Li River Cruise, Guilin
The Most Scenic Cruise in China

Li River cruise is actually one of the most scenic cruises on earth. You must be thrilled by this stunningly beautiful journey.

Li River – A Mile-long Natural Gallery

Li River, Guilin

It is just like a lush ribbon gracefully winding through Guilin. The 84-km long between Guilin and Yangshuo is particularly spectacular. Li River is famous for its beautiful hills and waters, wonderful caves and rocks.

The scenery along both banks is just like Chinese paintings. This was what Bill Clinton said: “I heard of the name of Li River long ago. Today I visit Li River. It is more vivid and genuine than what I thought before. Nowhere is like Guilin. It makes me think of the traditional Chinese paintings."

Li River is actually a mile-long natural gallery.

Li River winds through rapids and shallows, past valleys, waterfalls, bamboo groves and green rocks. The verdant mountains are covered with lush bamboo and luxuriant forests. Guilin’s mountains and hills are never too tall. Reflections of these elegant conical limestone peaks on mirror-like clear water of the Li River are just like a fairyland on earth.

Li River Cruise Overview

Li River - cruise

Li River cruises usually start in the morning from Guilin and arrive at Yangshuo after lunch. The entire journey lasts about four hours.

Boats are air-conditioned. You can stay inside or enjoy the lovely river breezes on the open deck. The viewing platform on the open area might be even more crowded than the main cabin. Of course, you have better views and closer encounter with the beautiful nature.

Li River cruises serve lunch on board. Don't expect a great feast as you are here for the spectacular scenery, not the food. However local favourites and fresh catches from the Li River will be served.

Best time for a Li River cruise is before or after the rain season. April, May, September and October are peak seasons. Please be prepared for crowds.

Li River cruises end in Yangshou. You can take an hour long bus trip back to Guilin. Or stay behind and relax for a couple of days in Yangshuo.

The Scenic Voyage

The 84-km Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo has three distinct sections. The voyage is fully of scenic spots which are too numerous to mention. Therefore I’ll just name the most remarkable ones.

Guilin City to Yangdi (46 km)
The scenic spots here are a bit away from the waterway. The most famous and nearby Guilin is the Elephant Trunk Hill. I am sure you can spot it easily as it resembles exactly an elephant with its trunk in water. There is also the Sword Hill and a number of other beautiful peaks.

Yangdi to Xingping (17 km)
This section has Li River’s most beautiful landscape of waters and hills. You’ll cruise on an extremely picturesque waterway. Shapes of the peaks are just miraculous. A flying waterfall suspends highly at the Erlang Gorge. Here are the two most scenic spots.

Li River - Mural Hill

Mural Hill of Nine Horses - the precipice is straight as if cut by knife. Chinese legend said it resembles nine horses each of different action and posture.

If you are able to see nine of them, you are the winner of the next Imperial Examination. If you see eight only, you are the first runner-up.

I’ve heard that Bill Clinton saw only two.

Li River - yellow cloth

Inverted Image of the Yellow Cloth Shoal – 500 meters away from the Mural Hill of Nine Horses.

This area gets its name from a huge yellow flagstone at the bottom of the shoal. It can be easily seen through the still and clear water.

The inverted images of the seven steep peaks resemble seven fairy ladies. Here the quiet Li River, green mountains and blue sky embellish each other and formed an extremely spectacular view.

Xingping to Yangshuo (20 km)
After the Camel Crossing River and Screw Hill, you can see the highest Green Lotus Peak. Soon after it you will reach Yangshuo. When you see the Green Lotus Peak from its front, it is as smooth as a mirror, so it is also called the Mirror Hill.

Interesting Cruise Sidelights

Li River cruise - rural sight

A Li River cruise is not only for the beautiful landscape. The special treat is the opportunity to observe the daily activities of local people.

Farmers and their water buffaloes work at the rice paddies. Fishermen glide on narrow bamboo rafts. Some of them have their working bird cormorant help catching fish. Duck herders watch over their flocks. Women do washing or cooking at the river bank.

The Li River cruise is a great away to observe an authentic countryside life style. Bring your binocular.

Ferry Tickets
All air conditioned. Cruise around four hours, include meal and guide.
Class A – Super Luxury
Class B – Luxury
Class C – Ordinary

Peak Season: April to November and Spring Festival
Class A – ¥450
Class B - ¥270
Class C – ¥210

Off Peak: December to March
Class A – ¥380
Class B - ¥240
Class C – ¥190

Departures: 09:30 – 10:30

Anna's Notes
Some people say that tourists do not need to worry about the change of weather, since the views of the Li River have different characteristics in sunny, cloudy, misty or even rainy days. Yes, that could be true if you do a Li River cruise once a quarter. But we are tourists and won’t come regularly.

You certainly don’t want to see the Li River after heavy rain. I once came after a rainy day, the water was rocky and no inverted images at all, though hills and peaks remain charming.

Remember you come to Guilin to see the best hills and waters in China, if only the hills are beautiful but not the waters, you lost half of the fun. Therefore if you want to secure a best-of-the-best Li River cruise, please do avoid the rainy season (June, July, August).

Notes for Travel Photographers
You are likely to take plenty of photos on this highly photogenic cruise. Make sure you have lots of memory cards and your camera battery fully charged.

Notes for Cruise Lovers

If you want to have more advices for a cruise holiday, check this website Cruise Vacation Advisor.

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