Cycling in Sichuan
When people talk about cycling in Sichuan , many think of the back door to Tibet, Emeishan, Leshan, Chengdu, Jiuzhaigou and trekking in the Songpan mountains. But there are a few other gems to visit and far less known then mentioned.
The problem with such a country as China is that people always go for the so called "highlights".
Those are the places recommended by the Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and other guidebooks, the places you see on Discovery Channel or read about in the newspapers.
And of course they are more then worth a visit. But apart of those places there are lesser or even unknown places to be explored. When cycling in China, there are many such gems. When I was cycling in Sichuan I found quite a few of these gems, I'll talk about them later.
As Chengdu is the center of the province, it also contains a few good bicycle shops. See the Chengdu page for more about the bike shops.
Traveling in Sichuan alone can take you many weeks, even months if you like, as this province is roughly the size of France, it's actually a bit bigger.
This province covers an area of 485,000 kilometers (187,000 miles) and has the largest population in China, with 87 million people. Having said that, it doesn't mean you will find heavy populated areas everywhere.
In fact, the industrial areas are located in the eastern areas of the province: the flatlands. North, west and south west are mountainous and less populated.
The north east is flat and doesn't offer much to the traveler except one thing. In fact the north east, the road to Xi'an does hardly see visitors, if any at all. It still has some treasures to find out. Check the road from Xi'an to Chengdu
The central point of all journeys in Sichuan is Chengdu. It doesn't matter in what direction you want to travel, there's little chance you miss the capitol of the province.
Going north lead you to Jiuzhaigou and Songpan and further to the amazing little Tibetan village of Langmusi and the bigger cities as Linxia and Xiahe with it's large Tibetan monastery.
You might not have the time to do such long journeys and have no time to cycle to Tibet but still want to experience some of the Tibetan culture. The good news is that Sichuan has some awesome loops to ride, even if you have only two weeks!
Going to Yunnan can be done in three different ways. The first is follow the route to the west to Kangding and Litang.
Another, though far less interesting road follows a big road from Ya'an (which you anyway will pass if you cycle to Kangding) straight south into Yunnan. The third and less traveled road goes to Leshan, Zigong and then south into Yunnan. All three roads I will explain in further detail here.
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Xiahe, Langmusi and the road to Chengdu
I did this road some years ago in the winter. It was in the time that Hezhou was still off limits.
Here is more about the road in between Xiahe and Chengdu
and a story how to obtain a bus ticket
A two week loop from Chengdu to Chengdu through Danba and Barkam.
Map of Sichuan