• This tour is designed as a comfortable moderate ride. Average daily cycling mileage will be about 30 miles (50 km). On most days, we will use vehicle transport to supplement cycling to get us to the next destination. Riders will carry only their day gear; luggage will be transfer in the support vehicle. This eight-day bicycle tour begins and ends in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province known as the "Spring City" and the gateway to China's largest concentration of ethnic minorities.
• On this tour you will also get to hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world's deepest and longest canyons, and is widely acknowledged as the best hike anywhere in China.
• On this tour you will also get to visit and experience the minority cultures of Yunnan by visiting villages, islands, and local bazaars
You will arrive in Kungming today. Situated at 1,900 meters (6,233ft) above sea level and 25° north of the Equator, Kunming has a rather unique and pleasant climate for a Chinese city. Kunming is also well known as the Spring City because of its pleasant weather all year round. We’ll get started on a little warm-up cycling tour of Kunming. We’ll peddle on to the Eastern and Western Pagodas, and The Cuihu Lake Park.
Overnight in Kunming today.
We'll take a bullet train for 2 hours to Dali. A bike ride through the ancient city with its stone-paved streets, traditional-style houses, and numerous gardens is an exciting excursion, and it will also be a memorable one.
Then we will ride on to Dali's most distinctive attraction, the Three Pagodas. The Three Pagodas of Dali are famous in China for their size, beauty, and antiquity, and their preservation. The central one is more than 1,100 years old and is one of the tallest pagodas ever built in China. These pagodas are situated between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, about 1.5 kilometers (.9 of a mile) northwest from the ancient city of Dali. The Three Pagodas are cream-colored, delicate-looking pagodas. They are situated in the shape of a triangle.
Following breakfast, we’ll ride out to the Erhai Lake area, and the whole region is full of interesting and beautiful sites. Lining its banks in the valley are fishing villages, Bai farming villages, ancient temples, historic towns, and the ancient city of Dali. You can watch people traditionally live their daily lives. That is an exciting backdrop for the scenery. The local people feel that this big lake with its clear water and its reflections of land and sky as well as the entire region are unusually beautiful, and is another highlight of a visit to Yunnan Province.
Within the area, we will cycle halfway around the lake, visiting several villages, temples, and Jinsuo Island. Jinsuo Island (Golden Shuttle Island), and the nearby fishing community of Bai Minority do deserve a visit with its attractive Bai culture and lifestyle, and because of the rare beauty of the lake and its surrounding scenery. When we finish our tour to Erhai, we will return to Dali via boat.
Today we will cycle along the old Dali-Lijiang road to reach Jianchuan, and on the way, their numerous minority groups can be seen along the road in traditional dress. On the way there, we will also stop at the village of Shapin, a town primarily inhabited by the Bai minority group. In Shapin we can peruse the local market, where we can see the local crafts and goods that the Bai people produce. The Bai people specialize in Tie-dying, so expect to see some pretty colorful objects!
When we reach the town of Jianchuan we will get to pay a visit to the Jihuashan Precipice Bas-relief Grottoes. The grottoes are a good reflection and reminder of the deep Buddhist heritage and culture that runs through Yunnan and all of southeastern Asia. For the night, we will stay at a guesthouse in Jianchuan.
Continuing north, we will cycle alongside the Yangtze River and view the First Bend (of the Yangtze. It is called the “first bend” because the river makes a 90 degree turn from south to east within a distance of 1 kilometer. The place was important militarily because big armies crossed the river at that point, and it was a place where Tibetans came down to trade with the people living in the area.
We’ll then arrive at Tiger Leaping Gorge. At a length of 17km, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the birthplace of the ancient Lijiang culture, whose people lived in the many caves, big and small, in the side of Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain). These caves were naturally formed houses. In some caves, rock paintings and artifacts shedding light on the life of these primitive peoples were found. The rock paintings have now become another attraction of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge is regarded as one of the top ten hiking trails in China. At the mouth of the upper gorge, squeezed by the two snow-capped mountains and further blocked by the huge Tiger Leaping Boulder, the Golden Sand River (Yangtze) is only 25 meters in width. The water there makes violent whirlpools and hits the banks so powerfully that soaring breakers are created.
For our time here we will spend two nights in the gorge in simple cabin-like lodgings.
The following day we will spend the day hiking in the gorge. Around mid-day, we will reach the cliffs of Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, along the bank of the Jinsha River. At this point, we will visit the narrowest point of the gorge, where it is said that a tiger could quickly jump over the Jinsha River, hence the gorge’s name. It is a tight spot with the whole of the Yangtze River confined to a 20-meter (70-foot) width.
After finishing our hike, we will bike on to the town of Lijiang. Lijiang is a charming little city that is an enclave of ethnic minority cultures, and the Naxi ethnic group is especially prevalent here. On the way to Lijiang, we will stop to visit the town of Baisha.
The Baisha Old Town is one of the oldest towns around Lijiang. It is the earliest settlement of the Naxi people and is the birthplace of "Tusi," chief of the Mu clan. In the town there are many ancient buildings built during the Ming Dynasty, including Dabaoji Palace, Liuli Temple, and Wenchang Palace. The well-known Baisha Frescoes are located in Dabaoji Palace.
When we arrive in Lijiang, you'll get to stroll along the Lijiang Old Town. The old town is made up of three old districts that retain a distinctive character of Naxi and Han construction and Naxi customs, arts, and culture. It was a former trading town and a stop for traders carrying goods on the "Chama Road" trails. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 following an earthquake and reconstruction in 1996 that returned the city to a more ancient look. The UNESCO description says: "The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this important commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity.
Before flying to Kunming, you’ll get one last chance to walk around the Lijiang Old Town. You’ll then go to the airport to fly back to Kunming. Once in Kunming, you will fly on to your next destination, ending your adventure tour through Yunnan.