Apart from breath-taking scenery and funny shaped mountains, I didn’t really know what to expect from the Li River boat cruise we’d booked. Like a proper history nerd, I’d read up about all the sites we visited in Beijing and Xi’an, but I’d not really prepared for this part of our trip.

I was starting to feel a bit ‘citied out’ by this stage in our China vacation, so a leisurely river cruise was just what I needed to relax.

The dock our Li River cruise departed from
So many cruise boats lined up ready for the cruise down the Li river. It was like a convoy!

 

Li River Boat Cruise Departure Points

It’s a 45 minute drive from Guilin to Zhujiang Pier, the departure point for the river cruises.Β  Expect an early start as cruise boats start to depart from 9 am. There are simply masses of them so it’s good to be there extra early if you’ve not pre-booked.

Prepare to ‘run the gauntlet’ of the usual touristy tat shops on the walk from the coach park to the dock. As you’ll expect, prices here are higher than in Guilin. But if you’ve forgotten to bring a sun hat or fruit for the journey, it’s good to stock up.

When we arrived, there were more 50 cruise boats moored up, ready for the day and the dock area was heaving with people. It’s all very well organised though with an efficient booking system and you’ll have allocated seats on the boats.

The stunning karst scenery from the deck of the cruise boat. So many photo opportunities
The stunning karst scenery from the deck of the cruise boat. So many photo opportunities

Cruise Duration

Li river boat cruises typically last 4-5 hours as you gently wend your way from Guilin to Yangshuo. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the picturesque karst landscape, described by National Geographic as ‘One of the world’s Top 10 Watery Wonders’ by National Geographic.

What The Boats Are Like

With large, comfortable seats and wide picture windows, you’ll have a great view of the river from the cruise boat seating area. There ares also outside deck areas to enjoy, which are perfect for taking stunning photos.

While there are 3 star and 4 star cruises available, most Westerners are offered the 3 star cruises. Local tour companies vie to offer the most competitive prices! 4 star cruises offer a buffet lunch, whilst 3 star ones offer a pretty basic brown bag sandwich and drink option.

Don’t forget to take loo paper/wipes with you! It’s in very short supply on board. After a 5 hour cruise, there’s none left…

Fisherman spotted from Li River Boat Cruise
A lone local fisherman on one stretch of the beautiful Li river

Some of the sights you’ll see on the trip include:

  • The Nine Horse Fresco Hill (see if you can spot all 9 of the ‘horses)
  • Yellow Cloth Shoal (natural markings in the rock that look like a large yellow fish)
  • 20 Yuan Bill Hill (the view that inspired the artwork on the 20 Yuan note)
  • Xingping Town
Li River Cruise, Guilin to Yangshuo, South China.
20 Yuan Bill Hill. The setting which inspired the 20 yuan notes currently in circulation. Probably the most photographed part of the whole cruise!
Li River Boat Cruise . Horned mountain
The two horned mountain on the Li river. Locals believe this mountain looks like a horned goat
There's plenty of wildlife to enjoy along the way, including water buffalo grazing peacefully at the water's edge.
There’s plenty of wildlife to enjoy along the way, including water buffalo grazing peacefully at the water’s edge.
Last moments of the cruise before arrival in Yangshuo. We were quite sad to leave this magical scenery behind
Last moments of the cruise before arrival in Yangshuo. We were quite sad to leave this magical scenery behind

I hope this inspires you to visit Guilin and try a Li river cruise. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been or are planning to go.

Coralie

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Li River Cruise Boat

Li River Cruise Boat Trips from Guilin to Yangshuo, China

Author

Coralie is the Sparkles at Sparkles and Fizz. A 50-something mum and blogger, a wee bit obsessed with sparkly things and fizz. Coralie writes about her real-life and travel adventures. She's not averse to gin and she lives life to the max.

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