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Li River Cruise: From Guilin to Yangshuo by Boat

Written by Senior Expert Celine Schneider|Updated: 2024-04-26

Cruising down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo is undoubtedly the most enchanting way to explore China's most beautiful natural landscape. Over the course of the 83-kilometer Li River journey, you'll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the majestic karst peaks reflected in the shimmering waters, hardworking farmers tending to their rice paddies, skilled fishermen using trained cormorants to catch fish, and traditional villages nestled at the foot of the mountains. Each bend in the river reveals a new and even more captivating scene, taking your breath away with its beauty. This unforgettable experience is a must-do for any traveler to China.

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  • triangleLi River Cruise Facts
  • triangleWhy Li River Cruise Guilin (What to Experience)
  • triangle4 Star Li River Cruise - Most Recommended
  • triangle3 Star Li River Cruise - Budget-friendly/Cheap Way
  • triangleHow to Book a Li River Cruise Tickets
  • triangleLi River Cruise Map
  • triangleEnhancing Your Li River Cruise Experience
  • triangleBest Time to Visit Li River & Take Li River Cruise
  • triangleLi River Cruise to Yangshuo Travel Tips
  • triangleExplore Guilin/Yangshuo with Asia Odyssey Travel

Li River Cruise Facts

Distance: 83 kilometers

Duration: 4-4.5 hours

Cruise types: Three-star or four-star

Departure time: 9:00-10:00

Best time to visit: April to October

Scenic points: Elephant Trunk Hill, Chuanshan Park, Daxu Ancient Town, Ox Gorge, Crown Cave, Half-Side Ferry, Yangdi Village, Mural Hill, Xianggong Mountain, Yellow Cloth Shoal, Xingping Town, Snail Hill, Green Lotus Peak (Bilian Peak), Shutong Hill and Yangshuo.

Li River Cruise
Relax and unwind on a Li River cruise
Li River Cruise
Marvel at the magnificent scenery on a Li River cruise

Why Li River Cruise Guilin (What to Experience)

The Li River cruise is a soothing and immersive journey that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and into a world of surreal limestone peaks, clear mountain reflections, giant mural mountains, serene rice paddies, quaint fishing villages, and hardworking farmers. You'll enjoy a unique combination of scenery, including mountains and water, gentle breezes and light rain, farmers and rice paddies, fishermen and cormorants.

Experience the Iconic Karst Peaks

The most iconic landscape of the Li River cruise is the peculiar Karst scenery. You'll pass by the green peaks on both sides, listen to the fascinating legends told by the tour guide, and wait for the next enchanting bend in the river.

Counting the Horses on Nine-Horse Fresco Hill

When the cruise ship approaches the 100-meter-high giant cliff, the favorite activity of tourists is to count the nine horses with various postures on the exposed rocks. The weathered rock surface shows different layers, resembling horses in different forms. In the past, those who could clearly see the nine horses on the cliff were believed to achieve good results in the ancient Chinese imperial examinations.

Comparing the Scenery at Yellow Cloth Shoal with the 20 Yuan RMB Note

Yellow Cloth Shoal is a highlight of the Li River cruise. The scenic area is famous for a huge pale yellow rock lying flat under the water, resembling a piece of cloth. On both sides of the shallow beach are seven peaks that reflect in the clear river, as if leaping on the cloth. This is also the scenery on the back of the 20 yuan RMB note. The tour guide will be happy to show you the perfect integration of the banknote and the scenery.

A Glimpse of Local Village Life

The Li River cruise not only offers natural scenery but also allows you to explore the traditional village life of the locals. You'll pass by ancient villages where life has remained unchanged for centuries. You'll watch fishermen skillfully use trained cormorants to catch fish, and farmers cultivate their fields in the shadow of towering mountains. These scenes vividly showcase the rural life of Guangxi Province in China. The Li River cruise is a memorable journey that will make you fall in love with the magical and infinite charm of nature.

Nine-Horse Fresco Hill
Counting the Horses on Nine-Horse Fresco Hill
Breathtaking Li River scenery at Yellow Cloth Shoal

4 Star Li River Cruise - Most Recommended

Among the many options for cruising on the Li River, taking a 4-star luxury standard cruise is undoubtedly one of the most recommended ways to explore the river. With spacious and comfortable seating, modern facilities, and cleaner Western-style bathrooms, the 4-star cruise provides a more comfortable and enjoyable experience, allowing you to enjoy the stunning beauty of the Li River on a luxurious deck.

4 Star Li River Cruise Price

The 4-star Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo offers three types of cabins: Upper Deck, Lower Deck, and Front Row on the Second Deck with 12 seats. Ticket prices vary from 360 to 480 yuan per person, with children's tickets priced at 180 to 240 yuan per person, depending on the cabin location.

Starting Pier and How to Go to

Zhujiang Pier (竹江码头) serves as the departure point for 4-star Li River cruises, where tourists from all over the world gather to board the boat. The pier is located at Zhujiang Pier, No. 091 County Road, Yanshan District, Guilin (桂林市雁山区091县道 - 竹江码头). You can take a taxi from Guilin city center to Zhujiang Pier, which is approximately 20 kilometers away and costs about 100 yuan (ca, 15 USD)

4 Star Li River Cruise Schedule

All 4-star Li River cruises depart in the morning, typically around 9:20 am and arrives at Yangshuo around 1:30 pm. During the cruise, travelers can enjoy the stunning karst landscape, picturesque villages, and local fishermen on bamboo rafts. The cruise also includes a visit to a traditional village and a chance to see the famous cormorant fishing.


A 4-star Li River cruise can accommodate around 80 passengers and offers comfortable and spacious seating, equipped with air conditioning and large windows to enjoy the stunning scenery. The modern facilities on board include an open-air observation deck on the top level. During the cruise, passengers can savor a delicious Chinese-style lunch that features local delicacies such as beer fish and stuffed snails, making it one of the trip's highlights.

The Dock of Arrival

Travelers will disembark from a four-star cruise at the Shuidongmen Pier in Yangshuo (水东门码头), located at No. 2 Binjiang Road, Yangshuo County, Guilin (桂林市阳朔县滨江路2号). From here, it's just a 3-5 minute walk to the bustling West Street, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and enjoy a wide range of street food, souvenir shops, and entertainment options.

4-Star Li River Cruise
4-Star Li River Cruise
4-Star Li River Cruise
Luxurious 4-Star Li River Cruise facilities

3 Star Li River Cruise - Budget-friendly/Cheap Way

If you're looking for a more affordable way to explore the Li River, the 3-star Li River cruise is a great option. While it may not offer the same level of luxury as the 4-star cruise, it still provides a comfortable and enjoyable journey at a reasonable price.

3 Star Li River Cruise Price

Adult tickets are priced at 215 yuan per person, while children's tickets cost 108 yuan per person. In addition, guests have the option to enjoy a Chinese-style lunch for an additional fee of 30-50 yuan per person. Alternatively, guests are welcome to bring their own food on board.

Starting Pier and How to Go

The three-star cruise boat departs from Mopanshan Pier (磨盘山码头) in the morning, which is located about 30 kilometers southeast of Guilin City Center. It takes around 40-50 minutes by car to get there. Mopanshan Pier typically caters to Chinese tourists, with announcements made in Chinese. However, if you're a foreign tourist traveling independently, you can head over to Zhujiang Pier. From there, you can board a three-star cruise boat that specifically caters to foreign tourists traveling to Yangshuo. The distance from Zhujiang Pier to Guilin City Center is roughly the same as Mopanshan Pier.

3 Star Li River Cruise Schedule

Embarking on a three-star Li River cruise in Guilin between 9:30 am and 2:00 pm is a magnificent experience you wouldn't want to miss. Please note that departure times may occasionally be adjusted to between 9:00 am and 10:00 am. Therefore, we recommend arriving at the pier 30 minutes in advance to prepare for boarding.


A three-star Li River cruise in Guilin is designed to offer guests a comfortable and luxurious experience while taking in the stunning scenery. The cruise is separated into upper and lower decks, providing basic amenities including seating with approximately 100-120 seats, clean restrooms, and cabin deck for passengers to enjoy the beautiful scenery during the journey. In addition, the cruise provides Chinese-style lunch, which is simple and basic. We recommend guests bring some snacks onboard.

The Dock of Arrival

Once visitors disembark from the boat at Longtoushan Pier (龙头山码头), which is situated at No. 2 Binjiang Road in Yangshuo County, Guilin (桂林市阳朔县滨江路37号), they can enjoy a leisurely stroll of 15-20 minutes to reach the bustling West Street. Alternatively, visitors can opt for a quick 5-8 minute car ride to West Street.

Li River Cruise 4-Star Cruise 3-Star Cruise
Type Luxury Comfort
Price 360-480 RMB/person (optional cabin) 215 RMB/person (non-optional cabin)
Duration 9:20-13:30 9:30-14:00
Dock Zhujiang dock – Shuidongmen dock Mopanshan dock – Longtoushan dock
Capacity 80 person 100-120 person
Lunch Chinese and Western buffet lunch (included) Simple Chinese lunch(at additional cost)
Facilities Armrest-style leather sofas, modern amenities, third-floor observation deck leather sofas, some activity space, cabin deck
3-Star Li River Cruise
3-Star Li River Cruise
3-Star Li River Cruise
Standard 3-Star Li River Cruise facilities

How to Book a Li River Cruise Tickets

There are two ways to book tickets for a Li River cruise: through the official Li River Cruise WeChat account or at the dock.

Travelers who choose to purchase tickets using their WeChat account need to fill in their personal information, including their name, nationality, passport number, etc., and make payment online. Tickets can be booked up to 7 days in advance, and a seat selection message will be received on the day before departure.

For those who prefer to buy tickets at the dock, 3-star tickets can be purchased at the Mopanshan Dock, while 4-star and English broadcast 3-star tickets can be purchased at the Zhujiang Dock. It is important to note that it's difficult to purchase same-day tickets at the dock, so it's recommended to plan ahead and purchase tickets in advance.

For a more convenient and comprehensive travel experience, travelers can choose to book Li River cruise tickets through Asia Odyssey Travel (AOT). As a local travel expert, AOT provides a full package of Guilin tour, including transportation to and from the dock, ticket reservation, multilingual tour guide, meals, and accommodation. AOT can also customize the itinerary to suit individual preferences and ensure a memorable trip in Guilin.

Li River Cruise Map

With our comprehensive map of the Li River cruise ships in China, including the routes and important scenic spots and piers of both three-star and four-star cruises, you can plan your Li River cruise trip with ease and confidence. Whether you want to enjoy the natural beauty of the Li River, explore the ancient cultural heritage of the region, or simply relax and savor the delicious local cuisine, our map will help you make the most of your Li River cruise experience.

Enhancing Your Li River Cruise Experience

To make your Li River cruise experience even more perfect, we highly recommend combining it with a visit to the charming town of Yangshuo. With its stunning natural scenery and cultural heritage, Yangshuo offers a vibrant and exciting atmosphere that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Take a leisurely stroll through the ancient town, indulge in local cuisine, or enjoy thrilling outdoor activities like rock climbing, rafting, and cycling. You can also immerse yourself in the local customs and culture by participating in events like the Water Lantern Festival and Dragon Boat race.

Spending 1-2 days in Yangshuo will certainly add more fun and unforgettable memories to your trip. Our tour packages offer the perfect combination of Li River cruising and exploring the highlights of Yangshuo, allowing you to fully experience the natural beauty and cultural charm of Guilin.

3 Days Guilin Yangshuo tour

Day 1: Arrival in Guilin, airport pickup and transfer to hotel.

Day 2: Li River cruise, West Street, Yangshuo countryside exploration

Day 3: Elephant Trunk Hill, Reed Flute Cave, departure from Guilin

Li River Cruise
The scenery on the back of the 20 yuan RMB note
The fisherman uses a partridge to catch fish

Best Time to Visit Li River & Take Li River Cruise

  Weather Forecast  

The Li River cruise boats run all year round, with the best time to visit being from April to October. The scenery is most beautiful during this time, especially from April to May when misty mountains and rivers create a unique atmosphere. In July and August, the river is clear and the air is fresh, providing a peaceful and picturesque experience. From September to October, the clear blue sky and white clouds provide a stunning backdrop to the golden rice fields and Fisherman's Festival in Yangshuo. It is recommended to book hotels and cruise tickets in advance during peak travel seasons in July, August and October 1st to 7th. Even in winter, the Li River is still worth visiting, with the red leaves of tung trees and beautiful mountains creating a fairy tale-like atmosphere.

Li River Cruise to Yangshuo Travel Tips

1. Arrive in Guilin one night in advance: Most cruises depart from Guilin between 9:00-10:00am, and it takes about 1.5 hours to get to Zhujiang or Mopanshan dock from Guilin city center. Arriving a night before will give you enough time to prepare and avoid any last-minute rush.

2. Book an English-speaking cruise: Three-star and four-star cruises departing from Zhujiang dock have English-speaking guides. If you choose our Guilin travel package, our private English-speaking guide will accompany you throughout the trip.

3. Board the cruise without any luggage: With our tour package, your luggage will be transported by our driver from Guilin to the disembarkation dock in Yangshuo. You only need to carry your personal belongings and enjoy your time on the cruise to the fullest.

4. Pack necessary items: Weather can change during a Li River cruise. We recommend bringing warm and rainproof clothing, as well as sunglasses to make your time on the boat more comfortable.

5. Practice environmental awareness: Please do not litter in the river during the Li River cruise and help keep the environment clean.

Explore Guilin/Yangshuo with Asia Odyssey Travel

Based in China, with our office conveniently located in Guilin, the local team at Asia Odyssey Travel is dedicated to providing exceptional service to ensure an unforgettable experience for those who visit this beautiful Guilin. We offer a variety of carefully designed Guilin tours, including Classic Guilin Tours, Li River Tours, Yangshuo Tours, and Longji Rice Terraces Tours, tailored to meet your needs and desires. Whether you prefer a private tour with a flexible itinerary or a small group tour without compromising on quality, Asia Odyssey Travel has the perfect tour for you, ensuring that your journey to Guilin is a worry-free vacation.

If you're looking to extend your stay in Guilin into a longer vacation, Asia Odyssey Travel also offers a range of inspiring ideas through China Tour Packages with Guilin. Our professional travel consultants are ready to assist you in customizing a tailor-made Guilin Tour at the best local price. Don't hesitate to contact us to start planning your dream trip to Guilin today!

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