The Li River is a famous waterway in Guangxi Province of southern China, surrounded by amazing karst limestone landscape worthy of inclusion in Unesco’s World Heritage Site. Yup, it’s that good! So three weeks ago we caught the early morning AirAsia A320 flight from KL to Guilin en route to Li River.
Sunrise over the South China Sea finds us enjoying breakfast high up in the sky.

Some four hours later, we are at Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, about 40 minutes drive west of Guilin City. With 1.3 million denizens, smallish by Chinese standard, it is a pleasant modern place surrounded by jagged limestone hills, looking like huge guardsmen.

After a couple of days at Guilin, which is enough for us to soak in the modern cityscape, we find ourselves boarding a cruise boat at Zhujiang docks, 40 minutes by road south of downtown.

Li River is indeed no disappointment, as we immerse ourselves into the magnificent karst landscapes on both sides of the river, said to be 200 million years old and jutting out more than 200 metres into the air.

We even witness an invasion by floating fruit sellers, obviously unauthorised, but nobody seems to care – please right-click photo montage below for a bigger version. Just by expert paddling of their bamboo raft, they catch up with the chugging boat, and latch onto it to secure themselves for business. Fascinating!

However this bit of Li River takes the cake. It’s immortalised on the Chinese 20 yuan banknote, and a must-see spot for visitors to China.

I would rate the Li River cruise on par with our Milford Sound trip in New Zealand, and better than our boat ride in Halong Bay, Vietnam. The karst scenery is fantastic, and the 4-hour river journey from Guilin to the town of Yangshuo is thoroughly enchanting and wholly recommended. And only AirAsia can take you there pronto and on time!

For more on the Guilin trip, please visit my travel blog HERE. Thanks!


  • Nickee

    Lovely, just like out from ‘The Painted Veil’ movie scene.

  • Naim

    Yes, Nickee, the movie was shot in the karst area of northeastern Guangxi Province, specifically south of Yangshuo, along the Li River. Another movie location is Yizhou, southwest of Guilin.