The Li River Cruise Guide

Originating from Mao’er Shan (Mountain Cat) in Xing'an county, north of Guilin, the Li River winds its way south for about 437 km, passing through Guilin City, Yangshuo County, Pingle County and Zhaoping County, and finally meets the Xi (West) River at Wuzhou. It boasts the largest and most beautiful scenic area in China and attracts thousands of visitors each year. In 2010, the Li River was listed as one of the “World’s Top Ten Watery Wonders” by America’s National Geographic Magazine.

The karst landscape along the Li River has captured the heart of artists. Generations of Chinese painters and poets have been inspired by the beauty of nature there, using their pens and brushes to capture the breath-taking natural scenery. Nowadays it’s a popular photography destination. When Chinese travelers seek a place for natural beauty, they first think of Li River and Yangshuo.

The 83-kilometer stretch of the Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo is the most beautiful. Here the river landscape is decorated with startling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves and farming villages, and is lined with bamboo groves. 

Main Sights along Li River

The main sights along the Li River are: Elephant Trunk Hill, Wangfu Rock, Yellow Cloth Shoal, Pagoda Hill, Daxu Ancient Town, Zhujiang Wharf, Mopanshan Wharf, Crown Cave, Yangdi Village (Yangdi Wharf), Mural Hill, One side Ferry, Langshi Scenery, Xingping Town, Grotesque Peak Village, Fishing Village, Yangshuo. 

Li River Cruises

Cruising on the Li River from Guilin city to Yangshuo county is enjoyable no matter what the weather is like. During sunny days, tourists can see the inverted reflection of the hills on both sides clearly in the water. During cloudy days, the karst hills are surrounded by mist and tourists may feel they are cruising in a mystical paradise. And when the rain comes, drizzle is like a vale, which covers the hills and river, and tourists may feel the poetic connotations of this too. Most cruises starts from Zhujiang Wharf. It is about 40 minutes' drive from Guilin city. Then a 4 hour cruise will take you to the beautiful and fascinating county town of Yangshuo. 

Ship types: 3-star ship (standard), 4-star ship (first class), 5-star ship (deluxe). Currently, the most popular ships on the Li River are the 4-star and 3-star ship.

Lunch types: Chinese style, Chinese and Western buffet

Wash rooms: Squatting style, sitting style

Decks number: 2-3 (decks that tourists can step on for view)

Cruise time: 4 hours (from March to November, the normal ride is about 4 hours; In other seasons it might be different due to the different wharfs and lower water. The cruise covers only part of the normal ride).

Capacity: 65-120 tourists

Starting time: 09:00 – 09:30

Prices: 350 - 600yuan (including a lunch on board but not including land transfers from Guilin to wharf or from Yangshuo back to Guilin)

Embark wharfs: Zhujiang Wharf, Mopanshan Wharf

Disembark wharfs: Yangshuo, Xingping (needs to notify in advance)

Distances and driving time: Guilin-boarding wharf, 24km, 40 minutes drive

Yangshuo-Guilin, 80km, 90 minutes drive

Tips for Taking the 3-star Ships

The 3-star ships are lower-priced ships with less-modern facilities. Their seat spacing is narrower. Bring some snacks/drinks if you take a 3-star boat, as the lunch is rather simple.

Don't worry about getting motion sickness on the cruise. The ships are very steady. 

The ships have places for luggage, so you can bring it with you during the cruise (if you stay one night in Yangshuo). However, if you're on a private tour, we recommend leaving most with your driver, who can take it to your Yangshuo hotel.