"Get off the beaten track in rural southern China: cycle through stunning limestone karst mountains, hike the cascading Longji Rice Terraces, raft and swim in mountain streams and meet welcoming local minority people."

  • Day 1: Arrive Guilin - Transfer to Pingan in Longji Rice Terraces


    Whether you’re coming into Guilin by train or plane we will be waiting for you – just keep an eye out for a sign with your name on it! The drive to our start point in the village of Pingan, nestled in the heart of the Longji Rice Terraces, will take around an hour.  On arrival in Pingan, it's a 15 minute walk up to the guesthouse - we'll have porters on hand to help you with your gear if needed. Accommodation for the next two nights is in a local guesthouse with all amenities and some of the best food in the region. After check-in, and a brief group meeting to go over any questions you may have, you can head up to one of the viewpoints for sunset over the intricate network of rice terraces or relax on the balcony and admire the mountain vistas. We'll meet for a banquet dinner in the evening and celebrate the start of the adventure with some local specialities and perhaps some locally made rice wine!

    The Longji rice terraces (龙脊梯田 – Longji Titian), meaning "Dragon's Backbone" rice terraces, are located in Longsheng county (龙胜) around 100km from Guilin.  The terraces, also known as Longsheng rice terraces (龙胜梯田 – Longsheng Titian) are over 600 years old with their construction starting during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1358) by the Zhuang and Yao ethnic minorities.  The area of the rice terraces covers an incredible 65 square kilometres, all built by hand using buffaloes, horses and traditional tools that are still used today.  There are three main areas centring on the Zhuang villages of Pingan and Longji and the Red Yao village of Dazhai.  We'll be staying in Pingan and exploring the surrounds there as well as hiking to the areas oldest village, Longji, which has the largest group of traditional Zhuang stilt-houses in Guangxi.  

    The Zhuang (壮族) are indigenous to Guangxi and the largest ethnic minority in China.  Also living in Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan and Guangdong provinces, the Zhuang have their own distinct language and customs and are famous for their colorful embroidery.  The Yao (瑶族) originally come from Hunan province and have spread across Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangdong provinces.  The Yao are well known for their singing and bright clothing and, most famously, for the long hair of the women (often 2 metres in length) that is tied up in a large distinctive bun on top of their heads.

  • Day 2: Hike in Longji Rice Terraces

    Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 10 km

    After breakfast on the balcony, we'll head up to the terraces guided by our local Zhuang host Keyin or his brother Yibeng.  They were one of the first to build a guesthouse in Pingan and we've had a long friendship with them.  They'll show us their section of the terraces where we have the opportunity to take part in some of the work that needs to be done - depending on the season that might mean planting rice, tending vegetables or harvesting - whilst learning about Zhuang cultural and village practices.  We'll continue our hike up to the various viewpoints above Pingan before heading to Longji village on stone pathways through the rice fields.  In Longji we stop for a local lunch a Zhuang farmers house before exploring the old wooden houses, stone bridges and ancient trees in this oldest village in the terraces.  We'll return to Pingan with time to freshen up before dinner.

  • Day 3: Cycle to Miaoping - river rafting to Shiertan - 36km

    Lunch & Dinner 36 km

    Our first day on the bikes starts with a bike fitting and a briefing on what to expect on the road ahead.  We start with a thrilling downhill for 6km through dozens of switchbacks, down the mountainside. We then follow a smooth twisting gentle downward ride for 11km along a small river, passing several Yao villages.  After a short break we spend the rest of the morning on quiet sealed roads climbing gently up over 12km through shady pine and bamboo forests, tea plantations and small settlements, often catching views of villages perched improbably the hills across the deep valley. What follows is a long sweeping downhill through pristine countryside to our lunch spot after 36km.  Being close to Guilin, delicious Guilin-style rice noodles are available everywhere and these hearty meals are perfect for biking. In the afternoon, we leave the bikes behind and hop aboard rubber rafts for a sometimes thrilling, sometimes serene, float down the river to our hotel on the riverside at Shiertan.  Interspersed with some brumby rapids, the raft ride takes about one and a half hours on mostly flat water passing through ravines and by small villages.  Arriving at the hotel you'll have time to shower and relax before dinner on the rivers edge.

    For those not interested in rafting, you can do a further undulating 25km on the bikes through picturesque countryside scenery with one of our guides, leaving plenty of time to arrive at the hotel, freshen up and relax before dinner.

  • Day 4: Cycle to Qingshitan - 63km

    Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 63 km

    Breakfast will be in the hotel overlooking the river and then it’s back on the bikes with a smooth downhill to Wantian village to check out locals going about their daily life; buying and selling in the colourful local market.  One of the highlight rides of the tour takes us through farming communities on small, serene backroads and trails through vegetable and fruit orchards as we explore village farm life and old Han villages. At around 30km, we'll stop at Liu San Jie tea plantation for lunch where you see how tea is grown and produced.  We'll settle in to learn about tea culture over a traditional tea ceremony before a banquet lunch.  Our afternoon ride takes us on small backroads to Qingshitan Lake, where we cycle on it's fringes before descending to the rural plains below.  We'll stop and visit Jiangtou Jiuwu ancient village, one of the more intact ancient towns in Guangxi, before heading to our hotel for the evening.

    Jiangtou Jiuwu is an ancient town that was founded by Hunanese Zhou Dunyi (1017–1073), a famous literati, philosopher and scholar of Neo-Confucianism, during the Northern Song period of Chinese history.  The town is made up of his descendants, many of who continued his scholarly ways, with a large number graduating the Imperial examinations and becoming officials and scholars.  Today, the village is one of the better preserved examples of Ming and Qing style architecture, where wandering among the lanes and into the temples offers a glimpse into the distant past.

  • Day 5: Cycle to Daxu - 82km

    Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 81 km

    An epic day is in store today as we make to the Li River.  Our first section of cycling will take us along flat countryside roads through rice fields, vegetable plots, citrus orchards and numerous villages; many with colourful murals on the roadside buildings.    After stopping for a break at Lingchuan, we make our way across the Li River and along wetlands that are used for fish farming.  We'll leave the Li River behind and climb up toward Changchongkou, following an ancient trading route that linked distant farming communities to the Li River which was the major transport route in the past.  We'll stop in a tiny village for lunch, after which, there's a great walk to a nearby waterfall (and a refreshing dip if it's hot enough).  The afternoon is a speedy (mostly) downhill to Xiong Cun village, one of Gunangxi's (and China's) more untouched ancient towns, where we'll stop for a stroll through the old streets.  Then it's a riverside ride on small paths through rural landscapes in to Daxu Old Town, one of the regions more famous ancient villages.  As it's a long busy day, we'll head straight for our hotel overlooking the Li River, leaving time for the Old Town to be visited the next day.  Dinner is riverside with views over the River.

    Xiong Cun is a relatively unheard of village that was once a prosperous trading town linking smaller remote villages and farming communities to the major ports on the Li River, such as Daxu in the south and Xingan in the north. Although it has a history of over a thousand years, the village, as it stands today, was built during the Ming and Qing dynastic periods.  Many residents still live in the old houses and amble the narrow cobble lanes.  Surrounded by mountains, rice and vegetable fields and interwoven with small streams and waterways, it's unrestored state and lack of the modern developers neon touch makes this one of the more authentic rural towns in China.  Daxu Old Town has an even longer history with the earliest Zhuang inhabitants occupying the area as early as 200BC.  It's heyday, like Xiong Cun, was during the Ming and Qing dynasties, when it was one of the richest ports along the North/ South trade artery that linked southern China with the North.  Old flagstone streets, temples, courtyard houses and bridges are fine examples of what an ancient merchant port town would have looked like.

  • Day 6: Cycle to Xingping - 58km

    Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 58 km

    After breakfast, we'll jump on the bikes and head into Daxu Old Town.  We'll explore the old streets and meet the mostly old folk who still live in the old Qing brick and wooden buildings. Blue flagstone and river-rock cobble pave the streets and, as Daxu is quite well known, souvenir sellers vie for attention along with snack stalls, antique shops, art dealers, traditional medicine purveyors and juice bars.  Our route takes us through town to follow a bike path along the famous Li River to quite near where the Li River cruses begin.  On the bikes we'll have the serenity of watching the peaceful river life from the banks, away from the crowds, wending our way through bamboo groves and plantations of citrus, grapes and a myriad of vegetable fields.  Our first big climb of the day takes us up high over the river and into the Southern China limestone karst mountain area designated by UNESCO for it's sublime beauty.  At the top we'll stop for a coffee break: each day of cycling is punctuated by a coffee break featuring fruit and snacks, tea, and Chinese coffee to keep the legs pumping.  A stunning series of long downhills and shorter climbs brings us to lunch in a rural farmers restaurant in the lowlands.

    After lunch, we head for the hills again with a steep, but short climb taking us into mountain country once again.  We'll be making our way to a mountain stream where we'll leave the bikes behind and hike upstream to a narrow gorge and waterfall for a refreshing swim.  The last section of riding takes us downhill all the way into Xingping. After freshening up, we'll head into the old town for a banquet of local specialities.

    Xingping, another river town located on the banks of the Li, has an old town that is archecturally Ming and Qing dynasty in style.  The surroundings are some of the more beautiful in the whole region; the bamboo-lined emerald-green Li River curls around impossibly shaped and immensely imposing karst formations whilst the sun seems to find itself setting perfectly in the landscape for the photographers that make their pilgrimage there.  Xingping sees quite a lot of tourists these days, many to take pictures with the view on the 20 yuan note behind them, but the area is easy to get lost in and avoid the crowds, even in the centre of town, where you can hike up Loazhai Mountain for some of the best views you'll see anywhere with few people around you.

  • Day 7: Cycle to the Yulong Valley - 38km

    Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 38 km

    Our final day of cycling is definitely a highlight. We follow the Li River upstream for around 2km past the view made famous for being on the Chinese 20 yuan note.  From here we load up the bikes onto a local ferry to cross the river, then back on the bikes we send our way through small villages all surrounded by immense karst mountains.  A small back road route brings us up our first climb of the day, heading up into the hills for some of the finest views of the tour.  We'll stop for a break at Xianggongshan Mt which has a lookout where you can aappreciate the enormity of the landscape: a forest of karst mountains disappearing in the distance over views of the Li River far below.  We continue to ride along the ridgeline passing through citrus orchard countryside before heading away from the Li River and down to Baisha and onto the Yulong River Valley. We'll stop for lunch in a local farmer’s restaurant by the river, with views of the 600 year old Yulong Bridge, before a back road ride along the river to our guesthouse in Jiuxian Ancient Town.  Our guesthouse for our last night, and celebration of the end of our adventure, is in the middle of the old town in wonderfully renovated traditional buildings: a fitting way to end our tour!

    Jiuxian Old Town is one of the more famous villages in the region. Situated in the serene and sublimely picturesque Yulong Valley, it boasts some of the nicest converted traditional style accommodation anywhere in China, making for a rewarding way to appreciate the old archectecture and village life in an authentic setting. 

  • Day 8: Departure Day


    Today is departure day and you are free to leave at any time.  If you'd like to stay on in Yangshuo there are plenty of options for further activities so let us know if you need any help planning your stay.