Guìlín (桂林) was China's first city to develop tourism after 1949. For decades, children's textbooks proclaimed 'Guìlín's landscape is the best under heaven' (桂林山水甲天下). It was the darling of Chinese politicians, the star city proudly presented to visiting dignitaries. Today Guìlín's natural endowments still amaze, yet, thanks to imperfect urban planning, there is a pervasive feeling that the city is past its prime.
No matter where you’re going in Guǎngxī, you're likely to spend a night or two here – Guìlín is a convenient base to plan trips to the rest of the province. It's clean and modern, with a high percentage of English-speaking locals, but you'll have to put up with touts and high admission fees to sights.