(meals key: B = breakfast; L = lunch; D = dinner)
DAY 1: Arrival - Guiyang
Upon arrival, you will be met at Guiyan airport and transferred to our joining hotel. Typically the group will meet in the hotel reception at around 18:00 for a briefing before heading out for our first meal together as a group. In practice each group is different and our final meeting arrangements will be organised and explained to you closer to the time.
Day 2: Leishan
With its interesting architecture and characterful riverside promenade, the prosperous little town of Leishan is a perfect destination for our first day on the bikes. First, though, we transfer away from the bustle of Guiyan in our support vehicles.
Whilst the group takes luncheon the crew will prepare our bicycles for the afternoon’s ride. Ahead of us is a perfect introduction to our cycling journey as we undulate along a quiet valley riding past pine trees and valley views of rice terraces and villages of the Miaow minority people. The road undulates to warm us up before the first of two notable climbs leads to tea country, always a lovely backdrop for a bicycle tour. A seven-kilometre descent leads us into Leishan and our 4-star accommodation, where, following post-ride refreshments and a shower we can stroll to the delightfully illuminated town centre where we can dine riverside on the regional speciality, hotpot.
Day 3 Yongle
A smooth winding road rolls through valleys of pine trees and beautiful rice terraces as we tackle two notable climbs today, the first of which is 12 kilometres and the second measuring up at nine. The corresponding descents do not disappoint with sweeping corners and more villages of Miao people scattered along the valleys.
Our destination offers us the opportunity to experience small-town life in rural China. Our hotel for the night is not the best in China, but it is the best in town and is clean with AC rooms, a bed, and a warm shower.
DAY 4: Rongjiang
A lovely day is ahead for the sporting cyclists amongst the group as we ride a well-sealed road that twists, turns and undulates in a manner that should bring a big grin to the face of anyone who loves a spirited ride. For the more sedate riders and photographers, we have a slight change of flora as the pine becomes denser and bamboo enters the equation. The rivers we follow flow with green and turquoise water and rice terraces add their unique beauty to the valleys along with the beautiful wooden houses of the Miao people.
DAY 5: Conjiang
We join the turquoise water of the Duliu river as we leave the hubbub of Conjiang behind and head for a day of valley cycling. The road we follow is wide and well surfaced and a treat for the lover of gentle undulations. With a more than a hint of alpine, the views are of conifer woods and agricultural clearings on the valley sides as we pass the wooden rural homes that make up the villages of both Dong and Miao people.
DAY 6: Zhaoxing
Early risers may find a pre-breakfast stroll through the nearby Dong village well a rewarding way to begin the day. Once breakfast is over it’s back to the bicycles and a return to the Duliu river as we head into Guanxi Autonomous Region for the first time. The road here is of more characterful and a quieter demeanour than that of yesterday and with little traffic its winds bumpily through villages of Dong minority people. Turning north the road improves markedly as we cycle towards or destination for the day, the Dong village of Zhaoxing.
DAY 7: Zhaoxing. REST DAY
Although something of a tourist attraction these days, with its scenic pedestrian streets, timber dwellings, winding alleys, and little cafes, Zhaoxing is the perfect restudy venue for the touring cyclist. You can choose to relax in a café, stroll the streets with your camera, enjoy the view from our hotel balcony, or explore the local countryside either by foot or by bike. For those interested in local culture there is a dance show each evening telling the tearful story of an unrequited local love that turns inevitably sour, all from a time long since past.
DAY 8: Gaoding
The road from Zhaoxing is small and blissfully quiet as we ascend from the valley floor through woods of pine and terraces of rice. The bike ride today is short in distance but huge in character as long climbs are followed by wonderful descents and undulating valley roads through small villages of wooden houses. Our destination is the old village of Gaoding, lost in time and far from the concrete jungles of modern China. Our lodging for the night is a simple wooden guest house. Basic, but clean and full of character, it is an ideal base to discover the real rural China and spend an afternoon wandering a village most visitors to China would never even glimpse.
DAY 9: Longshen
A beautiful ride on rural roads through villages, along rivers, and past fields of crops lies ahead as we begin the day with a pleasant downhill right from the hotel door. There is, of course, a challenge as well, this time in the shape of a cheeky little ten-kilometre ascent. We roll into Sanjiang town in time for lunch and from here alas there is no avoiding a busier main road. And so, after careful consideration, we have deemed it prudent to transfer the remainder of the day in our support vehicle where a nice comfortable hotel awaits us.
DAY 10: Xiaozhai Rice Terraces
Although short in distance, today's section of our Chinese cycling odyssey is thoroughly beautiful.
Fifteen kilometres from town we turn onto a smaller road and begin the dramatic climb to Xiaozhai. Ten kilometres of gentle uphill and undulations along a scenic valley lead us to the winding and satisfying ten-kilometre climb to our rural retreat in time for lunch. Our resort is set amidst an exquisite mountain scene ideal for relaxing with a coffee and book or enjoying the convivial company and a cold beer. But before relaxing a postprandial stroll amidst the stunning scenery should be considered mandatory, with such beauty as Yulan lake and the stunning Dragons Back rice terraces so nearby.
DAY 11: Guilin
leaving our lofty nocturnal haven behind we begin the day with a long descent. Turning south the scene changes as an almost traffic free rural route winds upwards through denser foliage on the day’s longest climb. Bamboo and ferns are predominant and with the trill of insects, the long gentle climb has a jungle feel about it. As we cycle through this rural scene smoke rises from the chimneys of the wooden house that dot the valley, and we pass small cottage industries where harvested bamboo is processed.
Following lunch, we explore a rural China seldom seen by Western tourists. Following small tracks and trails, concrete paths, and rural byways we weave a route past vines of passion fruit and vegetable plots through small rural communities where men play mahjong in little wayside cafés.
We reemerge onto the main road where ahead lies a network of hectic highways leading into Guilin, the capital of Guangxi province. Not wishing to spoil what until now has been a fine day of rural riding we will now transfer the final 30 kilometres into town where a fine hotel awaits.
DAY 12: Xinping
A morning of bicycle paths sees us leave the centre of Guilin on a wide urban path shared with all manner of two-wheeled, and at times four-legged traffic. This is the China that is home for the majority of the city-dwelling population, and a steady ride out of town allows us to see something of big city life.
Leaving the town behind we turn to a dedicated rural cycle path that leads us through an ancient town and along the banks of the Li River, swooping through tunnels of bamboo and catching glimpses of river life and jagged karst spires beyond. Back on a two-lane rural road we crest our major climb of the day and descend through a beautiful karst scene to into a warm dry valley blanketed in orchards of orange trees, grape vines, passion fruit and pomelo. Our final stretch of the ride takes us along small trails, sometimes unsealed and at time concrete following the Li River to Xingping.
DAY 13: Finish
Our bicycle tour through Southern China draws to a conclusion after breakfast this morning. For those heading home, transport will be provided to Guilin airport. For those wishing to stay on, we can arrange extra nights for you, and for those wishing to hit a more lively tourist destination, we can help with your arrangements to move on to nearby Yangshuo.
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