Yunnan Discovery Cycling Tour - 14 Days

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What To Expect

Discover China, the dragon of Asia and a country filled with mystery and adventure. Explore Yunnan by mountain bike!


Tours around Yunnan
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14 days / 13 nights
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Yunnan is definitely one of the most ethnically fascinating and scenically stunning province in all of China. Home to 25 of China's minority groups and over half of all of China's plant and animal species - it is easy to understand why Yunan is highly favored by all kinds of travelers.

On this biking journey you will experience the extraordinary natural wonder Jade Dragon Mountain and Lijiang - the world heritage town, Tiger Leaping Gorge - The deepest gorge in the world with it's towering walls and dramatic beauty, meander along the majestic Yangtze River.

We will climb the path that lead us to Tibetan plateau. You can expect extraordinary hill climbing and unique culture experience of the wild west Tibetan town of Shangri la. We will also pay a visit to Sumzanlin Tibetan Lamasery where some 600 Tibetan monks are practicing Yellow Hat Sect Tibetan Buddhism. We leave the plateau and down hill all day to Shaxi, an extremely quiet and lovely village which was once the center of the ancient caravan trading post.

Our cycling trip finishes in the historical city of Dali, and we will be happy to relax in the laid back cobble stone town where you can stroll around the local markets. Yunnan is no doubt tour next greater cycling destination!

This bike tour traverses over a wide range of different surfaces from paved roads to off-road trails. The Yunnan Discovery tour seldom has a dull moment as it goes through a good diversity of scenic environments from snow capped mountains to dramatic gorges.

There are some tough climbs in high altitudes with fast descents. Riders should have a moderate level of cycling experience for this tour. Riders should also be in at least moderate physical condition because of the altitudes involved with the tour. The tour is supported by a mini-van 100% of the journey to provide transfers if a cyclist desires it.

Itinerary / Activity Schedule

Day 1 - Arrival in Lijiang

This tour will start in Lijiang where you'll be met at the airport. Lijiang is an ancient Naxi town in northwestern Yunnan, with a history dating back over 800 years. We stay at fine hotel with traditional Naxi Courtyards in the old city. Explore the old town, which is a delightful maze of narrow cobbled stone path and old wooden houses. Walking through its lively market square, you will encounter women dressed in traditional Naxi costume, selling anything from traditional crafts to Chinese herbs. In the evening we have dinner to welcome you all.

(Meals included: Dinner. Accomodation: Hexi Hotel)

Day 2 - Baisha Town Ride

We ride north out of Lijiang and soon hit the quiet back roads that take us to Suhe Village, follow the narrow back roads passing through a few Naxi villages we will ride to Baisha, a small Naxi town that is very photogenic and is a good spot to sample some ginger tea. After a moderate climb we reach the view point of the day, a place worth stopping for a picnic with the views out over the flat plains that surrounds Lijiang. After the picnic we head down hill on the other side and cruise back into Lijiang with a gorgeous view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain on our left. In the afternoon you may visit the Mu Palace or the Black Dragon Park or attend a performance of the Naxi orchestra. Dinner is on your own tonight.

(Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch; Accomodation: Hexi Hotel; Ride Distance: 45 Kilometers)

Day 3 - Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge

We transfer to the edge of the national park and start the ride to the gorge of Yangtse River(Jin Sha Jiang). The first half of this ride has two long climbs to get to our high point of the day at 3200m. From here we enjoy a spectacular 30-kilometer downhill to Daju (1780 meters), this is a fantastic stretch with some great views. After a late lunch stop it is only a short ride to where we hike down to the river, cross in a small ferry (with the bikes) and then climb out of the gorge for 2 kilometers. We then have the option of riding the 14 kilometers to our guesthouse.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Chateau De Woody Guesthouse; Ride Distance: 76 Kilometers)

Day 4 - Walnut Grove Rest Day

We will have a free day in Tiger Leaping Gorge to rest your legs and take in the breathtaking scenery. For the energetic there is the option of taking a hike to the bottom of the gorge following small dirt paths along its dramatic cliff edges. Otherwise, just sit back and be mesmerized by the sheer natural beauty of this remarkable natural wonder.

(Meals included: Breakfast; Accomodation: Chateau De Woody Guesthouse)

Day 5 - Walnut Grove - Bai Shui Tai

Cycle out along the spectacular gorge road which is literally carved into the side of the mountain. The first 10 kilometers is downhill to the small village of Heika and from here we start to climb on a nice gradient for 23 kilometers. After the ascent there is of course a great descent into the Naxi village of Haba where we have lunch with a view of the snow capped mountains. After lunch there are more ups and downs and a final push up to our comfortable hotel.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Bai Yu Yuan Hotel; Ride Distance: 70 Kilometers)

Day 6 - Bai Shui Tai - Shangri-La

There are many options today, as it is 100 km of some very tough riding to reach Shangri-La. We recommend transferring the first few passes to start with a downhill. The scenery is quite breathtaking as we pass through alpine and rhododendron forests to the snow line - we also notice a change in culture as we move more into an area mostly populated by Tibetan people. After the descent we have a climb gaining 600 meters in height and the highest point on the tour at 3735 meters. We then have another exhilarating descent before a final short climb takes us into the flat grassland plain of a Tibetan valley. The final stretch to Shangri-La is a great ride as we see a marked changed in scenery and culture. Our hotel is right in the

old town near the square and is a great place to explore Shangri-La.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Le Fu Hotel; Ride Distance: 60 Kilometers)

Day 7 - Shangri-La Rest Day

We spend the day in Shangri-La, the capital of the Dechen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It is located in the southernmost part of Kham, or East Tibet, traditional land of the tall, turbaned Khampa horsemen. Today, Shangri-La is principally a Tibetan township but has Han Chinese people as well as a smattering of Bai, Hui, and Naxi minorities. Historically, the town was a trading center between Tibet, Burma, and India, where mule caravans once made journeys to conduct commerce between the regions. One of the major trade items was "brick tea" from Yunnan, in demand by Tibetan nomads and farmers. We visit the spectacular Ganden Sumsanling Monastery, built at the instruction of the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century, where more than 800 monks now live and practice. It is picturesquely located on top of a hill and its style very much recalls that of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. You can also take a walk around the hill and enjoy beautiful views of the Shangri-La valley.

(Meals included: Breakfast; Accomodation: Le Fu Hotel)

Day 8 - Shangri-La - Stone Drum Town

The start of today's ride to Lesser Zhongdian is relatively flat through the grasslands and over small hills. A long but steady ascent will take us to a pass before a spectacular 40-kilometer descent to Qiaotou. After the descent, we'll be taken by the vehicle down the river to what is known as the 'first bend' of the Yangtze since leaving Tibet. This is a popular spot for the locals to sell fruit and other local produce. We will stay overnight at the ancient town of Shigu.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Stone Drum Town Shi Hong Hotel; Ride Distance: 90 Kilometers)

Day 9 - Stone Drum Town to Shaxi Village

Another memorable day that will take us into the heart of rural Yunnan as we ride along the 'Old Tibet' road past tranquil scenes of mud brick villages, bamboo groves, rivers, and paddy fields. After a gentle long climb we have some relatively flat enjoyable riding. A downhill (check that your brakes are working) through rural scenery takes us to Shaxi. (2075 meters). You really sense a feeling of timelessness, as the way of life here has remained unchanged for centuries. Stay at a local wonderfully restored hotel.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Lao Mandian Hotel; Ride Distance: 90 Kilometers)

Day 10 - Shaxi Village Rest Day

Shaxi started as a trading point of tea and horses during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). The prosperity of the town was at its heights during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368 - 1912). This is probably the most intact horse caravan town on the Ancient tea route leading from Yunnan into Burma and Tibet. The Sideng market square of the town of Shaxi was added to the World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites in 2001.Today is a rest day in this interesting little town. This old town nestled in a valley is a perfect place to explore the surrounding villages and countryside.

(Meals included: Breakfast; Accomodation: Lao Mandian Hotel)

Day 11 - Shaxi to Shan Kou

We start with another beautiful day of riding on the once very busy tea horse caravan route. The road was used by the horse caravans transporting tea and salt between villages and they went as far as to Tibet and India. We will follow the Heihui River and pass through some interesting villages. It's flat. Easy riding for 47 kilometers, to Liantie Town, our lunch place. After lunch we will be transferred to the mountain pass at 3022 meters. There is an exhilarating 22-kilometer downhill on the other side. We will ride for 10 kilometers and end the day in Xia Shan Kou where we can soothe our sore muscles in the famous hot springs.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Er Yuan Hot Springs Hotel; Ride Distance: 90 Kilometers)

Day 12 - Xia Shan Kou - Dali

This morning is the last riding day as we head to the historical town of Dali (1900 meters). Cycling along a flat paved road between the towering Canshan Mountain range and Er Hai Lake, we should arrive in Old Dali in time for a late lunch. This fascinating town is home to the Bai people, one of the nation's largest minorities and once the center of the powerful 8th-century Nanzhao Kingdom. Dali is an extraordinary town to explore with its gated city walls, bustling old streets and lakeside setting. In the 16th Century, Dali was an important gateway for cultural exchange and trading with Southeast Asian countries. Today, it is a melting pot of different ethnic groups, reflected aptly in its amazing architecture, cobbled streets and colorful markets.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: Landscape Hotel; Ride Distance: 55 Kilometers)

Day 13 - Dali to Kunming

We take a bus back to Kunming (4 - 5 hours) and stay overnight there. The rest of the day is free to explore the city before we meet again to have a farewell meal together.

(Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner; Accomodation: New Era Hotel)

Day 14 - Onward Travel

The day will be free until the time of departure for your flight.

(Meals included: Breakfast)


  • All hotels (twin share or dorm) and meals specified

  • Cycle support by a/c vehicles

  • Bike hire (depending on option chosen)

  • All entrances to museums and sites mentioned

  • All water and snacks whilst riding

  • Local English speaking cycle guide

  • All meals mentioned


  • International / domestic flights

  • Departure tax

  • Visa fees

  • Alcoholic, and other beverages in the evenings

  • Tips and gratuities

  • Personal expenses

  • Travel insurance

  • Optional activity costs

Please Note

  • Participants must be at least 18 years old to join this tour.

  • This tour is on a variety of road surfaces from paved asphalt to dirt trails. Most roads are in good condition, and off-road sections are suitable for the average rider. Cyclists should be confident in their cycling experience and fitness levels.

  • All hotels have en suite facilities and a/c, whenever possible we try to use hotels with charm and local character.

  • This tour has a 4 passenger minimum requirement for operation and is subject to cancellation if this minimum is not met. Please call at least 24 hours prior to departure to confirm schedule.

  • If these dates don't suit your travel schedule, please contact us to talk about operating a private tour or customizing a tour for you or your group.

Cancellation Policy

  • 25% Cancellation Fee (75% reimbursement): 45 days prior to date of activity.
  • 50% Cancellation Fee (50% reimbursement): between 16 to 44 days prior to date of activity.
  • 100% Cancellation Fee (no reimbursement): 15 days or less prior to date of activity.

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