GUILIN has been famous since Tang times for its scenic location among a host of craggy, 200m-high hills on the Li River. The city rose from a rural backwater in 1372 when Emperor Hongwu decided to appoint a minor relative to govern from here as the Jinjiang Prince, and this quasi-royal line ruled for fourteen generations, dying out in the 1650s with the collapse of the Ming dynasty. Guilin was later resurrected as provincial capital until supplanted by Nanning in 1914, after which it declined to a shabby provincial shell. Smartened up since the 1990s by the addition of well-designed landscaping, shady avenues and rocky parkland, today – despite tourist-driven inflation and hard-sell irritations – the city is an attractive place to spend a day while organizing a cruise downstream to the village of Yangshuo.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

Hong Kong floats between old China and the west; its futuristic harbour has become one of Asia's most famous views but you'll also find pockets of traditiona…

28 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

Even 20 years ago China was not a conventional tourist destination. Despite the allure of its beautiful landscapes and history-filled cities, politics, poverty,…

13 Jan 2017 • Simon Frank insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right