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Tour Description

The Grand Bike Tour of
Sichuan and Yunnan

Dates: Monday, June 1 to Tuesday, June 16, 2015 Contact us with the dates that work for you.

Ox surfing in Sichuan

The Grand Bike Tour of
Sichuan and Yunnan

Dates: Contact us with the dates that work for you.

Tour Route Map

This 33-day bicycle tour through southwest China begins in Chongqing, the port city on the Yangtze River, and ends in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, known as the "Spring City" and home to China's largest concentration of ethnic minorities. The cycling on this tour is moderately challenging. Average daily cycling mileage will be about 50 miles (80 km). A support vehicle will transport luggage and may be used on occasion to supplement the cycling to get to the next destination. Riders will carry only their day packs on their bikes. This tour will visit both well-known and little-known sights and will appeal to those who have cultural, social and geological interests.

This tour begins with airport pickup from the Chongqing airport the day before the tour officially begins. On Day One, a tour of brief tour of Chongqing going for a ride on a cable car to get an aerial view of the city. Afterwards transportation will be used to get part way to Dazu before beginning to cycle.

The second day the tour will visit a number of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist mountain grotto sculptures (as well as a Christian church) in the surrounding area.

On the third day the group will cycle to Zigong, the location of a dinosaur museum and a working salt museum.

On day 4 we will cycle west to Rongxian to visit China's second largest Buddha statue (193 ft, 58.7 m) followed by Leshan to visit the world's largest sitting Buddha statue (232 ft, 71 m).

Next we cycle to Emei Mountain, one of China's five sacred Buddhist mountains for a night's stay at the summit (10,160 ft., 3,099 m) in order to view the morning sunrise and walk some of the trails. There will be an opportunity to cycle up to the summit for those with the desire.

Using transportation part of the way we will then head north to Anren near Dayi, to visit the Li Landlord Manor. This was used as a re-education center to illustrate the evils of the landlord-serf system and includes an area of clay figures graphically displaying the downtrodden workers being abused by the landlord.

Next will head west to Dujiangyan, a location of the 2,500 year old irrigation system that is still in use today. This irrigation system was responsible for the end of severe drought and flooding problems and the development of the Sichuan basin as the rice bowl of southwest China. At night dinner will be river side along the one of the canals.

On day 10 we will take transport part way to the road leading into the Wolong Panda Nature Reserve. We will spend the night at Wolong and visit the Panda Research Center with plenty of photo opportunities.

The next day, the group will head up to Balangshan Pass (partially using transport) through the Wolong Nature Reserve. The pass is at 4,550 meters (14,950 feet). Yaks can be seen grazing on the slopes tended by Tibetan herdsman. At the top of the pass we will then coast down into a gorgeous valley to Rilongguan, at the base of Four Sisters Mountain.

The following day we will cycle (mostly downhill) to Xiaojin Xian where there is a Buddhist Temple, an Islamic Mosque and a Catholic Church where Mao spent some time on the Long March.

The next day we will cycle to Danba, located on the Dadu River, a major tributary to the Yangtze. Along the way we will visit a lamasery and a Tibetan Buddhist Temple.

In Danba, the group will explore the area including some of the Tibetan Defensive towers the dot the hills around the town.

From Danba we will head south along the Dadu (going downstream) to Luding, a historic place where Chairman Mao crossed the river with his Red Army on his Long March. We will visit the museum with some artifacts. Next stop is in Moxi, the gateway to Hailuogou Glacier Park.

We will continue along the Dadu River to Shimian. There will be overnight stops at the small towns of Shimian and Mianning before arriving at Xichang, the heart of the Yi minority.

The route then turns west toward Yunnan stopping at the small towns of Pingchuan and Yanyuan before arriving at Lugu Lake. This is the center area of the matriarchal Mosu culture surrounding a lake at an elevation of 8,800 feet (2685 meters). The tour will spend two days exploring the area and visiting Liwubi Island and Yongning Monastery. The next day the group will cycle to Ninglang.

The next stop is Lijiang, home of the Naxi minority and set in a valley overshadowed by Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. With a picturesque old town including fast moving water through open waterways and wooden architecture, Lijiang makes a good two-day stopover. Visits to surrounding villages will include the 15th century frescoes, the Yufeng Monastery and attend a Naxi Orchestra using unique traditional instruments.

The next segment of the tour goes into Tiger Leaping Gorge, a spectacular mountain area. This is one of the deepest and most dramatic gorges in the world and is still quite wild despite the enormous efforts to tame it. The group will visit the narrow spot of the gorge where it takes it name. It is a powerful spot with the whole of the Yangtze River confined to a 20-meter (70-foot) width. The group will spend the night in the gorge at a simple guesthouse.

Heading south will we cycle along side the Yangtze River and view the First Bend (where the river makes a U-turn and heads north) on the way to the east China emptying into the South China Sea.

Next the group will head to Jianchuan cycling along the old Dali-Lijiang road where numerous minorities can be seen along the road in traditional dress. In Jianchuan we will have an opportunity to visit the Jinhuashan Precipice Bas-relief Grottos.

The next stop is Old Dali which still has some of that small town charm and is ideally located between the Cangshan Mountains and Erhai Lake. On the following day we will visit the Three Pagodas and Chongsheng and time permitting cycle half way around Erhai Lake, visiting several villages, temples and Jinsuo Island before returning to Dali via boat.

We will then fly to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province known as the "Spring City" and our final destination. We will visit the Yuantong Temple, Cuihu (Green Lake) Park and the East/West Pagodas.

Below is the route summary with distance in kilometer/miles and note if alternative transportation may be used for part of the way (Trans) consisting of truck or bus.

Some Photos Highlights of
The Grand Bike Tour of Sichuan and Yunnan

Photos from Carol and Pete's Bike Tour of Southwest China
Sichuan Photos
More Sichuan Photos
Yunnan Photos


Day Location Distance KM/Miles SICHUAN PROVINCE
0 Chongqing/Dazu 0/0

Pick up from the Chongqing airport and transfer to your hotel.
1 Chongqing/Dazu 130/79

Meet in Chongqing in the morning.  Cycle to the cable car for an aerial view of Chongqing.  Take transport part way to Dazu and cycle the rest. 
2 Dazu 40/24 Visit a number of Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist mountain grotto sculptures and a Christian church

Zigong 139/85 Take transport part way to Zigong, then visit dinosaur museum and a working salt museum
4 Rongxian 50/31 Visit China's second largest Buddha statue (193 ft, 58.7 m)
5 Leshan 89/54 Explore an abandoned tower in Sanjiang, see some thermal activity along the road and in Leshan, visit the world's largest sitting Buddha statue (232 ft, 71 m)
6 Emei 90/55 Cycle or take transport to the top of Emei Mountain (10,160 ft., 3,099 m), one of China's five sacred Buddhist mountains
7 Emei 0/0 View the morning sunrise and walk some of the trails.
8 Dayi-Anren 171/104 Take transport part way. Li Landlord Manor Rent Collection Courtyard Sculpture
9 Dujiangyan 85/52

2,500 year-old Irrigation System
10 Wolong 84/51 Take transport part way.  Visit the Wolong Panda Nature Reserve

Rilongguan 98/60 Take transport part way and/or cycle to the Balangshan Pass (4,550
meters, 14,950 feet). Cycle 31 km down to Rilongguan at the base of Four Sisters Mountains.
12 Xiaojin Xian 60/37 Visit Buddhist Temple, an Islamic Mosque and a Catholic Church
13 Danba 60/37 Visit Wori Defense Tower, a Lamasery and a Tibetan Buddhist Temple.
14 Danba 20/12 Break day. Visit surrounding defense towers.
15 Kangding 139/85 Take transport part way. Visit the Long March Museum
16 Moxi 75/46 Hailuogou Glacier Park
17 Shimian 69/42

Small town life
18 Mianning 108/66 Small town life

Xichang 88/54 Heart of the Yi minority
20 Pingchuan 86/52 Small town life
21 Yanyuan 56/34 Small town life

22 Lugu Lake 133/81 Take transport part way. Matriarchal Mosu Culture on a picturesque lake
23 Lugu Lake 31/18 Liwubi Island and Yongning Monastery
24 Ninglang 81/49

Small town life
25 Lijiang 120/73 Take transport part way.  Naxi Minority  - Naxi Orchestra using unique traditional instruments

Lijiang 0/0 Rest day - Visit Black Dragon Pool Park, Baisha 15th century frescoes, the Yufeng Monastery
27 Daju 90/55 Take transport part way.  North Gateway to Tiger Leaping Gorge
28 Walnut Grove 31/18 Cross the Yangtze on a ferry and visit the narrow portion of the Gorge
29 Jianchuan 95/58 View the first bend of the Yangtze, visit Jinhuashan Precipice Bas-relief Grottos
30 Dali 110/67 Three Pagodas and Chongsheng
31 Dali 35/21 Cycle half way around Erhai Lake and return by boat
32 Kunming 0/0 Fly to Kunming. Visit Yuantong Temple, Cuihu (Green Lake) Park and the East/West Pagodas
33 Tour End 0/0 Escort to airport
  Total Distance 2,429 km 1,482 miles

Tour Details

Dates: Contact us with the dates that work for you.

Start location: Chongqing

Finish location: Kunming, Yunnan Province

Tour type: Vehicle supported - riders carry only their day packs on their bikes.

Geographical location: Southwest and Central China Elevation range: 1,000 feet (300 meters) to 14,950 feet (4,550 meters).

Climate: The best weather for touring is in the spring and fall. Summer will be hot and rainy. Click on the weather links below to obtain historical weather information.

Click for Chongqing, Cheng-Du Forecast

Click for Chengdu, Sichuan China Forecast

Click for Kunming Forecast

Terrain: Rolling and mountainous

Cycling tour level: Moderately Challenging

Total cycling distance: Approximately 1,480 miles (2,430 km): Average distance per travel day: 50 miles (80 km) Cycling may be supplemented on occasion with vehicle transport when necessary to reach the next destination.

Days: 33

Nights: 33

Group size: 1 - 8

Rental bike: US$175 including panniers, helmet, gloves, raincape and lock.

Accommodations: Will be basic Chinese hotels generally of the 0-3 star variety. The prices are for double occupancy rooms, and will vary depending on the number of people who participate.

Private room supplement: US$720

This tour is limited to no more than four people. This will permit more flexibility in the program and allow more spontaneity for taking photos or exploring villages along the way.

Prices include the following:

1. Bilingual bicycle tour guide.
2. All hotel accommodations for 33 nights.
3. Meals eaten as group (private meals, snacks and alcoholic beverages are not included).
4. All group transportation costs including one flight (Dali-Kunming) taxis, buses and a support vehicle to be used during the bike tour and airport pickup and dropoff.
5. All group entrance fees.

This will be a vehicle-supported ride. This means that a support-vehicle will carry the luggage (and cyclists when desired). Each cyclist will carry only their day pack luggage while cycling.

If you decide to do something on your own, you will be responsible for those costs.

Cost: Prices depend on the total number of people going on the tour and the time of year. Below are the price per person (pp) and quoted in US dollars (US$) for non-holiday periods*:

Group size:
1 person US$7,820pp
2 people US$5,680pp
3 people US$4,350pp
4 people US$3,980pp

* Holiday Periods require a 30% surcharge to the basic price due to increased costs of hotels and transportation. Tours with overlapping dates will be prorated. These periods are: Chinese New Year; Labor Day ; and National Day

An announcement of the cost of the tour will be made to the group 45-days prior to the start based on the number of registered members.

A deposit of $500 is required. This is fully refundable up to 45 days prior to the start of the tour. Submission of a deposit will guarantee your place on the tour. Balance is at the beginning of the tour in traveler's checks (preferred because of safety) or cash.

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