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Fantastic Travel Experience in Guilin

1. Take a day cruise up the Li River

This was basically the main reason we were in Guilin (best travel city included in top 10 China tour packages), and our cruise certainly did not disappoint. We booked it through our Hotel Reception, paying 450rmb each = about $79AUD. We thought this price was quite reasonable, as it was a full day tour, including lunch on the boat.

Pick-up at our Hotel was at 8.15am and the cruise itself lasted for 4 1/2 hours. The scenery on the cruise was magical, like out of a fairy tale. The weather that day was overcast with some sun and very very warm. This was our last full day in Guilin, so we had no option but to do the cruise on that day. When we woke up in the morning and looked outside, it was pouring rain which was disappointing. But, as the day wore on, the weather improved minute by minute, so we are glad we still went.

Every time the boat turned a new corner, or you turned your head left, right, up or down, there was something new and equally amazing to look at and take pictures of. I did take over 100 photos that day, and to most people, they probably all look very similar, but they are not. It was simply all that breathtakingly beautiful.

I cannot tell you who exactly we did the cruise with, but we were known as "The Panda Group" and our China tour guide was called Young Young. He was (as we had come to expect!) a fantastic guide, very knowledgeable, funny and speaking fluent english.

The lunch that was served on the boat was adequate - I wont tell you it was simply delicious, because it wasnt! But there was ample food for all to share. Funnily enough, beer was included in your ticket price, but soft drink was not. So, to quench my craving for coca cola, I had to fork out 20rmb!!!

The boat docked in Yangshao at about 2pm and we then had about 3 hours to spend there. We pretty much just shopped for that time, finding the markets selling unique goods we had not seen anywhere else, and all very very cheap. Then we got a bus back to Guilin at about 6pm and were back in our Hotel room by about 7.30pm. It was a very long and tiring day, but one I will always remember.

2. Solitary Beauty Peak

The only other thing of interest we managed to do was to climb to the top of Solitary Beauty Peak, which was only about a 10 minute walk from our Hotel. I think it was Alice who suggested to do this. This is basically a huge karst hill in the centre of town that has 302 steps up the side of it and you can climb to the top for great views of Guilin. The steps to the top are quite a difficult climb, and for me, who is afraid of heights and has an immense dislike of going up and down steps, it was not much fun! Going up was ok, apart from the huffing and puffing we did! Coming down, I was ***ting myself, going very slowly and one step at a time! But ... it was worth it, and I would definitely urge travelers to do this.

Entrance fee to the Prince City Scenic Area and the Solitary Beauty Peak was 70rmb = about $12AUD which we thought was a bit of a rip-off, as there wasnt really that much else to see and do there. Also in the complex is a restaurant, tourist centre, Chengyuan Palace, Crescent Pond, Reading and Peace Caves, a Tea House, Xuanwu and Confucious Temples and Examination Hall.

The complex was built in 1372. It used to be the place where Princes would handle political and military affairs during the Ming Dynasty.

3. Rickety Boat Rides

My friend tried to convince me to go on these little flat bamboo boats on the Li River in Yangshuo (2 hours from Guilin) which is must-see in Guilin for your popular China tours and I was not a fan of the idea at first. I love to swim, so having it fall apart was not the issue - I just didn't want to end up in the water, due to concern over mosquitoes and disease.

But alas, she did twist my arm, but I got to pick the boat and driver! I saw a very responsible young looking girl on the dock and asked her who would be taking us out. Her grandmother, she replied. That sounded interesting and seemed to be culturally appropriate - she wore a straw hat, with a worn look on her face, it was like out of a movie - this authentic woman seemed to be the right match! So we head out on the river, enjoying our ride since we couldn't ask any questions due to the language barrier and just relaxed. What a way to view this little town in China - so remote and peaceful...

Then out of the blue, a cell phone rings and our little traditional grandma starts yapping away on the phone - I burst out laughing! Even in this remote countryside, the traditional folk have modern cell phones, too...the world is changing...

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