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Li River – A Mile-long Natural Gallery

 and Li River Cruise

Li River Cruise, Guilin The Most Scenic Cruise in China Li River Map 

The 83-km-long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo is like an artists's masterpiece. The landscape is decorated with rolling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves, leisurely boats and is lined with bamboo. A poem says: "The river is a green silk ribbon, and the hills are jade hair-pins". It is one of China's most famous scenic areas.

Li River is the highlight of your Guilin tour, as is one of the highlights in China. It begins at Cat Mountains in Xing'an county and flows through Guilin, Yangshuo and enter into West River in Wuzhou, totaling 437 kilometers. The 54-kilometer Waterway on the twisty Li River from Zhujiang to Yangshuo covers hundreds and thousands of grotesque peaks, forming a picturesque scene. With the river winding its way like a green ribbon and peaks lining up like bamboo shoots, the landscape appears to be a beautiful sketch. Wonderful appreciation of a stirring "Movement of Mother Nature"!

Li River cruise is actually one of the most scenic cruises on earth. You must be thrilled by this stunningly beautiful journey.

Li River winds through rapids and shallows, past valleys, waterfalls, bamboo groves and green rocks. The verdant mountains are covered with lush bamboo and luxuriant forests. Guilin’s mountains and hills are never too tall. Reflections of these elegant conical limestone peaks on mirror-like clear water of the Li River are just like a fairyland on earth.

Li River Cruise Overview
Li River cruises usually start in the morning from Guilin and arrive at Yangshuo after lunch. The entire journey lasts about four hours.
Boats are air-conditioned. You can stay inside or enjoy the lovely river breezes on the open deck. The viewing platform on the open area might be even more crowded than the main cabin. Of course, you have better views and closer encounter with the beautiful nature.

Li River cruises serve lunch on board. Don't expect a great feast as you are here for the spectacular scenery, not the food. However local favourites and fresh catches from the Li River will be served.

Best time for a Li River cruise is before or after the rain season. April, May, September and October are peak seasons. Please be prepared for crowds.

Li River cruises end in Yangshou. You can take an hour long bus trip back to Guilin. Or stay behind and relax for a couple of days in Yangshuo.

The Scenic Voyage
The 84-km Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo has three distinct sections. The voyage is fully of scenic spots which are too numerous to mention. Therefore I’ll just name the most remarkable ones.

Guilin City to Yangdi (46 km)
The scenic spots here are a bit away from the waterway. The most famous and nearby Guilin is the Elephant Trunk Hill. I am sure you can spot it easily as it resembles exactly an elephant with its trunk in water. There is also the Sword Hill and a number of other beautiful peaks.

Elephant Trunk Hill
Elephant Trunk Hill is located on the western bank of Li River. As the shape of the hill reminds of a huge elephant drinking water from the river with its trunk, it is called Elephant Trunk Hill.

Shui Yue Cave (Water Moon Cave) is between the trunk and the legs, which is a semi-round cave penetrated by water. The inverted reflection of the cave in water plus the part above forms a full moon. This phenomenon is unique and many laudatory inscriptions were found on the wall inside the cave. Visitors can boat through the cave to the river.

Another cave regarded as the eyes of the elephant lies in the hillside. It provides tourists an ideal position to enjoy the panoramic view of Guilin.Read more about Elephant Trunk Hill

Yangdi to Xingping (17 km)
This section has Li River’s most beautiful landscape of waters and hills. You’ll cruise on an extremely picturesque waterway. Shapes of the peaks are just miraculous. A flying waterfall suspends highly at the Erlang Gorge. Here are the two most scenic spots.

Nine Horses Fresco Hill
The most renowned hill along the Lijiang River is the Fresco Hill. Standing out with an elevation of 416 meters above sea level, the white traces on the precipice facing the river looks very much like a picture with a herd of steeds wrought by nature. The cause of formation lies in the dead and calcified lower living beings as algae which ever lived on the seeping water along the cleaves of the precipice, and by and by changed into varied colors, thereby forming colorful strips different in light and shade.

It is due to the different shades of colors formed by these dead living beings and chemical action with various elements contained in the limestone hill that has made the precipice to turn out the “Nine Horses Fresco” of different postures and descriptions, renowned far and wide in the world. But whether you can tell the mystic horse on the cliff depends on how much free rein you can give to your imagination.

A doggerel composed by the local people about it goes like this: “The horses telling man, the horses telling man, how many can you tell I’d like to see, Standing out No.2 on the Yellow List should you be able to tell seven, but you are sure to be a No.1 Scholar in the world provided you can name nine of them all out.”

Huangbu (Yellow Cloth) Beach
The most famous of the reflections of the mountain scenery along the Li River is said to be Huangbu beach. The clear water reveals a yellow rock board at the bottom of the river for about 100 meters. The rock resembles a piece of yellow cloth spreading over the river bed; hence its Chinese name. On the bank near the beach, a group of seven peaks are named "seven fairy sisters". Due to a legend these sisters descended from the heavenly palace to tour the Li River one day. They were so overwhelmed by its scenic beauty that they forgot to return. When the King of Heaven found out, he ordered them to come back, but the sisters chose to remain on earth. They changed themselves into stone peaks by blowing gusts of miracle air and can still be admired today.

Xingping Village
Xingping, located by the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo, is a time-honored ancient township. Dating back to the Three Kingdom Period, it boasts a long history of thousands of years. It was the largest town along the Li River in the ancient times and is now one of the four most famous ancient towns in Guangxi Province. It was set up in 265, in the Northern and Southern Dynasties,and used to be Xiping County. It was the center of Yangshuo County until in 590 Xingping County was incorporated into Yangshuo County. The present Xingping remains under control of Yangshuo County.
The area around Xingping has many landmarks including Mural Hill, Snail Hill, Lotus Crag, and Fishing Village which can be seen from the Li River cruise. Other attractions in town include three caves, five wells, and twelve peaks.

Xingping to Yangshuo (20 km)
After the Camel Crossing River and Screw Hill, you can see the highest Green Lotus Peak. Soon after it you will reach Yangshuo. When you see the Green Lotus Peak from its front, it is as smooth as a mirror, so it is also called the Mirror Hill.

Shutong Hill
Shutong Hill rises up on the right bank of the Li River at the junction of the Tianjia River and the Li River. It is the smallest peak along the bank of the Li River. According to legend, long ago, there was an evil dragon in the Li River. It often hovered on the Li River and endangered the local people. One day, a schoolboy received a sealed book from his teacher. The book taught him how to conquer this vicious creature. So when the dragon saw this book, it fell down to the river. For fear that the dragon might play a trick of opossum, the schoolboy, holding the book, stood by the riverside and changed into a hill (Shutong Hill) to protect the local people.

Yangshuo: Characterized by clear rivers, lush vegetation, karst hills and traditional Chinese architecture, Yangshuo is a backpackers’ paradise for its exotic mixture of leisurely local farm life and western atmosphere. When in Yangshuo, one of the popular activities is to watch Impression Liu Sanjie, an outdoor show directed by the noted Chinese director Zhang Yimou. The show is on at night, and it uses the Li River as the stage, hills the backdrop and sky the canopy, combining beautiful singing, dancing, and visual and sound effects.

Interesting Cruise Sidelights
A Li River cruise is not only for the beautiful landscape. The special treat is the opportunity to observe the daily activities of local people.
Farmers and their water buffaloes work at the rice paddies. Fishermen glide on narrow bamboo rafts. Some of them have their working bird cormorant help catching fish. Duck herders watch over their flocks. Women do washing or cooking at the river bank.

The Li River cruise is a great away to observe an authentic countryside life style. Bring your binocular.

Ferry Tickets
All air conditioned. Cruise around four hours, include meal and guide.
Class A – Super Luxury
Class B – Luxury
Class C – Ordinary

Peak Season: April to November and Spring Festival
Class A – ¥450
Class B - ¥270
Class C – ¥210

Off Peak: December to March
Class A – ¥380
Class B - ¥240
Class C – ¥190

Departures: 09:30 – 10:30