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The Top 10 Bike Trails In China

Going for a bike ride in China probably wasn’t the first thing you put on your itinerary was it? In fact, it may not even make an appearance in your China travel plans at all. While The Great Wall and the Summer Palace are surely sites you hope to visit, it’s worth discovering what else China has to offer besides it’s well-worn tourist attractions.

Dig deeper into China’s culture and its scenery, but instead of doing it on foot, or by train, give a bike a try. You might find it surprising, but China has a whole collection of beautiful, exciting and adventurous bike trails that will take you both off the beaten path and on. So, if you’re in the midst of planning your next China vacation, try adding one of these bike trails to your list.

1) Yangshuo to Pu Tao

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Beautiful is an understatement when talking about Yangshuo. This mystical destination is characterized by a winding river, misty skies, bamboo rafts and giant, karst mountain peaks.

Embark on a two-day bike tour that goes from Yangshuo to Pu Tao and back through Fuli, Che Lang Hill, Xing Ping, and The Stone City.

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Start off by cycling down Guanlian Road to view Shutong mountain, a classic sight in the area. After continuing on and passing through a tunnel, you will reach the old town of Fuli where you can visit historic buildings and attend fan making workshops.

Turning left out of the city, you will head down the road leading to Xing Ping, first passing Done Lang Hill before reaching its old town. This is a perfect place to arrange a home-stay or hostel for the evening. Before you leave, check out the old mountain fort and the scenery of Chaobanshanfang.

Hop on a raft with your bike to the other side of the river to Luo Shi Yan and then keep going towards Dalingtou Village. Make sure to climb up Hebao Mountain on foot. Continue on through the Stone City, Pu Tao and back to Yangshuo.

2) Xiamen Cycling Skyway

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It’s brand new, so you may be one of the first cyclists to conquer this elevated bike path. In an effort to combat the smog and traffic, the city has constructed an elevated bike path above the city streets. It’s only open to cyclists and has some pretty fantastic views.

It stretches for about five miles and gives cyclists access to bus stations and subway stops so that they can get all around the city. There are also about 300 bikes for hire so that you can snag one easily and get started.

3) Broken Bridge and Su Di Causeway in Hangzhou

Stretching for 5.4 kilometers, this route offers incredible views of the famous, West Lake. As you cycle, be prepared to cross the Broken Bridge right onto Gushan Island where you can take a break to visit the museums, restaurants and the nature trails.

After a well-deserved break, continue for the longer route of the Su Di Causeway. The entire stretch of it is lined with trees, and it will take you around the entirety of the lake.

3) Hainan Island Route

This route is relatively easy and stretches for 650 kilometers all around the island of Hainan. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius, and the best time to make the journey is from November until May.

There aren’t too many places in China that have island scenery like this so it makes it quite the sight by bike. Stop off at the beaches, cool off in the sea and enjoy the ocean breeze that will help dry the sweat from under your helmet. Don’t forget to look up and pay attention to the coconut trees; they’re beautiful.

5) Urumqi to Dunhuang

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This is one of the most popular cycling routes in China. It stretches for 990 kilometers and offers a real desert experience. August to October is the best time to take the trip, but be prepared because it can take up to 15 days to complete.

You will be cycling in the Gobi Desert and the path is mostly flat. Be prepared for sandy winds by wearing large glasses and covering your mouth and nose with a handkerchief. The nights get cold so make sure to bring warm clothes and sunscreen for the day.

The top attractions to see along the route include the Mogao Grottoes, Cresecent Spring, Echoing Sand Mountain, The Mausoleum of Kumul Uygur Kings, Mount Tianshan, Barkol Lake, Manhan Ancient Town, and Heavenly Lake.

6) Lanzhou to Dunhuang

Taking between 12 and 15 days, this route will take you 1,100 kilometers along the former Silk Road. September through October is the best time to take trip and the flat roadways make it relatively easy for cyclists.

There is a large difference in temperature from day to night as well as a dry climate, the wind, and solar radiation. Make sure to bring an array of clothing as well as good sunglasses and a scarf to cover your face.

The trail will take you through the Gobi Desert, through a cluster of historical sites, the Mogao Grottoes, the Grand Buddha Temple of Zhangye City and Jiayu Pass.

7) Chengdu to Lhasa

This one sure is difficult, but most people think it’s worth it due to the scenery. It stretches for 2,200 kilometers and can take a whopping 25-30 days. This trail is recommended for seasoned cyclists.

The best times to take on the trail are May, June, September and October. Cyclists will start in Chengdu and head towards the Tibet plateau. There will be over ten mountain passes and several rivers before arriving in Lhasa. Expect to see snow capped mountains and grasslands throughout the journey.

8) The Friendship Highway

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This bike trail runs from Tibet to Nepal and can take around 20 days to complete. The best time to brave the journey is between April and November. You’ll experience both up and down hill stretches while you look out over one of the world’s best views; Mt. Everest.

The trail will lead you towards Lhasa and the Sera Monastery as well as Drepung Monastery and Potala Palace. Check out the Yamdrok-Tso Lake, the summit of Karo-La Pass and the stunning views of the glaciers and the Himalayas.

9) The Great Wall

You knew this one was coming right? What wouldn’t cycling enthusiast want to say that they’ve ridden on The Great Wall?

Cyclists can take biking tours that last anywhere from one to seven days. You won’t just get to cycle on the wall but also on the back roads and through traditional villages and farms.

The scenery both on the wall and off of it is something that you’ll keep in your memory for the rest of your life.

10) Qinghai Lake

Stretching only 360 kilometers, this route isn’t very challenging. While it doesn’t offer a ton of adrenalin, it does offer charming views. July and August are the best times to cycle here and a trip could take up to four days, sometimes even a week.

The route is so popular that it’s used as the location for the International Cycling Race, held every July. Make sure that you can handle the high altitude here, as the lake is 3,200 meters above sea level.

This lake is considered sacred by the Tibetan people making it a perfect destination to learn about Tibetan culture. Don’t forget to take a detour to Bird Island for the wildlife viewing.

So, has cycling around China made its way onto your itinerary yet? I sure hope so!

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.