- UNESCO heritage site of Bajiaozhai National Park
- Soothing the muscles at Longsheng Hot Springs
- Floating down the Li River on a bamboo raft
- Riding the tea plantations of Dragon River Valley
- Smiling faces of the Dong, Miao and Yao people
- Amazing karst limestone scenery of Guilin
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.
We leave for China from our chosen departure airports to Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL) situated in Gunagxi Province arriving the following day.
- Meals: Dinner
Welcome to China! Guilin, one of China’s prettier cities, makes for an interesting place to spend a day or two. 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.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today we head out early after breakfast for a drive to the north of Guilin (3 1/2 hours) to the UNESCO Heritage Bajiaozhai National Park, famed for its unique red sandstone karst formations. Once here we’ll hike up to the Buddhist temples (1800 steps) on the highest peak for incredible views overlooking the neighbouring province, Hunan.
After a wander through these working temples and watching locals make offerings and wishes at these shrines it’s a walk down through bamboo groves to our homestay, with time to set up the bikes and a great little warm up ride if time permits. We’ll be staying with a local family in their small guesthouse and tonight’s dinner is local style banquet where we’ll make sure the local specialities and produce are featured.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today’s ride is a varied one that takes us up into the mountains. For the first few kilometres we ride out of the park through tiny villages on quiet roads. The undulating terrain is set to a backdrop of forest and farmland, 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 with rural China scenes abound, before descending into a wider valley to our lunch stop in the village of Guali. The streets are teeming with local life and people will be curious to see foreigners here on bicycles, so a pre-lunch wander is highly recommended.
After lunch it is a steady climb to 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 provinces highest mountain peak: Mao Er Mountain.
The descent on the other side takes us through forests, narrow gullies and a ravine. We’ll pass numerous villages and wooden houses built on the mountainsides which are nestled amongst rice terraces, fruit orchards and wild forest. We then have a short ride out of Chetian town towards our accommodation for the evening; a quiet basic guesthouse in a secluded valley with spectacular rock formations and waterfalls ideal for hiking and swimming.
Riding – 37 miles / 60 kms on quiet sealed road. General upward trend over 30km with 3 main climbs. One of 5km and two of 8kms, interspersed with flat sections, to the top of a pass. Followed by 10km downhill with the remainder generally flat.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today’s ride is a spectacular one as we have two passes and descents, and plenty of time to stop and visit the many ancient villages along the way. This area is inhabited by Dong, Miao and Yao people and the villages see virtually no tourists. One of the great experiences of the region is to simply stop and visit. Locals are sure to welcome you with a smile and are proud to see you look around their homes. It’s not uncommon to be invited in for a nice cup of tea! After the second climb it’s a long gentle downhill ride to the Longsheng Hot Springs. Well known in the local area, this is the perfect location to stop and soak your muscles after the days ride. Tonight we stay in a small family run guesthouse in a narrow gorge with an outdoor natural hot spring. There is a great hike along the gorge to a local Miao village for those with some energy left.
Riding – 24 miles / 40 kms. Sealed road with two small passes after which it is 15 miles / 25 kms of gentle downhill.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today we cycle through Longsheng, where we check out the market. This is where much of the region’s produce ends up before being traded to far off locations around China or to local kitchens. There is an vast array of goods for sale, exotic and sometimes strange, but always colourful and fascinating. We arrive in Pingan (a village in the rice terraces) in time to sit back and enjoy the sunset views from the terrace of our traditionally-built Zhuang guesthouse.
Riding – 42 miles / 67kms. Gentle undulations in the morning to lunch (22 miles / 35kms). Then 16 miles / 26 kms of generally flat with some small hills to the Longji Terraces and one steep 4 miles / 6km climb to end.
Highly recommended today is taking a day hike to the nearby village of Dazhai which will take you via many villages only accessible by foot and through some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. Otherwise, Pingan village is an great place to relax or bargain for handicrafts. There’s also several nearby viewpoints to explore if you don’t want to venture far.
- Meals: Lunch, dinner
Today starts with a fantastic switchback downhill down the mountainside with the rest of 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 steady climb that’s followed by the fastest twisting descent of the trip to lunch.
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 riverside hotel. We’ll settle in for the evening with a chance to explore the area on foot or try ping pong before a banquet of tasty local dishes.
Riding – 38 miles / 61 kms. Very quiet sealed roads on generally hilly terrain. One 7.5 mile / 12 km climb.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
A morning of completely flat cycling! We make our way through the village of Wantian and visit the market, before a meandering route through farmer’s fields on backroads and narrow paths. You’ll literally be able to touch the produce being grown as we cycle to Wuteng, a larger market town. At lunch we stop at a tea plantation to learn a little about Chinese tea culture during a traditional ceremony.
Back on the bikes again we’ve undulating cycling through rural countryside before taking a short off-road section to a small reservoir for refreshments. We continue our countryside ride until the stunning limestone peaks surrounding Guilin city come into view. Our final section sees us cycling with the locals to our centrally located hotel. The evening is free to explore the many markets or to take a stroll along the central pedestrianised area.
Riding – 50 miles / 80km. 60km flat sealed country lanes with small sections of dirt tracks that may need to be walked. 20km sealed undulating minor roads with short steep hills
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
From Guilin we head out of the city amidst the morning throng and cycle to the famous bamboo-lined Li River. During our ride through this flatter rural area we stop at several Ming-era villages that retain their centuries-old architecture.
Daxu is one of these and is a fine example of what old world China once was, with cobblestone lanes, a 400 year old stone arch bridge and people still living in wooden dwellings roofed in classic black tiles. We’ll have plenty of time for a wander down the old streets, view the riverside bustle and pop our heads into one of the old courtyard houses to see how the better off once lived. There’s plenty of antiques and curios on offer by the dozens of hawkers along the old main laneway. Along with the obligatory snake oil salesmen, you’ll find sellers offering Mao’s Little Red Book and other communist paraphernalia, as well as purveyors of the weird and wonderful herbs and remedies.
Near Caoping we stop for lunch before a climb up to take in what the Chinese often refer to as ‘the finest scenery under heaven’ – Karst Mountains overhanging the river. We take a hilly route following the Li, glimpsing these spectacular mountains above and below, before a long downhill and flat run into Xingping, an old port village, and our guesthouse with its rooftop views over the river.
Xingping is an interesting place to wander around and there are lots of little cafes and handicrafts to check out, adding to its charm. There are some spectacular lookouts and swimming spots too.
Riding – 40 miles / 65 kms. Generally flat sealed roads for 30km with some shorter dirt trails followed by three climbs / descents of up to 5km and 18km of generally flat to finish.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today is a real highlight. Riding slightly back upstream to catch our bamboo boats on the Li River, we sit back for the ride with immense karst mountains and cliffs reflected in emerald water. Fishermen and water buffaloes drift by in a Dr Suess landscape before we hit the road again on some dirt tracks. Next is a steep climb out of the Li River valley and a well-earned rest. Then we’ll head up to a lookout to appreciate this spectacular scenery and some of the best views of the entire trip.
After lunch at the 400 year old Dragon Bridge, we cycle through small villages, pomelo groves, tea plantations and rice terraces. The final section of the day’s ride is through the stunning Dragon River Valley where we take dirt trails through rice fields surrounded with mountains before settling in a local farmer’s village at one of the most charming hotels of the tour. Weather permitting; we’ll eat under the stars.
Riding – 28 miles / 45 kms. 19 miles on sealed roads with several climbs and descents, 9 miles on dirt tracks and trails.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
The last day’s ride takes us past the famous Moon Hill, where we stop for a hike to take in the stunning scenery, before cycling through rural countryside along the Li River 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.
Riding – 28 miles / 45 kms. Hilly terrain to lunch with some steep sections. Otherwise it is a relatively easy ride in the afternoon through rice fields and farmland on flat trails. The morning is spent on sealed roads. The off road riding around Yangshuo is often the highlight for many Skedaddle cyclists.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Today is a free day, set aside for you to relax or take up one of the various optional activities available. There are plenty of active options in Yangshuo such as rock climbing, cooking classes, kayaking, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, calligraphy and painting classes as well as shopping or relaxing in one of the many cafes in 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.
The cycling terrain on this tour is roughly 90% on sealed roads, 10% on dirt roads and a small amount of off-road 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!
Cycling Adventures Grade
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.
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.
Dates & Prices
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.
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
A) Personal clothing and equipment.
B) Travel insurance
C) Bar bills, telephone calls, souvenirs, etc.
D) Bike hire (available if required).
E) Flights & charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable).
F) Single room option (available if required)
G) Optional activities in Yangshuo – Day 13
H) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
Customer Story: Cycling China
All eyes are on this enchanting part of the world! Read our latest customer story...
Guide Profile: Scott Spencer
Meet Scott who heads up our local team in China and Mongolia!
Find our more about the highlights of our adventure!
Alan, USAThe China trip definitely exceeded my expectations!
The China trip definitely exceeded my expectations and I was delighted to find that almost half of the 16 people in the group were around my age (72) or even older. Everyone, old or young, was a strong rider, but there was no racing from place to place as can happen with a younger (competitive) group. Everyone took the time they needed to enjoy the scenery, people, and overall riding experience. The rides were a nice mix of challenging climbs, fast downhills, undulating back roads, and sealed bike paths, and there was very little competing traffic except in Guilin.
The member of office staff I dealt with was very helpful throughout, including with everything I needed for my China visa application and arrangements for my early arrival. The accommodations exceeded my expectations, with large rooms and beds, great locations,, good wi-fi in most places, and more western toilets than not. It’s hard to keep rooms pristine in a hot, damp environment, but I thought all the rooms were just fine. There was a lot of variety, including some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten, and the food was more than abundant enough to make up for the calories we burned each day. The morning tea/coffee breaks were always in a perfect spot, with fresh fruit, Snickers, biscuits, and an endless variety of nuts. And the coffee was always freshly French-pressed.
I can’t say enough about how great our tour leader was. I’ve taken more than a dozen cycling tours in various countries and she is right at the top. Her planning and flexibility were outstanding; she handled a large group with expertise and grace; she was informative – in terms of the trip details, the places we visited, and her country – and she is an all-around friendly, interesting and nice person. The other guides deserve kudos for leading the daily rides, providing mechanical support, keeping our bikes in good shape, getting our luggage to where it needed to be, and setting up fantastic tea/coffee breaks. And they did it all with humor and a constantly helpful, positive attitude.
Judy, USAThis trip totally changed my preconceptions of China...
Any holiday where you want to repeat the experience would be considered an excellent trip. This China experience would be one of those trips. I would love to repeat every day of the experience, soaking in the incredible scenery, savoring the excellent food and marveling at the cycling opportunities in this diverse area. This trip totally changed my preconceptions of China as a cycling and travel destination and am eager to explore other cycling destinations with Saddle Skedaddle. There are too many favorite days to choose one…
Kent, USAOff the beaten path!
It really was a great holiday – not just the cycling, but the cultural aspects. It was really exciting to explore areas that are off the beaten path. Favourite day? Hmm, that’s hard to say. In terms of scenery, probably the second-to-last day of riding, where we took rafts on the river and hiked up to the viewpoint high above the Li River. In terms of the actual riding, I liked some of the earlier, hillier days better and I also liked that the first part of the trip was in less-touristy areas. Scott (the guide) was really good – full of enthusiasm and humor, and also well-organized. Tang was great – always full of energy and enthusiasm! And it was really interesting to hear from him about the farming – I think we’ll all remember his explanation about “gentleman rice” and “lady rice“.
Inga, Cape Town, South AfricaThe whole trip exceeded expectations in every department...
Each accommodation was located in a special place. Mostly settings were superb. Some rooms had exceptional views – Second last night in particular was the absolute highlight. Rooms and views were great. The setting of the rest day was a highlight as well. Really super village and amazing landscapes.
Refreshments during the ride were the highlight with real coffee, nuts and especially the snickers and fruit. Dinners were also great! Cycling through the mountains with the great views after Guilin was really nice. Each day was actually great. Overall the whole trip exceeded our expectations in everything from tour leaders, organisation, bicycles, landscapes, accommodation and setting of accommodation in parks, toilets and showers, fellow cyclists and the Chinese people.
Snow was the best tour leader I ever had. She has very unique attributes and she knew exactly what our needs were or could warn us. She had excellent knowledge of the country and we could ask 101 questions. It was very insightful.
Gina, AustraliaEvery day just kept getting better than the day before!
The guide was really informative, not just about the trip but about Chinese life and culture. We were always informed of what to expect each day of the trip, made to feel comfortable to travel at our pace and be able to stop and take photos at random, plus he was a fun and gregarious leader! The support staff of – Sam, Li and Pompom were all brilliant and friendly, and would out of their way to help you at any time. Our water bottles were constantly filled, our bikes maintained beautifully plus they were lovely companions to have on the trip we even had morning and afternoon tea every day whilst cycling with a wonderful selection of GOOD tea and coffee, biscuits, nuts, fruit and the very welcome Snickers!
Trevor, Merseyside, UKThe whole thing was nothing short of magical!
Within an hour of the adventure starting I realised that my 25-35 mile training runs along the canal banks of north west England didn’t cut the mustard for cycling in the mountains of south west China. As I trudged up the hill with the rest of the party disappearing and the ever-patient – he needed to be – Scott chaperoning the old timer, who was giving the rest of the party at least 15 years I questioned the wisdom of taking on such a challenge at 73. But the whole thing was nothing short of magical. Great country, great company and a great organisation from start to finish. FANTASTIC! Every day had much to commend it and the choice of a rest day at Pingan and then the final day and half in Yangshou were just perfect.
Teresa, Somerset, UKIt just got better and better...
We had high expectations for this holiday, yet found that each day succeeded in surpassing anything we had anticipated. It just got better and better day after day. So much variety of activity and experiences which the trip notes couldn’t adequately convey!
We were pleased with the help offered by the office team for the additional requests which we made in connection with extending our trip. It is good to phone the Newcastle office, say my name, and have someone instantly know which trip I am booked on without having to quote a reference number, and to remember know that we have travelled with you in the past. It feels like a really personal service.
Sara, Cardiff, UKOne of the best cycle tours that I have been on.
This is one of the best cycle tours that I have been on. The guides were local, they made special effort to reduce plastic waste, and we were able to experience local tourism at its best. I had moments of complete peace in unexpected places – ancient towns, remote mountain terraces and busy markets. If I was to try and sum each day of the cycling in one phrase it would be to say – “beyond mountains, there are mountains and beyond rivers, there are rivers, and beyond the rivers and mountains there is the bustle of people, their labour and kindness“.
Our tour leader catered for Western tastes. I would have loved more Chinese snacks, but the rest of the group were happy and it gave me plenty of opportunity to shop in the markets that we stopped at.
Each day was excellent – a lot of variety in cycling and scenery. The local partner really have planned an excellent trip which is full of interest and changing cycling conditions, plus full of wonderful places to visit.
The kit list in the pre holiday information was essential. The hired bike fitted perfectly, which meant I realised as soon as I got home and rode my everyday bike just how badly my own bike is set up. I was tempted to email Skedaddle just to get some advice!
Our tour leader was just great – very balanced, helpful but also a good manager. Her parenting skills were a real asset with such a diverse group! As a whole, what a professional group! All excellent cyclists and mechanics. Really kind and generous and extremely hospitable.
Mark, Tyne and Wear, UKExperience of a lifetime!
There is simply no better way to explore a new country than to cycle, having the opportunity to visit such a culturally diverse country such as China on such a well organised trip is an experience of a lifetime. All accommodation was clean and as expected, the accommodation improved as the trip went on which is definitely the way to do it. Visiting rural China accommodation will always be different to that previously experienced by westerners. This is rural China, food is a big part of the trip and a huge change in culture. I found the whole trip to be excellent, enough balance of distance spread across the days to suit a mixed group, great scenery and backdrops. I would not change this trip. The leader on this instance made the trip, his knowledge of the area was second to none and management and integration with the group was the best I have experienced. His support team were also excellent and the trip felt as though we were all one group, excellent service throughout.
Mark, Edinburgh, UKUndoubtedly, one of the best trips I have been on
Very friendly and helpful staff. I loved the rural hotels and guest houses and was amazed at the amount of research that must have been needed to find these in locations which were often almost hidden away. I’m not a huge fan of British Chinese cooking but this was in a different league and was both fresh and healthy.
Some fabulous views from the top of the passes of the iconic Karst mountains and wonderful trails in the country with hardly another cyclist in sight. The accommodation was really good throughout and way of the beaten tourist track providing us with a real insiders view of rural southern China. Extremely helpful pre-holiday information with relevant support.
Good value for money – especially since so many meals were included in the package price. I have been on many cycling trips abroad with companies such as Explore & Exodus with whom I have a loyalty discount but the Skedaddle experience has yet to be beaten!