The Best Views In Guilin, China: 5 Jaw-Dropping Mountaintop Views & How To Find Them
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Guilin, China is the place to go for epic mountain views that are not only stunning to look at, but also easy to get to and not crowded with people. I mean, come on, that’s basically the trifecta.
The best thing about these Guilin viewpoints are the incredible panoramas you get from the top. It’s hard to tell just how cool and unique the scenery is from the ground, but once you get to the top of a mountain all you’ll be able to say is, “wow”.
Hiking to a mountaintop viewpoint is without a doubt the best thing to do in Guilin. Finding a mountain to climb is my favorite thing to do whether I’m in Guilin city, the Longji Rice Terraces, or Yangshuo. The entire Guilin area is ripe for the picking when it comes to jaw-dropping views.
The two main reasons why I love hiking up a mountain in Guilin is that the climbs are short, and the views are spectacular. You simply can not find a prettier or more rewarding view than from these 5 mountain viewpoints.
And the best part is, you don’t need to be some kind of fitness ninja to experience these views. All of the viewpoints on this list can be reached by hiking for 1 hour or less, and most of them are reachable in just 30 minutes. How awesome is that?!
The extra awesome thing about having such a short climb to these viewpoints is that it’s easy to catch sunrise or sunset without hiking for hours in the dark. A lot of these hikes are short enough that you can climb up before sunset, watch the sunset, and then make it down before dark without needing a flashlight. Sign me up times a million.
And don’t be thrown off by the word “hike”. The mountains in Guilin are too steep for dirt trails, so when I say hike, what I really mean is walking up steps. I call it hiking because that’s what the majority of hiking trails are like in China anyway. Lots and lots of steps.
Read More From Guilin
- Follow Us To Guilin: The Ultimate 1 Week Guilin Itinerary
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- The Best Way To Experience Guilin: Bamboo Rafting Down The Li River
Best Guilin Viewpoints
I have a confession to make. None of these views are actually in Guilin City. I mentioned this in our Guilin Itinerary post, but most people, myself included, use Guilin as a blanket term to refer to both the city, and the surrounding area.
It’s kind of like when people refer to the Great Wall as being in Beijing. Spoiler alert, it’s not, it’s actually located 1-2 hours outside of the city. Same goes here. I’m blanketing these views as being in Guilin, but in reality, they’re actually located 1-2 hours away in the surrounding countryside. Don’t worry, I will divulge the exact locations.
Also, visiting these spots should not be done as day trips from Guilin. In reality, you could easily go to Guilin without ever spending a night in Guilin City. In fact, nobody goes to Guilin for the city itself. The small countryside towns of Longsheng, Xingping, and Yangshuo are where all the cool spots are. Guilin is just the transit hub for travelers’ arrival to and departure from the area.
5 Best Views In Guilin
1. Laozhai Mountain
Laozhai Mountain has what is, in my opinion, the best sunset view in Guilin. In the background you have the sun setting behind thousands of karst mountain peaks, while in the foreground the Li River sparkles, reflecting the stunning sunset colors off of the water. It’s simply an unbeatable view.
How To Get To Laozhai Mountain
The steps up Laozhao Mountain start just around the corner from This Old Place Youth Hostel in Xingping Old Town. Simply walk towards the dock next to the river, but instead of walking down to the dock, turn left towards the mountain. On the wall, there will be a sign that says Laozhai Shan (shan means mountain in Chinese) with an arrow pointing you towards the stairs.
Follow the stairs up the mountain. There is only one set of stairs, so it’s impossible to get lost. The path to the peak is made up of old stone steps that are inconveniently not all the same size. About ¾ of the way to the top there’s a short ladder you have to climb before continuing on stone steps to a viewing platform.
The climb from the river to the viewing platform takes 30-45 minutes depending on your hiking speed.
There’s a pavilion at the top of the steps with a nice viewing platform. And while the views from the pavilion are nice, to get the most epic panorama you’ll want to climb up the stones to the actual peak of Laozhai Mountain. It’s a short, easy rock scramble, and where most people sit to watch the sunset.
The Best Time To Photograph Laozhai Mountain
There’s not that great of a sunset view from the viewing platform, as it faces the opposite direction, so if you’re hiking Laozhai Mountain specifically for sunset you really need to climb up the rocks to get a good view. If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to skip the sunset hike and opt for a sunrise hike instead, as you would get a nice sunrise view just from the viewing platform.
Where To Stay In Xingping
This Old Place International Youth Hostel
If you’re planning on hiking Laozhai Mountain for sunset or sunrise, you’ll definitely want to stay overnight in Xingping. Xingping gets a lot of day trip tourist traffic, but hardly anyone stays here overnight. Come evening you’ll pretty much have the town all to yourself and will really get a taste of life in rural Guangxi.
This Old Place is without a doubt the best place to stay in Xingping. The hostel is super clean, has lots of private rooms, a great restaurant that serves western food, and super friendly English speaking staff that will help you with anything you need.
2. Tiantou Village, Dazhai Rice Terraces
Tiantou Village is actually home to 3 different viewpoints, all of which are equally epic in my mind so I decided to just lump them together as one. The view from Tiantou Village is incredible at any time of day, in virtually any weather as long as the view itself is visible.
The views from Tiantou Village are of an endless flow of rice terraces cascading down the mountains. The rice terraces are dotted with tiny mountain villages, and, in the spring time, are flooded with water making for beautiful reflections of the sky.
Dazhai, Longji Rice Terraces
How To Get To Tiantou Village
First, take a bus to the Dazhai Rice Terraces. The bus will stop at the entrance to the Longji Rice Terrace Scenic Area, where you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of 95 RMB per person. Your entrance ticket is good for 2 days.
After stopping at the entrance to the scenic area, the bus will continue on to Dazhai Village. You’ll be on foot from there.
Note: There are two different sections of the Longji Rice Terraces, Dazhai and Ping’an. Make sure when you purchase tickets in Guilin that they’re to Dazhai and NOT Ping’an. This is not to say that Ping’an is not pretty as well, it is, it’s just that Dazhai has better panoramic views.
To get to Tiantou Village from the entrance of the Dazhai Rice Terraces you have two options.
1. Hike approximately 1 hour up the mountain to either Tiantou Village or Golden Buddha Peak.
To hike to the top, walk through the entrance gate to Dazhai and simply follow the signs either to Tiantou or Golden Buddha Peak (they are not the same location). You basically just want to keep walking uphill. There are signs all along the way telling you where you’re going. It’s a bit of a hike to get to the top of the mountain, but the views are totally worth it.
2. Take the cable car directly to Golden Buddha Peak.
This is the easy way up, but it comes at a cost of 70 RMB per person for a 1-way ticket. You do get a nice view from the cable car on the way up, so if you’re looking for a relaxing ride to the top with nice views it might be worth paying for.
Personally, we prefer to sweat for our views but I would definitely understand if that’s not your thing.
If you choose to go straight to Golden Buddha Peak, just know that there is a tiny village built next to the peak and the cable car station. This is not Tiantou Village, but another, smaller village called Qiangbei Village. There are places to eat, and places to stay in both Qiangbei and Tiantou Village.
How To Find the Viewpoints Around Tiantou Village
There are ample signs that point the way to the three major viewpoints at Tiantou Village. To reach these peaks simply follow the signs for either Golden Buddha Peak, 1000 Steps To Heaven, or Music From Paradise. There are stone pathways and steps leading to each viewing platform, all of which are clearly marked by signs.
The Best Time To Photograph Tiantou Village
Golden Buddha Peak
1000 Steps To Heaven & Music From Paradise
Sunrise & Sunset
Honestly, in the two times we’ve visited the Longji Rice Terraces we’ve never seen a sunrise or sunset. It’s always been either too cloudy or straight up raining. Both times though the weather cleared up during the day, but the clouds came rolling back in in the evening and didn’t clear until mid-morning. Maybe we just had bad luck, but that’s been our experience. Regardless, the views from Tiantou Village at the Dazhai Rice Terraces are incredible at any time of day, sun or no sun.
Where To Stay at the Dazhai Rice Terraces
Dazhai Dragon’s Den Hostel
This is the only international accommodation at the Dazhai Rice Terraces and is by far the best place to stay in Tiantou Village. The hostel is located in Tiantou Village itself, not near the cable car station at Golden Buddha Peak.
Dazhai Dragon’s Den Hostel is the only place you’ll find any English spoken or any western food in all of the Dazhai Rice Terraces. Like all hotels at the Longji Rice Terraces, Dragon’s Den Hostel is pretty basic, but it’s clean, the staff are nice, and you’ll have an incredible view from your room.
3. TV Tower Yangshuo
This viewpoint is colloquially known as either Radio Mountain or the TV Tower due to the fact that the viewing platform at the peak is actually a radio tower station. The naming can get a bit confusing though because in Chinese this mountain is known as Ma Shan (马山) or Horse Mountain.
While the naming of the mountain can get confusing, there is nothing confusing about the view from the top, which can be described as nothing less than breathtakingly beautiful. In one direction is an endless display of karst mountains and countryside, while in the other is the town of Yangshuo.
How To Get To The TV Tower
Starting from the entrance to Yangshuo’s popular pedestrian street, West Street, cross the main road and turn right, walking down straight down the main road, Pan Tao Lu. When you reach the Postal Savings Bank of China (a green sign with yellow writing) turn left onto Tianma Xiang.
You’ll now be walking through a neighborhood. Walk straight on Tianma Xiang until the road dead-ends at a T intersection. Turn left at the T intersection.
Continue straight until you come to a gated entranceway. Turn right and walk through the door in the gate. You’ll now be walking down a narrow alleyway that starts going steeply uphill.
Follow the alleyway and continue walking uphill. When you get to the top of the street you should see a yellow sign with black characters on it and an arrow telling you to turn left down another alleyway that leads further up the hill. The Chinese characters tell you that this is the way up the mountain.
The alleyway now turns into steps. Follow the steps uphill until you reach a divergence. You’ll see a wall with a wider set of stairs to the right and a short ramp straight ahead that leads to someone’s house.
Turn right and walk up the wide stone steps. If you look closely on the wall right behind the steps there are arrows pointing up the steps and Chinese characters that say “entrance to the mountain”.
You are now climbing the stairs that lead to the top of the TV tower. From the main road in downtown Yangshuo to the top of the mountain takes 1 hour.
Once you get to the top, don’t be discouraged when you arrive at a locked gate and it seems like you can’t actually reach the viewpoint. There’s actually a man who lives in a little hut right next to the TV tower and will let people in for a small fee. I think his job was originally to guard the tower, but I’m pretty sure nowadays he makes more money off of tourists wanting the see the view from the TV tower.
If you don’t see anyone, simply call out “hello!” to get his attention. When he comes out, pay him 5 RMB per person and he’ll unlock the gate and let you in. He will lock the gate behind you, so when you’re done admiring the view and you want to leave, just get his attention again and he’ll unlock the gate and let you out.
For a detailed guide about how to hike the TV Tower in Yangshuo click here.
The Best Time To Photograph The TV Tower
The sun sets opposite the town of Yangshuo, and behind a scene of thousands of karst mountains that stretch off endlessly into the distance. The view is nothing short of stunning and is 100% worth the 1-hour climb to the top.
Where To Stay In Yangshuo
On A Budget
Wada Hostel is the absolute best hostel in Yangshuo, hands down. They have two locations, one near West Street, Yangshuo’s hopping pedestrian street, called Wada Hostel West Street, and another on the edge of town next to the Yulong River called Wada Hostel Yulong River.
Both of Wada Hostel’s locations are beautiful, the rooms are clean, it’s super easy to meet people and make friends, and the staff are really friendly and helpful. If you’re traveling Yangshuo on a budget, you simply can’t go wrong with staying at Wada Hostel.
Yangshuo Mountain Retreat
Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is an absolutely stunning hotel located 8 km outside of Yangshuo on the banks of the Yulong River. The place is gorgeous, the staff speak impeccable English and are super friendly, the atmosphere is so peaceful, and the views from the hotel are amazing.
While everything about Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is absolutely amazing, perhaps its best feature is how eco-friendly they are. Yangshuo Mountain Retreat is super focused on sustainable tourism and finding every way possible to be kind to the environment. This means they use no plastic cutlery or plastic bags, have locally sourced bamboo furniture, and employ a solar-powered hot water system.
4. Wuzhi Hill
Wuzhi Hill offers an incredible mountaintop view that looks out over patchwork rice fields in the foreground and pointy karst mountains in the background. Watching the sun light up the mountains and glitter across the rice paddies makes for a mesmerizing view that you could stare at for hours.
Cuiping is a tiny village located halfway between Xingping and Yangshuo, around 25 km away from either place.
How To Get To Wuzhi Hill
Wuzhi Hill requires a bit more travel to get to than the other spots on this list, but it’s totally worth it for the view. If you’re up for it, I think the best way to get there would be by bike, either by bicycle or scooter.
The easiest route to Wuzhi Hill is from Yangshuo. You can rent either a bicycle or a scooter from one of the many rental places in town. Starting in Yangshuo, the ride is straight down G321 for 20 km and then a left onto the road that leads to Wuzhi Hill. If you’re riding there for sunset just make sure you have a headlight for ride back.
If you don’t want to ride there you can also hire a driver to take you there, wait, and then bring you back to Yangshuo when you’re done. The easiest way to do that is to ask the receptionist at your hotel to arrange a car for you.
If you’re looking to ride a bike to Wuzhi Hill, starting from Xingping offers a much more scenic route. Most of your ride is through a scenic area around the Li River on nice back country roads.
To start your ride, take the local ferry across the river. The ferry leaves every few minutes. Once on the other side of the river, ride straight on literally the only road on the map. After 6 km the road ends and merges with another road. To continue going the right direction you’ll have to make a sharp 180 degree turn to the right.
Now simply follow this road all the way to Wuzhi Hill. It will cross over G321 before leading down to Wuzhi Hill.
Once you arrive at Wuzhi Hill, you’ll have to climb 20 minutes up a set of stone stairs to reach the viewpoint at the top of the mountain.
The locals built these nice stone steps up the mountain a couple years ago, and since then you have to pay 50 RMB per person to climb the hill.
The Best Time To Photograph Wuzhi Hill
Photo Credit: Jordan Hammond
The Wuzhi Hill viewpoint faces west, giving you an unobstructed view of the sunset.
Where To Stay To See Wuzhi Hill
The best towns to base yourself in for visiting to Wuzhi Hill are either Yangshuo or Xingping.
5. Xianggong Hill
Xianggong Hill offers another epic view of the Li River and surrounding mountains. It’s famous for watching the morning clouds drift between the mountains.
Xianggong Hill is located 10 km from Xingping Old Town, just up the river from Laozhai Mountain.
How To Get To Xianggong Hill
The best way to reach Xianggong Hill is by bicycle. To get there, take the ferry across the river and ride straight on the only road around. You’ll be riding away from the river. When the road ends and merges with another road, make a 180 degree right turn. Follow this road and it will lead you straight to Xianggong Mountain Scenic Area.
At the entrance to the scenic area you’ll have to pay an entrance fee of 60 RMB to climb the mountain.
From the entrance to the top of the mountain takes around 30 minutes.
The Best Time To Photograph Xianggong Hill
Watching the sunrise from Xianggong Hill is a view that truly can’t be beaten, especially on a clear day when the rays of sunshine light up the mountains and create beams of light on the water.
Where To Stay To Reach Xianggong Hill
Check out This Old Place International Hostel for the best place to stay in Xingping.
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