China - South
Cycling Guizhou and Guangxi
Many years ago I awoke on a train travelling through China’s Guizhou Province, and, pulling back the curtain was convinced I had awoken in the midst of a Chinese watercolour. I had hitherto been quite sure that these beautiful paintings were works of fantasy, but now, here before my eyes, was proof that such enchanted landscapes exist.
Several years later as part of a long journey through China, I found myself making a bicycle tour through the neighbouring Guangxi Autonomous Region, all karst spires and natural wonder, and I knew I must return.
A far cry in so many respects from our wonderful Yunnan cycling tour, these two distinctly different China tours just begin to scratch the surface of what a diverse land this is.
At a Glance
Total Days: 13
Cycling Days: 10
Daily Average: 63km
Max. Alt.: 1350m
The China of Guizhou and Guanxi is a China of distinct minority groups, each with its own language and architecture. It is also a China of hillside rice terraces, bamboo forests, tea plantations and pine forests - karst spires, orange orchards, vineyards, and pomelo orchards, dramatic wind and rain bridges and mythical looking drum towers. In our two week cycling holiday, we experience simple villages of wooden homes, towns lit as though from a Christmas scene, boutique hotels and rural lodging. We cycle through valleys and across passes as we ride on dirt trails, pristine winding mountain byways and riverside cycle paths. Very much a bicycle tour to remember.
A fascinating trip through a rapidly changing part of China that gives the visitor more of a view of the "new" country that's emerging than more remote tours, whilst still providing dramatic scenery, great food, challenging but manageable riding, with an opportunity to test yourself against the Pros on the last day, and the usual Painted Roads exemplary levels of service and company from David, Echo and the local team
Phil Hurcom - London. on China - South
Cycling through the Fairytale like karst hills of Guanxi. Riding past the unique architecture of the Dong and Miao people. Rest day in Zhaoxing with its old stone streets running past wooden houses. Cycling through beautiful valleys of rice terraces, past tea plantations, through orchards of fruit, forests of pine and thickets of bamboo. Crossing passes and following turquoise rivers, biking in a wonderland littered with multi-tiered drum towers, and wind and rain bridges with their wooden roofs leading into lost in time villages. And accommodation ranging from a village homestay to some quite lovely little boutique resorts, and, of course, the food.
China Southern, another great trip from Painted Roads. Thank you David, Echo and Lee for looking after us so well.
Keith Green - UK on China - South
Our tour begins in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province. Guiyang has a large airport (IATA airport code KWE) with regular flights from most major Chinese international airports. Upon arrival, you will be met at Guiyang airport and transferred to the Novotel hotel where you will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group.
The tour ends close to Guilin, and on the last day of the tour we provide transport to Guilin airport (IATA airport code KWL), again a sizeable airport with direct flights to international airports across China.
Direct internal flights to and from Guiyang and Guizhou are available from the following Chinese international airports:
Chengdu - this has convenient direct flights from London with B.A., and Amsterdam with KLM. Chengdu also a very good airport hotel and has received favourable reviews from PaintedRoads guests who have used this service for our Yunnan tour. Internal flights with China Southern are good value and comfortable
As always with flights, there are a multitude of options and an internet search or a chat with a travel agent may well highlight a route suitable for your particular requirements.
Thanks again to David, Echo and Lee for looking after us so well. Clean comfortable hotels with friendly staff, lots of unique beautiful scenery. I especially enjoyed the off the beaten track routes through the small friendly villages.
Pat Green - UK on China - South
Included in this tour
All accommodation, local guide and Western tour leader, support vehicle (1 or 2 depending on group size), meals on cycling days, snacks during cycling days, drinking water whilst cycling.
Most days the distances on this tour are not great. The daily average is 60 kilometres, the longest single day is 100 kilometres and the shortest day is a meer 35kilometres, albeit with a fair climb at the end. There are some long climbs of up to 20 kilometres in duration, but on the whole, the gradients are not particularly steep with the norm being around 5% and seldom achieving 10% - only very occasionally do the gradients surpass 10%.
If you are a rider who is comfortable on hills and can happily cover 100 kilometres on a daily basis then this is for you.
a perfect way to roam free in off-the-beaten-track Mongolia: expertly organized with beautiful scenery, challenging terrain, friendly staff and wonderful traveling companions. To be able to ride alongside bands of wild horses is exactly why I went ... and they did not disappoint.
As with all of our holidays we try to pick the time to visit from a weather point of view. With Guangxi and Guizhou, this is September and October, when the average temperatures are reasonable and the rainfall is low. With an altitude variation of just above sea level to over 1300 metres, temperatures can vary and a warm jacket may be necessary of an evening and on some days the temperature may be above 30ºC. Rain is also possible at any time, with around 8 to 10 days per month likely to experience some rain. Consider an English summer and you will have an idea of the sort of weather to expect.
If you are bringing your own bicycle for this tour then most kinds of bicycle, except lightweight racing bikes, are suitable: touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, gravel and cyclocross bikes are all fine. There are many long climbs so please consider your gear ratios carefully. The majority of roads we ride upon are well surfaced smooth asphalt, however, there are sections of cobblestone and smooth hard-packed dirt. One section of such surface is 20KMS in length. In case of heavy rain, the dirt sections may, of course, become muddy. There are also some stretches of potholed road with loose gravel in places where extra caution must be exercised. As with anywhere, conditions may vary. Tyres from 28C in width upwards will be fine.
This tour is all above 2000 metres where the air is dry and can be warm so the ability to carry one or preferably two water bottles is essential (either on your bike or in a backpack). Our back-up vehicle carries tools but please bring any specialised parts your bicycle may need - including a small selection of spare spokes, spare brake pads, spare tubes and a spare tyre etc. A means of carrying your camera, sunblock, jacket etc is also useful – either an on-bike bag – handlebar or saddlebag for example, or a lightweight day-pack.
If you do not wish to bring your own bicycle we have our own fleet of good quality hardtail mountain bikes for rent. Please contact us for further details and rental price.
•Recommendation: Although our hire bikes come equipped with a saddle if you have a saddle you use and are happy with it is strongly recommended that you use it on tour. If you use SPD type shoes please bring your own matching pedals. We are happy to fit these for you. You may also like to bring bar ends if you use them. Please bring your own bicycle water bottles or a hydration pack.
The tour price quoted on the website is for a twin room share basis. Single room occupancy can be arranged, the supplement price for this tour is as per the website.
(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.
Markers below are clickable as are the markers on the map itself.
We're sorry we don't have any future dates for this trip in the calendar yet. Do please get in touch if you'd like to ask about some dates or a custom trip.
Our Other Tours in China
A Journey Through The Mountains of Eastern Tibet
Dates: January 1970
Tibet is an almost fabled land that many long to visit but few do. For most people when thinking of Tibet it is of Lhasa, the Potala Palace, and Everest, the Tibet of the classic Lhasa to Kathmandu ride. This is the Tibet of The Autonomous Region which unfortunately suffers travel restrictions and the need for foreign travel permits, permits that are all too frequently not issued or withheld.
The Tibetan region of Kham in Sichuan Province fortunately suffers no such restrictions and is open for anyone holding a Chinese visa. Having explored the area several times by bike during the first decade of this century it has long been David’s desire to run a tour in Kham. This is a truly Tibetan experience with soaring mountains, hight passes, open pastures and narrow valleys. There are monasteries and monks, yaks and barley, and cowboys on motorbikes. The tour also boasts lower sleeping altitudes, comfortable hotels, and the absolutely wonderful cuisine of Sichuan - Kham offers an excellent opportunity for a cycling adventure in a most exotic land.
Total Days: 16 | Cycling Days: 11 | Difficulty: 9/10 | Daily Average: 86km | See more information, dates & prices »
Cycling From Shangri La
Dates: May 2019 | April 2020
From the Tibetan town of Shangri-La, across a 3700-metre pass, through one of the world's deepest gorges to an unspoilt town from the ancient tea trading route. Onwards across a mountain range leading to one of China's biggest freshwater lakes. And hence to the capital of the Bai minority people, Dali Old Town. This cycling epic offers more of China in two weeks of pedalling that many people would ever imagine existing. Featuring epic landscapes and a real sense of adventure this tour has become, quite rightly, our most popular.
Total Days: 12 | Cycling Days: 9 | Difficulty: 7/10 | Daily Average: 71km | See more information, dates & prices »