These days, you can’t move for bikes in China, and thanks to the continued development of the immense network of roads, especially in rural areas, cyclists can explore across the country, often on smooth surfaces, surrounded by exceptional scenery. Joining the throng on the streets of Beijing can be a lot safer than you might first expect, with wide lanes and separate cycle paths enabling city sightseeing from the comfort of your saddle. Head south into Sichuan, Hubei and Guizhou Provinces and you’ll find yourself cycling in a more mountainous realm. Out here, local knowledge, either via a tour leader or self guided trip notes –as well as a backup vehicle and luggage transfers – are absolutely invaluable. Our China cycling vacations travel guide takes you along the lesser cycled paths to the must see highlights as you embark on an active experience that you’ll never want to forget.



Cycling vacations in China can be undertaken as part of a small group (12-16 cyclists) sticking to set departure dates and itineraries or on a tailor made basis, built around personal preferences. Both types of vacation feature an experienced, English-speaking tour leader, back up vehicle and luggage transfers to increase confidence and comfort levels as well as alleviating language barriers both on and off the road. Trips will usually explore one or two provinces. Several feature overnight train travel – the 2,000km distance from Beijing to Guilin, for example – to let cyclists see more of the country, compare regional nuances and experience a wider variety of cycling scenery.
Accommodation is chosen for its authenticity and character, with mountain guesthouses close to Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan just as warm and welcoming as tiny traditional hotels in the heart of Beijing’s hutong district, just north of the Forbidden City. Bicycle hire is included within the price and road bikes and mountain bikes are sturdy and reliable with brand manufacturers, such as GIANT, ensuring bikes are thoroughly maintained after every trip. Cycling equipment can be included too, but cyclists are encouraged to bring their own seat, clip pedals and helmet, just for peace of mind.
Trips can last anywhere from five days to over three weeks. Steeper gradients, around Sichuan and Qinghai, take you to greater altitudes, closer to the mountain passes and sweeping grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau at 4,000m. Distances should be taken into consideration when deciding which vacation to book. Daily averages range from 40km to over 100km with a variety of easy to moderate and more challenging itineraries available. Choose according to how fit you are and how long you prefer to spend on or off the saddle.
China’s infrastructure is improving all the time and as such you might well ride on some exceptionally smooth roads as well as several dusty construction sites. In the main, our cycling routes favour secondary roads in the countryside and lesser used alternatives closer to cities. These minimise contact with traffic and maximise peaceful pedalling and interaction with local people.
“Longer cycling tours (one to two weeks or more) with an experienced guide will get you into some seriously dramatic and adventurous landscapes that would be nigh on impossible to find on your own. In these circumstances, a local guide’s advice can be absolutely invaluable. – Scott Spencer, Owner & Founder of our supplier, Bike Asia



Locations: Beijing | Chengdu | Huang Yao
Apr-May is the best time to go on a China cycling vacation in the north and central provinces, as comfortable temperatures and a lack of rain ensure peak conditions for pedalling. Jul-Aug can be hot, wet and humid across the country, whilst Dec-Mar can be bitterly cold, especially in Yunnan, Sichuan and areas at high elevation. These regions are best from late May-early Oct. For slightly milder temperatures at the start and end of China’s cycling season (Mar-Nov) head to Hubei and the Three Gorges which will be cold, but still better than the north. Read more about the best time to go to China.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Alexander Savin] [Entail intro: Alexander Savin] [Entail distances: Jay Huang] [Tempchart: Alexander Savin]
Written by Chris Owen
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Photo credits: [Page banner: Alexander Savin]