The Nan Mountains and Yangtze River have kept Guilin and its surrounds in relative isolation for much of the region’s history. What was once perhaps a commercial liability is now a tremendous boon to travelers and nature lovers who come to explore this unique region, known for its stunning scenery and distinct cultural flavor.

While the other major cities in China have become booming megalopolises, Guilin has maintained its charm, acting as a gateway to river cruising and other scenic exploration. With two rivers, four lakes, and a smattering of limestone karst formations and the intriguing and complex systems of caves beneath their surface, the city is woven into nature and free from much of the pollution and smog other cities in China tend to combat. It is a pleasant oasis, with hospitality to spare.

Because Guilin is old, in spite of being remote, it has seen significant trade over millennia. The greater Guangxi region is home to 12 ethnic minorities in addition to the Han Chinese. The region’s indigenous people add depth and character to the diversity brought by trade and commerce, giving Guilin a palpable soul.

Known as an ideal place to visit any time of year, Guilin is particularly magical in the autumn when the sweet osmanthus, from which the city derives its name, is in bloom. The fragrance fills the city, giving everything a surreal sense of purity and peace.

One of the best ways to see the region is from the calm waters of the River Li. Ker & Downey works with the best boats and guides to give you the unique vantage point in China’s most picturesque landscape. The river takes you into the most pristine reaches, and showcases the quaint fishing villages along its banks, and other sites only accessible to those drifting by, leaving the landscape undisturbed.