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Li River Cruise, Guilin to Yangshuo, China

Updated on February 3, 2015

Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, China

Guilin and the Li River in China are famous for the wonderfully weird shaped limestone hills that have inspired artists for centuries. Cruises can be taken from Guilin, a fairly large modern city next to a lake and surrounded by this beautiful scenery to Yangshuo a smaller town with a busy tourist industry, where cormorant fishermen can be watched at work. This stretch of the river is famous for the incredible scenery and a timeless view of chinese countryside.

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Map of Guilin, China - Where is Guilin, Yangshuo and the Li River?

A markerGuilin, China -
Guilin, China
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Places to Stay in Guilin, China

I stayed in the Bravo Hotel, Guilin, for one night as, like most tourists, we were just there for the river cruise. The Bravo Hotel is located right next to the lake a pleasant walk from Guilin centre, with views of the hills in the distance. The centre of Guilin is very modern with a Louvre style glass pyramid in the central square. There is a good selection of places to eat and drink from expensive business hotels to small bars and restaurants. I found a "German" bar that sold outrageously expensive bottles of beer from around the world.

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The Li River Cruise to Yangshuo

The best way to see the wonderful scenery around Guilin is to take a half day cruise on one of the many river-cruise boats from Guilin Yangshuo. The scenery is stunning with the impossible limestone hills constantly amazing. Lunch was included but we could see into the kitchens of other boats along the river and decided that our boat was unlikely to be different and opted not to partake. Instead we had the observation deck to ourselves and that incredible view.

After checking into the Magnolia Hotel, an inexpensive comfortable hotel, we had a late lunch in ''Andy's Bar'' (pizza) which, no doubt had a kitchen every bit as hygienic as the boat's but we couldn't see it. Yangshuo is a very touristy place, with every shop and bar aimed purely at extracting tourist money, but somehow it didn't matter. The shops sold the usual useless rubbish and the bars and restaurants were mostly a bit substandard.

Chinese Cormorant Fisherman at Yangshuo

Yangshuo: Cormorant Fishing

The famous cormorant fishermen are obviously entering into the spirit of tourism, waiting on the jetty for that lucrative photo opportunity, with a couple of cormorants on a long bamboo stick. It is also possible to book a nighttime boat-trip to watch the cormorants in action. We arranged this trip on arrival at the hotel and were collected on foot by a very vague guide who took us to the jetty where we joined a group of 30 or so in 2 boats to follow Cormorant Fishermen in their boats. The cormorants have string tied round their necks so they can't swallow the larger fish and the fishermen make the birds regurgitate the fish when they return to the boat. I decided not to eat fish in Yangshuo. A memorable and interesting excursion

After the fishing trip we had the worst Peking Duck ever washed down with "Great Wall" red wine which was surprisingly drinkable and cost just £6, followed by a drink in a bar, sitting on a balcony overlooking a sewer lit with red lanterns.

The following morning we were picked up and taken back to Guilin stopping off at "Shan Gri La" a Chinese tourist theme park. Interesting and quite attractive with a wonderful backdrop. Certainly worth a visit if you are passing and have time to kill. We flew home to London stopping off in Hong Kong briefly.

Rural China

Alternative Transport

Wonderful Scenery


Postcards and Souvenirs from China

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    • profile image

      josie-huang-562 3 years ago

      Guilin is a beautiful place! spectacular mountains and river scenery, no wonder it has been called the most landscape on earth!

      check out more photos and attractions at

    • profile image

      fenellashorty 5 years ago

      beautiful scenery

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      This is amazing. I love the limestone hills and guilin looks like an amazing place to visit.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 7 years ago

      Wow ... this was a fun escape. Those limestone hills are pretty amazing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      great lens about China.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 7 years ago

      I can't afford to take a trip like this, so reading your lens is the next best thing for now.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      @julieannbrady: I wonder if it really was THE Shangri-La (or just a Chinese theme park)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Ah ... I've been seeking Shangri-La and now by gum I think I've found IT!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 8 years ago from United States

      While the cruise sounds appealing, I don't think I would enjoy watching the fisherman at all. Their fishing methods seem abusive to the birds and no doubt, I would totally freak out if I witnessed it. Chinese jail does not appeal to me:)