The Li River, one of the world’s most stunning natural vistas, has been captured by Chinese artists for ages and would awe even the most seasoned traveller. From Guilin to Yangshuo, dramatic karst peaks rise magnificently from the valley level.
A little scattering of settlements along the Li River, which connects these two destinations, provide a taste of river life in this part of China.
Guilin is the gateway to the Li River and the beginning place for Li River Cruises, while Yangshuo, the jewel of this interesting area, is located towards the conclusion of the 83-kilometer journey.
Many individuals base themselves in Guilin, owing to the city’s infrastructure, which includes an airport and high-speed trains.
Yangshuo is noted for its amazing beauty, with limestone mountains, the bamboo-lined Li and Yulong Rivers, and a variety of other attractions that make it a great destination to spend a few days.
Booking a cruise on the Li River from Guilin
A Li River cruise is the greatest way to see the beauty of this location, and most visitors come here only for the purpose of enjoying this boat excursion. Depending on the water level and current intensity, the cruise lasts between four and five hours.
Tourist boats sail from a harbour about 30 to 40 minutes outside of Guilin, and are the only cruises available to foreigners.
You may arrange a cruise from your hotel in Guilin until the night before departure, which is the most convenient approach. Your guide will ensure that you board the correct boat as the excursion departs from your hotel.
There is a large tourist centre near the port, but the situation is hectic at best because all the ships leave at the same time, around 9:30 a.m.
Regular seating and VIP seating are usually available. Regular seating is on the first level (water level), whereas VIP seating is on the second level and has a few less people.
The third level is the open top deck, which is open to the public, however there is no seats and no protection from the sun. The views from this vantage point are breathtaking, and you may find that you spend the majority of your time up here, with the exception of lunch, which is included in your trip.
Is it better to return to Guilin or stay in Yangshuo?
This is a one-way excursion, with passengers getting off the boat in Yangshuo and then taking a 1.5-hour bus ride back.
You have the option of staying in Yangshuo, but the tour price remains the same. The majority of visitors do not remain, but if you have the time, it is definitely worth spending a few days or more in Yangshuo. Many people consider Yangshuo to be one of the most memorable parts of a trip to China.
TIP: If you plan on staying in Yangshuo after disembarking from the ship, be warned that the situation at the ferry dock can be chaotic. All of the ferries arrive at the same moment, with around 2,000 passengers disembarking simultaneously.
It’s a long walk to the street, up several flights of stairs and past gift kiosks, so if you’re carrying luggage, you might wish to pay the attendants for assistance.
There are no cabs here; instead, you must use one of the city’s electric buses to get around. The best choice is to arrange to be picked up by your hotel, especially if you are staying on the outskirts of town or in the nearby villages.
Highlights of the Li River Cruise
The cruise’s first two-thirds are the most scenic, while the middle third is the most magnificent.
Many of the mountains have names, and the staff will point them out and make statements over the intercom about some of them.
Nine Horse Hill is the first significant attraction to keep an eye out for. With a large, white cliff face, this well-known mountain stands out among the others along the river. Although the hill is claimed to have nine visible horses imbedded in the cliff, you might be able to spot one or two if you look closely. Almost no one claims to have seen all nine, including the tour guides.
Yellow Cloth Shoal is up next. The shoreline is different here, and the shoal is visible to varied degrees depending on water levels throughout the year.
The scene seen on the RMB 20 Yuan Note is the most famous spot along the Li River Cruise. Compare the scenery to the image if you have a 20Y note with you. On a 4.5-hour trip, you’ll arrive at this location at 12:30 and hear an announcement. Many people make the mistake of looking out the bow and starting clicking shots, but to see the scene depicted on the note, you must look out the back of the ship.
Finally, there’s Xingping Town and Xingping Fishing Village to see. Make a mental note of these locations in case you want to return on a trip, either by raft to the old fishing village or by automobile to visit the modern town.
When is the best time to go on a Li River cruise?
The months of September and October are ideal for a Li River cruise. Because it is peak season, the boats will be crowded, but you can expect pleasant weather and excellent sightseeing opportunities.
The best time to visit this place is from April to October, but the months of April to June are usually rainy. The months of July and August can be extremely hot. The autumn season is ideal. If you go in the winter, be prepared for cold temperatures and snow.