Cycling from Kunming to Guilin
Via the Stone Forest to Guizhou or via Jianshui into Guangxi
Some of my best memories I have from my 2 cycling journeys from Kunming to Guilin (and one from Guilin to Kunming with backpack).
There are many roads leading to Guilin. Most people visit Guilin by bus or train. From Kunming the train journey takes 22 hours and the trains pass either Nanning or Guiyang.
Most people see nothing what is in between these two cities with the exception of those who visit Longsheng and Sanjiang.
That is why cycling is in between the two cities is great. Most of the roads are virtually not or seldom explored by travelers but it doesn't mean it is therefore not interesting. Contrary, I would say.
On this page you will find an introduction about two routes I have cycled, I call them the Northern and the Southern Route.
The Northern Route
The Northern Route starts in Kunming and follows its way top the famous Stone Forest.
Although the Stone Forest Park itself is spectacular, the whole area is worth to check out too. When you hike around a bit yourself, you find easily better areas to walk then in the park itself. The park is "a park", outside the park is far more "pure". The nearby town has plenty of hotels.
There can be little discussion, the Stone Forest is a unique natural phenomenon. It's located 85 km east of Kunming and it's a pleasant stopover in Shilin, which is next to the park.
Although the reports from travelers are mixed, I personally thing the Stone Forest is worth a visit. The main problem is that if you join one of the many tours, you will only see the park while the area is much bigger.
From Shilin it's a 3 day ride to Xingyi which is the border town of Yunnan and Guizhou. Roads are relatively quiet and in good condition after being update a few years back,
Xingyi is the first major city in Guizhou but the city will never win the price as the nicest town in China. The mere fact I made the photo of the handyman in Xingyi says enough how exciting the city was
It's a good moment to take a break, especially if you choose to take the southern route in Guizhou. There's nothing much to see in the town but there's nice markets.
If you decide to follow the following described road, Xingyi your starting point. In case you are coming from the Huangguoshu falls and willing to go south, you may consider not even come to Xingyi but get some accommodation in Dingxiao, the junction of the road from the north and the road from Xingyi to Anlong.
Here you have two choices. The first one leads you north to Anshun and the Huangguoshu waterfall, after which you can continue to Guiyang, Kaili and further east to Zhaoxing, Sanjiang, the road from Longsheng to Sanjiang, and Longsheng and the road to Guilin.
Alternatively you can choose another, more remote road that will lead through south Guizhou. This is my preferred route, not because of what you will see on the way but because of the friendship you will find on the way.
The Southern Route
If you decide to do the Southern Route you have choices too. As you see, from Kunming to Guilin offers plenty of options. Starting in Kunming you can visit the Stone Forest and from there going south to Tonghai and Jianshui. A better option is to follow the Dian Lake on the east side. It takes a few days to Tonghai. South of Tonghai.
From here you follow the directions to Baisha and further to Hechi and Guilin. It's maybe not the most spectacular route but if you have the time, it surely pays off. The road from Jianshui first leads to Kaiyuan and from there it will take you a few days to Baise.
If Vietnam is on your schedule, follow directions to Geiju and cycle from there in 2 days to the Vietnamese border at Lao Cai.
Longsheng, Sanjiang and Zhaoxing
Longsheng, Sanjiang and Zhaoxing are located in the north east of Guizhou. The three towns are usually visited with Guilin or Yangshuo as a base. Many cyclists come from Yangshuo, it's a two days bicycle ride. Longsheng is located about 100km north of Guilin, Sanjiang another 100km west of Longsheng and Zhaoxing again 100km west of Sanjiang.
There are two ways if you cycle Kunming to Guilin: Guiyang which is several days further west of Zhaoxing and Libo which is several days south of Zhaoxing. To make the story complete, you can also make a loop. Either a long loop with all three towns included and the through Libo back to Hechi, Yizhou and Yangshuo or the shorter loop where you cycle from Sanjiang south to Rong An and choose the road east back to Guilin (a very nice road) or going further south to Liuzhou and from there make new plans.
Is it worth to cycle from Kunming to Guilin? I did the journey three times, on three different roads. To me these three journeys had some of the highlights of all my journeys in two years traveling and bicycling in China.
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Yunnan to Guizhou
Here's more about the roads from Yunnan into Guizhou province
Longsheng, Sanjiang and Zhaoxing
Longsheng, Sanjiang and Zhaoxing are favorites for visitors to Guilin and Yangshuo to see a little of the minority culture in south China.
South Yunnan: Tonghai and Jianshui
Jianshui and to a lesser extend Tonghai are great cities to visit, though few travelers go there. The problem with both cities is that they are a little "at the end of the road". Still, if you want to cycle from Kunming to Guilin, than this is your change.
and the road to Guangxi