Guilin | Yangshuo Honeymoon Trip

by Sarah

in Eats Around Town, Travel

After two weeks visiting family, and our larger wedding in Taiyuan (located in Northern China), the Spork and I flew to Guilin (located in Southern China) for some outdoors and relaxation. Since Guilin had relatively few info sites online compared to other places I’ve visited, below is a detailed list of what we did along with the prices to expect – since you will be doing quite a lot of bargaining with taxi drivers in Guilin to arrange rides as the main areas to see are actually in three separate cities surrounding Guilin.

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Day 1. Relaxing at the Shangrila 

While in Guilin, we stayed at the Shangri-La, and we were very impressed! The service was excellent, and we had a river view room where we looked over the Li Jiang River and the mountains behind it (view here!):

 

hotel room vie

They had a private dining room for residents on the top two floors, where Guilin rice noodles as well as a variety of other Guilin classics like green bean cake were served daily. They even had complimentary waters, fresh juices, and a cocktail bar during cocktail hour! Upon our arrival they surprised us by decorating our room and gifting us wine, fruit, and roses because it was our honeymoon.

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We selected the package of breakfast and dinner included at the Shangri-La, so we only had to worry about lunch during the day when we were out. We dinned at the 6th floor Horizon lounge every day, which is a lot smaller than the main dining area on the first floor (you have the option to do breakfast in the main cafe though). Since there were fewer customers, the staff on the 6th floor were very attentive. They went out of their way to show us how to eat the famous Guilin rice noodles, and made us made-to-order eggs and lattes in the morning. We learned that Guilin rice noodles are dry noodles eaten with soup on the side, and plenty of toppings. Since our first day in Guilin was pouring rain, we stayed in the hotel the entire day to enjoy the gym, indoor pool, and yummy food.

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Day 2. Biking in Yang Shuo Countryside

On the second day, we woke up very early and cabbed over to a neighboring city Yangshou which is 1.5 hours away by car. We deliberated on taking the bus vs. a cab, and ultimately went with a cab because it would be 1 hour faster over the course of the day. We booked our guide-led biking tour of the Yang Shuo countryside through Bike Asia, which offers tours throughout Asia. We went on a 40-50km/30 mile ride through the countryside on mountain bikes they provided along with helmets and gloves. The bikes were 1000x more comfortable than the bike I used to get around all of college and med school and our guide was so knowledgeable pointing out all the crops as we rode through the countryside. All the guides speak Chinese and English, which was super impressive.

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We stopped in the middle of the day for a bite to eat at a farm restaurant. The food there was super fresh, I was impressed to find they hand picked the vegetables just 10 minutes before cooking them for us!

thomas biking

Day 3. Guilin City (Reed Flute Cave, Pedestrian Street Shopping)

To be totally honest the Reed Flute Cave was very disappointing! It is very tourist-y (people selling photos inside the cave, and extra charge to see the tortise inside) and very over-priced (¥110 per person!!). The cave took about 15-20 minutes to walk through and it looked exactly as one would expect a cave to look. They also try to sell a you a shuttle that brings you from the parking lot to the cave entrance, that is ¥35 one way per person, so 70¥ both ways! The shuttle goes a very short distance you can walk in about 5-10 minutes so unless there is someone injured or very elderly traveling with you, skip the shuttle if not the entire cave.

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After the cave, we headed to the “Pedestrian Street” – a walking only street – located in the city center of Guilin. There were a variety of stores selling anything from food, to clothes, to gifts. The street food was delicious – the Spork and I tried a mango + passionfruit juice (there are plenty of fresh fruits in Guilin especially tropical fruits like passionfruit), as well as lamb kabob coated in cumin powder. We even stopped at KFC because the Spork was super curious what KFC was like in China – we tried their Beijing Chicken Roll, which rolled a piece of fried chicken in a Beijing style duck roll – it was pretty good! This street comes to life in the evening, so I’d say definitely go after 5 PM which is when things start opening and getting lively.

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One particular branch of the Pedestrian street is filled with street vendors selling meat on a stick. From squid, to lamb, to even bugs! This street is where we tried the delicious lamb skewers. At the end of the street is the Li Jiang River, which is wrapped by a beautiful park people take walks in. The river view is just stunning, and I heard even better at night!

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Day 4. Rafting on Li Jiang River & River night lights

 

Guilin raftOn the 4th day, we taxi’d to Yang Di Harbor and rode a bamboo raft until the town of Xin Ping, about 1.5 hrs ride along the Li Jiang River. This bamboo raft actually had a little motor at the end because this part of the river had more waves than other smaller neighboring rivers (e.g. Yu Long River in Yang Shuo) which could do with un-motorized rafts. There are four seats on each raft, so do wait for another group of two if just two of you are going – otherwise the raft won’t go. On our trip, we saw many of the green mountains Guilin is most famous for, including the scene drawn on the back of all 20 Yuan bills.20 yuan bill Guilin

Once we reached Xin Ping, we explored the city center and had lunch at a place that served the beer fish that Guilin is known for. Xin Ping itself was just OK and very touristy with lots of street vendors, but the rafting was really beautiful. If I were to do the raft over, I would do the raft in Yang Shuo on the Yu Long river, instead of rafting from Yang di to Xin Ping, which is very out of the way and made for a 3 hour cab drive back to Guilin from Xin Ping. Yang Shuo is about 1 hr closer to Guilin than Xin Ping is, and their rafts also don’t have motors because the water is more still in the Yu Long River, which flows into the larger Li Jiang River.

light pagodas

In the evening we took a walk along the lake that houses the two pagodas of Guilin, which light up at night.  This lake is close to the Pedestrian Street we had been to the day before, so of course we tried some more yummy snacks including liquid yogurt in a glass milk bottle!

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Day 5. Bye Bye! 

We had an amazing time in Guilin and spent the last 1/2 day we were there packing. The hotel surprised us with a parting gift of two colorful balls with “peace” written on them in Chinese characters. Overall we can not recommend the Shangri-La enough and it is definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

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A note on Taxis in Guilin: 

Before we went to Guilin we were a little worried about transportation as many places we wanted to see were far from each other. There are two main ways to get around: 1) taxi 2) take the bus. The bus system in Guilin and even to neighboring cities as far as 2 hours away, is well developed, tried, and true. However the downside is you need to make multiple transfers sometimes, the bus is slower than a taxi, and the bus can not drop you off exactly where you want to be. For ease of planning, we decided to taxi the entire trip. When it comes to taxis or private cars, its important to bargain for a good deal. Most hotels will have private car services they recommend that cost 2-3X as much as hiring a taxi on your own. What we did – by chance, since originally we planned to take the bus – was ask a taxi driver parked in front of the hotel if she could take us around for the day. These drivers are not operating through a middle party (hotel’s tourist desk) so the prices are a lot more reasonable. We kept the cell number of our taxi driver and actually used the same driver all the days for all our transports – often at discount since we were return business. To give you a rough idea of how much a taxi may cost in case you do bargain, these are the prices we paid: The RMB (¥) conversion to US dollars ($) is 6.9¥ for  1$.

¥300 Hotel –> Yang Shuo (Bike Asia shop).

¥200 Yang Shuo (Bike Asia shop) –> Hotel

¥600 total: Hotel –> Yangdi pier  (for rafting). Pick up at Xin Ping raft destination, with transport back to hotel.

¥135 airport –> Hotel. (this was the metered price)

¥90 Hotel –> airport (do negotiate!)

Anywhere within Guilin the city is very cheap, about¥15 per trip.

We are off to South Africa, until then!

xoxo

Sarah

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Grace May 27, 2017 at 7:05 am

Congratulations to you and the Spork!! What an adorable couple you make. I love the gorgeous photos of your adventures! Best wishes for a honeymoon full of beautiful memories! <3

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2 Sarah May 27, 2017 at 8:00 am

Thanks Grace!! <3 <3 Can't wait to see you once I'm back!

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3 Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder August 21, 2017 at 8:23 pm

Congrats!!! Loving all these photos – esp of you in that red dress <3 married life is pretty awesome

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4 Sarah August 23, 2017 at 5:36 pm

thank you! 😀

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