In 2014 I spend a month at the Chinese Language Institute in Guilin in order to improve my Mandarin. During this period I stayed with a Chinese host family which was absolutely fabulous as I got a very nice introduction to Chinese life.
Below are some of the places I visited during my stay in Guilin. The Language School organised the trip to the Longji Rice Terraces so I did not pay particular attention to how I go there. However, according to the Lonely Planet you can get there by taking the bus to Longsheng from Guilin’s Qintan Station. Buses leave regularly between 7am and 7pm and the journey takes about an hour and a half. You need to get off the bus at the ticket office at Heping, from where minibuses make regular trips to the Longji Rice Terraces. The Longji Rice Terraces are ideal to do some hiking and the views of the rice terraces are absolutely stunning.
Longji Rice Terraces
My host family took me to Jiangtouzhou so again I am not totally sure how to get there. Jiangyouzhou is an ancient Chinese village, which seems to have been spared the advances of modern civilisation and it is quite pleasant to meander around.
Daxu Ancient Town
Daxu Ancient Town I managed to do under my own steam. The town is only about 15 km from Guilin and can be easily reached by bus. At Guilin main bus station catch the bus to Guanyan and get off the bus at Daxu Zhen. Buses leave Guilin’s main bus station regularly between 7.30am and 4.30pm.
Although not as picturesque as Jiangtouzhou it is still worth a visit. An afternoon will be enough to see its sights.
Yangshuo and the Li River
After my last Mandarin Lesson at the CLI I took the bus to Yangshuo from where I proceeded by taxi to my accommodation, the Yangshuo Secret Garden, which is located in the small village of Jiuxiancun on the banks of the Yulong River, right between all the karst mountains, which I had come to see. Although the Secret Garden looks like a derelict Chinese farmhouse from the outside it has been beautifully restored inside.
The location of the hotel is pretty awesome, set in a small, bucolic, Chinese village where farmers still ploughed the ride paddys with water buffalos, away from the hustle and bustle of Yangshuo. The only, slight, downside to the location of the Secret Garden is that there are practically no places to eat around but luckily their restaurant is pretty good. Immediately after checking in I rented a bike for a first foray through the karst landscape, which looks pretty spectacular (even if the weather is not brilliant). My first ride, about two hours long, took me through rice paddies, past fruit orchards and through several little villages before returning to the hotel for dinner. The day after I picked up my bike again and this time I was in the saddle for ten hours solid, mainly because I took a few wrong turns. The downside was that I could barely sit down for two days after, while the upside was that I saw more of this fantastic landscape. But having not ridden a bike in several years, 10 hours is definitely not recommended. The good thing about cycling along the Yulong and Li rivers is that there are practically no large gradients, so cycling is actually a quite pleasant way to get around.