Hong Kong and the road to Yangshuo
Starting your Chinese journey in Hong Kong is a good choice. The city is easy accessible from anywhere in the world. The new airport has good bus connections to Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. And, an important reason for me every time I want to visit China, it's easy to get a Chinese visa
But it's not cheap! However, it's an excellent place to pick up a Chinese visa. There are, to my knowledge, no easier places to get a visa.
It's no longer easy to get long time visas but it is still great to pick up a 1-2 months visa within a day. I usually use the Japan Travel Agency:
Room 509-513, 5F,
Hong Kong is famous for all kinds of things. It used to be a cheap shopping center but since long it's no longer dirt cheap.
Still bargains can be found on the markets in Mongkok but beware, much is fake too. A good rule is that if it is too cheap to believe, it's most likely fake.
Things to do in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has many attractions and it's unlikely you will feel bored as the variety is enormous.
The food here is something else. You have to go out and check for yourself. There's anything available, from shark fin- or birdnest soup to turtle- or other exotic meat dishes. Cheap food can be found, again, in the Mongkok district.
There is no place in the world, as far as I know, where tourist information is as good as in Hong Kong. Here, in the heart of where time is money, service is top notch. The offices are located at clever locations. The one you will find the easiest is next at the jetty in Kowloon. In the years I came to Hong Kong they have been able to answer every question I had (including once where I could get new glasses for my branded sunglasses, only 2 shop had it).
And even if you know Hong Kong well, it's still worth to pick up one of the free maps available.
Bicycle shop: The Flying Ball
Every cyclist knows there's only one shop in Asia where you get what you need. The Flying Ball bicycle shop is famous. If there's any doubt about your bicycle when you are in Hong Kong, do not hesitate and visit them. It's a little far from Kowloon and if you need them to do repairs, you are not allowed to take your bike in the MTR, so either cycle or take a taxi.
G/F, 478 Castle Peak Road
Kowloon Hong Kong
Tel: (852)2381 3661/ 5919 Fax: (852)2397 4406
The nearest MTR station is Cheung Sha Wan (take exit C2)
Getting Out of Hong Kong
Around Kowloon you will be able to shop for flight tickets. Check some, you'll soon find out the prices do not differ much.
Going to China gives you the two options:
The Lo Wu border can easily be reached by train from Kowloons Hung Hom railway station. You can bring your bicycle. I would not recommend cycling from Kowloon to the border as you have to cycle via Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun. I did that once and it was not a pleasant ride.
The train to Lo Wu takes about 30 minutes. After crossing the border, 200 meter straight on you will find the railway station. Buses to Guangzhou are downstairs and leave every few minutes. Buses and trains to Guilin leave in the evening. There are morning buses but they take about 10 hours longer than the night buses.
If you want to cycle out, just keep north and be prepared for an unpleasant journey.
Alternative you can take a boat to Gaoming (the direct boat to Zhaoqing and for that matter Wuzhou is no lopnger operational) and cycle from here to Zhaoqing and further into Guangdong and Guangxi. Here's my story of an unfortunate journey in 2009. If you are not interested in Guangzhou but want to see some of Guangdong and Guangxi, this is the better option.
You can also get ferries to other cities on the Chinese mainland.
Gaoming and Zhaoqing
Gaoming and Zhaoqing are pleasant overnight stops. Gaoming about 90 km from Zhaoqing. You can get a bus to Zhaoqing or simply cycle, it's a flat road.
The Seven Stars Park are arranged in the same way as the Big Dipper constellation. It's a pleasant National Park and a great way to spend an afternoon.
If you still want to visit Guangzhou, it's 110 km north east from Zhaoqing.
From Wuzhou and further on
Wuzhou is the next bigger city on your way into Guangxi. I would recommend making an overnight stop in Deqing as it is roughly halfway between Zhaoqing and Wuzhou.
In the last few years the city center is modernized and transformed as many other Chinese cities but there's a few good and cheap hotels in the city center.
There's two ways out from here. Going north is the road most used and in good condition. It leads to Xindu, He Xian and Zhongshan before you reach Yangshuo. This is the road the buses used to take.
Alternative you can follow the road west out of the city (direction main bus station) and to Daoshui and Taiping. The road is apart of the first few kilometers in excellent condition and very quiet. There one longer hill included but it's not a difficult one.
In Taiping you can choose to continue north to Lipu, Yangshuo and Guilin or going west to Guiping, Litang, Binjiang and Nanning. This is also nice alternative should you not want to visit Yangshuo.
During my last bike ride from Taiping to Lipu, I broke off my handlebars, true story, and no, don't ask me why, just read here the whole story about that journey
Guangzhou to Yangshuo
It's not the most pleasant road to cycle, especially the part from Guangzhou to Guangning. After Guangning it gets a bit more quiet and scenic. You can stay in Xindu, Hezhou, Huangtian and Zhongshan before reaching Yangshuo. This is the road the buses used to take. It's not too bad but it's nicer to cycle via Wuzhou and Taiping.
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Things to do in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a metropole. Not surprising there's an array of activities to spend your time. I've written this page, things to do in the city, to give you a glimpse of the possibilities.
Alternative is to visit this website for a far more extensive review of the Hong Kong Tourist Attractions
My unfortunate journey from HK to Yangshuo in 2010
The plan was to cycle Hong Kong - Bangkok.. I made it to Yangshuo... too many things went wrong... here's the story:
Kunming to Guilin