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Guilin to Nanning via direction Liuzhou


Is it worth to cycle from Guilin to Nanning? There will always be a discussion if is worth to do. There's two main roads you can use if you choose the direction Liuzhou. One goes to Liuzhou and continues west and east, the other takes the direction Liuzhou but skips and continues to Xiangzhou and further to Nanning. Here are the stories. (should you want to use the southern rout, check this page)

On the road from Wuxuan to Laibin
On the road from Wuxuan to Laibin

Guilin-Yangshuo-Lipu-Liuzhou-Binjiang

This road is what most cyclists take when going to Nanning or coming from Vietnam on the way to Yangshuo. The idea is to visit Liuzhou as it is "more interesting".

On the way from Lipu to Toupai
On the way from Lipu to Toupai

Personally I don't find Liuzhou very interesting. It's a big city and although there are karst mountains around the city, there is a more interesting alternative. But let me first show you how to cycle.

Yangshuo-Liuzhou is just too far for a one day ride. Once I cycled Liuzhou - Lipu in a day, 165km but it's not necessary. There are hotels in Luzhai and Toupai (later more). Toupai is conveniently halfway stop at the junction with S307.

If you come from Lipu there are a few climbs, nothing serious though. After Toupai it goes for the most down wards (Toupai-Luzhai is still 50km).

Liuzhou has plenty of expensive accommodation, cheap is hard to find.

From Liuzhou you have 2 options. Probably the nicest is the road to Datang, a dirt town but there's a few guesthouses. It is a quiet road and only 60km. From Datang you can cycle south to Heslan and Bijiang. You could easily do Datang - Binjiang in a day. The road is flat and reasonable quiet.

Lipu to Toupa, Luzhai and Liuzhou

A not unusual sight on the way from Guilin to Nanning, this was
a few kilometers before Toupai on the main road from Lipu to Liuzhou

Guilin-Yangshuo-Lipu-Xiangzhou-Laibin-Binjiang

A more interesting road from Guilin to Nanning is to skip Liuzhou. You can stay a night in Toupai, 80km from Yangshuo. Instead of following the direction to Liuzhou, go south following the S307 to Xiangzhou.

Toupai to Xiangzhou

This is a very quiet road, flat and to some extend scenic too. It's 80km through an agricultural land with the limestone karst mountains a little far from the road side.

Xiangzhou has little to offer but I got an excellent hotel where I was offered a full suite including a computer and free internet for US $15.

The idea was to get the road to Shilong and from there to Laibin. I took a wrong turn directly in Xiangzhou. This was the road to Wuxuan, which leads more south.

Xiangzhou city center
Xiangzhou city center

It was a dead quiet road following the mountains. Apparently it was very new too. At the end of the valley, about 30 km or so away, it ended in a spectacular climb on a brand new road (not on my Nelles and Chinese map, as not in Google Earth too).

The beautiful valley on the road from Xiangzhou to Ertang
The beautiful valley on the road from Xiangzhou to Ertang

This road lead me to a junction where I followed the direction to Ertang (on the 202) and to Wuxuan.

Now Wuxuan is very much a city like Liuzhou, it's large, all around you have limestone karst mountains, especially on the west bank of the river. There are hotels in town. Distance from Xiangzhou to Wuxuan is 75km.

Road from Xiangzhou to Ertang and Wuxuan
New road with a nice climb out of the valley towards Ertang

Wuxuan to Laibin and Binjiang

When you arrive in Wuxuan you can see the limestone mountains everywhere on the west bank of the river. The city itself didn't have much to offer.

On the bridge at Wuxuan
On the bridge at Wuxuan

I continued my journey from Guilin to Nanning by crossing the river and cycled on a new road surface on the 209 until after a few km I took the junction to Laibin. The reason for not continuing further south to Litang was simple, the 209 was too busy to my liking.

So I was on the very quiet 65 km to Laibin. This road, the S323, would swindle through the limestone mountains offering a similar sight as I had seen around Yangshuo. For the most it was just very slight rolling roads, comfortable cycling and a pleasant alternative from Guilin to Nanning skipping now Liuzhou.

Laibin is big city under construction. The road inside the city from here was quite a mess. Maybe I had missed a junction but in the end I arrived in the city. A hotel was easy to find, food was a bigger problem and in the end I had my dinner in the Chinese copycat KMC, worse than KFC and McDonalds together.

On the road from Wuxuan to Laibin
Guilin to Nanning: 25 km on the road from Wuxuan to Laibin

Going west out of the city was quite easy. I just had to follow the directions to Heshan. Again getting a breakfast was a bit of a problem (one of the very few times in China I had problems to find food).

The road to Heshan was again quiet and flat. It didn't look at all too interesting. For a while the road followed the railway to Heshan too.

But at Baihai, several km before the junction with the G322, I saw a beautiful octagonal pagoda tower in the padifields. No name, description, heck there was not even a path to reach the tower to check it from nearby!

The octagonal pagoda tower at Bai Hai
The octagonal pagoda tower at Bai Hai

Binjiang to Nanning

The road continues to Binjiang. It's a flat road and for the most in good condition except for parts where construction work is going on. I met a Chinese cyclist who was on the way from Nanning to Beijing. Ti Zhe, 60 years old had to fight the tough northern winds while I comfortably pedaled with tailwind. .

Me and Ti Zhe
Me and Ti Zhe, me from Guilin to Nanning, he the opposite way

Binjiang is essentially 2 cities. Years ago I had stayed in Xinbin, the smaller of the two. This time (November 2011) I stayed in Binjiang. After some searching I found a cheap hotel (again with computer and internet in the room, only Y70).

The city had very little to keep you interested for more than about 10 minutes but it's a good overnight stop.

On the way to Binjiang
On the way to Binjiang

Continuing from Binjiang to Nanning was far more interesting. It started with a slow climb to about 350m. After that it is a very quick descending to Nanning. The first part of the road from Binjiang to Guilin is certainly filled with some nice sceneries.

Unfortunately I got a flat tire and in the next few kilometers another 3. By the time I reached the next village I was out of spares but fortunately I got them all fixed for Y20, not bad for repairing 4 tubes.

I had finished the end of my journey from Guilin to Nanning. Directions in Nanning were quite easy too. But as said, I didn't really like the city, it's just a big city with some nice parks and interesting markets. Good for spending a day or 2 if you have to (waiting for your Vietnamese visa, I recommend the Lotus Land guesthouse for organizing it).

On the road from Guilin to Nanning after Binjiang

On the road from Guilin to Nanning after Binjiang

My journey from Guilin to Nanning had ended. The first time I was here, I took the train back to Guilin and cycled to Yangshuo for celebrating Christmas. This time, November 2011, I continued my journey to Vietnam but that is another story.

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