Follow an updated version of the Dragon's Trail as you cycle across rural China from the Guizhou province to Guangxi. Start in the mountains among the minority Dong and Miao populations and continue past dramatic scenery and traditional villages until you reach the Guilin and Yangshuo areas, experiencing traditional architecture, agriculture, and landscapes along the way.

Highlights

  • Meet members of China's ethnic minorities
  • Cross the ancient Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridges
  • Hike through the verdant Longji rice terraces
  • Follow alongside the 2,000-year-old Lingqu Canal

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guizhou Congjiang
Day 2 Drive & Cycle to Liping Liping
Day 3 Dong Village Biking & Drive to Basha Basha
Day 4 Visit Chengyang Village & Cycle 3 Provinces Sanjiang
Day 5 Hike the Longji Rice Terrace Field Longsheng
Day 6 Cycle the Ling Canal & Grape Orchards Xing'an
Day 7 Qin Courtyard & Tunnel Caves, Cycle to Haiyang Town Gaoshang
Day 8 Daxu Ancient Town Visit & Ride to Xingping Xingping
Day 9 Cycle Xingping & Yangshuo Yangshuo
Day 10 Depart Yangshuo or Guilin  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guizhou

Bullet Train Experiences in China
Guizhou aerial view

Welcome to China! Whether you arrive by plane or high-speed train, you'll start your journey in Guizhou at the Congjiang Railway Station.

Pick up your bike and meet your guide to start on your tour. This area of China is home to the linguistically related Dong and Miao minority communities. You'll pass by wooden houses on stilts, with animals living underneath, and brightly embroidered clothing. If you're lucky, you'll travel at the right time for one of the area's many festivals, and traditional crafts like weaving, batik, and embroidery are practiced year-round.

Spend the evening with your guide in Zhaoxing village.

Day 2: Drive & Cycle to Liping

Bike through the Villages where Minority Chinese Lives
Biking through the villages

Spend the morning exploring Zhaoxing, which is famous for its five Drum Towers. According to tradition, each Drum Tower represents one group of the local Dong people. You can also explore the wood and rain bridges between the buildings as you walk through the early morning market and sample the snacks.

As the residents head out in the afternoon to work, you'll drive 90 minutes west to the remote village of Diman. Take a 12-mile (20 km) bike ride past the peaceful towns and brooks; the route is mostly flat with only a few brief steep uphill climbs.

After you finish the bike ride, get back on the road with your driver to Liping city, where you'll spend the night. Take a walk through the market and up the viewing tower before you retire.

Day 3: Dong Village Biking & Drive to Basha

Local People Living in Basha
Local people in Basha

Start your day with a bike ride into the mountains to smaller traditional villages. You'll wheel your way through rural communities and landscapes, including a simple lunch, as you observe the residents going about their lives weaving cloths, going to school, and chatting with their neighbors.

After finishing the cycling, drive to Basha village, the last legal gun village in China. This area has few tourists to its wooden buildings, drum towers, and cobbled streets.

Day 4: Visit Chengyang Village & Cycle 3 Provinces

Lovely Kids and Local Hospitable People
Central square in Chengyang

See how Basha earned its designation as a gun village by watching the traditional gun show, followed by a visit to the folk museum to understand the area's history. Then say farewell to the Guizhou province and take a 2-hour drive to Chengyang village, another Dong village known for its wind and rain bridges.

Once you've settled into your lodging, you'll embark on a half-day bike ride through peaceful villages and north into the Hunan province, watching the buildings around you evolve from historical to modern. You'll be driven back to Chengyang for the evening.

Day 5: Hike the Longji Rice Terrace Field

Hike the Real Beautiful Parts of Longji Rice Terraces
Longji Rice Terraces

Longsheng county is known for its Longji rice terraces (Longji Titian), which have given it its local nickname of "The Dragon's Backbone." Entire mountainsides are covered in rice fields, creating a dramatic landscape that resembles a long chain or ribbon extending up the hills. The Terraces were started during the Yuan dynasty and finished in the Qing dynasty by the Zhuang people

You'll drive for roughly an hour from Chengyang to the Longji Rice Terrace viewing area. You can either walk from the base of the mountain to the top, or drive halfway up and only do the last section on foot to reach the viewing decks.

You'll also visit the Longsheng Hot Springs, called "a heaven of peace and happiness" and "paradise on earth" in the national park. Sample the local specialty rice: cooked with peanuts, beans, or other ingredients baked in bamboo tubes on an open fire. You can explore the village on foot, and a short climb will take you to two popular vantage points: the "Nine Dragons and Five Tigers" and the "Seven Stars with the Moon" with some of the best views of the terraces.

Day 6: Cycle the Lingqu Canal & Grape Orchards

Clients Visiting The House of Local Farmer
Lingqu Canal (Photo: Farm [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)])

After a late breakfast and last look over the rice terraces, you'll head down the mountain to your cycling start point. This village is home to some of the best grape-growing in the area, and you'll linger at a homestay visit to sample the fruit and a home-cooked meal.

Now that you're fueled up, hop on your bike for a 19-mile (30 km) cycle along the Lingqu Canal, built by the same emperor who started construction on the Great Wall. This easy ride will take you through history and to some of the area's best rice noodles.

If you want to keep going, you can add on an additional 12 miles (20 km) past brooks and a passionfruit farm.

Day 7: Qin Courtyard & Tunnel Caves, Cycle to Haiyang Town

Explore the Less Commercialized Tunnel Cave
Inside the cave

Drive to another village alongside the longest reservoir in Xing'an for a short bike ride. Then get back in the vehicle to continue to Baishi, where you can explore a natural karst cave chain on a 1-2-hour walking tour through the narrow paths.

Stop for lunch near the caves, then cycle the rest of the way to Haiyang, a small town famous for its ginkgo trees.

Day 8: Daxu Ancient Town Visit & Ride to Xingping

Sunset view, on the way to Xingping
Sunset view on the way to Xingping

Ride some small uphill climbs and undulations this morning to the base of the mountain where the Tour of Guangxi bike race takes place. One of China's biggest bike races and the last stop of the racing season for some professional teams, this area offers more of a challenge for riders. You can choose to finish the route among the scenery or take the van uphill part of the way until you reach your destination at Daxu ancient town.

In the afternoon, take a hilly ride along the Li River surrounded by mountain views. You'll end with a long downhill and flat stretch into Xingping, an old port village where you'll spend the night. Wander the streets in search of cafes and handicraft shops, along with scenic lookouts and swimming spots.

Day 9: Cycle Xingping & Yangshuo

Best Scenery of Li River and Yangshuo
Li River and karst mountains

A morning boat across the Li River brings you closer to the karst peaks. Take a short but steep uphill ride to a panoramic view of the river, then walk up to the top of Xianggongshan to take in the views.

Your full cycling route for the day will depend on the weather and your preferences, but regardless of what path you take, you'll enjoy plenty of mountain views, small rivers, and scenic spots on your way to Yangshuo. You'll choose whether to spend the night in Yangshuo or neighboring Guilin.

Day 10: Depart Yangshuo or Guilin

Breakfast will be local Chinese or Western Styles
Yangshuo rooftops

Your tour ends here after breakfast, though you can choose to stick around explore or head home.