Saturday, 21 September 2013
Day 46 - Guilin
The first task in Guilin after arriving early in the morning was to find a cafe with wifi so I can book myself a hotel and know where to go.
It's always nice to get to a place early as it leaves you enough time in the day even after you have to roam around looking for a place to stay. The only downside is that most places are not open yet so finding a cafe is not always easy.
At first look Guilin made a very good impression n reminded me a bit of Hangzhou with the lakes in the middle and old bridges crossing over the rivers.
After walking around and going to some of the main sights, I found that Guilin is very commercial. Nothing against commercial but here everything costs and nothing is cheap. Want to see the Elephant Trunk Hill, that will cost you more than the Forbidden City. You could also try to find a spot to see it fee or hire a boat for less and also see it free but the same applies to all the sights in Guilin.
If you want to go and see everything in Guilin, you could easily pay over 500 RMB just for the entrance to places. This kind of put me off the city, as nice as it is, it seems to be more about making money.
Since I did not feel like paying the high asking prices for entry to most sights, I was looking for something you can do that's free but provides the same kind of views and enjoyment as the pay for places.
In the end I did find something nice to do away from the main tourist area and free. If you head south from the main centre, you will find Pagoda Hill and Tunnel Hill. Both are free and especially Pagoda Hill provides some great views over the city and surrounding karst mountains. You just have to go up the slightly overgrown path but will be rewarded not just with the views but also with being almost all on your own (you can see the hill and the views from there in the 3 pictures above).
As soon as it gets dark, the lights around the lakes come on and transform the city into a very colourful place with people out and about as usual dancing and socialising together.
This is the best part and something you have to see while visiting, just make sure you get out before 23:00 as after that on the dot, all the lights go off and everyone is gone home.
Despite enjoying the evening in Guilin, I decided to stick with my changed plan and head to Vietnam earlier and spend more time there. Tomorrow morning, I will have my train to Nanning and change there for the daily train to Hanoi.