8 Days Yunnan Cycling Tour from Shangrila to Lijiang

Yunnan Province is the best place to ride bike. Here is very good for cycling all the year round. Shangri-la, located in the beautiful Northern Yunnan province of China, captures China’s beautiful nature at its best. As we travel to Lijiang from Shangri-la by bike over a period of 7 days we’ll charter through high mountain passes, visit the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, and bike around beautiful alpine lakes. 


  • Cycle from Shangrila to Lijiang, with beautiful nature along the way.
  • Have grand view of Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Shangrila Arrival
  • Day 2: Shangrila
  • Day 3: Shangrila – Baishuitai
  • Day 4: Baishuitai – Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Day 5: Tiger Leaping Gorge -Qiaotou  – Shigu
  • Day 6: Shigu – Lijiang
  • Day 7: Lijiang
  • Day 8: Lijiang Departure

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Shangrila

Sightseeing and Activities: Arrive in Shangrila
Accommodation: Shangrila
Meals: Dinner

Arrival Shangri-la. Here you’ll meet and greet one of our expert guides and transfer over to the local hostel in the famous old town, Shangri-la (Zhongdian).

Old Town is a Tibetan town located at about 3,400 meter and offers a picturesque and fascinating look into Tibetan culture and life, as this area is considered a gateway to Tibet. Here we’ll find the Gandan Sumtseling Monestary, Paducuo National Park, and of course Tiger Leaping Gorge.

After a short rest at the hostel we’ll hop on our bikes for a test ride to make adjustments, begin getting adjusted to the altitude, head to a nearby restaurant for some delicious dinner. You’ll have to try to Barley Wine made from “zanba” (a roasted highland barley flour). Thereafter we’ll head in for a good night.

Day 2 Shangrila

Sightseeing and Activities: Shangrila
Accommodation: Shangrila
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Songzanlin Monastery in Shangrila

Today we’ll spend our day doing more sightseeing and cycling around Old Town of Shangri-la and getting further adjusted to the high elevation.

This area is rich with Tibetan-style architecture and dates back 1300 years! We’ll eat breakfast and ride to Songzanlin Monestary, 5km north of the old town center. The Songzanlin Monestary (constructed in 1679) is the largest Tibetan Monestary in Yunnan and is nicknamed the “Lesser Potala” due to its resemblance to the magnificent structure in Lhasa. We’ll visit for 2 hours until lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch we’ll cycle over to a small hill to visit Napa Lake about 6km away. The Napa Lake Nature Reserve is the country’s largest grassland and most scene area of the plateau. We’ll have time to walk around and take everything in, enjoy the Tibetan culture and take lots of photographs before riding back to Old Town.

Upon returning to our hotel in the evening we’ll have a delicious dinner. We’ll be getting a good night’s sleep tonight – we have a big day tomorrow!

Road Condition: Paved. On the way to Napa Lake, 10km from town, we’ll encounter a small slope
Distance: 22km
Elevation: 3400M
Time: Half day casual biking with visiting spots along the way

Day 3 Shangrila – Baishuitai

Sightseeing and Activities:Shangrila – Baishuitai
Accommodation: Baishuitai
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast we’ll say goodbye to the beautiful Shangri-la and will be transferred directly to a high mountain pass (4100m) where we’ll start our cycling for the day. As we begin today’s journey at the top it will be apparent there is little wildlife, few trees or brush but only some moss, and large rocks. As we make our way down its fascinating to watch this change.

After scanning this beautiful Yunnan view we’ll mount our bikes and will be immediately challenged by two 3900-meters-high mountains in a row. It will be worth it though! On the way we’ll stop and choose a nice spot for a picnic lunch.

Our destination is Baishutai, the backdoor to the Tiger Leaping Gorge area. As we descend, we will pass through large coniferous forest that is famous in Yunnan. There area is very undeveloped as the only sounds we’ll here are the animals and the wind as it passes through the enormous pines that line the roads. After a long day’s journey we’ll check into a local hostel, take a shower, grab some delicious food, and relax!

Road Condition – Paved. Three difficult uphill and downhill section in a row. High altitude elevation
Elevation: 3300m – 4100m
Time: 5-6 hours cycling
Distance: 101 km, about 60 km riding with 40 km vehicle transfer (this section is really a 2-day ride but there is no suitable accommodation half-way and the first part is a very tough, steep, uphill mountainous climb with little scenery. For this reason, we will use vehicle support to transfer the group to the high mountain pass, where the rest of the day is a much more interesting downhill ride)

Day 4 Baishuitai-Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge

Sightseeing and Activities:Baishuitai-Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
Accommodation: Tiger Leaping Gorge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Before we set out for today’s Yunnan biking journey we’ll first visit the unique Baishui Terraces (“bai shui” means “white water” in Chinese). For thousands of years, mineral-laden spring water has flown down the mountain, leaving crystallized sodium carbonate along its slopes, leaving us now with the awesome view of a series of limestone basins full of water that look like huge marble sculptures! Its a lot cooler when you see it than when we try to describe it!

After an hour or so of visiting and taking photos, we will start on our day’s cycling tour. We’ll start with initial 4k uphill section until we head downhill the rest of the way to the Gorge. Lunch will be in Haba, a small but unique village on the way.

In the late afternoon we will enter the world-famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest most dramatic gorges in the world, and still quite wild despite enormous efforts to tame it. We’ll bike another 10km after enter in the gorge until we finally arrive at the “middle” of Tiger Leaping Gorge. Here we will spend the night.

Road Condition: Paved. 4km uphill at the very beginning, then most of the road continues downhill. As we approach Tiger Leaping Gorge, there will be a 3km long gravel section, but its still downhill. After entering Tiger Leaping Gorge itself, we will ride another 10 km on a paved road to reach our destination.
Distance: 73 km
Elevation: 3400 – 1800 m
Time: 6 hours cycling

Day 5 Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge-Qiaotou-Shigu

Sightseeing and Activities: Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge-Qiaotou-Shigu
Accommodation: Shigu
Meals: Tiger Leaping Gorge

In the early morning we’ll spend an hour or so hiking down the narrow spot of the gorge where the entire Yangtze River is forced through a gap only 20 meters wide! We’ll be unable to talk here because of the tremendous, thundering roar!

Once we head out on our bikes we’ll ride along a 10km stretch on a packed gravel road. Once we pass this we’ll reach smooth and rolling roads and get a view of the might Yangtze on our right and the majestic Snow Mountains on our left.

After passing Songyuan Bridge, we will have lunch in local restaurant. Later in the afternoon, we will reach “The First Bend of the Yangtze River” where the mighty Yangtze turns almost 180 degrees. This is the first of several abrupt turns it makes on its way eastward across all of China, before it finally empties into the East China Sea at Shanghai.


The mighty Yangtze, the third-longest river in the world (after the Nile and the Amazon), originates from a glacier in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, “the roof of the world”, where it surges into Yunnan from the northwest, cutting through the high mountains and deep gorges of the Hengduan Mountains, and rushing southwards from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Here, where we stand, the Yangtze is blocked by the Hailuo Cliff, which forces it to turn roughly to northeast, forming a great “U”-shaped bend, which is called the First Bend of the Yangtze.

At this first bend the river is wide, so the water seems to flow in a gentle, slow pace hiding the power beneath the surface. Large willow trees grow luxuriously alongside the river that is banked on both sides with lush, fertile deep green vegetation and immense, steep mountains that rise up from the river toward the sky above. On the fertile soil deposited as the river makes its turn lies the town of Shigu, linking Tibet with the outside world. Here is where we will stay for the night, in a local hostel. Shigu (Stone Drum) town is named after a white marble monument, carved in the 1500’s in the shape of a drum, to commemorate victory by the Naxi ruler over an invading Tibetan army.

Road Condition: Paved. 10km in the beginning as we ride along Tiger Leaping Gorge, then a steep 8km uphill stretch. Afterwards, the road will alternate between flat terrain and gentle slopes.
Distance 70km
Elevation: 1800 – 2400 m
Time: 6hours cycling

Day 6 Shigu-Xionggu-Lashihai Lake-Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Shigu-Xionggu-Lashihai Lake-Lijiang
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Tiger Leaping Gorge

Lashihai Lake in Lijiang

Today, we will depart from Shigu and ride to Lijiang, our final port of call for this challenging route. In this final leg of the race, we will pass by Lashi Lake. This lake is situated 8 km west of Lijiang City with an area of about 9 square kilometers. In the Naxi language, Lashi means “New Basin”. This beautiful lake is not only a scenic spot but also a provincial nature reserve because of the rich biodiversity of life forms found here. Rich in cultural and biological diversity, the Lashi Lake watershed is home to two minority ethnic groups, the Naxi and the Yi, and provides another critical habitat for the endangered black-necked crane, the only alpine crane in the world. The watershed is also the primary water supply to a large downstream population and the rapidly growing tourism industry in the historic city of Lijiang.

This last leg will be a pretty easy and relaxing part of the tour. Upon arrival, we will celebrate our accomplishment.

Road Condition: Paved. Flat road most of the time. Heavy Traffic.
Distance: 60km
Elevation: 2200m-2400m
Time: 4 hours cycling

Day 7 Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities: Yuhu village, Black Dragon Pool, Dongba culture museum
Accommodation: Lijiang
Meals: Tiger Leaping Gorge

Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang

Lijiang, situated at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, is incredibly rich in cultural resources, home to the Baisha Frescoes (a national historical relic) and “Naxi Music” being living examples of Tang and Song Dynasty art, and also Dongba hieroglyphs, the only existing pictographs in the world.

This morning, cycle to Yuhu village where Joseph Rock stayed dozen years in early 1900’s at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. After getting back Lijiang old town, we walk to visit the Black Dragon Pool, Dongba culture museum.

In the evening, enjoy your free time in the lovely town.

Road Condition: Paved. Flat road 
Time: 4 hours cycling

Day 8 Departure from Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Departure from Lijiang
Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast at your hotel, we will drop you to Lijiang airport according to your flight schedule.
Cycling tour ends.

Recommended Hotels

City 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star Hostel
Shangrila Shangrila Hotel / Moon City Hotel Wu Fu South Yunnan Boutique Inn
Baishuitai / /   Local Hostel
Tiger Leaping Gorge / / / Local Hostel
Shigu / / / Local Hostel
Lijiang Pullman Resort Wangfu Hotel Liwang Hotel Baisha Holiday Resort

Service Included:

  • Accommodation with daily breakfast as indicated in the hotel list;
  • Chinese lunches as listed in the itinerary;
  • All land transfers & transportation with private air-conditioned car;
  • All transfers and sightseeing with skilled English-speaking tour guide;
  • All entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • All government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between hotels;
  • Travel Agency’s Responsibility Insurance coverage

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Any meals which are not specified in the tour itinerary.
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff.
  • Personal travel accident insurance.
  • All optional programs;