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Getting There

From Guilin's airport 30km (19 miles) west of town (located on Nixon Rd. in honor of the U.S. president who visited in 1971), flights connect to Guangzhou (1 hr.), Beijing (2 1/2 hr.), Shanghai (2 hr.), Kunming (1 1/2 hr.), and Chengdu (70 min.). There are also international flights to Seoul (4 hr.), Bangkok (2 hr.) Kuala Lumpur (3 hr.), Fukuoka (5 hr.), and Hong Kong (1 1/2 hr.). Tickets can be purchased at the CAAC office in Minhang Dasha on Shanghai Lu (tel. 0773/384-3922), and also at travel agencies or hotel tour desks. Airport shuttles depart from here every half-hour from 6:30am to 8pm for ¥20; they also meet incoming flights. Taxis to the airport cost around ¥80 to ¥ 120. Many expats simply skip Guilin altogether in preference for a weekend in Yangshuo as the taxi fare is only ¥200 direct from the airport.

Train travel to and from Guilin is very convenient. The city has two railway stations, though the main one used by most travelers is the Guilin Huochezhan (tel. 0773/383-3124) in the southern part of town. Trains leave for Beijing (15 hr.), Guangzhou (13 hr.), Shanghai (10 hr.), and Kunming (18 hr.). The route from Guilin to Guangzhou is a flagship journey for overseas tourists and so the staff are handpicked and the carriages are spotless. If you want to try the comforts of a Chinese train, then this is one of the best routes to choose. There is even a "special soft sleeper" class, consisting of just two bunks with their own private bathroom for ¥700. The T5 from Beijing to Hanoi stops in Guilin every Monday and Friday (only four sleeper berths are available from Guilin). It's best to have a travel agent or your hotel tour desk arrange tickets because they are extremely difficult to come by, but even then at ¥1,017 it is certainly not the cheapest way to Vietnam and the buses from Nanning offer much better value. Trains for Baise, in the eastern part of Guangxi, and Xingyi, further up the line in Guizhou, depart every evening just before 5pm. This is not a busy route and tickets can nearly always be purchased right up until departure, giving important access to the towns of Leye, Fengshan, and Bama, as well as the Jilongbao resort near Xingyi.

The Guilin Bus Station (Guilin Qichezhan; tel. 0773/382-2153), just north of the railway station, is in an appalling condition. One would have expected the road transport hub of China's most popular tourist city to be an architectural and logistical showpiece. In reality, it is dirty and run down, with overcrowded waiting rooms full of tin spittoons looking out on a snarled-up bus yard. From here large, air-conditioned direct (zhida) buses go to a vast selection of destinations but are popular only with backpackers and economic migrants on the most extreme budgets. Regular minibuses run to Yangshuo (1 hr.; ¥15) from the bus station and are slightly more comfortable than those outside the railway station.

Getting Around

Guilin is a compact area and is easy to get around by foot or bicycle. Bikes can be rented at most hotels, for anywhere from ¥10 to ¥50 per day plus a deposit.

Taxis cost ¥7 for 2km (1 1/4 miles), then ¥1.6 per kilometer for 2 to 4km (1 1/4 miles-2 1/2 miles), and then ¥2 beyond. From 11pm onward, this increases to ¥7.8, 2 to 4km (1 1/4 miles-2 1/2 miles) ¥1.80 per kilometer, exceeding 4km (1 1/4 miles) ¥2.4 per kilometer.

Tours

CITS at Binjiang Lu 41 (tel. 0773/286-1623; fax 0773/282-7424) has full-day city tours with English-speaking guides for ¥400 per person. The CITS Panda Bus picks up daily from the Fubo, Sheraton, Bravo, and Royal Garden hotels. CITS can also organize Li River cruises for ¥450; day trips to Yangshuo by bus for ¥280 per person; and overnight trips to Longsheng Rice Terraces, Minority Village, and Terrace Fields for ¥550 per person. The small travel agency below Flower's Guest House is used to dealing with the needs of Western travelers and offers some of the best prices in town for arranged trips.

Visitor Information

For information on hotels and sights, there are at least 10 offices of the Guilin Tourism Information Service centers around town, including the train station, with the best English language service at (tel. 0773/12301).

Fast Facts

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs -- Bank of China (Mon-Fri 8am-noon and 3-6pm) is at Shanhu Bei Lu 5. It offers forex and an ATM.

Internet Access -- Visit the third floor of Lequn Shouji Cheng at Zhongshan Zhong Lu 49, corner of Lequn Lu. Internet access is 24 hours, at ¥2 per hour. Dial-up is tel. 96163.

Post Office -- The main post office (8am-8pm) is at Zhongshan Zhong Lu 249.

Visa Extensions -- The Gonganju (PSB; tel. 0773/582-9930; Mon-Fri 8:30am-noon and 3-6pm) is on the east side of the Li River south off Longyin Lu. Extensions take five working days but at the time of writing, do not require any proof of funds.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.