First Impression of Guilin, China

eTramping in Guilin

Guilin, Guilin! Here we are! Knackered after over 13-hour bus ride, we finally got to China’s most picturesque region. How does it feel to be exploring one of the world’s most beautiful and famous travel destinations? Awesome, truly amazing!

A girl is smiling, Xing Ping scenery, China
Enjoying the scenery of Xing Ping
A boy admiring the view of Longsheng's Rice Terraces, China
Cez admiring the view of Longsheng’s Rice Terraces

About Guilin:

  • It’s located in Guangxi Province.
  • Sits on the west bank of the stunning Li River.
  • Its name is translated as “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus”.
  • There is a very popular Chinese saying 桂林山水甲天下 meaning “Guilin’s mountain and water scenery is the best under heaven”.
Guilin's Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Spot. The pagodas look spectacular at night.
Guilin’s Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Spot. The pagodas look spectacular at night.

Our First Guilin Impressions

#1 Epic meeting with Sarah of  The further adventures of bennett

We were thrilled and excited to finally meet a fellow travel blogger – Sarah – in person. Sarah found our blog last year and made a first comment on my post regarding things I hated about China. We quickly became friends and supported our travels. We also wrote a book together about our life and teaching experiences in China which will be published very soon (we can’t wait for it)!

3 people are sitting and smiling on a bus from Xing Ping to Guilin
That’s us on a bus from Xing Ping to Guilin

Sarah is an extremely cheerful and adventurous person. She has been working as an English teacher in China for the past 20 months (what a milestone!) and she has been sharing her China experience on her blog. Although we come from different countries (Sarah is British), we still managed to share the same sense of humour (we were laughing all days long), had a lot of fun and explored Guilin on a budget!

3 people are cycling in Xing Ping
That’s us cycling in Xing Ping

We were all flexible with each other and Sarah guided us most of the time as she has arrived 2 days before we did so she knew the place pretty well. We explored Yangshuo River together, did an epic cycling in Xing Ping and we hiked the Longsheng’s Rice Terraces.

Two girls dressed like Chinese
We are just like Chinese!

We had a blast on the first night when we dressed up in Chinese traditional outfits. The uniforms costed us only RMB10 ($1.60) and we were posing in front of Cez’s camera with a beautiful night view of Guilin’s pagodas behind us.

Two white girls dressed like Chinese locals
Local girls!

#2 Capricious weather

In terms of the weather, we must admit that Guilin has disappointed us a bit. Sarah was just about to miss her flight back home due to a heavy traffic caused by the flood in the town and we had to get back to Dongguan one day earlier.

Just about to start our boat ride across Yangshuo River. Everyone was equipped with umbrellas
Just about to start our boat ride across Yangshuo River. Everyone was equipped with umbrellas

There was a heavy rain every morning with some sunshine in the middle of the day and then suddenly it went warmer and sunnier in the afternoon. The wind was blowing like crazy every night and it was pretty humid.

Longsheng's Rice Terraces
Sunny weather during our hike in Longsheng’s Rice Terraces

The worst weather was during our ride across the Yangshuo River (strong wind and heavy rain). We were all wet and cold, but still enjoyed the ride.

Heavy rain during a Yangshuo river ride
My face says it all

What we were most happy about is the fact that Guilin’s weather did not ruin our stay there. Although we felt a bit annoyed with the flood on the streets and a massive traffic caused by the high level of water in the town, we tried to enjoy our trip as much as we could.

#3 Delicious Food

Guilin treated us well with some nice food and drinks. It is actually a great  place to satisfy your stomach! Although we could not find any new food that we hadn’t tried in China before (kind of traditional and authentic Guangxi Province food apart from horse meat we were recommended), Sarah and Cez had their best noodles ever and I tried an egg and tomato soup for the first time which rocked!

We had our breakfast at local restaurant nearby our hostel. I sticked with my favourite eggs and soy milk, Sarah went for sesame buns and Cez had a sticky rice wrapped in a leaf and a piece of You tiao.

3 people are eating Chinese food breakfast
Breakfast time!

For lunch, we stopped out one of the local food vendors to have some noodles and eggs and tomato soup.

Lunch time! Chinese delicious beef noodles and simple egg and tomato soup
Lunch time! Delicious beef noodles and simple egg and tomato soup

Guilin is very famous for its thick noodles served with various spicy sauces and herbs topped with peanuts. It was Cez’s and Sarah’s treat of the day.

A bowl of thick Chinese noodles and peanuts
Yummy!
Chinese noodles
Perfect combination of herbs and spices

#4 “East or west, Guilin scenery is the best”

Not without a reason Guilin is perceived as one of the most beautiful places in China. Right after Beijing, it is the second most visited travel destination and we can assure you that this picturesque region will take your breath away. At some point, the Yangshuo cruise reminded us of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and Tam Coc’s experience in Ninh Binh.

The magnificent scenery of Xing Ping
The magnificent scenery of Xing Ping
The view worth our sweat when hiking - Longji Terraced Fields.
The view worth our sweat when hiking – Longji Terraced Fields.
Vivid Xing Ping
Vivid Xing Ping

To be honest, every corner you look is picture postcard perfect and it is simply impossible to take a bad photo.

#5 Friendly Locals

We didn’t hang out with Chinese a lot this time. It was just 3 of us taking Guilin, but we did meet some nice and friendly people who we had short conversations with, such as young Chinese girls we met on a car when heading to Longji Terraced Fields, an awesome and honest car drivers who took us from Guilin to Longji or some random Chinese we met on a bus from Xing Ping to Guilin. 

A bunch of Chinese girls we travelled from Guilin to Longji
A bunch of Chinese girls we travelled with from Guilin to Longji

Locals in Longji were also very friendly. They kept asking if we were hungry, tried to sell us some souvenirs without being pushy and the ladies smiled a lot to us. We loved their traditional Chinese uniforms and huge wicker baskets they carried on their backs.

A local lady from Longji
A local lady from Longji

All in all, Guilin has been simply awesome so far. All we complained about is the weather, but we could simply handle it.

Guys, how did/would you like Guilin?

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54 Comments

  • Great photos! When I went to that region, I spent three days just in fabulous Yangshuo and one day in ancient Fuli, skipping Guilin altogether. I’m still kicking myself for not seeing the rice terraces, though. Looks amazing!

    • Thanks for sharing. We had only 4 days in the region so we decided to stay in Guilin and go for short trips every day. We wanted to stay at the river longer, but the weather and time didn’t let us! :(

  • Sorry about the weather there guys :( But it seems like you still really enjoyed yourselves! We had great weather when we were in Yangshuo and Guilin (which was exactly a year ago!)…except for when we went to see the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, it was totally foggy and raining, except for about 20 mins. Oh well.

    Great photos – especially the one of the local woman.

    Cheers!

    • Yeah, the weather sucked and it was a pitty. It was sunny and nice when we explored the Rice Terraces area though!

  • Seriously epic shit! This post made me smile so much – what awesome memories we now have :)
    Also, love that photo of you on the boat – it really does sum up the weather that day! :D

    • Epic shit! Hahahaha!! I still remember our Guilin famous quotes – unforgettable experience. Hahahah my face says it all :)))!!

  • Bad luck with the weather. When I was there it was sunny and unbelievably hot. Except for Longsheng. I spent two days in the rice terraces and it rained pretty much the whole time.

    They used to serve that tomato and egg soup a lot for lunch at the school where I worked. It was easily my favorite among the soups they fed us, as most of the others were basically just a bowl of hot water with some kind of animal bone floating in it.

    • Yeah, bad luck with the weather. I was angry because I was hoping to get some nice snapshots of the river in the morning :(. Instead of that I was wet and the scenery wasn’t that good as I was expecting. What could we do… perhaps nothing. Bad luck this time. In our school they don’t cook soups. It’s only rice, meat, veggies and some baozi or jiaozi with porridge. Animal bones floating in the hot water? Sounds so familiar :)

    • Maybe we can get there together one day, would be awesome! We don’t mind visiting awesome places with awesome travelers twice :P

    • Maybe we can go there together next time when you come back to China. We don’t mind visiting one place twice with awesome people! :)

    • Hey Jess. We were blissfully happy and excited to finally meet Sarah. She just made our stay in Guilin. The food was just way too good :)!

    • Yes, it was a lot of fun. Sarah turned out to be as adventurous as we are so we had a blast together. Great experience, best ever!

  • Great article Agness, I love the photo of you guys in traditional Chinese outfits! Guilin is definitely somewhere I want to visit next time I come to China – last time I tended to stick to major cities, and next time I think I want to explore more of the countryside!

  • Really enjoyed this post, Guys! Fun story and great pics. The night shot of the pagodas is amazing!
    Agness, you look beautiful on a top photo!
    Cez, you look ok ;)

    • Cheers mate! Thank you for the compliment :). I should have made Cez wear the Chinese costume as well, that would be so funny!

  • We didn’t go to Guilin when we were in China, but it’s still on our wishlist! The noodles look delicious! There are days that I really miss Chinese food, there is just so much choice and almost everything is so yummy!

  • Wow, these photos are amazing — especially the one with the view and the ones of the pagodas at night! ALSO: those costumes were soooo cheap! But they looked so pretty and great in the photos! I’ve never actually heard of Guilin but now I want to make it a stop when I go to China (someday in the future)!!!

    • Thanks Erika. Yes, the costumes were so cheap, even for Chinese tourists. They were plenty of them wearing them actually. Guilin is a famous travel destination in China. I didn’t hear about it either when I was in Europe.

  • OMG this place is spectacular! This will have to be next on my China wish-list! The pagodas, the mountains, the rivers… gorgeous…

    And I LOVE you picture on the boat – I would be doing exactly the same thing!!!

    • Thanks Tim :). Guilin’s a spectacular place indeed. Put it on your bucket list, absolutely worth it.

  • What a beautiful region! It looks like an area of great experiences and food. It’s always refreshing to see a different side of China. How neat to borrow costumes and make it a bit more authentic. If I was to ever visit China, this would definitely make for a great trip.

  • Haven’t been to Guilin yet! From all the photos I’ve seen, I can tell it’s absolutely beautiful, though. I should probably get there one of these days. :) It looks like you guys had a lot of fun!

    • It’s an awesome place Emily. You definitely need to go there but in summer. Don’t go there in May, the weather sucks! :((

  • The first two portrait shots of you guys are great! What an awesome experience. Too bad about the weather, but at least that food looked delicious.

    • Thanks a lot. It’s not us, it’s the Guilin scenery what makes those photos so unique. We managed to have a blast despite the awful weather!

  • Looks like a dream! One of the things I worry about when i finally start to travel is the food and how easy/ difficult is would be to survive as a vegetarian.

    • I came to China as a vegetarian and I was struggling a lot because I worked in a high school and all meals were served with meat. When I refused to eat it, some teachers gave me dirty looks and they just didn’t understand the whole idea of vegetarianism. I was done with explaining myself and started to eat a little meat from time to time. What I would recommend you to do is just to strictly say no to them and ask Chinese to respect your decision. If it comes to food, there is still a great variety of vegetarian dishes such as rice, noodles, veggies, fruit salads, dumplings stuffed with cabbage and various soups, etc. Don’t worry, you will survive! :)

  • Guilin really look spectacular in all your images. I hope to make it there one day. Love its rice terraces and rock formation on the water and the beautiful locals. I also enjoyed the pics of you and Sarah in traiditional costume. Really rocks!

  • Love The Blog!! A Great Team!!! How did you get the $$ to pay for Visas let alone into China..I thought they were really expensive and only good for 30 days or so…Have they gone down..? As I read your blog it looks as though you’re in different areas of the world from day to day…China one day to Bulgaria the next..? Are you flying around..? Or just writing as things come to mind without regards to date published…? Cez,..How do you pronounce your name…? C=K or C=CH or C=S..? What kind of financial resources did you have to start with Agness? Do you both work as you travel? Why does it seem that half or more of all the people backpacking or traveling around the world nowadays are “Web-Designers” ? Wow, Do I feel behind the times…I am super computer savvy so I am happy to get on the internet and read my mail successfully, or apply for a visa with any success…Any and all assistance and advice is thoroughly appreciated..=)

    • Hi TJ, thanks for the comment. As for Chinese visa, it is not that expensive. You can get a tourist one for HK$600-700 in Hong Kong (the prices often depend on your nationality) and it lasts for 3 months. We are living in working in China at the moment, so we are going to get a working (Z-visa) next week. As for our travels, we don’t fly very often. The post on Bulgaria has been written for us by someone else, who has travelled there. We accept guest posts at the moment, so people write for us :). Cez is pronounced as C-E-Z. We work in every country we travel to plus we work online as bloggers and kind of web designers:). If you need some help with web design or have any questions, just feel free to ask. We would be more than happy to help you out. It’s a great thing to do as you can work anywhere in the world.We’re sending our love from Macau!

  • I wish you didnt eat those noodles they are so unhealthy and filled with MSG. too salty too!! how was it though?

  • Hey Agness,

    Awesome post on Guilin :) Where’d you stay in Longsheng?? Place we stayed at was terrific…. It was the home of a family who lived in the village. Great food, nicest people, beds were hard as a rock but that comes with the territory ;)

    With positive energy ~

    Paz

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