Why study abroad in Guilin?

As if spending a semester abroad in China wasn’t reason enough, we felt compelled to list 12 reasons (out of countless) why you should study abroad in Guilin. We’ve also included some photos from our Instagram account and we suggest you watch a video called Guilin is Beautiful (between 10 and 11) before returning here to apply to study abroad. 😉

View from a Guilin Mountaintop, Image by @muradosmann

Guilin offers a unique combination of urban and rural lifestyle Since the economic reform of the 1980’s, towns and cities across China have experienced rapid urbanization, leading to the erasure of traditional farming communities in many areas. As a small city situated within a protected environmental zone, Guilin has been fortunate to maintain it’s countryside charm, untouched scenery and laidback pace of life. At the same time, the city’s status an international tourist destination means that Guilin is home to a cosmopolitan city center packed with hip cafes, international restaurants, and other modern comforts. This unique combination of urban and rural communities means that on any given day it’s possible to travel from the city’s bustling downtown district to serene natural landscapes within fifteen minutes.

Guilin is an ideal language-learning environment As is the case in many rural areas of China, Guilin’s education system has improved tremendously over the past several decades, leading to a dramatic rise in English proficiency among younger generations. Nonetheless, the fact remains that most people in Guilin only speak their native tongue. For foreign students, this means that the opportunities to practice Chinese in real-life situations are boundless. Furthermore, while Guilin is home to its own local speech called 桂林话(guìlín huà),the differences between this dialect and standard Mandarin, or 普通话(pǔtōng huà), are minimal compared to dialects spoken in other areas.

On the Li River, Image by @muradosmann

Guilin is home to a remarkably diverse community The fourth largest city in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin is a heartland for exploring ethnic minority, or 少数民族 (shǎoshù mínzú), culture in China. While most of the population belongs to the Han majority, 90% of the Zhuang Minority, 70% of the Yao Minority, plus large groups of Dong and Miao, also reside in Guangxi. The unique customs of these groups have been preserved into the present and are accessible to travelers interested in exploring the Middle Kingdom’s multifarious traditions.

Guilin’s location is ideal for international travel Guilin is perfectly situated in sunny south-central China, making for swift and affordable international travel options. Budget flights to Bangkok, Thailand or Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as well as over-night trains to Hanoi, Vietnam are available directly from Guilin city. Additionally, travelers can hop aboard the fast train to Shenzhen, walk across the border to Hongkong, and find themselves in one of the most unique cultural melting pots on the planet for only 30 USD. While in Hongkong, Shenzhen or the neighboring megacity of Guangzhou, it’s easy to catch a flight to anywhere in the world.

Guilin is a very affordable city The cost of living in Guilin is quite low compared to that of many western countries and larger cities within China. At the time of publishing this article, 1 US Dollar is equal to 6.64 Chinese Yuan. Take a taxi-ride across town for 2 to 3 USD, fill up on a hearty bowl of specialty rice noodles for less than a buck, or treat yourself to a professional massage for only 50 RMB. Such affordable prices at establishments across the board in Guilin will ensure that you’re able to save money and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle during your adventure abroad.

Sun and Moon Pagodas, Image by Peter Stewart

Guilin’s cuisine is fresh & local As mentioned in reason #1 on our list, Guilin’s close proximity to so many farming communities has major advantages for urban residents, one of which is access to delicious, fresh food. Every morning starting around dawn, merchants from the surrounding countryside travel into the city to peddle produce, herbs and poultry at local wet markets. These ingredients are then purchased by chefs and served up in restaurant kitchens that very same day, creating a sustainable farm-to-table system. Traditional villages located around Guilin are also home to a multitude of organic farms open for guests to pick their own fruits and vegetables.

Guilin Rice Noodles, Image by @studycli

The endless list of beautiful scenic spots One of China’s most coveted tourist destinations since the 1960’s, Guilin has an array of sprawling urban parks, impressive landmarks and scenic spots tucked around every bend. Spend your afternoon relaxing amidst the Osmanthus trees and wild (but friendly) monkeys of Seven Star Park, hike Tunnel Hill Mountain for an impeccable sunset view, and much, much more.

Take incredible weekend trips Only have a few days between Chinese classes to go exploring? Luckily, Guilin is located within a mecca of fantastic getaway spots. Take an express bus to the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces for a weekend of hiking between ancient villages and brilliant terraced mountains, or float down the Li River and arrive in the trendy back-packer haven of Yangshuo. Alternatively, a few hours on the fast train will deliver you directly to Hongkong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou or any one of the modern metropolitan cities located near Guilin. No matter what you decide to do this weekend, be inspired knowing that there are endless options for where to go next.

“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)

Guilin is an excellent place to develop your career In recent years, many international companies have opened branches in Guilin, now revered as one of Asia’s most renowned tourist destinations. While the city continues to develop in harmony with the rest of the nation’s rapid globalization, more and more business opportunities are becoming available here, particularly for those individuals with both English and Mandarin proficiency.

Guilin’s scenery is the best under heaven 桂林山水甲天下 Perhaps the most essential reason why our co-founders chose Guilin as CLI’s home-base is the area’s distinctive natural environment. The result of centuries submerged underwater when skeletons of marine animals that gradually formed jagged limestone rocks, striking karst peaks can now be found sprouting up throughout the entire city. Between mountain skylines and tropical rivers, Guilin’s scenery is truly dream-like. See more of Guilin’s environment in this video made by CLI.

十一 Guilin is home to a diverse international community Guilin’s dazzling nature and relaxed pace of life attract foreign ex-pats, friendly exchange students and interesting families from around the world who come searching for a new home in the land of passion fruits and fragrant Osmanthus trees. Become part of a dynamic international community and meet interesting, like-minded individuals from around the world when you study abroad here.

十二 Guilin lends itself to a healthy lifestyle Guilin is a haven for athletes, outdoorsy folks, and anyone else interested in cultivating a healthy lifestyle. Students can take advantage of shared public bicycles or the walkable distance between most neighborhoods in the city. Rock climbing is another celebrated pastime on the Li River, all thanks to the abundance of limestone karst peaks and bouldering spots that stretch throughout the region.

Now that you’ve read through our top reasons to study abroad in Guilin, visit our website to start your journey. See you in Guilin!

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5 Reasons Everyone Should Study Abroad in China

The Middle Kingdom is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for international students, and it’s easy to see why. The following are five of the most relevant reasons to spend a semester studying in China:

Mandarin Is Among the Most Spoken Languages in the World

Presently, more than a billion people around the world speak Mandarin, and this number is only expected to continue growing. According to language forecasting models, Mandarin will be – along with English and Spanish – the dominant language in the decades to come. Those learning Mandarin today are including themselves in an ever-growing global trend, and better equipping themselves for an increasingly globalized world of the future.

Language Approx. number
of speakers
 1. Chinese 1,197,000,000
 2. Spanish 414,000,000
 3. English 335,000,000
 4. Hindi 260,000,000
 5. Arabic

 6. Portuguese 203,000,000
 7. Bengali 193,000,000
 8. Russian 167,000,000
 9. Japanese 122,000,000
10. Javanese 84,300,000

Source: infoplease.com

One of the Fastest Growing Economies

China consistently ranks among the fastest growing economies on the planet, and its rapid growth shows no signs of stagnating anytime soon. Most of the world’s largest multi-national companies have business interests in China and are constantly on the lookout to hire individuals that can speak the language, have lived in the country, and have experienced the culture firsthand.

Rank Country GDP Growth
Rate %
1 Ethiopia 10.20
2 Turks and Caicos Islands 9.40
3 Monaco 9.30
4 Cote d’Ivoire 8.50
4 Uzbekistan 8.50
4 Nauru 8.50
7 Republic of Ireland 7.80
8 Laos 7.60
8 India 7.30
9 Bangladesh 7.08
10 Dominican Republic 7.00
10 Tanzania 7.00
10 Cambodia 7.00
10 Myanmar 7.00
14 Chad 6.90
14 China 6.90
14 Democratic Republic of the Congo 6.90
19 Uzbekistan 6.80
20 Papua New Guinea 6.60

Source: Wikipedia (mostly 2015)

It’s Affordable

Living in China is significantly less expensive than living in most countries in Europe or the Americas, and even some countries in Asia. Tuition/education costs, rent, transportation, food, and entertainment expenses are lower here than in most places, and this means students can enjoy a higher quality of life without breaking the bank.

Immense Cultural Heritage

One of the oldest civilizations in the world with a long and proud history stretching far back in time, China is a country teeming with immense cultural heritage. One can get a sense of this cultural pride and heritage almost anywhere in the country, and those living here can witness, firsthand, the blend that takes place between long-standing traditions and rapid economic development for the future on an everyday basis.

The Country’s Natural Beauty

The fourth largest country in the world, China has a distinct and diverse landscape. From the karst mountain formations around the Guilin area in the South to the gorgeous Tibetan plateau in the West to the booming metropolitans of the East, there are simply too many beautiful places worth exploring in the country.

The following testimonials were given by students who have studied with CLI:

“ I wanted to learn Mandarin and study in China, but the big cities were way too much for me. CLI and Guilin were perfect. I fell in love with the place, and had a comfortable environment in which to learn about the country.”

~ Babar

“CLI offered assistance with applying for the visa, getting to CLI from the airport or train station, familiarizing with the city on arrival and basically anything else that I needed to know before I left home or when I got there.”

~ Peter Cahill

“I attended CLI for 5 weeks and I truly loved every minute! Everyone from the teachers, to the staff were fantastic! Everyone was very accommodating, warm, friendly and supportive of me learning Mandarin. Guilin was beautiful, even though it was winter and some times cold & rainy, it was beautiful. I loved the city, the local people were very nice and polite. The local food was fantastic and very, very inexpensive. The food was so good I am now a snob when in comes to Chinese food.”

~ Brian Mason

Contact us to learn more about studying abroad in Guilin. You can also find CLI on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.


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5 Tips for Studying Abroad in Guilin, China

Tips to help you get the most out of your time in this beautiful city


CLI’s Study Abroad Program allows participants to learn and improve their Mandarin while living in the picturesque city of Guilin. Living and learning in a Guilin over an extended period of time provides students with the unique opportunity to experience local Chinese culture in ways tourists simply can’t.

Here are a few tips that, when complemented with one’s language training at CLI, make for an enriching and meaningful time studying abroad in Guilin:

Befriend locals

While this may seem like an obvious idea, it is one that often gets overlooked. Not only are locals great for practicing your Chinese with when not in the classroom, but they are also a wealth of knowledge on most things Guilin. Always eager to help, they know the ins and outs of the city in ways only locals can.


Eat local

Guilin relies heavily on tourism as a source of income and the constant influx of tourists over the years has resulted in international food chains such as Burger King, McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut (to name just a few) opening franchises in the city. One could as easily find restaurants that specialize in Italian, Indian, or Spanish cuisines. Eating local, however, is the way to go. Not only is eating local significantly less expensive when compared to some of the options mentioned above, but is just as tasty and absolutely delicious.



Don’t let the language barrier discourage you

While practicing your spoken Mandarin by having conversations with locals can seem like a daunting task at first, there are few other ways that are as effective for improving your fluency in the language. The key is to not be afraid of making mistakes, and having the courage to take that first step. Guilin locals are more than friendly and appreciate any effort taken by foreigners to converse in Mandarin!


Partake in outdoor activities

One of the most naturally beautiful cities on the planet, Guilin has plenty to offer in terms of outdoor activities for people to take part in. The city’s peculiar karst mountain formations make it an ideal spot for rock climbing and hiking (the views are absolutely stunning!). If that’s not your thing, though, you could bike around and explore the city, or join one of the many amateur sports teams set up by expats for those interested in playing soccer, football, or basketball.



Make the most of the expat community

Guilin has a small but close-knit expatriate community made up of nationals from the world over. While it’s essential to interact with, and befriend, locals to get the most of your time studying abroad, knowing that there exists a community of foreigners who are undergoing similar experiences abroad can be comforting and refreshing. Make the most of this community: these people are friendly, know the city well, and have really good advice on any questions you may have!

#MyGuilinStory EP6: Studying in Paradise

Ever wondered if it was even possible to study in paradise. Watch this weeks #MyGuilinstory and discover why Bradford Fried, Co-founder of CLI, from America thinks studying at the Chinese Language Institute feels like living in the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss.

Posted by Go Guilin on Friday, July 8, 2016

We hope to study Mandarin in China together some day soon. Don’t forget to follow CLI on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


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