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Guilin worth the trip?

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Jan 16th, 2015, 02:21 AM
  #1
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Guilin worth the trip?

Back in November, my husband and I booked a flight for a long weekend in Guilin in early March after one of his colleagues highly recommended it to us. We're NYCers temporarily living in Hong Kong and are trying to take advantage of the opportunity to travel around SE Asia and mainland China. However, in December we spent a week in Xi'an and Beijing and my husband got very fed up with taxi drivers constantly trying to scam us. In Beijing, we ultimately used the subway a ton, but we had several frustrating incidents in both cities: a taxi driver refusing to take us all the way to our hotel and stopping in the middle of a 3-lane road telling us to get out, the same driver also pulled over while on the highway from the airport to pee on the side of the road, another driver who tried to refuse to turn the meter on, another guy who switched the meter off as soon as we arrived at our hotel and tried to say that the fare was much higher than what the meter said, etc. As a result, my husband now wants to skip our trip to Guilin, even tho we had none of these issues in Shanghai, and despite the fact that our plane tickets (almost US$400 total) are nonrefundable.

Can someone tell me if we'll have this sort of issue in Guilin? Is it the type of place we'd want to rent a car anyway? Do Americans need to do anything special to drive in China?

If you all suggest that we still go to Guilin, what do you suggest we do/see? I know we want to see the scenery in the area (karst formations, rice terraces), we always love being on boats so probably some sort of river cruise, and we love biking if it's warm enough. We arrive around 3:30pm on Friday March 6 and depart 4:30pm on Monday March 9.

Thanks in advance!
lmschmale is offline  
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Jan 16th, 2015, 02:59 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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"Can someone tell me if we'll have this sort of issue in Guilin?"

Guilin, open to tourists even during the worst of some of China's political upheavals, and one of the most popular destinations in China is one of the worst places in China for shenanigans of all kinds.

"Do Americans need to do anything special to drive in China?"

There's nothing special about Americans. Like all other foreigners they need to be officially resident in China and to obtain a Chinese licence. Otherwise driving oneself, which is not anyway to be lightly attempted in China, is out.

"If you all suggest that we still go to Guilin, what do you suggest we do/see?"

Don't stay in Guilin but head off somewhere else, even if only to awful Disneyfied tourism-crushed mock-China Yangshuo by bus and arrange to go out on the river from there.

Otherwise get more adventurous: the areas of karst limestone peaks in the province are vast, and finding areas where you'll be the only foreign face is not difficult, although, unlike in Yangshuo, there may not be pizza available.

However, you haven't really left yourself enough time to do anything except close to Guilin. So again, perhaps mitigate the ghastliness of Yangshuo by staying in one of the over-priced foreigner targeting retreats outside it, or at one of the villages with fewer places to stay further downstream (Xinzhai?). A little casting around the Internet should find you some suggestions.
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Jan 17th, 2015, 09:09 AM
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Guilin is a nice city, high praise from someone who hates most cities, but I don't think I'd fly there specifically for the city of Guilin. But that's me and I prefer small places and countryside so your question, is it worth it for you, is a resounding maybe. I was there to catch a train and was just pleased to find a city that was pleasant to walk around the couple of days I was there.

If you fly in and go to a smaller town, you can arrange transport with your hotel at a flat rate which will eliminate any taxi scam from the airport. I liked the area outside Yangshuo along the Yulong River, great walks and beautiful scenery. And few western tourists 2 years ago.

If I could afford it I'd stay here http://www.yangshuosecretgarden.com/#!hotel/c1nt3 in Jiuxian Ancient Village. I had lunch there twice and loved the setting. It's fairly isolated but taxis can be called, I had no difficulty whatever with taxis in the time I was in the area (about 3 weeks) and if this place is too off the beaten path for you then there are other nice places closer in to Yangshuo, but not in it.

Here something I wrote about the area: http://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/potd-liriver
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Jan 17th, 2015, 03:50 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
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> f you fly in and go to a smaller town, you can arrange transport with your hotel at a flat rate which will eliminate any taxi scam from the airport.

This would more correctly be described as replacing one scam with another. You'd merely be aware in advance just what the price would be. And that would still leave getting around. But i also reached the Secret Garden (exactly where I had in mind when I mentioned 'over-priced foreigner retreats') from Yangshuo by taxi with little difficulty, and equally had no difficulty getting back. Given the constraints of time and probable desire for creature comforts (although far from luxurious) and a confirmed booking before departure, this might well be a good choice.
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