Guilin (Standard Zhuang: Gveilinz; alternatively romanized as Kweilin) is a prefecture-level city in the northeast of China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is situated on the west bank of the Li River and borders Hunan to the north. Its name means "forest of sweet osmanthus", owing to the large number of fragrant sweet osmanthus trees located in the region. The city has long been renowned for its scenery of karst topography.


桂林市Gveilinz Si

Scenery of Guilin
Location of Guilin City jurisdiction in Guangxi
Location in China
Coordinates (Guilin Central Square (桂林中心广场)): 25°16′30″N 110°17′46″E
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Autonomous regionGuangxi
  Total27,809 km2 (10,737 sq mi)
153 m (502 ft)
  Density170/km2 (440/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
Area code(s)0773
ISO 3166 codeCN-GX-03
License plate prefixes桂C for Guilin's city proper, Yangshuo, and Lingui; all others 桂H
"Guìlín" in Chinese characters
Chinese name
Hanyu PinyinGuìlín
Literal meaning"Sweet Osmanthus Forest"
Zhuang name
1957 orthographyGveilinƨ

Guilin is one of China's most popular tourist destinations,[2] and the epithet "By water, by mountains, most lovely, Guilin" (山水甲天下)[3] is often associated with the city. The State Council of China has designated Guilin a National Famous Historical and Cultural City, doing so in the first edition of the list.


Relics found in the city's Baojiyan (simplified Chinese: 宝积岩; traditional Chinese: 寶積巖) and Zengpiyan (甑皮巖) caves date back to approximately 10,000 years ago. The Zengpiyan people had a matriarchal clan society. Before the Qin dynasty, Guilin region was settled by the Baiyue people.[4] In 314 BC, a small settlement was established along the banks of the Li River.[5]

During the Qin dynasty's (221–206 BC) campaigns against the state of Nanyue, the first administration was set up in the area around Guilin.[6] The modern city was located within the Guilin Commandery, which is origin of the modern name "Guilin".

In 111 BC, during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty, Shi'an County (simplified Chinese: 始安县; traditional Chinese: 始安縣) was established, which could be regarded as the beginning of the city.

In AD 507, the town was renamed Guizhou (Gui Prefecture, 桂州).[4]

In 634, Lingui County was established at the modern site of Guilin, under Gui Prefecture. In 868, Pang Xun rebelled against the Tang from Gui Prefecture.[4]

Guilin prospered in the Tang and Song dynasties but remained a county. The city was also a nexus between the central government and the southwest border, and it was where regular armies were placed to guard that border. Canals were built through the city so that food supplies could be directly transported from the food-productive Yangtze plain to the farthest southwestern point of the empire.

In 997, Guangnan West Circuit, predecessor of modern Guangxi, was established, with Guizhou as the capital. In 1133, Guizhou was renamed Jingjiang Prefecture (simplified Chinese: 静江路; traditional Chinese: 靜江路). In 1367, the name was changed to Guilin Prefecture (桂林府).[4]

In 1921, Guilin became one of the headquarters of the Northern Expeditionary Army led by Sun Yat-sen.[7]

In 1940, Guilin City was established.[8][9]

In 1950, the provincial capital of Guangxi was moved from Guilin to Nanning.

In 1981, Guilin was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Suzhou) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage, as well as natural scenery, should be treated as a priority project.[10][11]

Administrative divisions

Statue of Ma Yuan at Fuboshan, Guilin.
Map including Guilin (labeled as 桂林 KUEI-LIN (KWEILIN) (Walled)) (AMS, 1954)

Guilin administers seventeen county-level divisions, including 6 districts, 8 counties, 2 autonomous counties, and 1 county-level city.

  • District:
    • Xiufeng District (秀峰区)
    • Xiangshan District (象山区)
    • Diecai District (叠彩区)
    • Qixing District (七星区)
    • Yanshan District (雁山区)
    • Lingui District (临桂区)
  • County-level city:
    • Lipu city (荔浦市)
  • County:
    • Yangshuo County (阳朔县)
    • Lingchuan County (灵川县)
    • Xing'an County (兴安县)
    • Quanzhou County (全州县)
    • Yongfu County (永福县)
    • Ziyuan County (资源县)
    • Guanyang County (灌阳县)
    • Pingle County (平乐县)
  • Autonomous county:
    • Gongcheng Yao Autonomous County (恭城瑶族自治县)
    • Longsheng Various Nationalities Autonomous County (龙胜各族自治县)


Guilin is located in northern Guangxi, bordering Liuzhou to the west, Laibin to the southwest, Wuzhou to the south, Hezhou to the southeast, and within neighbouring Hunan, Huaihua to the northwest, Shaoyang to the north, and Yongzhou to the east. It has a total area of 27,809 square kilometres (10,737 sq mi). The topography of the area is marked by karst formations. The karsts surrounding Guilin are made of Triassic period limestone and dolomite rocks. The Li River flows through the city.

  • Hills and mountains: Diecai Hill (叠彩山), Elephant Trunk Hill, Wave-Subduing Hill (伏波山), Lipu Mountains, Kitten Mountain, the highest peak of Guangxi, and Yao Hill (尧山)
  • Caves: Reed Flute Cave, Seven-star Cave


Guilin has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa, bordering on Cwa), with short, mild winters, and long, hot, humid summers. Winter begins dry but becomes progressively wetter and cloudier. Spring is generally overcast and often rainy, while summer continues to be rainy though is the sunniest time of year. Autumn is sunny and dry. The monthly 24-hour average temperature ranges from 8.1 °C (46.6 °F) in January to 28.2 °C (82.8 °F) in July, and the annual mean is 19.12 °C (66.4 °F). The annual rainfall is just under 1,890 mm (74 in), and is delivered in bulk (~50%) from April to June, when the plum rains occur and often create the risk of flooding. With monthly percent possible sunshine ranging from 14% in March to 53% in September, the city receives 1,487 hours of bright sunshine annually.

Climate data for Guilin, 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1951−2010
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.6
Average high °C (°F) 11.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 8.1
Average low °C (°F) 5.7
Record low °C (°F) −4.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 65.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 15.1 15.5 18.6 20.2 19.0 17.5 16.1 14.8 8.2 9.7 8.7 9.1 172.5
Average relative humidity (%) 73 75 79 80 79 81 79 77 72 68 67 66 75
Mean monthly sunshine hours 66.9 50.0 51.6 72.6 109.5 131.1 199.4 204.1 193.4 157.1 134.4 117.2 1,487.3
Percent possible sunshine 20 16 14 19 27 32 48 51 53 44 41 36 33
Source: China Meteorological Administration (precipitation days and sunshine 19712000)[12][13]


  • Population: 4,747,963[1]
  • Urban population: 1,134,393[14]
  • Ethnic groups: Zhuang, Yao, Hui, Miao, Han and Dong


Guilin Museum and Library
  • The GDP per capita was ¥19435 (ca. US$2858) in 2009, ranked no. 125 among 659 Chinese cities.
  • Local industries: condoms, pharmaceutical goods, tires, machinery, fertilizer, silk, perfume, wine, tea, cinnamon, herbal medicine
  • Local agricultural products: Shatian Pomelo, summer orange, Fructus Momordicae, ginkgo, moon persimmon, Lipu Taro, Sanhua Alcohol, pepper sauce, fermented bean curd, Guilin Rice Noodle, water chestnut, grain, fish and dried bean milk cream in tight rolls

Until 1949 only a thermal power plant, a cement works, and some small textile mills existed as signs of industrialization in Guilin.[6] However, since the 1950s Guilin has added electronics, engineering and agricultural equipment, medicine, rubber, buses, textile and cotton yarn factories. Food processing, including the processing of local agricultural produce, remains the most important industry. More recent and modern industry features high technology, and the tertiary industry characterized by tourism trading and service.[15]



Guilin Liangjiang International Airport

The airport is Guilin Liangjiang International Airport(ICAO:ZGKL, IATA:KWL). Airlines that fly to the airport are:

  • China Eastern
  • Asiana Airlines
  • China Southern
  • Air China
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Shanghai Airlines
  • Shandong Airlines
  • Xiamen Airlines
  • Tianjin Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • Air Asia
  • Beijing Capital Airlines
  • Hebei Airlines


Guilin North railway station

Guilin has the most high-speed rail stations out of all cities in China. There is Guilin North, Guilin West, Guilin and a new station in the Lingui District. Guilin station and Guilin North station are on the Hunan–Guangxi railway, Hengyang–Liuzhou intercity railway and Guiyang–Guangzhou high-speed railway, the main railways connecting Guangxi with central and southern China. Arriving at North station, high-speed trains between Guilin and Changsha and Beijing came into operation in December 2013. In December 2014, high-speed operations began connecting Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Guiyang, and Shanghai. This made it more convenient for people to come to Guilin. It takes only about 2 or 3 hours from Guangzhou to Guilin, 9 hours from Shanghai to Guilin and 13 hours from Beijing to Guilin.[16] Trains traveling between Kunming South and West Kowloon stations (for example) stop at Guilin West railway station.[17]


The city's public transportation includes bus routes and taxis. Guilin is the leading city in Mainland China operating double-decker buses regularly on major routes; in its main street the double-deckers run one-by-one almost every minute. Sightseeing boats also run on the city's canals and lakes.

A Guilan Metro is planned for 7 lines by 2040 with 117 stations and a total length of 273.2 kilometres. Line 1 is planned to have been opened by 2025, and it will be 29.23 km with 13 stations.

Public colleges and universities

  • Guilin University of Technology
  • Guilin Medical University
  • Guilin University of Electronic Technology
  • Guangxi Normal University
  • Guilin University of Aerospace Technology (桂林航天工业学院)

Note: Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.

Scenic spots

Scenic spots around Guilin include:

  • Jingjiang Princes City, a royal complex dating from the Ming Dynasty that lies near the center of modern Guilin
  • Reed Flute Cave
  • Silver Cave
  • Li River
  • Yangshuo
  • Seven-star Cave and Seven Star Park[18] (七星公园)
  • Camel Mountain (骆驼山) and Elephant Trunk Hill
  • Piled Festoon Hill (堆花彩山)
  • Crescent Hill (月牙山)
  • Fubo Hill (伏波山)
  • Nanxi Hill (南溪山)
  • Erlang Gorge (二郎山峡谷)
  • Huangbu (Yellow Cloth) Beach (黄埔滩)
  • Moon Hill
  • Longsheng Rice Terrace
  • Daxu Ancient Town (大圩古市镇)
  • Xingping Ancient Town (兴坪古镇)
  • Duxiu, Solitary Beauty Peak (独秀峰)
  • Liusanjie Landscape Garden (刘三姐景观园)
  • Yao Hill (尧山)
  • Sun and Moon Pagodas (日月双塔)


Guilin pickled tofu

Guilin cuisine is a mixture of Cantonese cuisine and Zhuang cuisine. It is known for its snacks and the use of spices, especially chili. Guilin chili sauce (桂林辣椒酱), used widely in cooking by locals, is made of fresh chili, garlic, and fermented soybeans, and is considered one of the city's Three Treasures (桂林三宝). The other two of the Three Treasures are Guilin Sanhua Jiu (桂林三花酒), a variety of rice baijiu, or liquor distilled from rice; and Guilin pickled tofu.

Guilin rice noodles

Guilin rice noodles have been the local breakfast staple since the Qin dynasty and are renowned for their delicate taste. Legend has it that when Qin troops suffering from diarrhea entered this region, a cook created the Guilin rice noodles for the army because they had trouble eating the local food. Specifically, the local specialty is noodles with horse meat, but this dish can also be ordered without the horse meat. Zongzi, a dumpling made from glutinous rice and mung bean paste wrapped in a bamboo or banana leaf is another popular delicacy in Guilin.


"I often sent pictures of the hills of Guilin which I painted to friends back home, but few believed what they saw."
- Fan Chengda (Chinese Song Dynasty scholar)[19]
"Guilin's scenery is best among all under heaven." (Chinese: 桂林山水甲天下; pinyin: Guìlín shānshuǐ jiǎ tiānxià)
- popular Chinese saying[20]

International relations

Twin towns—Sister cities

Guilin is twinned with:

  • – Nishikatsura, Yamanashi, Japan[21] – Lingchuan County
  • – Kumamoto City, Japan[22] – Guilin
  • – Toride City, Japan – Guilin
  • – Miho, Ibaraki, Japan – Lingui
  • – Jeju, South Korea
  • – Hastings, New Zealand
  • – Toruń, Poland[23]
  • Orlando, United States[24]
  • – Tlaxcoapan, Hidalgo, Mexico[25]
  • Langkawi, Malaysia

The Guilin relationship with the New Zealand city Hastings started in 1977, after a research scientist, Stuart Falconer, identified a number of common areas of interest between the two cities, including horticulture and their rural-urban mix.[26] In 1997 Guilin commenced an exchange relationship with Ōta, Gunma, Japan.[27]

Notable residents

  • Daniel Weihs (born 1942), Israeli Aeronautical Engineering professor at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
  • Ou Hongyi (born 2002), climate activist

See also

  • Bai Chongxi
  • Chinese alcoholic beverage
  • Li Zongren


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  2. Foster, Simon (2012). Frommer's China. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 612. ISBN 9781118223529.
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  17. "G314 timetable" Accessed 2019-02-12
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  20. "Learn Chinese, Study Chinese, Language, Study in China, Travel in China, Guilin". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  21. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. "Kumamoto International Foundation". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  23. "Miasta bliźniacze Torunia" [Toruń's twin towns]. Urząd Miasta Torunia [City of Toruń Council] (in Polish). Retrieved 22 August 2013.
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  25. "Tlaxcoapan se hermana con Guilin, China". Retrieved 19 April 2016.
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  27. 中華人民共和国広西壮族自治区桂林市 [Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China] (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 June 2016.

Further reading

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