Is this the most beautiful scenery on the planet? The well-known Chinese saying asserts that ‘Guilin’s mountain and water scenery is the best under heaven’. The Li River is an artist’s dream, attracting poets, painters and famous people through the centuries.
- As one of the most popular and picturesque scenic spots in China, the Li River was listed as one of the World’s Top Ten Watery Wonders by America’s National Geographic Magazine.
- In recognition of its beauty, the image of the Li River is featured on the current 20 yuan banknote.
- Some world famous figures have visited the Li River, including former US President Bill Clinton, former US President George Bush, and Bill Gates.
- "I have visited more than 80 countries and over a hundred cities. I have found that no city can surpass the beauty of Guilin."
- Former US President Richard Nixon
Former American President Bill Clinton nad his family cruised the Li River in 1998. World VIPs who chose us.
Image of the Li River is featured on the back of 20 yuan banknote. See our China Banknotes Tour.
The Li River (Lí Ji¨ˇng, pronounced Lee Jyang) is the main river system of Guilin Prefecture, Northeast Guangxi. Originating from Kitten Mountain (Mao’er Shan), the Li River winds its way south for 437 km (272 miles). The 83-kilometer-long (52-mile-long) section between Guilin and Yangshuo is the most beautiful part.
The Li River from Zhujiang Pier (Guilin city suburbs) to Yangshuo is like an artist's masterpiece. The landscape is decorated with startling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves and farming villages, and is lined with bamboo groves. In a Chinese poem it is written: "The river is a green silk ribbon, and the hills are jade hairpins".
Popular Li River activities include:
- Taking a Li River cruise
- Watching Impression Liu Sanjie
- Visiting attractions by the river
The Li River Cruise
A Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is one of the most popular activities in a Guilin holiday (see our Li River cruise video ). A Li River cruise is included in all of our Guilin Tour Packages, or you could contact us for a tailor-made tour.
Zhujiang Pier is the usual boarding point for a Li River cruise. It is about 32 kilometers’ (20 miles’) or 40 minutes’ drive from Guilin city center.
Li River Hiking
For outdoor lovers hiking along the Li River is a good chance to get closer to nature and local life. The most popular route is from Yangdi to Xingping, which takes about 5 hours. See our Li River hiking video and our Li River hiking tour, or contact us for a tailor-made tour including hiking and anything else you would like to include.
Attractions along the Li River
Elephant Trunk Hill: Elephant Trunk Hill is the symbol of Guilin and its karst landscape. It is situated in the center of Guilin City on the west bank of the Li River. It looks like a huge elephant stretching its trunk into the Li River.
Daxu Ancient Town: This ancient town lies on the shore of the Li River. Built in the Qin Dynasty (more than 2,000 years ago), Daxu has many well-preserved traditional buildings and winding stone-paved lanes.
Gudong Waterfall: Gudong Waterfall Tourist Area has waterfalls that visitors can climb on. Another feature is its promotion of environmental protection.
Yangdi–Xingping: The stretch from Yangdi to Xingping is considered to be the most beautiful part of the Li River, and is also a popular hiking route. Many famous scenic spots cluster along this stretch, including Nine-Horse Fresco Hill and Yellow Cloth Shoal.
Visitors can also see the scenery printed on the current series of the 20 yuan banknote. Along the Li River, besides the stunning scenery, visitors will probably also see some local farming scenes: peasants working in the fields, water buffalos strolling on the river bank, and maybe cormorants catching fish in the water.
Yangshuo: Characterized by clear rivers, lush vegetation, karst hills and traditional Chinese architecture, Yangshuo is a backpackers’ paradise for its exotic mixture of local farm life and leisurely western atmosphere.
When in Yangshuo, one of the popular activities is to watch Impression Liu Sanjie, a grand nighttime spectacular, directed by the noted Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The show portrays a famous folk legend, and it uses the Li River as the stage, and the hills as the backdrop, combining beautiful singing, dancing, and lighting with deft boatmanship.
Best Time to Visit
The high season is from April to October. During sunny days, tourists can see the inverted reflection of the hills on both sides clearly in the water. During cloudy days, the hills are surrounded by mist and tourists may feel they are cruising in a mystical paradise. When the rain comes, drizzle is like a veil covering the hills and the river.
The rainy season is from April to July. In the hotter months of June and July the rain is often heavy but short-lived, with the afternoon sun quickly drying up the rain. In the heat of the summer the river mist is best seen in the early morning. See more on Guilin Weather.
In the winter low season (November till March) the water level gets much lower, so the cruise length is shortened to about 2 hours. It is quieter during this period because there are fewer tourists. Wear heavy coats when you take the cruise, because the temperature is lower than in the city.