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Sitting at the top of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in the far south of China, Guilin is a city surrounded by natural wonders created by millions of years of erosion. Limestone karsts dot the green landscape in dramatic fashion, creating a magical scene that looks straight from a film-set.

Guilin city is today a medium-sized Chinese city, with a population of around 5 million. But it started life as just a small settlement on the Li River, increasing in size and importance over the years. Today, tourism in a major contributor to the economy, as it attracts people from all over to see the awesome scenery.

Originating in the Mao’er Mountains, the Li River runs down through rural Guangxi Province and flows through the city, as it makes its way to Yangshuo in the south, and then onto Pingle where it merges with the Lipu River. As it meanders through Guilin, it is undeniably scenic: traditional boats ply the river with the backdrop of the giant limestone karsts rising high.

We would recommend spending at least two days in the city which will allow you opportunity to take in various places around the city as well as exploring the surrounding limestone karst landscape. Within the city itself, there are various museums documenting the unique art and culture of the region, as well as the many ethnic minorities living in Guangxi Province. Any visitor will likely spend the majority of their time exploring the surrounding countryside, whether by boat, bicycle, or on foot. Not only is it possible to experience the truly breaktaking limestone karst scenery, but there are also numerous incredible caves to explore.

A visit to Guilin can be easily combined with a wider tailormade tour of southern China, exploring Yunnan and other parts of Guangxi Province. Also in Guangxi, Yangshuo and Longsheng are wonderful rural towns. Yangshuo is similar to Guilin, but on a much smaller scale, whilst Longsheng is famous for beautiful rice terraces. Winter can be cold and foggy, so best avoided. April, May and September are the best months to visit when the region usually has warm and clear weather.

Features in the following itineraries

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I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson

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