters, unusual rock formations and caves. Sheer limestone peaks covered in lush vegetation dominate the area, rising up from flat plains and lining the banks of the Li River.

The Li River meanders between the town of Guilin and the smaller market town of Yangshuo and a lovely way to view the landscape is to board a cruise between the two. The journey takes just over 3 hours and as well as the spectacular scenery offers a chance to see some of the local life as you pass small riverside villages, Water wheels irrigating the fields and local men fishing with cormorants from bamboo rafts. Yangshuo itself is a lovely place to spend a few days, with a laid back feel and market stalls, bars and restaurants lining the cobbled streets plus the opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside on foot or by bicycle.

Yaoshan Mountain, Guilin, China hillside rice terraces landscape

Rice Terraces

Nearby are 800-year-old rice terraces still farmed by the Zhuang tribe, who wear traditional costumes and live in their traditional houses. Another local tribe who inhabit the area are the Yao, or Long Hair, people, whose women grow their hair to the ground and can be seen combing it out by the mountain streams.


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Weaving traditional chinese silk arts and crafts

Markets of Guilin

Shop for traditional arts and crafts at the local markets around Guilin and Yangshuo.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Banyan Tree Yangshuo, View towards karst peaks, Yangshuo, China

Stay at The Banyan Tree Yangshuo

On the banks of the Li River amidst spectacular karst scenery, stay at the Banyan Tree Yangshuo.

Hotel details

Rice Terraces, China

Longsheng Rice Terrraces

Visit the 800 year old Longsheng rice terraces and some of the minority tribes who inhabit the area.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Rice terraces

Li River Cycling

Cycle through rural countryside, paddy fields and local villages surrounded by the limestone peaks of the Li River, stopping for a picnic enroute.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Yulong River, Guilin, China

Li River Rafting

Cruise the Li River by bamboo raft, as the traditional cormorant fishermen do.

Suggested Holiday Idea

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Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Li-An Lodge £££££

  • China
  • Boutique

Perched high on a mountain with panoramic views across the tumbling rice terraces below, Li-An Lodge is an entirely wooden structure. Built using time-honoured building techniques of tongue and groove with no nails, this charming hotel has 16 traditional style rooms, making the most of the breath-taking views.

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Banyan Tree Yangshuo £££££

  • China

Located alongside the Li River with a spectacular backdrop of mountains and karst limestone peaks, Banyan Tree Yangshuo is built in a local style to sympathetically blend in with the remarkable surroundings. The 142 suites and villas offer views of the central pagoda lake, the river or the mountains and some have a private balcony or terrace. The outdoor swimming pool occupies a superb location overlooking the Li River and the choice of restaurants serve a wonderful array of regional specialities.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz.

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  • 01285 880 980

Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.

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  • 01285 880 980

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