The UNESCO Three Parallel Rivers protected area is one of the most spectacular regions on the planet. Located on the edge of Tibet, it is home to dozens of ethnic minority groups, incredible biological diversity and uniquely dramatic land formations. If you like jaw-dropping scenery, thrilling cycling and local culture up close then Magical Shangrila is a must-do!

  • Day 1: Arrive Shangri-La


    This is arrival day and you’ll be met by your Bike Asia leader in the evening to go over the trip ahead. For those arriving early, (not a bad idea in order to acclimatise to the altitude) the old Tibetan town of Zhongdian, Gyalthang in Tibetan (recently renamed Shangri La), is worth exploring. The town still retains its Tibetan feel and old world charm. After our meeting we’ll indulge in a traditional Tibetan feast. The next two night’s accommodation is in a comfortable Tibetan style hotel.

  • Day 2: Warm up ride Shangri-La

    Lunch 40 km

    Today we head out for a ride to Tian Sheng hot springs on the outskirts of Shangri-La. A great warm up for the cycling ahead, taking in the beautiful architecture of Tibetan homes, lush alpine forest, pasture land and diverse wildflowers, we’ll have time for a soak in the outdoor springs with its natural amphitheater and natural rock bridge. For those up to it there’s an option to do a little mountain biking on the way back. The rest of the afternoon is set aside to acclimatise or to head out to Ganden Sumtseling Monastery (Songzanlin), South West China’s most important monastery. We’ll dine local style in the old town in the evening.

  • Day 3: Cycle to Benzilan

    Lunch 100 km

    Today we head to the Tibetan town, Benzilan, wedged in the Jinsha (Yangzi) River Valley. The ride starts with a loop around Napa lake, famed for it’s wetland migratory water birds, followed by a nice 5 km climb to our first pass before we head down fast to the beautiful village of Nixi for a traditional local lunch. This village is famous for its distinctive handmade black pottery. We head uphill to our second minor pass before hitting a 25km descent to the Yangzi River. The views are incredibly dramatic and the roads, whilst excellent, are an engineering wonder in themselves. Dotted among the deep ravines and precipitous cliffs are Tibetan villages irrigated with terraces and channels from snow melt and springs above. We follow the stunning Yangzi river valley along undulating roads to the picturesque town of Benzilan where we stay in a local guesthouse. The accommodation here is basic as this is a remote little travelled region.

  • Day 4: Cycle to Dongzhulin Monastery

    Lunch 32 km

    After our big descent the day before, we head up, up, up to Dongzhulin Monastery on the shoulder of Bai Ma Snow Mountain in the Parallel Rivers Unesco Protected Area. As it’s such a huge ascent (65km from the Yangze to the to of White Horse Mountain pass), we’ve broken the climb into two days allowing time to enjoy this incredible area and further acclimatise. Dongzhulin monastery, built in 1667, is right next not far from our local style Tibetan guesthouse so there will be time to explore the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism, meet some monks and explore the area in a less visited working monastery. We cycle on past the monastery to stay in a local guesthouse popular with Chinese cyclists making their way to Lhasa. There are some interesting walks in the area.

  • Day 5: Cycle to Deqen

    Lunch 75 km

    An early morning wake up on the mountain and its back on the bikes for a 35km climb (or ride in the van as you wish!) up to our highest point at 4200m with spectacular views of Bai Ma Snow Mountain and Kawakarpo in the distance. After a short break to soak it all up, we head downhill into Deqin county through dozens of switchbacks. The views are amazing but we cover ground quickly before arriving at our home-stay nestled on a ridge overlooking Meili Snow Mountain, or Kawakarpo in Tibetan, the region’s most holy mountain and an important Tibetan pilgrimage site. Tonight’s accommodation is in a quiet Traditional style Hotel with views of the mountains.

  • Day 6: Rest Day Deqen - Glacier Hike

    Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    Today we say goodbye to the bikes and jump in the van for a drive into Meili Snow Mountain (Kawakarpo) National Park. After crossing the Mekong River by car, we’ll be carrying day packs for a two day hike to Yubeng, a spectacular Tibetan village only accessible on foot. The hike takes around 5 hours and we’ll be staying in a local family run guesthouse. The views here are among the most spectacular of the trip with views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks, Tibetan villages and farmland. Tonight we stay in a local Tibetan guesthouse.

  • Day 7: Cycle to Cizhong

    Lunch 100 km

    Setting off on foot once again, we’ll make our way back down to the impressive Mekong River (Lancang River). It’s a spectacular hike through ravines and along rushing rivers with views of the surrounding Snow Mountains hanging above as we recross the river and meet the van. It’s a one and a half hour drive to Cizhong village on the banks of the Mekong river. Cizhong has a century old Catholic church built by French missionaries and is remarkable for it’s unique mix of eastern and western architecture and religious iconography. We’ll have the opportunity to witness an evening mass and a traditional meal with a glass or two of the local wine – a truly unique experience in China! The next two night’s accommodation is in local Naxi style guesthouse.

  • Day 8: Cycle/ Transfer to Tacheng

    Lunch 70 km

    Today is a free day to rest and explore the area. We’ll visit the local church and meet the priest who still maintains the Catholic Church and religious services. If there is a mass in the evening we are likely to be invited and see how the religious iconography and hymn singing has been adapted to local styles. Also worth seeing is the local wine making. The local people in the area area still practice wine making, a practice first introduced by missionaries over a century ago.

  • Day 9: Cycle to Jinjiangzhen

    Lunch 81 km

    On the bikes again and we tend downward toward the small village of Tongle. Today sees us pass through several gorges and we witness the widening of the Mekong Valley. More villages cling to the mountainsides and rice becomes more prevalent. It’s not all easy downhill cycling though as we take a side trip up into the little travelled Lisu wooden village of Tongle. This side-trip represent the fascinating mix of cultures and people that peacefully co-inhabit this region. The ride up to Tongle and back is 14km. Options are to hike part the way instead. Once we finished exploring the village we jump into the van for a drive to our hotel in Weixi. This is a hub for all the farmers in the area and is a vibrant bustling town – a stark contrast to the tiny villages we have encountered so far. We’ll spend a night in a 3 star hotel and eat out on the street to soak up the atmosphere.

  • Day 10: Cycle/ Transfer to Tiger Leaping Gorge

    Lunch 70 km

    We start the day with a big climb to lunch through picturesque villages of Naxi and Lisu minority groups. After lunch we have yet another long descent to the town of Tacheng, the jumping off point to the Golden Haired Monkey (or Snub Nosed Monkey) reserve, one of China’s three most endangered species. Today’s ride is one of the most picturesque on the tour. Once we arrive there’ll be time for walks through the village and surrounding farmland. Our night is spent in a small local hotel.

  • Day 11: Afternoon Cycle to Daxu

    Lunch 65 km

    A trip to see the golden hair monkeys is a highlight in the morning. These creatures are one of China’s rarest and the reserve is one of China’s better conservation efforts with limited and controlled contact with humans. You’ll be able to see these intriguing creatures going about their daily routine and by visiting you’ll contribute to the funds needed to keep this project going. We’ll have the morning to visit the preservation centre before heading back on the bikes for a fast and flat ride to the riverside town of Jinjiang. This is a long ride but a flat one through farmland and along the banks of the Yangzi River. Tonight we spend the night in a local hotel.

  • Day 12: Cycle to Lijiang

    Lunch 45 km

    We continue our ride on flat and fast sealed roads along the Yangzi River once more. We’ll make our way to our ride finish point in Shigu and “the first bend” in the Yangze River where this huge river changes course and makes it’s way deeper into China. Shigu is also famous for being a crossing point on the “Long March” and features some interesting temples and back streets. We’ll grab some lunch and after a tour of the town we’ll transfer to nearby Lijiang where we’ll celebrate the end of the tour with a Naxi feast and perhaps a beer or two! Tonight we stay in a comfortable Chinese style hotel.

  • Day 13: Departure day

    Lunch 590 km

    – You are free to leave at any time.