LI RIVER CRUISE FROM GUILIN TO YANGSHUO

ESPAÑOL

Guilin Prefecture is one of the most famous places in China and a must for both independent travelers and those who travel the country in organized groups. Especially for the latter, when your trip includes a visit to Guilin, it always refers to the Li River cruise (also called Lijiang, “jiang” means “river” in Mandarin), the best way to appreciate the karst landscape of Southern China, as it is a relaxing and accessible way to enjoy this fabulous environment.

The cruise can be done from north to south or from south to north, this article describes the journey from north to south, from Guilin City to Yangshuo. For this, there are two options:

  • The most common: hire an excursion. All the accommodation and travel agencies of Guilin and Yangshuo offer the excursion ranging prices between 350 and 500 ¥, just choose an establishment with a good reputation. We made it through our hostel, the Guilin Central Wada Hostel, and we were very satisfied. All excursions include transportation from our accommodation to the boat and the first or second class boat ticket, according to our preferences. Once in Yangshuo, three possibilities are usually offered, each with a price:
    • We can stay there, finishing the tour.
    • Take another small excursion by bus, usually to villages with ethnic minorities in the area. After this mini excursion, you return on that same bus to Guilin, taking about 90 minutes.
    • Or free time in Yangshuo, subsequent bus pick-up, and transfer back to Guilin. It is what we did.
  • Or on our own: you have to take a taxi to the boat, buy the cruise ticket there (subject to availability), and then look for transportation back to Guilin if we plan to do so, or stay in Yangshuo.

SITUATION

Guilin and Yangshuo are two cities, the most tourist ones, of Guilin Prefecture, the first 60 kilometers north of the second, in Guanxi Province, south of China. To go from one to another can be done by road, a section by train or what all tourists come to do, by boat. For detailed information on how to get there and get around in the prefecture, see the article TRANSPORT IN GUILIN.

Although the Li River passes through the very center of Guilin City, cruise ships are not taken there. They leave from two docks, Zhujiang and Mopanshan, on the Li River, very close to each other, but about 25 kilometers southeast from the tourist area of ​​downtown Guilin City.

To reach the docks in Zhujiang or Mopanshan you must go by road, it takes about 40 minutes:

  • There is no public transportation; A taxi from Guilin City center will cost us between 70 and 120 ¥.
  • In case of hiring a tour, we will be picked up at the door of our accommodation.

SCHEDULES, PRICES AND INFORMATION ABOUT BOATS

The boats leave between 9:00 am and 10:00 am and take 4 hours to reach Yangshuo. Prices are as follows:

Dock

Type

Price per adult

Zhujiang Luvury (air conditioning) April-November CNY 270
December-March CNY 240
Super Deluxe April-November CNY 450
December-March CNY 380
Mopanshan Standard April-November CNY 210
December-March CNY 190

Although for some strange reason, my ticket is ¥ 245. Our full name and assigned seat will appear on the ticket.

Crucero Río Li (1) River cruise. Oficina venta billetes Ticket office Guilin
Ticket office

The boats are very spacious and clean. The price of the trip includes a small but sufficient lunch. In the superior category lunch is a free buffet, the seats are somewhat larger and the views are better from our seats, but in the same way most of the time we will spend standing on the upper or front decks, so I do not recommend buying first class.

Crucero Río Li (4) River cruise. barcos botes boats interior por dentro inside Guilin
Interior of our boat in second class

THE CRUISE

Although we had a very cloudy day, and we had already visited similar mountains in Huangshan or Zhangjiaje, the Li River cruise is one of the best experiences of a trip to China. The rocambolesque forms of the peaks of the region have some of their best examples in those that can be seen from the boat. They make up a spectacular and relaxing vision alike, which can be enjoyed with enough time. Even so, we should not get too relaxed, since that time when we have decided that we have already seen enough peaks, it could be the moment when we miss some mountain even more superb than the previous one.

The first part is however the least interesting. We will begin to see how the peaks gradually become more frequent and elevated progressively.

Crucero Río Li (7) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
First peaks are less elevated and their forms are less striking
Crucero Río Li (11) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Little by little, the landscape becomes more interesting
Crucero Río Li (13) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Almost avery peak has a proper name, although you’ll need plenty of imagination to get to know why they are called that way
Crucero Río Li (27) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Mountains rise and first cliffs show up. You can see three boats before ours
Crucero Río Li (29) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
In Caopingxiang, hidden behind the trees on the left, there’s a famous cave, the Crown Cave, that can be visited if we travel the area on our own
Crucero Río Li (31) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
We continue to Yangdi village
Crucero Río Li (34) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo Alwashere
Me in the bow of the boat

An hour after starting the cruise we will arrive at Yangdi village, where the mountains are increasingly diverse. The next hour runs along the part considered to be the best of the route, until it reaches the middle of the tour, where Xingping is less and less ignored, but is still much quieter and more rural than its neighbors, it is on its way to becoming the new Yangshuo though. In case of touring the area on our own, Xingping is a stop to take into account, since from the town there are trails that take us to the top of some surrounding mountains, with the most spectacular views of the region and all China, like Mount Xianggong.

Crucero Río Li (41) Wangfu Rock river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Formations in Yangdi area, near Wangfu Rock
Crucero Río Li (48) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
More formations in Yangdi area
Crucero Río Li (50) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
This is one of the most scenic sections
Crucero Río Li (57) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Detail of some very thin rocky needles
Crucero Río Li (71) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
More mountains
Crucero Río Li (73) Mural Hill Nine Horses Fresco river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
That massive on the right is called Mural Hill of the Seven Horses, yeah, plenty of imagination needed

Crucero Río Li (74) Yellow Cloth Shoal
The next zone is the Yellow Cloth Shoal
Crucero Río Li (78) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
With high peaks near the river
Crucero Río Li (89) Landscape on Banknote CNY 20 paisaje billete yuan
Getting to Xingping, looking to the stern of the boat, is the landscape on the 20 yuan banknotes

Although till Xingping is considered the best area, for the rest of the tour we will continue to see mountains that are worth it. Personally I don’t get tired of observing this landscape.

Crucero Río Li (92) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Pili on the stern of the boat, after leaving Xingping
Crucero Río Li (95) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
After Xingping there a re still magnificent spots to see
Crucero Río Li (100) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
View from the stern
Crucero Río Li (104) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Little by little, density and height of the peaks decrease
Crucero Río Li (110) river cruise Guilin Yangshuo
Some mounts pretty nearby Yangshuo

ARRIVAL IN YANGSHUO

The boats stop at a small pier one kilometer north of downtown Yangshuo, from where you have to walk along a riverside or take a tricycle. There are many souvenir stands, and at the end of the walk there is the Yangshuo ticket sales office, much more modest than Guilin’s.

Yangshuo (1) river cruise Guilin crucero rio Li ticket office oficina venta billetes
Yangshuo ticket sales office, some hundreds of meters north of the center on the riverbank

BAMBOO RAFT EXCURSION

Some will prefer to avoid crowds, experience a certain sense of authenticity and get a little wet, making part of the river by bamboo raft. There are two types, somewhat wider rafts with 4 seats and a roof, and other very basic and narrow ones where only two more people and the captain feat, without seats. Most begin in Yangdi and end in Xingping; Although it is the best part, there are no views to three quarters of the route. The price per adult is 220 ¥ and the departures are at 8:30 am and at 12 noon, always from Yangdi, since although the river is very calm, they try to keep the small rafts not going against the current. Takes 2 hours.

Crucero Río Li (107) bamboo raft bambu balsa Guilin Yangshuo
Bamboo rafts on the riverbank. They are made with 4 canes plus one engine

If you prefer this option, there are direct buses from Guilin Central Bus Station or from Yangshuo North Bus Station to Yangdi Dock for 22 ¥, it takes one hour.

MORE THINGS TO DO IN GUILIN PREFECTURE:
<GUILIN CITY
YANGSHUO>

∇ Destinations / ∇ China / ∇ Guangxi / ∇ Guilin Prefecture

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