Situated on the scenic Li River amid the distinctive towering green karst peaks made famous by centuries of Chinese landscape paintings, Guilin is best for outdoors activities on and around the river. After a day of exploring the natural wonders surrounding the city, there are also plenty of things to do in town for fun and entertainment.
Bars & Clubs
As the sun sets, Guilin takes on an elegant charm, with city lights reflecting on the water beneath the karst peaks looming in the distance. Take advantage of the view from the water by boarding the Li River Yinzuo Ferry, an evening boat with ballroom dancing, a bar and karaoke. If terra firma better suits your mood, try the Mengbi Karaoke Nightclub for late-night dancing. The Guilin Bravo Hotel Reed Flute Cowboy Bar's dark, bone-decorated bar and good wine selection, darts and billiards make it a great place for a relaxed night out. The Ragazza Pub (Yīrén Jiǔbā, 伊人酒吧) is a quieter—and somewhat pricey—place to enjoy a cocktail at 27 Yiren Lu (Yìrén Lù, 衣仁路).
There are a number of entertaining shows put on for tourists that present packaged versions of the region's minority cultural traditions. Impression—a song and dance revue featuring some 600 performers—takes place at what is billed as the world's largest natural theater, situated on the Li River with a backdrop of some dozen nearby karst peaks. Enjoy a view of the water and ethnic dancing at the Li River Ethnic Night Performance at Guilin's water pavilion. The concert shows off the intricate and colorful designs of the local minority groups and traditional dance and song.
Museums & Galleries
The Guilin Museum is home to over 20,000 artifacts, with an excellent collection of Ming and Qing Dynasty porcelain and regional minority arts and crafts. The Guilin Art Museum specializes in classical Chinese art, though it also hosts modern and contemporary exhibitions. Local arts, crafts and paintings can be found in various shops and galleries around town as well as at the Artists Gallery on the second floor of the Guilin Art Museum. For fans of contemporary sculpture, or just for the curious who want to see unique art and architecture in an unmatched natural setting, Yuzi Paradise, an "art park" located some 30 km outside of Guilin city and halfway to Yangshuo, is home to a growing number of large, often fanciful sculptures by artists from all over the world.
Festivals & Events
The variety of ethnic minorities living in and around Guilin—the Zhuang, Yao, Hui, Miao and Dong all call the region home—means that no matter the season, there's probably a festival on somewhere in town or nearby. In addition to witnessing local takes on national holidays like the Lantern Festival and Dragon Boat Festival, visitors can enjoy unique folk festivals such as the March Third Festival, which features traditional Zhuang song and dance; the colorful Miao New Year Festival; the Dong Fireworks Festival, which features Dong opera as well as three days of celebratory explosions (held at different times of year determined by the Chinese zodiac) and the March Longsheng Red Clothes Festival celebrated by Hong Yao people. Note that many of these festivals take place in villages outside of Guilin city proper, providing excellent opportunities to explore the surrounding landscape and hobnob with the hospitable locals.
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