If like most of my customers, you only have a few days to spend in Guilin, here below is the best way of organizing your Essence of Guilin Photography Tour.
This tour covers almost all the best photography locations and activities in Guilin, including sunrise and sunset, mountains and rivers, rice terraces and fields, ancient towns and villages, local people and cormorant fishermen.
Starting from Guilin at 8 am, we head to Ping’an village at Longji rice terraces, the second-largest minority village in the Longji area.
We shoot views of the rice terraces and of minority women in traditional dress walking in the terraced fields.
In the late afternoon, we move on to Dazhai village, and visit a local minority family. Photograph an old minority couple in their traditional wooden house. It's very photogenic, and might result in some good entries for photo competitions.
Hike uphill for around 2 hours to a village hotel, and stay overnight in the village.
Shoot the sunrise from a spot around 5 minutes’ walk from the hotel. If it rained the day before, it may be possible to capture some mist surrounding the village.
Photograph the rice terraces and minority village from different perspectives.
Get back to Guilin in the afternoon. Visit an ancient town in Guilin.
Shoot scenes on the ancient streets from the locals' lives. Photograph houses with red lanterns, and old people’s portraits inside an old wooden house.
At 4 am set off on a 1.5-hour drive to Xianggong Hill, to catch the sunrise and photograph the Li River Bend. The Hill is one of the best spots for shooting sunrise and classic landscapes in the Guilin area.
Visit two elderly cormorant fishermen in the afternoon, shoot portraits in their old wooden homes, and listen to stories from their experiences.
Lastly, in another highlight of the day, meet an old white-bearded cormorant fisherman on a small island in the Li River (the place from where the Chinese 20-yuan note had its picture taken). He will light up his gas lamp at dusk and cast his net over the golden sunset glow.
In the early morning we first drive to the riverside via a narrow country trail, then walk about 10 minutes to the photography location. It is a hidden place beside the Li River; normally there are no other photographers or tourists around.
This is the best place for shooting mountain reflections in the river; peaceful, with lots of water. We will have one or two cormorant fishermen in the river, and shoot breathtaking mountain reflections and fishing at dawn, and sunrise above the fishing nets.
Afterwards, we drive back to Guilin. We are going to visit a local medicine market, and experience how locals buy and sell things; a good subject for street photography.
In the afternoon, we move on towards a mountain (1 hour’s drive from Guilin). From a high spot we shoot the sunset over the classic karst mountains and rivers.
We drive to a village outside Guilin in the early morning, climb a mountain off-the-beaten track nearby, shoot ‘mirror fields’ (hundreds of fish ponds looking like broken glass) during sunrise, and capture the reflections of farmers working on rice paddies.
Heading to the countryside, we photograph a buffalo farmer on an ancient stone bridge in a village, with spectacular mountains in the distance.
In the late afternoon, we head to Chuanshan Park to take photos of the sunset and cityscape. Stay overnight in Guilin.
"Mercier, this area is just what I dreamed of... thanks for bringing us here!"… a comment from one of my Australian customers.