Cycling Tour From Shangri-la to Lijiang

7 Days / 6 Nights

Shangri-la, located in northern Yunnan province captures China’s beauty at its best. As we travel to Lijiang from Shangri-la by bike over a period of 7 days we will cycle through high mountain passes, visit the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, and bike around beautiful alpine lakes.

Elevation range: 1900 meters to 4100 meters

Terrain: Flat, rolling and mountainous

Cycling tour level: Moderate to challenging - alternative transportation may be used if needed

Total cycling distance: Approximately 300km; Average distance per day: up to 75km.

100% TAILOR-MADE

Our itineraries are suggestions and are fully customisable according to your needs, interests and budget.

Treat these itineraries as inspiration and one of our experts will create your uniquely tailored holiday with your requests in mind so that you can truly experience China with Seven Senses.

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

Day 1. Arrive Zhongdian

Your guide will be waiting for you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the famous old town of Shangri-la (Zhongdian).

Zhongdian old town is a Tibetan town located at about 3,400 metres above sea level and offers a picturesque and fascinating peek into Tibetan culture and life, as this area is considered a gateway to Tibet. Here we will find the Gandan Sumtseling Monastery , Paducuo National Park, and of course Tiger Leaping Gorge.

After a short rest at the hotel we will hop on our bikes for a test ride to make adjustments, begin getting adjusted to the altitude. Head to a nearby restaurant for some delicious dinner. You’ll have to try to Barley Wine made from “zanba” (a roasted highland barley flour). Overnight in local hotel in Shangri-la.

Day 2. Shangri-la

Road Condition: Paved. On the way to Napa Lake, 10km from town, we will encounter a small slope;

Distance: 22km;

Elevation: 3400m;

Duration: Half day casual biking with visiting spots along the way

Today we will spend our day doing more sightseeing and cycling around old town of Shangri-la and getting further adjusted to the high altitude.

This area is rich with Tibetan-style architecture and dates back 1300 years! After breakfast ride to Songzanlin Monastery, 5km north of old town. The Songzanlin Monastery  (constructed in 1679) is the largest Tibetan Monastery in Yunnan and is nicknamed the “Lesser Potala” due to its resemblance to the magnificent structure in Lhasa. After lunch we will cycle over to a small hill to visit Napa Lake about 6km away. The Napa Lake Nature Reserve is one of the country’s largest grasslands and the most scenic area of the plateau. We will have time to walk around and take everything in, enjoy the Tibetan culture and take lots of photographs before riding back to Old Town.

Upon returning to our hotel in the evening we will have a delicious dinner. We will be getting a good night’s sleep tonight - we have a big day tomorrow. Overnight in local hotel in Shangri-la. 

Day 3. Shangri-la - Baishuitai

Road Condition - Paved. Three difficult uphill and downhill sections in a row at high altitude; 

Distance: 101km, about 60km riding with 40km vehicle transfer; 

Elevation: 3300m - 4100m;

Duration: 5-6 hours cycling

After breakfast we will say goodbye to the beautiful Shangri-la and will be transferred directly to a high mountain pass (4,100m) where we will start our downhill cycling for the day. As we begin today’s journey at the top it will be apparent there is little wildlife, few trees but only some moss, and large rocks. As we make our way down its fascinating to watch the change in scenery.

After taking in this beautiful Yunnan view we will mount our bikes and will be immediately challenged by two 3,900m high mountains in a row. It will be worth it though. On the way we will stop and choose a nice spot for a picnic lunch.

Our destination is Baishutai, the backdoor to the Tiger Leaping Gorge area. As we descend, we will pass through large coniferous forests. The area is very undeveloped as the only sounds we will hear are the animals and the wind as it passes through the enormous pines that line the roads. After a long day’s journey we will check into a local hotel, take a shower, grab some delicous food, and relax. Overnight in the small local hotel.

Day 4. Baishutai - Tiger Leaping Gorge

Road Condition: Paved. 4km uphill at the very beginning, then most of the road continues downhill.

Distance: 73km

Elevation: 3400 - 1800m

Time: 6 hours cycling

Before we set out for today’s Yunnan biking journey we will first visit the unique Baishui Terraces (“bai shui” means “white water” in Chinese). For thousands of years, mineral-laden spring water has flown down the mountain, leaving crystallized sodium carbonate along its slopes, leaving us now with the awesome view of a series of limestone basins full of water that look like huge marble sculptures. After an hour or so of visiting and taking photos, we will start on our day’s cycling tour. We will start with an initial 4km uphill section until we head downhill the rest of the way to the Gorge. Lunch will be in Haba, a small but unique village on the way.

As we approach Tiger Leaping Gorge, there will be a 3km long gravel section, but it’s still downhill. In the late afternoon we will enter the world-famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest most dramatic gorges in the world, and still quite wild despite enormous efforts to tame it. We will bike another 10km on paved roads after entering the gorge until we finally arrive at the “middle” of Tiger Leaping Gorge. We will spend the night here.

Overnight in at a cozy hotel at the middle of Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Day 5. Cycling along the Yangtze River

Road Condition: Paved. 10km in the beginning as we ride along Tiger Leaping Gorge, then a steep

8km uphill stretch. Afterwards, the road will alternate between flat terrain and gentle slopes. Distance 70km

Elevation: 1800 - 2400 m

Time: 6hours cycling

In the early morning we will spend an hour or so hiking down the narrow spot of the gorge where the entire Yangtze River is forced through a gap only 20 metres wide. We will be unable to talk here because of the tremendous, thundering roar.

Once we head out on our bikes we will ride along a 10km stretch on a packed gravel road. Once we pass this we will reach smooth and rolling roads and get a view of the mighty Yangtze on our right and the majestic Snow Mountains on our left.

After passing Songyuan Bridge, we will have lunch in a local restaurant. Later in the afternoon, we will reach “The First Bend of the Yangtze River” where the mighty Yangtze turns almost 180 degrees. This is the first of several abrupt turns it makes on its way eastward across all of China, before it finally flows into the East China Sea near Shanghai.

The mighty Yangtze, the third-longest river in the world (after the Nile and the Amazon), originates from a glacier in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, "the roof of the world", where it surges into Yunnan from the northwest, cutting through the high mountains and deep gorges of the Hengduan Mountains, and rushing southwards from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Here, where we stand, the Yangtze is blocked by the Hailuo Cliff, which forces it to turn roughly to northeast, forming a great "U"-shaped bend, which is called the First Bend of the Yangtze.

At this first bend the river is wide, so the water seems to flow in a gentle, slow pace hiding the power beneath the surface. Large willow trees grow luxuriously alongside the river that is banked on both sides with lush, fertile deep green vegetation and immense, steep mountains that rise up from the river toward the sky above. On the fertile soil deposited as the river makes its turn, lies the town of Shigu, linking Tibet with the outside world. Here is where we will stay for the night, in a local hotel. Shigu (Stone Drum) town is named after a white marble monument, carved in the 1500’s in the shape of a drum, to commemorate victory by the Naxi ruler over an invading Tibetan army. Overnight in local hotel in Shigu.

Day 6. Shigu - Lijiang

Road Condition: Paved. Flat road most of the time. Heavy Traffic.

Distance: 60km

Elevation: 2200m-2400m

Duration: 4 hours cycling

Today, we will depart from Shigu and ride to Lijiang, our final port of call for this challenging route. In this final leg of the race, we will pass by Lashi Lake. This lake is situated 8 km west of Lijiang City with an area of about 9 square kilometres. In the Naxi language, Lashi means "New Basin". This beautiful lake is not only a scenic spot but also a provincial nature reserve because of the rich biodiversity of life forms found here. Rich in cultural and biological diversity, the Lashi Lake watershed is home to two minority ethnic groups, the Naxi and the Yi, and provides another critical habitat for the endangered black-necked crane, the only alpine crane in the world. The watershed is also the primary water supply to a large downstream population and the rapidly growing tourism industry in the historic city of Lijiang.

This last leg will be a pretty easy and relaxing part of the tour. Upon arrival, we will celebrate our accomplishment.

Overnight in local hotel in Lijiang.

Day 7. Lijiang - Departure

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for your return international flights.

The itinerary may be subject to change depending on circumstances.

HIGHLIGHTS

 

PRICES AND INCLUSIONS

7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS FROM £1,690 per person + flights

based on 2 people travelling together

The price includes:
 

English-speaking guide

Scenic spots admission fee; Nature Reserve Protection fee and/ or camping permit fee (inside nature reserve) if required

Accommodation: double-occupancy in 3 star hotels in big cities, and the best hotels in small cities or counties, clean guest house/hostel/or home-stay in villages as stated in the itinerary; camping in non-residential area as mentioned in the itinerary (tent and mattress),

Daily breakfast, picnic lunches in remote area if required

One bike for each and supportive vehicles as required (For tours in the mountainous area like Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet, etc. we strongly suggest that you bring your own mountain bike with you.)

All domestic flights/trains/local airport taxes if there is in the itinerary;

The price does not include: 

Return flights from the UK to Beijing

Anything not specifically mentioned above

Visa fee for China

Tips to the guide and driver

Travel insurance with cover for cycling

Personal costs such as drinks, laundry, etc.

Costs of damage to bike

Sleeping bag if camping.

photography charges at monasteries/palaces/sites.

The extra cost due to the unforeseen events or weather; supplementary trips and services not mentioned,

and personal expenses and the items not listed in the “The tour cost includes” column.

TRIP NOTES

This is a tentative itinerary, the final itinerary and accommodation may be different from that displayed here. For the enjoyment of your trip a "go with the flow" attitude is necessary. Many factors will influence your trip, such as weather conditions, health, route conditions, etc. Please count with an extra two days and book changeable flights in case of delays in travel due to unforeseen events.

The areas visited are not as well developed as Beijing and Shanghai. While you will definitely enjoy the nature and experience, you should be prepared that accommodation standards in these places are very basic and even though we will try our best, food may not be so delicious and varied.

Very important: When you are planning to do mountain biking, you acknowledge that there are risks involved in this sport and confirm that you are fully aware of and accept these risks. You will be required to sign a separate acknowledgement and acceptance of personal liability at time of reservation.

 

Participants should be healthy, able to cycle for over 6 hours a day; prepared to cross high altitude passes and cycle over difficult terrain in remote areas; experienced in riding in mountainous areas (with many bends, turns, and possibly switchbacks); excellent physical condition required with a positive attitude and a strong determination; previous hiking experience preferred. Please keep in mind that this is a general guide only. A variety of factors, including weather, may add to the challenge.

Regardless of your previous high-altitude experience, it is crucial that you are self-confident, superbly fit, committed, and determined at the outset of the expedition and possess the necessary stamina and experience to be a contributing player in the excursion.

Biking Gear suggested: Wind/waterproof coat, hip pad, knee pad, gorro, helmet, headlight, towel, sun block, gloves, shoes for cycling etc

While you will most-certainly enjoy the fantastic views offered with this exciting biking adventure, there will also be unexpected encounters with other vehicular traffic, especially big trucks making wide turns, so you should ride very carefully in these places.

Many tourists have an uncomfortable feeling in the high-plateau areas, generally headaches and being out-of-breath; this is usual, and generally you will adapt to the altitude in 2-3 days.

To counter altitude-sickness in the high plateaus, be sure to take extra rest and try to avoid arriving with a cold. Although extra oxygen will be available for those who need to stop and take an extra breath or so, any quantity brought along will be limited, and cyclists cannot be dependent on its availability.

Please be respectful of local customs and religion while you are in any area of minority people; pay attention to any instructions given by the local guide and cooperate with him/her.

Please be aware not to expect/order the meat of dog, horse, mule, pig, or donkey, all of which are forbidden in Tibetan areas; eating the meat of any animal slaughtered without proper religious supervision is also forbidden.

It’s not allowed to watch the Tibetan sky burial without their permission.

To be polite, it is expected that you finish any beverage served to you in a cup, upon being greeted by a Tibetan; if you cannot finish the drink, please politely beg their pardon.

When greeted by a Tibetan who puts a silk scarf around your neck as a present, leave it on – do not immediately take it off.

There are some special taboos in muslim areas, such as exposed skin, head coverings, and proper conduct in mosques – listen to the guide

It’s prohibited to drink or to smoke in any Tibetan Monastery

Check with the guide regarding taking photographs; it’s forbidden to take any photos in a monastery without permission, although you may be allowed to “buy” permission. Always ask permission before taking a photo of monks or women, regardless of where they are.

Package price with 4 star hotels in Shangri-la and Lijiang, local best lodging places (guesthouses) in Baishuitai, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Liming, with full board: £2,395 per person

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SEVEN SENSES TOURS IS A TRADING NAME OF BRS TRAVEL SOLUTIONS LIMITED REGISTERED IN ENGLAND. COMPANY NUMBER 10287236. REGISTERED ADDRESS: 19 CROSSFIELD ROAD, LONDON, N17 6AY, UNITED KINGDOM.

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