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More and more Chinese cities are welcoming tourists for short visa-free visits. In addition to Beijing, Kunming, and Chengdu, the beautiful city of Guilin (桂林 – guì lín) also allows you to visit for three days without the hassle and expense of getting a visa. Famed for its karst mountain peaks along the Li River, this city and the nearby town of Yangshuo (阳朔 – yáng shuò) have a lot to offer travelers, even with only a few days. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do with 72 hours in Guilin.
After arriving at Guilin airport, head to the Wada Youth Hostel (瓦當青年旅舍 – wǎ dàng qīng nián lǚ shě) and check in before exploring the city.
This hostel has private rooms as well as dorms, plenty of places to chill out, a pool table, a restaurant, and a bar. They can provide you with all the information you need for your short visit to Guilin and Yangshuo, and can even help you book transportation and tours. While you could easily spend the day just hanging out here, you have to get out and see some of the city on your one and only day there. But first, it’s time to eat!
For lunch, you’ve got to go with a piping hot bowl of Guilin rice noodles (桂林米粉 – guì lín mǐ fěn). There are hundreds of varieties of noodles across China, and this is one of the most famous. You can find Guilin rice noodles all over the country, but nothing beats the original.
For just about 6 RMB (around $1), this is a great bargain. It just comes with noodles, pork, and soup, but there are plenty of options for spicing it up – pickled veggies, chili sauce, garlic, and more. With a full belly, you’re ready to get out and take a walk in the park.
With just one day in Guilin, you should spend the afternoon wandering around the Seven Star Park (七星公园 – qī xīng gōng yuán). As is the case all over China, spending time in a park is a great way to soak up the local culture. People love coming here to play cards, practice water calligraphy, take part in group dancing, or just to sit around drinking tea. You can also see some small waterfalls, a Buddhist temple, and a hill that looks like a camel. There are some real animals as well…
Be sure to heed the advice of the Chinglish sign – “Be careful monkeys dangerous!” Once you’ve had enough monkey business, you can head out of the park and chill out by the Li River (漓江 – lí jiāng) before the sun goes down.
You’ll see plenty of locals fishing or just hanging out. People in Guilin are super friendly, so this is a great time to practice your Chinese! Enjoy the famous scenery of the river and the karst mountains, and get excited for even more of it in the days to come. Pretty soon, you’ll be cruising along this majestic river in a bamboo raft. For now, though, it’s time to hit the streets in search of something tasty.
In the evening, take a stroll along Xicheng Pedestrian Street (西城路步行街 – xī chéng lù bù xíng jiē), where you’ll find a bustling night market and plenty of restaurants, including one called “Forest Gump.” If you’re brave enough, there’s plenty of delicious street food available here. If not, you can find cuisines from all around the world – American, Italian, Japanese, Indian – you name it. Nearby, you can also take in the views of the Sun and Moon Towers (日月双塔 – rì yuè shuāng tǎ), which are illuminated at night.
While there are several bars, KTV joints, and clubs in Guilin, you’ll want to get a good night’s sleep before heading off to Yangshuo the next day so you can enjoy some outdoor activities without a hangover. Don’t worry – there are two more nights and plenty of places to party there as well.