"Explore the changing landscapes, tea horse trading towns and unique cultures along southern China's ancient trading route to South East Asia."
Click image to start slideshow
Day 1: Arrival Kunming - Transfer to Fuxian LakeDinner
Our meeting point is at Kunming airport. From there we'll transfer around an hour to Fuxian Lake, located nearby Yuxi City. Once we've checked in to the hotel, you'll have time to relax or to explore the area around the lakeside. For the more energetic, there's a walk from the lakeside up to Bijia Mountain for expansive views overlooking the lake and Luchong village below. In the evening we'll gather together for a group meeting to go over the upcoming tour and to enjoy our first meal together in a nearby restaurant.
Yuxi is located in the centre of Yunnan province. It is known for its high-quality rice and tobacco. Situated at the western end of the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau, the county has a wide range of landscapes with Fuxian Lake scenic area the most famous.
Day 2: Cycle to Xiangchuan / transfer to Jianshui - 68KMBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 68 km
An early start today with a brief bike fitting after breakfast. We'll be following the contours of the lake for the most part on flat roads with little traffic - a picturesque warm up ride to kick off the journey ahead. Our destination is Xiangchuan County and a late lunch at Family Li courtyard restaurant, one of the most famous restaurants in Yunnan. It’s a 68KM ride to lunch so we'll be stopping lakeside for coffee and snack breaks to keep us going as the food at Family Li's is worth the extra effort! After lunch, we'll pack up our bikes into the support vehicles and transfer to Jianshui (1 hour drive) where we'll have time to explore the old town on foot after checking into our hotel.
Jianshui has a long history of more than 1200 years. During the Nanzhao State period (738-937), a city called Huili was built here, which in the Yi language means “vast sea” and translated to Chinese is Jianshui. It served as a garrison town during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1388), had it's name changed to Lin'an in the Ming Dynasty and, finally, reverted back to Jianshui during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Jianshui is a famous historic and cultural town with over 50 ancient buildings and a reputation as a 'Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses'. The old town is not large, consisting mainly of several streets centring on Lin'an Road. Apart from the famous Confucius Temple and Zhu Family Garden, there are many other ancient buildings worth checking out.
Day 3: Cycle to Yuanyang Rice Terraces - 85KMBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 85 km
Today’s ride is an epic one taking us to the spectacular Yuanyang Rice Terraces. After a flat section to warm up, we'll make our way up a series of gentle climbs over 30 km to the top of mountains. This is followed by a stunningly long descent into Yuanyang new town, Nansha. At this point we'll drive the rest of the way up to our guesthouse amid the terraces - we'll save this section for the following day so that we can cycle down through the terraces and take our time absorbing the endless terraces in the morning light. We'll stay in a local guesthouse overlooking the terraces.
Yuanyang Rice Terraces are a living masterpiece, born of the ingenuity of generations of the Hani people. The Hani people's ancestors came to this steep mountain area 2,500 years ago. In their struggle against the difficult terrain they successfully established the terraces, where they grew rice in order to make a living. Described as a 'land sculpture' the terraced fields have been being officially acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage site.
Day 4: Cycle to Yisa Old Town - 86KMBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 86 km
As planned, we'll descend on the bikes for over 30KM through mountain rice fields, stopping as often as we like to take in the extraordinary views. We'll meet the Hong He, Red River, and follow it’s valley on undulating, quiet and scenic roads to complete an all round great biking day. Our destination is Yisa Old Town, once the regions cultural and political centre and the first “Overseas Chinese” town in Yunnan. It's unique architecture is the result of it’s residents bringing back influences from colonial Southeast Asia, such as French stained glass and European-style fortress designs blended with traditional Chinese courtyard houses.
Yisa Old Town came into prosperity at the end of the Qing Dynasty around the turn of the 20th century. Forced to abandon nearby copper mines by Imperial decree, these former miners set about establishing trade routes to Southeast Asia. Over 100 years, 11 routes were built enabling trade by horse to be conducted with Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma. Trade in opium, gold, silver, salt, and medicines among other products brought the wealth that built the old town.
Day 5: Cycle to Yuanjiang - 65KMBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 65 km
Our ride continues along the Honghe valley on quiet backroads toward Yuanjiang county. As we descend in altitude, the landscape gradually changes into tropical forests. Yuanjiang is a Hani, Yi and Dai autonomous county located at the bottom of a deep mountainous river valley. In the mountains above, extensive rice terraces built by the Hani are farmed. The town itself is an important provincial crossroads for access to Southeast Asia as well as administrative centre for surrounding villages.
Yuanjiang lies at the crossroads where the Honghe leads south to Vietnam as well as where the major provincial road to Laos, Thailand and Myanmar passes. In the area are the huge road and railway bridges that link Kunming to Laos and will eventually terminate in Bangkok, with plans to extend to Singapore.
Day 6: Cycle to Mojiang - 70KMBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 70 km
Today’s ride is the toughest one of the tour with a 30km uphill in the morning as we leave the Red River, or Hong He, behind. The climb is quiet and beautiful, through tropical forest making it nice and cool. Stunning views of rice fields and tea plantations can be glimpsed through the trees. After reaching the top, the rest of day is flat and gently downhill to Mojiang Hani Autonomous County under the jurisdiction of Pu’er City. Mojiang is famous for the outsized number of twins born in the county: 1200 twins in a population of 350000 in the county. It is said that twins can be born if young couples drink from the local wells.
Mojiang hosts an International Twins Festival every year that brings together twins from across the globe. It coincides with the Hani Festival of the Sun that celebrates the Tropic of Cancer that passes through the town. Despite being a Hani Autonomous County several other minority groups live in the county including Yao, Bulang, Dai, Bai, Zhuang and Pumi peoples.
Day 7: Cycle to Jinghong - 103KMBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 103 km
Today is our last day of riding. We start with a 2 hour drive to Puwen town to avoid some busy roads. From Puwen we get on the bikes and ride to our final destination - Jinghong City - situated on the banks of the Mekong River. The riding is through endless tea plantations and tropical forest. The 103km ride sounds long but, with the exception of a 10 km uphill in the morning, the rest is mostly flat or downhill. After checking in to the hotel, there'll be time to relax with a swim in the hotel outdoor pool followed by a Dai stye feast to celebrate the end of our adventure.
Jinhong is the capital of Xishuangbanna, sometimes referred to as simply ”‘banna ”, and derived from the original Thai name Sip Sawng Panna (12 Rice-Growing Districts). It's a relaxed, laid back city that is the administrative centre of the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and the major south west trading port to Southeast Asia.
Day 8: Departure DayBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Today is departure day and you are free to depart at any time.
Jinhong is a relaxed, small sized city with a cool laid back vibe. Whilst many travellers who pass through don't rate the place very highly, we love it! Jinhong is a fantastic base to head out hiking in the surrounding hills, explore tea plantations or just relaxing into the Southeast Asian pace of life and the amazing local cuisine. If you decide to stay on in Jinhong, let us know, and we'll be happy to point you in the right direction for some good food and active options.
Our newest tour covers the region between Yunnan's capital, Kunming, and Jinghong, the regional centre of Xishuangbanna on the Laos and Burma borders. Our route takes us through several autonomous regions that are home to many ethnic minorities including the Hani, Dai and Yi among others. These mountain people are traditional growers of rice, tea and tobacco and their ability to prosper in mountainside landscapes may be best represented by the vast Yuanyang rice terraces, the world’s largest. The region once prospered through trade with routes established from Honghe Yisa Old Town, a gateway route to South East Asia as well as routes up the Red River from Hanoi and overland to Kunming. We'll cycle sections of both these old trading lines and visit the ancient towns that prospered from them as well as the the minority villagers whose toil produced the goods that traversed them.
Blessed with a year long temperate climate, this region is a perfect destination for cycling across all seasons (save for the peak rainy periods) with winter, which is dry and pleasant, making it a perfect escape from the northern cold. Quiet backroads through a variety of terrain such as dense jungles, forests, mountains and tea and rice growing regions offer superb cycling. There are some long climbs on this tour, as is to be expected in such mountainous terrain, but these are balanced by equally long downhills! Plenty of time has been allocated to complete each days ride at a reasonable pace whilst still being able to stop and to take in the experience and surroundings along the way. A support vehicle is also available for those that wish to take a ride whenever they wish. This tour is designed to be accessible to those with a reasonable level of cycling fitness and an interest in exploring beyond the usual tourist offerings.
Getting There & Away
This trip starts in Kunming and finishes in Jinhong, Yunnan Province, China. Kunming airport (Code KMG) is an international airport with connections across Asia as well as most cities in China. Jinhong (Code JHG) is a small airport with connections across China. Kunming and Jinhong are also connected by a high speed train line.
To check flight details, times and costs we can recommend the following website: Trip.com. It has all language options, is reliable, and you can pay for these flights by credit card.
Airport/ train station pick ups and drop offs are included in the tour price. Please make sure you give us details of your arrival and departure, including flight details, date and time, so we can arrange your transfers.
Tour Info Pack
Once we have recieved your booking and deposit we'll send you a Tour INFO PACK that will include tour notes, training tips, preparation info and joining point instructions. If you have any questions about the tour at all please don't hesitate to contact us.
Arriving early or want to stay on after the tour ends? No problem! Just let us know if you'd like to book extra accommodation in the tour hotel at either the start or finish of the tour and we will arrange it for you. Just include your request on the booking form.
For additional information regarding guides, accommodation and sleeping arrangements, cycling grades, food, bikes, etc you can head over to our About section to see more about how we run our tours.
Can we change the itinerary or customise the tour?
Not for publicly listed dates, but if you have your own group or date in mind, Yes. If you want to make a private booking we can help design a tour that suits you. You may have ideas based on any of our tours or something in mind that you can't find on our website. Just get in contact with us and let us know what you have in mind and we'll try our best to make it happen!
Do you cater for vegetarians?
Yes we do! If you have any dietery requirements just let us know when you book in the space provided (Additional Requests). For any severe alergies or other conditions it is best that you let us know in advance so that we can prepare and/ or advise you on what we can provide or what you might need to bring so that are well catered for.
What about Covid 19?
2020 has seen travel grind to a halt and the outlook going into 2021 looks to be more of the same. While we have suspended travel to most of our destinations we are operating tours in China for domestic travellers. We'll open up destinations as the stuation improves and only when travel is green lighted by the relevant health and government agencies.
Travelling during this time means adhering to mandated guidlines and practices which means having green codes enabled on your mobile phone apps, taking Covid tests, wearing masks where neccesary, and filling in contact and travel history forms. These rules and guidelines are constantly changing as situations regarding the virus change, so it is important to remain flexible. We'll inform you of the requirements when you book and leading into the tour departure date.
Given the situation as it is, please understand that cancellations are quite possible and are outside of our control. While we understand the frustrations this may present, we'll do our best to make things run as smooth as possible and keep you informed of any changes as they arise.
During this time we will only accept full payments for tours three weeks before departure. All payments, however, will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled prior to departure, or your personal covid-related situation precludes you from commencing the tour. Please make sure when booking flights that they are aslo refundable in the event of a cancelation.
How to I make a booking and payment?
Simply go to the "Dates" section of the tour page and click on the "book now" button, or click on "book" on the website header and select your preferred tour and departure date. If you are booking onto an on demand tour and have your own dates in mind there will be an facility for you book here too.
Before you book, we recommend that you read through the tour details and our booking terms and conditions. You can contact us about the trip if you have any questions at email@example.com or set up a time to chat about the tour.
Upon completion of your booking form we’ll send you an acknowledgement email and invoice for a deposit. All long trips (7 days or more) require a deposit of 300USD to guarantee your place. Trips departing within 60 days at booking will require full payment. Once your deposit is received, we’ll also send you a pre-trip information pack that will give you added information about the tour, the region you’ll be travelling through, a checklist of things to prepare, suggestions for packing, training tips and more. For shorter trips and day tours we require full payment 30 days prior to the commencement of the tour or as soon as convenient if booking within 30 days of departure.
Payments can be made on credit card via Paypal or through a direct bank transfer in most currencies. Information on payments will be present on your initial deposit invoice. Paypal payments will incur a 4% fee.
*****COVID 19 Booking Terms Update*****
During this unique time we will only be accepting full payments for tours three weeks before departure. All payments, however, will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled prior to departure, or your personal covid-related situation precludes you from commencing the tour. Please make sure when booking flights that they are aslo refundable in the event of a cancelation.
- 8 days
- Cycling Tour
- 477 km
- 8 - 16 People
- 1570 USD
- 300 USD (single supplement)
- Relax, recharge or rev up for the ride by Fuxian Lake at the start of the tour
- Cycle quiet backroads with stunning mountain views, lush tropical jungles and remote traditional villages
- Experience the epic 1700 year old UNESCO listed Yuanyang Rice Terraces and their Hani farmers
- Discover Jianshui's old temples and ancestral houses
- Visit Yisa Old Town, a mountain fortress town to the first overseas Chinese that established China - South East Asia trade routes
- Meet local Hani, Dai and Yi villagers and learn about their traditional customs
- Learn about tea in one of Chins's biggest producing regions
- Sample sumptuous local delicacies from Han staples to spicy Dai favourites
- Stay in a range of charming hotels and family run guesthouses
- See lush green tropical scenery and sunny blue skies
- Ride carefree with a support vehicle, great bikes and attentive knowledgeable guides
- Seven nights’ accommodation in comfortable guest houses and hotels - All meals as listed in the itinerary
- Airport transfers
- Bike Asia cycling guide(s)
- Support van(s) and driver/mechanic
- Great quality mountain bikes
- Drinking water, snacks and fruit on cycling days
- Entry tickets as listed in the itinerary
What's Not Included?
- Personal travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages
- Personal expenses, tips and gratuities.