Guilin ( the forest of sweet Osmanthus) is a rather special place. Its scenery referred to by many Chinese as the "finest under heaven", or directly from Chinese: "the mountains and rivers in Guilin are the number one under the heaven." The spectacular scenery will not disappoint.
I was there in 2006 and overall, I am glad I made the trip from Nanning, although it was a hot day and the train was crowded as usual.
In my opinion the downside of Guilin is the fact that now it is very well known and a magnet for many foreign visitors either for the day or to stay on in some cases for months, mainly students, probably on there gap year from university.
With this influx of potential wealth the local Chinese are quick to seize the various "opportunities".
It is now common for the main street to be full of touts, mainly women, offering everything from Hotel accommodation, restaurants to dodgy DVD's, you know the sort of thing.
I must admit I fell pray to one of these ladies offering us a Hotel room, foolishly I had not researched the likelihood of us not finding one on our own, it was a very busy time and most were full and those that were not knew exactly what a room was worth with so many westerners around. I even got my then Fiancee to do the honours and go in on her own to book to get the "Chinese" price, but that did not work either.
So finally we had to give in and use a "tout".
The room was not particularly bad except for the few small crawling creatures in and on the bed (ants I think) and usual...honestly.
But whenever I find myself in these 'not in my control' situations I always fear the worst, so I spent time looking around for hidden cameras as I did not want us to appear on some dodgy website offering 'Westerners go Bonkers in Guilin'...only joking, I am just a little paranoid.
Tips...I repeat, overall it was all very pleasant but if you plan a trip to Guilin, be prepared for the westerners and do your research.
Pictures below courtesy of Alexander Lee.
China- Guilin -No.1 landscape