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Baise to Guilin through central Guangxi


Cycling from Baise at the Guangxi/Yunnan border (also spelled as Bose) to Guilin is possible in about 10 to 14 days. I did this road in May supposedly just before the rainy season. When I was in Baise it was beautiful weather, the roads had been good to cycle though not spectacular after I left the area of the Stone Forest. But I had enjoyed it.

Guilin
Guilin, just another big city... it's Yangshuo where you want to be

Now it was time to find my way from Baise to Guilin, through the hills of central Guangxi. It didn't look too difficult according to the map. Since Baise was the first town in Guangxi, I had immediately bought a local (in Chinese) map of the province. My experiences in the past told me the Chinese maps were more reliable then the Nelles Map which contained quite some mistakes.

Central Guangxi

Central Guangxi

And I don't like to cycle without a map although that has some advantages too. Se what can happen when cycling without a map

Baise is the first important city in this part of Guangxi. Baise is the gateway to Yunnan from this point in Guangxi. There are two roads into Yunnan. I had come cycling on the southern route, more about that road you can read here.

Cycling from Baishe to Guilin through central Guangxi
At the junction of the main road Baise Nanning and Hechi for going into the hills

The road to Hechi

People playing Mah Jong in one of the many villages on the road from Baishe to guilinHechi is located in north Guangxi. There is a very scenic road to cycle from Baise to Hechi, right through the heart of the province. Unfortunately the first 20km after Baise I had no choice then to use the busy 4 lane 324 that connects Nanning through Baise with Xingyi.

In Tianyang I took a junction. Soon I was climbing again and the road became silent.

At first the hills were slow and rolling. This was what I was looking for, cycling in the hills in the country side from town to town, not bothered by a lot of traffic.

I followed the little rivers going up and down. The hills were neither steep nor high. It was very pleasant though again nothing spectacular at first.

In three days I was in Hechi. Especially the last day to Hechi became quite spectacular. The green hills had made place for the first limestone mountains, similar you find around Guilin and Yangshuo. The difference with Yangshuo is that the limestone mountains are real much higher and rougher. There's hardly any traffic, let alone any tourists. And it is very scenic. There are some minority villages too.

On the road from Liuzhou to Lipu, after Toupai
On the road from Liuzhou to Lipu, after Toupai

Hechi to Liuzhou

Hechi is the main center for the surrounding towns and villages. It contains a few big markets. In some ways it's comparable with Liuzhou. In the town there are some limestone rocks but the real beauty is to found south of Hechi. Although there are plenty of hotels in Hechi, there's no "tourist infrastructure". If you want to do something in town or in the surrounding, you have to organize it through a taxi driver (or use your bicycle)

Old lady in a town near HechiI continued to Liuzhou, which was not all too much fun. This road is a few years ago upgraded. It's in principle now the highway between Guilin and Guiyang in Guizhou province. Fortunately it is only one day to Yizhou and from there you have to follow the old road to Datang.

Was the road to Yizhou (actually a not unpleasant town) big and busy, the road I followed now to Datang was almost empty. I crossed some hills, never high or steep but I got other problems. Just outside Yizhou the road went in the hills, in the dense forests which lie on the mountain sides. It was beautiful and very quiet.

The rainy season had begun and I was mostly cycling the whole day in the rain. Here in south China, cycling in the rain is not too bad since it's not cold. In fact, the rain cools you off but without getting cold. But my road from Baise to Guilin had become a bit unpleasant because I had to cycle in day in day out in wet clothes.

I do not wear rain coats since I don't see the benefit. After all, with a rain coat I start sweating even harder so the rain may be kept outside, inside the sweat makes me wet anyway. So I preferred the rain keeping me "clean".

Datong was a little town on a crossroads. The road north leads to Liuzhou, going south leads to Nanning (2 or 3 days cycling). I went to Liuzhou. In the past Datong was infamous for it's rough life.

It was a village known for prostitutes, gambling and tough guys. When I was there (I was there twice) there were no signs of this anymore. Datong is still small, contains a few basic hotels and restaurants and it's mostly a junction point for truck drivers between Guilin, Liuzhou, Hechi and Nanning and what is in between.

Liuzhou has the name of the poor brother of Guilin. In some ways it's true. There's nothing much to see here, the limestone karst mountains are not very interesting, not even compared to the area around Hechi. But I had to stay a day in Liuzhou to get my clothes dry.

Cycling in Guangxi

Liuzhou is by no means as nice as Guilin (though I don't like Guilin much too). But at least I had a hotel where I could get my stuff dry, clean my bike a bit and have some rest.

I cycled out of Liuzhou for the last 2-3 days to Yangshuo. Although it took me a little bit of time, I was soon on the way to Luzhai. After 40 km or so, the road passed under the highway and went into the hills to the east. It was first flat but after Toupai (I could have stayed here, but I was too early) the road slowly started to swindle a bit up and down. Years later I would be back in Toupai, but than I would go south to Xiangzhou, another little traveled road in Guangxi. Here's that story.

After the hills it went quickly to Lipu where I decided to stay. I could have made it in a day to Yangshuo but I was not in a hurry.

Lipu is a crossroads. Going south leads to Wuzhou, a kind of smaller version of Guangzhou Wuzhou used to be worth for a visit for the market. The town is completely renovated and has great views over the river. From Wuzhou you can travel further to either Nanning (although I would recommend to cycle from Taiping westwards, see this page for more about that route) or Guangzhou.

Junction Silver Cave on the way from Lipu to Yangshuo
Junction Silver Cave on the way from Lipu to Yangshuo

It was only another 40 kilometer or so to Yangshuo and I was looking forward to see that little town again. And 65 kilometers north of Yangshuo was Guilin. I would go there later.

So, if you are in good condition, you CAN cycle Liuzhou to Yangshuo in a day but it's not necessary. There are hotels (cheap) available in Luzhai, Toupai and Lipu. Toupai is probably the best stop as it is halfway Liuzhou and Yangshuo.

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