According to a Chinese saying, Yunnan’s four seasons are all just like Spring. The Southwest province has long been a cultural melting pot, influenced by a multitude of different tribes and peoples. Today, 25 of China’s 55 minorities settle in Yunnan. Stunning landscapes and an unparalleled ethnic diversity make this region one of China’s most fascinating places.
From Zhongdian (aka Shangri-La) close to the Tibetan border we cycle southwards to Dali which lies beautifully between the Cang Mountain and Erhai. On our way we hike through one of the world’s deepest gorges, the Tiger leaping Gorge, we explore the ancient caravan town of Lijiang and trace the traditions of Chinese Buddhism at Shibaoshan (Stone Treasure Mountain). Our journey is framed by visits to Beijing and Shanghai.
- Difficulty • 2/3
- Days Total • 21
- Active days • 11
- Cycled Distance • 600 km
- China By Bike Tour Guide
- Baggage Transfer and Support Vehicle
- Bicycle Rent
- Domestic Flights Beijing-Lijiang and Kunming-Shanghai
- Train Ride Dali-Kunming
- Flights to and from China
- Entrance Fees
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Arrival in Beijing
From the Capital Airport, a transfer is organized to our Hotel which is located within the protected old town. After a short break for relaxation we go on a first stroll through the surrounding “Hutongs”, the traditional Beijing back-alleys.
Temple Of Heaven, Tian’anmen Square And Forbidden City
Today we dig into Chinese imperial history. We start the day with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, Beijings landmark which is still a popular meeting point for locals doing their morning exercise. Then we head northwards, going for a stroll over Tian'anmen square and explore the countless courtyards and rooms of the Forbidden City. Finally, we climb Jingshan Hill north of the Palace to enjoy the view over the roofs of the Forbidden City and its surroundings.
On the 'Wild Wall'
“Who never climbed the Great Wall cannot be deemed a man” says a Chinese proverb. Indeed, once in Beijing, one should not miss the opportunity to visit one of the world's most magnificent buildings. On an optional day trip we climb the “wild wall” North of Beijing at Huanghua. This section of the wall lies beautifully above a water reservoir and is still spared from tourist sell-out.
Flight to Lijiang
In the morning we still have time for some more sightseeing. After lunch, a chartered mini-bus takes us to Beijing Capital airport. After a 3 ½ h flight, we reach Lijiang in the evening.
Today we walk through the picturesque alleys and explore the markets of the historic old town of Lijiang which boasts a great variety of traditional wood constructions of the Naxi minority. The afternoon will be free for individual ventures.
A chartered Bus takes us to Shangri-La which lies on an elevation of 3,100 m on a plateau of grasslands dominated by Tibetan settlements. Once arrived we receive and prepare our bicicles and set out on a first short excursion to the Songzanlin Lama Monastery.
- Day Trip
Day-Trip into the Tibetan Grasslands
Just outside of Shangri-La lie the beautiful grasslands where Tibetans herd their cattle. We explore the area on our bicycles and can stop for a bath in natural hot springs on the way.
- Day Trip
Cycling to Qiatou
We leave the Grasslands and cycle on mainly descending terrain, reaching Qiaotou at the Ẃestern mouth of the Tiger-Leaping Gorge in the afternoon.
- 93 km Cycling Distance
Tracing the Tiger
Today we hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world's most spectacular river canyons. The maximum depth of the gorge is 3,800 m from river to the mountain peak of the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. We hike along the high path which offers us stunning views into the canyon with the wild Yangzi running below. Accommodation in a comfortable mountain lodge.
- 25 km Hiking Distance
The First Bend of the Yangzi
Back on our bicycles we get another impression of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, this time cycling back to Qiaotou on the paved road at the bottom of the canyon. After leaving the valley, we go on for another 20 km to reach Shigu at the “First Bend of the Yangzi”.
- ca. 70 km Cycling Distance
Cycling to Jianchuan
We ride our bicycles South, into the direction of Dali. Today's stage leads us to the town of Jianchuan, where we stay in a traditionally styled hotel close to the centre of the old town.
- ca. 55 km Cycling Distance
A short but mountainous stage brings us to Shaxi which once was an important stopover town on the historic Tea and Horse Route. Our hotel is a authentically restored traditional horse stable right at a beautiful little square in the very centre of the historic old town.
- ca. 32 km Cycling Distance
Shaxi and Stone Treasure Mountain
Friday is market day in Shaxi. In the morning we go for a stroll over the market where local farmers of the Yi- Bai- and Naxi-minorities sell their produce. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the market behind us, we go on a day trip to the “Stone Treasure Mountain” (Shibaoshan), a peaceful mountain area in which various Buddhist temples and old stone carvings as old as 1200 years lie scattered at walk-able distance. Return to Shaxi in the late afternoon.
- Day Trip
Cycling to Yangbi
Today we follow the Heihui river downstream to Yangbi. This rather long stage surely is one of the most scenic and pleasurable rides of our tour! Overnight stay in a simple Hotel.
- 108 km Cycling Distance
Old Burma Road and Erhai
Along the Old Burma Road we cycle Eastwards and reach Xiaguan at the Southern End of the Erhai after a long ascend. We then follow the flat road at the lake-shore counter clockwise to Shuanglang.
- 95 km Cycling Distance
Around Lake Erhai to Dali
Occasionally passing through Bai-villages we continue cycling around the Erhai to Dali, the former capital of the historic empire of Nanzhao. Located at the foot of the Cang Mountain Range and close to peaceful Lake Erhai, the city boasts perfect fengshui..
- 61 km Cycling Distance
Dali's glorious days were from the 8th to the 13th, when it was capital first of the independent Nanzhao Kingdom and later of the Bai-Kingdom. Until present days the Bai are the predominant ethnicity in the region but also Tibetans, Naxi and Hui continue to influence the city's atmosphere. After a joint stroll through Dali's picturesque old town, the afternoon is free for individual ventures or relaxation.
City of Eternal Spring
By train we reach Kunming, the “city of eternal spring”. After a short break we set out for a first stroll through the city centre, visiting the Cuihu Park where we get a chance to mingle with the locals who meet in the park to sing, dance and exercise.
Flight to Shanghai
Early in the morning we fly to Shanghai. In the afternoon, we go for a walk on the Bund, Shanghai's famous riverside promenade. We stay two nights in a Hotel close to the Bund.
“City Above The Sea”
Today, we explore the buzzing metropolis by foot. Sights well worth a visit include the pretty Yu Garden, Nanjing Lu, Shanghai’s shopping boulevard and parts of the old town as well as Shanghai’s modern financial district on the east side of Huangpu River. At our farewell dinner in the evening you will once more have the opportunity to experience the culinary richness of the Chinese cuisine.
Individual return journey.