In this series of articles, we are going to present you our favourite cycling stages – and prove that cycling and China matches better than you might imagine. Today‘s China often makes the headlines with stories about smog and pollution. It is therefore understandable that for many people, bicycle touring and China don‘t exactly pair up. Yet, the Middle Kingdom boasts some of the most beautiful cycling tracks you could dream of!
Yunnan: Cycling Tour from Shaxi to Yangbi – Cyclists Heaven!
Yunnan has attained a reputation as the most beautiful Chinese Province, combining stunning landscapes, a unique cultural diversity and mild climate throughout the whole year. Domestic tourism is booming and the classic destinations such as Lijiang and Dali have become overcrowded and rather commercialised. But there are still many beautiful places to be discovered in China’s South-Western province.
One of these Places is Shaxi, a former merchant town in which tea-traders used to stop overnight on their way from the Yunnan tea plantations into the direction of the old Silk Road. Shaxi’s old towm has certainly profited from the tourist boom: The buildings and alleys around the pretty market square have been restored in an authentic style and the atmosphere is peaceful and somewhat romantic. On Fridays, farmers from the surrounding villages still get together to trade their produce on the lively market.
After spending a night in one of Shaxi’s unique boutique hotels, you will be ready for a long cycling stage. Despite its 108 km length, we cycle gently downhill for most of the stage: Starting at an altitude of 2100m,the destination Yangbi is located on 1550m. On this route you will experience the original beauty of the Himalayan foothills: On rolling terrain you pass rivers, Eucalyptus plantations and numerous terraced fields, watch farmers bringing in their crops, and see some of the Bai people’s famous pagodas in the distance. The road is new and smooth and quiet. Can a bicycle ride get more rewarding than this? We doubt it!
This stage is part of our tour “South of the Clouds” where we explore the Eastern foothills of the Himalaya. From the Tibetan grasslands at Shangri-La we cycle Southwards to the famous town of Dali.
Beijing: Cycling Tour from Liulimiao to Miyun – Through the Hills North of the Great Wall
For many people, Beijing with its richness of cultural heritage and architecture ranks on the top of the list of places to visit in China. But would you consider the immediate surrounding of the Chinese capital for a cycling trip? You should!
Just 70 km out of the city, North of the Great Wall, you can find perfect conditions for a great tour: On the stage from Liulimiao to Miyun you cycle quiet, well-maintained roads and pass scenic green mountains to end at Lake Miyun, Beijing’s biggest sweet water reservoir.
Before starting the trip, you can walk down to the River Bai to relax and get into the mood for the upcoming trip. Cycling the Road through the river canyon is a pure delight for all passionate cyclists! The almost traffic-free road winds through the canyon, offering spectacular views to the river below. The stage includes several moderate climbs and a nice descent to the Miyun reservoir in the end. Instead of cars, you are likely to encounter Chinese fellow cyclists who regularly escape the big city to enjoy the natural beauty of it’s surroundings.
This stage is part of our tour “Tracing the Dragon”. The tour, which starts in Beijing and follows the Great Wall all the Way to the Yellow Sea is part of our German-speaking range but will be available in English in the future.
Shaanxi: Cycling Tour from Huashan to Luonan – Leaving the Terracotta Warriors to dive into the Central Chinese Hinterland
Seeing the Terracotta Warriors is a must for many tourists who come to China. From Xi’an, China’s former capital and once biggest city in the world, the terracotta warriors are just a three-hour bike-ride away.
Once in Shaanxi, visitors who take an interest in outdoor activities are well-advised to add the famous Mount Hua to their itinerary: As one of China’s five holy Daoist Mountains, Mt. Hua features a mixture of majestic and bizarre rock formations combined with a touch of the wisdom of monks and philosophers who used lived secluded in the temples that we pass on our way up the mountain. The five different peaks of the Mountain are connected through a network of paths, stairs and ladders and offer many stunning views.
Just at the foot of the holy Mountain starts our cycling stage: Heading south, we pass Mt. Hua on the Western side and climb 1300m 26 km! The ascend is long but never too steep and the road winds right next to Mt. Hua’s towering rock walls.
After reaching the pass you turn right to leave the main road and stay on a small concrete road which passes through picturesque mountain villages and patched farmland. The road is too small for bigger cars and you only have to share it with occasional motorbikes. After visiting the metropolis Xi’an, you now get in close touch with the the quieter laid-back Chinese countryside.
We love this stage because it combines a sporty challenge with the most direct experience of life in the Chinese hinterland. Luonan, the destination of our stage, is a typical Chinese medium-size city: It features a river promenade, a city square where the locals go dancing in the evening and an abundance of little restaurants where you you can try out the delicacies of Central China – The Shaanxi cuisine is famous for its fresh and fragrant noodle dishes.
This stage is part of our tour “The Three Gorges of the Yangzi”, where we Cycle from Xi’an all the way South to the Yangzi River, passing the beautiful Qinlin Mountain Range and experiencing the face of China off the beaten tracks.