guy biking

Best Places to Bicycle in China

If you’re looking for a way to combine cheap transport, exercise, and fantastic touring all into one, then traveling by bicycle is your ticket to a great trip!

This budget-friendly way of getting around also opens up to you a whole new world of adventure in China.

Since this country boasts the highest bicycle per person ratio in the world, many places are prime territory for cycling dreams.

I’m going to detail for you some of the best places for cyclists in China, including interesting travel routes and cities that are great for seeing on a bicycle. I’ll also list our top tips for bicycle travel in China.

Cycling in China

Around Lake Qinghai: Easy

This route gives you access to beautiful mountain scenery in the northwestern province of Qinghai and views across the lake with many different rare and endangered birds.

You’ll be following the circuit that is used annually for the Qinghai Lake International Cycling Race, so this route is no stranger to cyclists.

Qinghai lake

As the largest salt-water lake in China, lovely Qinghai offers you a pleasant and peaceful ride in the fresh mountain air.

Since the lake is situated on a plateau, the circuit is rather easy, although riders will need to adjust to the altitude since this lake stands at 3,200 meters above sea level.

This also means that the temperature is cooler, so be sure to bring warm clothes (even in summer).

During your trip around the lake in a clockwise direction, you’ll have time to stop at places like Heimahe Town, Bird Island, and Xihai Town, giving you the opportunity to explore the Tibetan culture of the native people who inhabit this area. The circuit covers 360 kilometers in total.

Visiting Beijing: Moderate

Seeing the many beautiful sites of Beijing (including the ancient Lama Temple) by bicycle is absolutely fascinating!

Beijing is well-known as being one of the best cities for bicycle infrastructure in the entire Asian continent.

You’ll find that bicycle lanes wind their way through the city, making your ride safer. Of course, keep alert to surrounding traffic and ride with common sense.

Bicycle in China

To rent a bike in Beijing, check out local bike shops around the tourist areas. Also, ask your hotel or hostel to see if they rent bicycles. 10 Yuan per day is the standard price.

One of the many lovely routes that take you through the heart of some of Beijing’s best sites is going from the Lama Temple to Hohai Lake.

Starting from the grand Lama Temple, you’ll wander the streets of the Hutong neighborhood, a casual and quiet area that is a good starting point for timid city cyclists.

You’ll be able to visit sites such as the Confucius Temple, the Drum and Bell Towers, and finally, spend the afternoon relaxing by Hohai Lake.

From Chengdu to Shangri-La: Advanced

Covering over 1500 kilometers of beautiful mountain terrain, you’ll be able to stop along the way and visit many beautiful and well-known sites such as the Lijiang Old Town in Sichuan, Tiger Leaping Gorge, and more! 

Starting from Chengdu, you can either bike or take a bus to Kangding in Tibet.

This beautiful town is full of rich Tibetan culture and history. Due to the rise in altitude, you may want to stay in Kangding for a couple of days, all the while being able to enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer.

From Kangding, continue your journey through Litang and Xiangcheng, finally arriving at the culturally charged and romantic city of Shangri-La. This trip will take at least a week, depending on how much time you want to stay in each place.  

tibet

This area is full of culture, and smaller day trips that are worthwhile detours from the direct route would include visiting Tangong, a highland village where you can experience the Kham culture, and see this nomadic people’s fascinating culture in person.

A shared van from Kangding is the easiest and cheapest way to get to Tangong.

Top Tips for Bicycling in China

  • Wear appropriate clothing and shoes
  • Keep yourself protected from the sun
  • Helmets are not required by law, but it’s always good to be protected
  • A rain cape is a good investment if you’re traveling during the months of April to July, especially in the south of China
  • Bicycle repairers are easy to find if you have problems, especially in cities
  • Beware of pedestrians who cross without looking, as jaywalking is common
  • As a general rule, give way to motor vehicles
  • If you’re not sure where to ride safely, ask around or watch and see what the majority of people are doing

As you can see, cycling is a great way to see and enjoy China! Just make sure to have fun and be safe!

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Cez Krol

Travel blogger at eTramping
Cez lives in China like a local for the past 4 years. Apart from speaking the language, he loves to discover more about this unique country of extreme contrasts. He shares his China experiences here at Sublime China and on his blog eTramping, so go and check out what's out there for you in China.
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