Cycling in China
China was once known as the kingdom of bicycles, but these days the car is the image that best sums up the country’s rapid economic development. The country had up to 523 million bike owners by the mid-1990s—that’s 43 bicycles for every 100 people. However, the bicycle has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. More people are shifting to a better livelihood and green living. Especially the young Chinese who have discovered road cycling and mountain biking is a great way to spend their free time outdoors. For tourists, it’s a good way to get around the tourist sights especially the rural area to appreciate the scenery.
1. Why Cycling in China
China is a nation with diverse landscapes to the extreme such as Gobi Desert in China’s northwest, the world’s highest mountains in the Himalaya region in the west, the beaches of tropical Hainan in the southeast, the fertile plains of the eastern coast, etc. So there are a rich variety of destinations suited perfectly for cycling. Provinces such as Shanxi, Guangxi, Yunnan, Sichuan all will make every cyclist’s heart jump with joy.
Cheap Food and Accommodations
Food and hotel are another two things you need to as a cyclist. The variety of dishes in China is endless and everyone will find something matching their taste under guarantee. A Chinese breakfast usually only take about CNY 5 and dinner in a good restaurant will not cost much more than CNY 70. As for the hotel, usually it is not likely to cost much more than 200 RMB or even less since most of the places of riding are less-known places or rural areas.
Experiencing Rural Lifestyle
Cycling through the country you will have the great opportunity to experience life in the Chinese countryside such as farmers ploughing their fields, women and men picking tea leaves by hand or villagers enjoying sunbath or chatting with their friends. It seems like time stands still in the countryside of the country which forms a stark contrast to the city. Also you can explore the ancient and modern culture of China by cycling, such as climbing one of the Eight Wonders of the World – Beijing Great Wall, visiting the famed Terracotta Warriors in Xian, and witnessing the buzz around tall buildings and neon lights of the city.
2. China’s Best Cycling Destinations
As you cycle around the towering red walls of the Forbidden City, you’ll truly understand the majesty of China’s imperial past. Tiananmen Square, one of the world’s largest squares and the heart of Beijing, large enough to hold a million people. There you will behold the magnificent People’s Heroes Monument and five-starred red flags waving beside it, all from the seat of your bike. Hutong, a type of narrow street or alley commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, you can appreciate the ancient alleyways and observe Beijing’s residents playing cards on the streets or walking their birds. Besides, Great Wall Biking is an excellent way of enjoying the rural scenery of Beijing countyside.
In Xian, you can do cycling on the ancient city wall and taking in a bird’s eye view of the ancient capital of Xi’an. You can also ride from South Square of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda to Qujiang Pool Park via Tang Paradise, experiencing the long history and rich culture of the city at the same time. Or ride to the suburbs of Xian such as Baqiao Ecological Wetland Park and Chanba National Wetland Park to breathe some fresh air.
Yangshuo countryside biking is the highlights of Yangsuo tour or even a Guilin tour. You can ride along the Yulong River Short Route to see hills, river, villages and scenic spots in a short loop or extend this line to Moon Hill. You can also combine the cycling with the bamboo rafting down river. On National Road 321 to Moon Hill, you can also see a series of small villages, karst hills and rice paddies. If you are energetic, take a longer cycling via Fuli and spectacular mountain views to Xingping. The total length is about 55 km.
Biking is the best way to enjoy the mysterious side of West Lake and most of the scenic spots in Hangzhou is not far around it. There are several cycling routes including the cycling Route around Lake(about 12.4 kilometers/4 hours’ riding), the North Route(7.7 kilometers/2 hours’ riding) and the South Route(10.4 kilometers/2.5 hours’ riding). If you think the 4 hours traveling by bike around the lake to be a little tired, you can choose one of the short route to explore the classic scenic spots and local life around West Lake.
One might say that make a cycling trip around lake is not really hard, but when you ride around a lake with a circumference of 360 km, an area of 4,500 km², an average altiude of over 3000 meters, the result will be totally different. So, you should at least prepare a 4-day ride if would cycle around the largest inland saltwater lake in China. Besides the amazing the landscapes alongside the Qinghai lake, the culture mix of the Tibetans, Mongols and Han in these nearby villages is still a point of the Qinghai lake biking tour.
At Dunhuang, you can take a bicycle ride (about 25 km) to Mogao Grottoes (UNECO), the world’s most important site of ancient Buddhist Culture. You can also ride a bicycle from Yumen Pass to Yangguan Pass and Yangguan Pass Museum (about 50 km). In addition, cyclings from Dunhuang to Urumqi or Lanzhou are also popular among tourists. As the westernmost city of the Hexi Corridor, Dunhuang’s long history has accumulated and bred its unique culture.
This is China’s most southwestern province – the vast, beguiling Yunnan – and these are the sounds, sights and tastes you’ll encounter as you explore it by bicycle. Any cycling tour through the rural areas between urban hubs, though, is sure to showcase Yunnan’s natural splendour and provide the best experience. From Shangri-la, you can cycle through to limestone plateaus and white water terraces at Bai Shiu Tai, then on to the dramatic scenery of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Tiger Leaping Gorge. Then riding on to Lijiang and Dali.
Departs from Sanya, cycle north to the central Hainan island to experience the authentic living style of local minority ethnic people. Besides, there are plenty of rare flora and fauna to explore when breaking into the amazing rain forest. After a day expedition in Wuzhi Mountain, we will cycle to a glazing land to see traditional Hainan farm and camping in their places, taste local delicacy. The next day, ride downhill to encounter the beach again and ferry to Fenjiezhou Island to participant in water activities by yourselves and also feel free to enjoy hot spring around Sanya.
It is very hard to cycle in Tibet, but it is indeed possible to enjoy a cycling tour in Tibet if you dare to challenge yourself both physically and psychologically. Cycling the Tibetan Plateaus from Lhasa to Kathmandu is an awe-inspiring experience and a must for adventure cyclists. You will be rewarded with stunning scenery and the big feast of Tibetan culture when cycling in Tibet. If you just want to try a short cycling in Tibet, it is perfect to enjoy a short biking tour in central Tibet around Lhasa or Namtso Lake.
3. Recommended China Cycling Tours
Read more about China Cycling Tours.