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China

Guilin and Guangxi

Guided Bike Tour

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

14 days

Prices from

$2,760 P.P.
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An amazing cycling holiday to Guilin and Guangxi in the South West of China. This is the China one often imagines: hardy farmers tilling lush rice paddies with water buffaloes, bamboo lined emerald rivers snaking through farmland and pine forest, mist swept limestone peaks with ancient villages dotting the countryside below. It’s no wonder the region has been favoured by poets and painters for centuries.
Whilst the area is quietly gaining recognition abroad, it is still possible to lose yourself in a timeless rural lifestyle that remains unchanged over centuries as we cycle China's little trafficked back roads and trails. We’ll visit several ancient villages and river towns, explore secret waterfalls and epic viewpoints, marvel at local markets and feast on fresh farm-to-table local produce that is a culinary adventure in itself.
Our ride begins in the National Park of Bajiaozhai, populated by the Dong Minority group, and follows a stunning route through the Yuecheng Mountains, famous for the impressive Longji, Dragon’s Backbone rice terraces where we’ll meet the friendly Zhuang, Yao and Miao people who have carved out their living on the mountain sides over centuries.
An undoubted highlight is cycling through the thousands of limestone karst peaks and ancient villages along the Li River, some of the most impossibly spectacular scenery imaginable. Our ride ends in the karst scenery paradise around Yangshuo, a popular “little” tourist town where the famous “beer fish” dish meets craft beer, a fitting end to an epic adventure.
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Highlights

  • UNESCO heritage site of Bajiaozhai National Park
  • Walking Longji (Dragon’s Backbone) Rice Terraces
  • Drifting jungle streams, swimming in secret waterfalls
  • The smiling faces of the local Han, Zhuang, Miao and Yao
  • Amazing limestone karst scenery of Guilin
  • Ancient villages and river towns

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This trip totally changed my preconceptions of China! I would love to repeat every day of the experience again, soaking in the incredible scenery, savouring the cycling opportunities in this diverse area.

Judy, USA

Itinerary

Day 1
Departure - Overnight flight to China

We leave for China from our chosen departure airports to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) situated in Gunagxi Province arriving the following day.

Day 2
Arrival in Guilin
  • Meals: Dinner

Welcome to China! Guilin, one of China’s prettier cities, makes for an interesting place to spend the day. With plenty of restaurants and eating options, shopping strips and cafes it’s a good chance to see how the local urbanites spend their evenings all against a backdrop of the area’s stunning karst mountains.

After transferring from the airport and following hotel check-in, there will be a group meeting, where you’ll meet your tour leader. During this we can go over all the formalities of the trip and answer any questions that you may have. After the group meeting, we’ll head out for our first deliciously tasty evening meal.

If arriving early to recover from jet lag, for example, feel free to book accommodation in Guilin. If you wish to spend extra time on your holiday our recommendation is to book your extra time in Yangshuo, at the end of the trip: it’s a more serene rural location with more interesting relaxing and active options. Let us know if you need help booking extra accommodation or need advice for further travel in the region.

Day 3
Guilin to Bajiaozhai National Park
2 - 3 hour hike
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today we head out early after breakfast for a drive to the north of Guilin (2 hours) to the UNESCO listed Bajiaozhai National Park, famed for its unique pink sandstone danxia formations, similar at first glance but geologically distinct from the more famous limestone karst mountains found further south. Once here we’ll hike up to the Buddhist temples (1800 steps) for incredible views overlooking the neighbouring province, Hunan.

After a wander through these working temples and watching the locals make offerings and wishes at the shrines we’ll have a picnic lunch on top of the mountain. Finally, it’s a walk down through bamboo groves to our hotel, with time to set up the bikes and a cool off in the hotel pool. Dinner is a local style banquet where we’ll make sure the local specialities and produce are featured.

Day 4
Bajiaozhai NP - Guali - Chetian
42 Miles / 67 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

The start of today’s ride is spectacular as we trace a route through the national park among the danxia formations for around 5 Miles/ 8 Kms, before riding out of the park through tiny villages on quiet roads. Its undulating terrain with forest and farmland as the backdrop where you’ll see local people tending rice fields or livestock. We take a sharp ascent up onto a ridge line, where things flatten out for a while, and rural China scenes abound, before descending into a wider valley and our lunch stop in the village of Guali.

After lunch it’s a steady climb of 11 Miles / 18 Kms, flat at first and becoming steeper to the top of the pass, via the tiny village of Baotian, where we’ll break at a local school. For those that wish to transfer up to the top of the hills our vehicles will be available. From the top we can see the ridge-line of the province’s highest mountain peak: Mao Er Shan (Cat Mountain).

The descent on the other side takes us through forests, narrow gullies and ravines. We’ll pass numerous villages and wooden houses built on the mountainsides and nestled amongst rice terraces, fruit orchards and wild forest. We’ll make our way down onto the main river valley which will bring us into the small Chetian Miao Autonomous Prefecture. Populated by the Miao minority group, (also known as Hmong in South East Asia), this vibrant little administrative centre is a hub for the surrounding Miao villagers to distribute their produce and the bustling market is always colourful.

We have a short ride out of Chetian town where we stay in a secluded valley in a quiet farming village in a small hotel along a small bubbling stream. Upstream are spectacular rock formations and waterfalls ideal for hiking and swimming.

Riding – 42 Miles/ 67 Kms on sealed road. The first 17 Miles / 28 Kms is undulating with several short steep climbs (and descents). A longer climb of 11 Miles/ 18 Kms will follow lunch – gradual for the first 6 Miles / 10 Kms before getting steeper to the pass. A 10 Km downhill follows, with the remainder generally flat with some short climbs and descents here and there.

Day 5
Chetian to Datawang
27 Miles / 44 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

The ride today is a scenically spectacular one as we cycle along a high ridge-line with views down to the valleys below and across to the huge mountains beyond where small wooden villages cling to the mountainsides. This area is inhabited by Dong, Miao and Yao people and

these villages see few tourists. Locals are sure to welcome you with a smile and are proud to see you look around their homes.

We have a steep 2.5 Mile / 4 Km climb from the guesthouse up to the ridge-line before we dip and climb a final shorter section and descend to our tea break. It’s a steep downhill to the Xun Jiang, Xun River, which we will follow to lunch and our hotel just beyond.

Our hotel is riverside and a dip in the river will refresh us after our ride. The surrounding views are epic as we are located at the end of a high and narrow gorge: Datangwan translates to big gorge. Dinner will be in the traditional style hall with local dishes featured.

Riding – 27 Miles / 44 Kms. Sealed road with two short but steep climbs after which it is 15 Miles / 25 Kms with a downhill bias.

Day 6
Datangwan - Longsheng - Pingan
37 Miles / 60 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Most of the terrain for today will be flat or undulating but with a steep and challenging 4 Mile / 6 Km climb up to the Longji rice terraces to finish. Along the way we’ll pass through the county capital, Longsheng, where we’ll check out the local market. This is where much of the produce in the region ends up before being traded to far off locations around China, or to kitchens locally. There is an extraordinary array of goods for sale; exotic and sometimes very strange, but always colourful and fascinating.

We’ll ride out of Longsheng and make our way to the Longsheng Rice Terraces. We’ll stop for lunch before entering the park area. The following ride has a few little climbs as we make our way up the small river that is dotted with Yao villages, and their colourfully dressed occupants. Glimpses of the villages high above give an indication of the climb ahead: a 4 Mile/ 6 Km climb up a switchback road to the base of Pingan village situated in the middle of the rice terraces.

We’ll swap out the cycling shoes for hiking shoes and take a walk up stone steps for around 20 mins to our guesthouse. We suggest that you pack a day pack to bring with you for the two night stay in Pingan. If you would like to have all your gear with you, porters are available for around 80-100CNY (15USD) return. We’ll arrive in Pingan with enough time to sit back with a beer and enjoy the sunset views from the terrace of the Zhuang minority, traditionally-built guesthouse. The owners, Keyin and Lily, always make us feel at home and may offer us a sample of their special sweet rice wine to go with their outstanding cooking.

Riding – 37 Miles / 60 Kms. Gentle undulations in the morning tending down to Longsheng markets (19 Miles / 30 Kms). There is another 15 Miles / 24 Kms of generally flat with some small hills to the Longji Rice Terraces with one steep 4 Mile / 6 Km climb to finish.

Day 7
Pingan - Free Day
Rest Day

A free day to relax in perfect surroundings overlooking the village and rice terraces from the seclusion of the balcony in your room or the outdoor deck. Take a wander through the village and up through the rice terraces to the the two major viewpoints. All the walks are signposted so it’s easy to make your way around on your own at your own pace if you so desire. No meals are included today as there are an abundance of cafes and restaurants to explore, all with English menus.

An optional guided hike (4 to 5 hours) with a local guide is also available, leaving after breakfast, to take you to the viewpoints and onto Longji village, the oldest in the terraces and with some of the best examples of stilt style houses in China. The hike is free – you’ll just need to bring some cash with you if you decide to stop for lunch along the way or pick up a souvenir

Day 8
Pingan to Shiertan
21 or 37 Miles / 34 or 60 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today starts with a fantastic downhill back through the switchbacks we cycled up previously – a nice reward for the effort! We spend the day on quiet, sealed roads undulating through pine and bamboo forests, often passing villages tucked away in the hills. The views are spectacular as we head up a 7.5 Mile/ 12 Km gentle climb followed by the fastest twisting descent of the trip. Being close to Guilin, delicious Guilin-style rice noodles are available for lunch at the roadside.

In the afternoon there is the choice to continue cycling through bamboo plantations and small rural villages or put your feet up and pick up some paddles for a sometimes thrilling, sometimes serene, optional rubber raft ride directly to our hotel by the river. Cost for the rafting is 180CNY (28USD). We’ll settle in to the hotel for the evening with a chance to

explore the area on foot, try your hand at ping pong, or relax before a banquet of local dishes overlooking the river.

Riding – 38 Miles / 60 Kms. Very quiet sealed roads on generally hilly terrain. One 7.5 Mile / 12 Km steady climb.

Day 9
Shiertan - Qingshitan - Jiuwu
39 Miles / 63 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

A morning of completely flat cycling! We make our way through the village of Wantian, and visit the local market, before taking a windy route through farmers’ fields on back roads and farmer’s paths: you’ll literally be able to touch all the produce being grown in the region. Quaint cycle paths take us along the riverside and rice fields to Wuteng, a larger market town, and on to Liu San Jie Tea plantation where we stop for lunch.

You’ll have a chance to learn a little about Chinese tea culture with a tour of the plantation where you’ll see how tea is picked after which a traditional tea ceremony will provide an opportunity to taste several different types of tea.

After lunch, we cycle further back into the country to Qingshitan reservoir, a huge expanse of water that serves as a water supply to Guilin, and then on to Jiuwu, a step back in time 800 year old scholar’s village where ancient temples, halls and waterways will have the photographers pleased. Our hotel is nearby where we spend the night.

Riding – 39 Miles / 63 Kms. Flat sealed roads with a couple of very short climbs.

Day 10
Jiuwu - Xiongcun - Daxu
50 Miles / 81 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

From the ancient town of Jiuwu, we cycle through rural farmland villages that have buildings decorated with folk art by local artists. We’ll stop for a break in the town of Lingui, before heading across the Li River and the estuaries surrounding it where fish farms abound.

Our first climb of the day takes us out of the Li River valley and into the hills. We’ll make our way to the tiny village of Qingjiangtian, where we’ll stop for lunch. A 20min walk behind the village, following a stream will open in to a jungle amphitheatre with a secret waterfall that you can hike behind.

After lunch, our ride heads mostly downhill to Xiongcun, another ancient village where people have been living for over 1000 years. The old town has been surrounded by newer dwellings and only a few of the elderly still live there. So far escaping the developers’ eye, the old town has been left un-renovated and remains one of the few intact ancient towns in the south. It also sees very few tourists so we’ll likely have the place to ourselves to explore the many lanes, canals and gateways.

The remainder of the day will take us further along this old trading road along riverside rural paths to what was once one of the most important trading port towns in Southern China, Daxu. We’ll explore the old village, similarly relatively un-renovated, but seeing more tourists, you’ll find antique shops, street hawkers, souvenir stands and Chinese herbalists, a pleasant hubbub to enjoy before moving on to our hotel on the Li River.

Riding – 50 Miles / 81 Kms. Mostly flat sealed roads with one steep climb of around 2 Kms.

Day 11
Daxu – Xingping
36 Miles / 58 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Daxu lies on the edge of the UNESCO listed Southern China Limestone Karst Area and we’ll spend the last few days exploring the amazing scenery of this region. We’ll cycle the famous bamboo-lined Li River passing through groves of bamboo and watching the river life along our route before heading for the hills where the views get progressively grander.

Citrus plantations predominate in the hills as towering karst mountains surround us in all directions. There are two steady climbs and two thrilling downhills for the morning’s ride that bring us into a wider valley for lunch at a fish farm. After lunch we can opt, weather dependant, on a climb up to a waterfall for a cooling swim, or a speedy ride into Xingping back on the Li River.

Xingping is an interesting place to wander around. It sees more tourists these days, which means there are lots of little cafes and handicrafts to check out, adding to the overall charm of the place. There are some spectacular lookouts and swimming spots too. The evening is free for you to explore on your own, English menus, pizza and craft beer are plentiful here!

Riding – 36 Miles / 58 Kms. Flat riding along cycle paths and country roads for the first 9 Miles / 15 Kms. Two main climbs of roughly 2 Kms, each with long descents between follow lunch.

After lunch there’s a steep 1 Km climb and then a gradual ascent to the waterfall for another 4 Kms after which it is downhill and flat to Xingping.

Day 12
Xingping - Dragon River Valley
33 Miles / 53 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today is a real highlight. Riding slightly back upstream to catch our ferry across the Li River, we’ll catch views of fishermen and water buffaloes drifting by in a “Dr Zuess” landscape before we hit the road again to continue a little further up the river.

Next is a steep climb out of the Li River valley and a well-earned rest at Xianggongshan lookout. We’ll head up to a lookout to appreciate the spectacular scenery and some of the best views of the entire trip. A further climb in a surreal landscape takes up and over into the Yulong (Jade Dragon) River Valley, where we take a winding route on flat cycle paths and back roads, via 400 year old Dragon Bridge, to our hotel nestled in a quiet valley surrounded by karst mountains.

Riding – 33 Miles / 53 Kms. Mostly flat on quiet sealed roads and cycle paths with one 2 Km steep climb and one gentle climb over 3 Kms. One short section will pass through a busy small town with some traffic.

Day 13
Moon Hill - Li River - Yangshuo
21 Miles / 35 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Our last day’s ride takes us past the famous Moon Hill before cycling through epic rural countryside to the Li River for the final time until we emerge in legendary Yangshuo. This once sleepy backpacker destination is now a thriving little tourist town which is a fun place to relax and indulge a little! We stay in a centrally located hotel with easy access to the town. We’ll meet in the evening for another lavish banquet dinner and a beer, or three, to celebrate the end of our biking adventure in this incredible part of China.

Riding – 21 Miles / 35 Kms. All flat riding on quiet backroads with some busier sections as we arrive in town as well as some short sections on dirt roads

Day 14
Departure
Departure
  • Meals: Breakfast

Sadly the time has come to bid farewell to China as we transfer back to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) for your flights back home.

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The Cycling

Terrain

The cycling terrain on this tour is roughly 95% on sealed roads, 5% on dirt roads and a small amount of off-road riding on small tracks and trails. This trip varies between hilly to flat terrain with 6 notable climbs, the longest of which is 8 Miles / 13 Kms. The cycling altitude varies between 130m and 1100m.

Traffic is mostly very light but there are some short busier sections. The cycling is very relaxed but you need to be alert for surprises such as vehicles, potholes, animals, people; everything really!

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Cycling Adventures Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day

For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness

May include some steeper, cheeky climbs

Possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc)

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Although you may not cycle everyday, you do keep yourself relatively fit and maybe enjoy an afternoon out on your bike at the weekend. Your preference is perhaps for flatter terrain but you don’t mind tackling some hills, and the occasional steep climb if you can take it at your own pace. For those happy to tackle some ups and downs, and possibly some sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc) we’d recommend our grade 3 trips. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 3 holiday to have a decent level of physical fitness and be comfortable with some longer days in the saddle.

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The alchemy of superb food, organisation, planning and most importantly, our enthusiastic, supportive and warm hearted team, (for whom nothing was too much trouble) made this wonderful trip both a privilege and a delight.

Jenny, UK

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Price p.p.
Start Date
15/04/2023
Return Date
28/04/2023
Duration
14 days
Price
$2,760.00
Start Date
02/09/2023
Return Date
15/09/2023
Duration
14 days
Price
$2,760.00
Start Date
21/10/2023
Return Date
03/11/2023
Duration
14 days
Price
$2,760.00
Start Date
13/04/2024
Return Date
26/04/2024
Duration
14 days
Price
$2,910.00
Start Date
07/09/2024
Return Date
20/09/2024
Duration
14 days
Price
$2,910.00
Start Date
19/10/2024
Return Date
01/11/2024
Duration
14 days
Price
$2,910.00

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin rooms).

B) Meals as per itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner).

C) Filtered water and snacks whilst cycling

D) Full tour service including bilingual Chinese guide(s), support vehicles etc.

E) Unless stated otherwise, at least one leader qualified in First Aid.

F) Airport collections / drop-offs – Guilin Airport (KWL) as detailed in the itinerary.

G) Boat transport / boat journey on the Li River

H) Entry tickets to the Longji Rice Terraces and Bajiaozhai National Park

What's not Included Cross

A) Personal clothing and equipment.

B) Travel insurance

C) Bar bills, telephone calls, souvenirs, etc.

D) Bike rental (available if required).

E) Flights & charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable).

F) Single room option (available if required)

G) Optional activities mentioned in itinerary

H) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Our tour starts in Guilin (KWL) in Guangxi Province, following arrival at its Liangjiang Airport. Although there are very limited direct flights to Guilin, it is well linked with North America.

Popular options include flying via Beijing (PEK)and via Shanghai (PVG). Travelling via Hong Kong (HKG) is also common, with both flight and high-speed train connections on to Guilin.

Please contact us for the latest options available to this destination.

Accommodation

Part of the joy of travelling by bike through some of the smaller, rural areas, means of course that we are limited in our choice of accommodation – sometimes we are staying in the only guesthouse.

Whilst not having all the facilities that you may be accustomed to at home, we can safely say that these small, family-run places make up for that in location, views, atmosphere and friendly service. Hygiene is very important to us and our passengers so we try to use accommodation with a good level of cleanliness. With this in mind, we use a variety of accommodation styles on this trip. Ten nights are in good standard hotels with twin share, private bathrooms, hot water, television, air-conditioning etc; three nights are in more of a basic traditional style accommodation with all the usual facilities available

On Day 3 in Bajiaozhai rooms are en suite but toilets are Asian squat style and the room sizes and layouts vary from room to room as it a homestay guesthouse.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available for hire. For this trip they are intermediate-level Giant XTC aluminium mountain bikes (as above) with 27.5 wheels and specifications usually as follows: Hardtail (front suspension) with Air Forks, wide-range gears and hydraulic disc brakes.

We have a limited number of electric bikes available to hire on request. Please let us know as soon as possible if you’d like to take this option.

If you decide to hire we will provide all the necessary spares. We can supply a helmet on request. You may prefer to bring along your own saddle and pedals.

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News, Reviews & Stories

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