Walking Holidays in China - Guilin - Rivers & Rice Terraces


Holiday Highlights
  • Witness the stunning landscapes of mystical, strangely shaped hills contrasted by the beautiful waters of Li River afloat with thousands of colourful bamboo rafts
  • Walk the most famous rice terraces in the world – The Dragon’s Backbone!
  • Travel south to the idyllic city of Yangshou and wander amongst the misty hillocks


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Southern Delights in Guilin

Guìlín means "forest of Sweet Osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant Sweet Osmanthus trees located in the city. Located in the northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China, Guilin has a sub-tropical climate and is a low rise flower covered city. The stunning landscape in which the city is situated has a kind of magic that is all its own. The strangely shaped hills or karsts, with the verdant vegetation ranging from bamboos to conifers together with crystal clear waters of the Li River and thousands of colourful bamboo rafts make the city such an appealing destination. It is also an important cultural city with a history of more than 2,000 years. The city has been the political, economic and cultural centre of Guangxi since the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). This is one of China's most popular tourist destinations. Ask any one in China and they will say the Guilin landscape is the best!


Guilin’s Diverse Walking Landscapes

One of the most appealing aspects of hiking in the Guilin area is the variety of walking it offers.  Part of the time will be spent north of the city amongst the most famous Rice Terraces in the world – The Dragon’s Backbone. In contrast, you then travel south of the city to idyllic Yangshuo in the heart of the karst hills.


The Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces

Located 2 hours’ drive north of Guilin, is the most photographed landscape in all of China; the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces of Longji.  These stunningly beautiful terraces rise to over 1000m and construction of them began in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and continued until the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) when construction was completed. The Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces are the culmination of both the profound wisdom and strenuous labour of the Zhuang people. They continue to farm the terraces today using much the same methods with little intervention from the modern day.


Dotted amongst the terraces lie traditional wooden Zhuang and Yao villages with inhabitants dressed in colourful hand woven clothing. Their hospitality is warm and welcoming to visitors and they are rarely seen without a smile. Hiking between the villages and through the terraces is a unique experience.


Yangshuo and the Li River

Heading south from Guilin to Yangshuo, you immediately enter a landscape and way of life that truly sums up China.  Against a backdrop of the mysterious karst hills buffaloes wallow in rice paddies, farmers tend their crops under wide brimmed cooly hats and rickshaws line the streets transporting all manner of goods. The wide Li River slowly passes through this idyllic landscape and side tributaries are full of bamboo rafts and floating shops selling tropical fruits and brightly coloured goods. Walking here is a soothing way to sample life and nature close-up and the delicious, varied cuisine is also reputedly the best in China. This is a place to linger, relax and enjoy life to its full.

Board key: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner 

Day 1  Depart UK to Hong Kong or other gateway city.

Day 2  Arrive Hong Kong or other gateway city and fly to Guilin. Met and transferred to Guilin Hotel for free afternoon, overnight and dinner (not included). B

Day 3  Meet your guide and driver and transfer to Longji/Ping’an taking lunch en route at a Yao Restaurant.  In the afternoon climb to viewpoint 2 for first views of the terraces followed by optional walk to Zhuang Village. Overnight and dinner Ping’an hotel. Ascent 130m Descent 110m 2 hours 3 miles. BLD

Day 4  Hike over the mountains, through Bamboo forest and rice terraces to Tiantouzhai/Dazhai. Rest of day free in your hotel. Overnight and dinner Tiantouzhai Hotel of your choice. Ascent 525m Descent 340m 4.5 hours 5.75 miles. BLD

Day 5  In the morning, take a circular walk through the terraces and bamboo forests with the help of a local guide who knows the intricate network of pathways so well! Take lunch at Jin Keng Hotel then rest of the afternoon is free. Overnight and dinner in Tiantouzhai Hotel of your choice. BLD

Day 6  After breakfast, walk down to Dazhai village (1 hour) passing by locals busy in their fields, children skipping to school and ladies working at their looms. Meet with your driver and transfer to Yangshuo, taking about 3.5 hours with a lunch stop on the way. In the afternoon take a 2 hour walk along the pretty Yulong river to the ancient village of Jiu Xian. Your driver will meet you here and transfer you to your chosen hotel. Ascent 5m Descent 365m 1 hour 2.25 miles and Ascent 35m Descent 45m 2 hours 4 miles. BLD

Day 7  Set off this morning through the jungle and magnificent karst landscapes on a wonderful hike exclusive to New Experience Holidays! A short transfer takes you to the start of the walk in Chengshan Village. This walk takes you through 2 sections of the jungle, firstly over thumb hill, followed by a short road section before you re-join a jungle path to Maojia Village, just north of where you ended your walk yesterday. Take lunch in a local restaurant then return to your hotel for a relaxing afternoon, or climb 800 steps to the top of Moon Hill for more fabulous views.  Overnight and dinner in your chosen hotel. Ascent 261m Descent 258m 3 hours 4.6 miles (not including the optional walk to the top of Moon Hill). BLD

Day 8  Your delightful stay in southern China ends today with a very memorable walk from Shangnei to Xingping along the Li River.  Wandering this trail along the riverside, you pass through orange groves, small riverside villages and rich, fertile fields abundant with produce. This walk is enhanced even further by a raft crossing at Quanjiazhou Village, as the trail switches between the karst hills from one side of the river to another.  The walk ends at picturesque Xing Ping – a colourful boat and river raft terminus. Your driver meets you here to transfer back to your hotel for dinner and overnight. Ascent 380m Descent 500m 5 hours 9.25 miles. BLD

Day 9  Transfer to the airport for your flight to Hong Kong or other gateway city and onwards.

Day 10  Arrive home.


Luggage transfer Your main luggage will travel with you in the car.  However, there is no road access to the villages in the Longji rice terraces and therefore we ask you to pack sufficient items for 3 nights into smaller bags which we provide as these have to be carried by local porter up to your accommodation. During your stay in the terraces, porters will transfer these bags from hotel to hotel for you. The rest of your luggage will be kept safe by your driver. 

Independent guided walking 
Walking in China with New Experience Holidays is different from most companies which only feature group holidays with fixed itineraries.  We provide an experienced, English speaking hiking guide for individual clients with the support of a private driver. They accompany you throughout your stay and tend to everything in support of your trip.  With their extensive knowledge of the regions, you will eat in the most authentic local restaurants, have luggage transferred with you in the car, and have a personal guide around key historical sites. We are able to feature Chinese Homestays and special hotels which generally cater for individuals travellers.  
We feel that China has now developed tourism to the point where it is no longer necessary or as beneficial to be part of a group.  However, due to language difficulties and considerable cultural differences, a guide is still essential to ensure one receives the most out of a journey through China. This does increase the price, but actually not by a great amount and offers the traveller all the following benefits:
Flexibility can be introduced into your itinerary in the walking and places visited.
Walks can be modified according to weather or your energy levels!
The walking pace will be yours alone – no need to wait for others or speed up.
Dining can be in more select restaurants with dishes ordered to your specific tastes.
Road transfers (some up to 4 hours) will be by comfortable air conditioned car as opposed to mini bus or coach.
Your guide can explain about history, culture, flora and anything of particular interest to you with the opportunity to have personal conversations on his culture.
No chance of cancellation of a holiday due to insufficient group numbers. 

Walk Grading
Guided - Easy to Moderate

Group departure dates
We have group departure dates in addition to our Independent guided walking offerings for the Charms of China which includes Guilin Rivers and Rice Terraces.

This map is for illustration purposes only and we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy.

Guilin

Standard Grade

Guilin - Aroma Tea House Hotel (formerly known as Hotel Jingguan Minglou Museum)

With a lakeside setting in a quiet part of Guilin, the small ‘Museum’ hotel offers a very Chinese experience with an air of sophistication. The owners have a great interest in Chinese porcelain and have several rooms of teapots, vases and other artefacts beautifully displayed.

Longji – Ping’an Hotel

Just 20 minute walk from the car-park, the Yao village of Ping’an clings to the hillside and is divided by a small ravine with rushing streams. Red lanterns dangle from every doorway creating a beautiful spectacle after dark. Further up the hillside are viewpoints over the terraces and narrow stone trails lead to other villages in the valley.  Our stay here is at Ping’an Hotel and is a traditional wooden house.  Rooms are furnished in Yao style and are spacious and comfortable with good private shower rooms and balconies.  Their restaurant serves excellent Chinese food as well as a few western dishes and it is possible to eat inside or out on the wooden terrace.

Dazhai/Tiantouzhai – Hotel Jin Keng

This lovely wooden Yao house has fabulous views down the valley and across to the far side of the terraces. 

Yangshuo - Bamboo Leaf Hotel

The Bamboo Leaf Hotel is located a good distance from town for it to be peaceful, but guests may use one of the hotel bicycles or walk into town if they wish. 

All rooms are tastefully decorated, clean and comfortable with a great range of facilities including mini bars, arm-chairs, thermostat controlled AC, double glazed sliding window doors and furnished balconies with great views out over the swimming pool and village.

Higher Grade

Guilin - Hotel Bravo

Hotel Bravo was formerly a Holiday Inn and enjoys a pleasant lakeside location.  The hotel is extremely well run and has an international air about it.

Longji – Ping’an Hotel

Just 20 minutes walk from the car-park, the Yao village of Ping’an clings to the hillside and is divided by a small ravine with rushing streams. Red lanterns dangle from every doorway creating a beautiful spectacle after dark. Further up the hillside are viewpoints over the terraces and narrow stone trails lead to other villages in the valley. Our stay here is at Ping’an Hotel and is a traditional wooden house. Rooms are furnished in Yao style and are spacious and comfortable with good private shower rooms and balconies. Their restaurant serves excellent Chinese food as well as a few western dishes and it is possible to eat inside or out on the wooden terrace.

Dazhai/Tiantouzhai – Panorama Hotel

The hotel is aptly named as the view is simply stunning from this newly built hotel high above the terraces.

Yangshuo - Moondance

Moondance  This is a delightful award-winning escape in a riverside setting surrounded by bamboo and lush vegetation.  The riverside garden is a perfect place to relax with a book after a good days walking.

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Availability Information

Guilin is warm all year round with high temperatures and most rainfall from June to early September. During April and May the vibrant green of the foliage intensifies and is offset by brightly coloured tropical flowers, however the rice terraces are at their least interesting at this time.  From May onwards the terraces are waterlogged and the shoots sprout bright green creating a stunning spectacle through to the harvest in October.  In winter, they are often snow covered and very beautiful.  During the rainy season the Li River may flood the banks affecting one of our walks.

Please note our best to go information is generally referring to the walking which may fall in the early or late season in some places. This may mean that not all tourist facilities will be open at the time you visit.

When to book your walking holiday in China - Guilin - Rivers & Rice Terraces

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
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