Motorbike Tour Through Northern Yunnan Province2020-12-17T12:03:43+01:00

North Yunnan Motorcycle Tour

Get to know the best of Yunnan Province!

This tour brings you to historic Tea Horse Road, old towns of Lijiang, Shanxi, Dali and Shangri-la, little villages at the border to Tibet, drive through one of the deepest gorges in the world and snow capped mountains. The diversity of the landscape is stunning: experience the wide Tibetan grassland, cactus-lined curvy gorge roads or a ride along the vast Erhai Lake. Extend this trip and dine with a local Tibetan family and take a glimpse at the peak of high and holy Mt. Kawa Karpo (6.700m) in the Himalayas. You can choose between the 7 days version and the 11 days version!

A really nice …

…  tour through Yunnan. The Tiger Leaping Gorge was very impressive. It’s an unbelievable experience to drive through the gorge with the motorcycle.

Anton T.

A friend recommended …

… the tour and it was really worth it. Our guide took us through old villages and towns. We had perfect weather throughout and we got along great in the group.

Nicklas M.

My motorcycle …

… work great during the tour. The streets are pretty well paved and I had a great riding experience. Great tour!

Eduard O.

On request

On request

Version 1:
7 days / 6 nights / 5 riding days

Version 2:
11 days / 10 nights / 9 riding days

Motorcycle tour with overnight stays in guesthouses and hotels.
With Extension: One Night in a Monastery; One Night in a Tibetan Family Farm House (Homestay)

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North Yunnan Motorcycle Tour Version 1 – Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Dali

Our journey begins in the old town of Dali, the former capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom, which was built on the banks of the 42-kilometer Erhai Lake. Airport pickup and transfer to your hotel. Depending on arrival time we have trough Dali old town and visit the 1200 years old Three Pagodas.

Day 2: Dali – Shaxi

We start our tour with a drive along the lake towards Shaxi. Soon we leave the lake shore with the houses of the Bai minority and take the winding road to the side of the Cangshan Mountains, whose peak is over 4000 M. high. Free time to visit the old town of Shaxi. Shaxi is how many other places and villages part of the historic Tee Horse Road and still remembers much of that time, such as the arched stone bridge over the river and the village square with its wooden stage. If you like to, theres the possibility to visit the Shi Bao Mountain which is around 12 kilometer far away. In the old town of Shaxi, right on the historic town square, theres a Botique hotel where we will spend the night.

Distance: approx. 190 km

Day 3: Shaxi – Shigu – Shangri-la

After a few hours driving up north we will reach the Yangtze River, which takes a 140 degrees bend in Shigu thousands of miles before it flows into the sea. Before lunch we climb the edge of a small hill to enjoy the view. After that it is possible to take a small boat out onto the river and take a break on one of the small islands. All the way up to our destination, we follow the Yangtze through fertile valleys up north.

Before you pass the 3200 meters pass with the bike we ride through small Tibetan villages until the road leads into the mountains. Villages and agriculture gets rare after a while, and the landscape reminds more and more of the movie “Seven Years in Tibet”. If we spot the Napa Lake and the sourrounding grassland from the top, we have arrived at Shangri-la.

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We drive to the old town, where we stay in Kersang’s Relay for the night, the Best Choice of the Lonely Planet Guide. Depending on the timing we get to Shangri-la its possible to visit the Buddhist monastery Tsumtseling. Around 500 monks live in this monastery, which is surrounded by a small village and a little lake.

Distance: approx. 300 km

Day 4: Shangri-la – Tiger Leaping Gorge

After breakfast we drive along the old road to the 3700 M. high mountain pass that demarcated the plateau of Shangri-la over centuries. The little busy road leads through the villages of the Naxi Lisu and isnt straight for more than 100 meters. On this windy road it goes to the White Water Terraces (Baishuitai), the birthplace of the endangered threatened Dongba religion. Here we will have lunch, put the bike aside and visit the sacred source of Dongba. Two hours later we see from the top down to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, which opens up like a giant crack in the valley. The road through the gorge offers fantastic views of the Yangtze River and into one of the deepest canyons in the world. It also offers spectacular views of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, a massive of about 5000 M. height. We will spend the night in a guest house, overlooking the gorge.

Distance: approx. 210 km

Day 5: Tiger Leaping Gorge – Baisha

The drive to Baisha is very short (about 1.5 hours), so there are different possibilities. 1. A three hour hike into the canyon and the Tiger Leaping Stone. The walk-rock is in the middle of the river at the narrowest point. 2. Early arrival in the old town of Baisha, 10 kilometers north of Lijiang. Ride to the UNESO World Heritage Old Town of Lijiang and visit the Black Drangon pools, one of the most famous photographs of China. But before we get there the road takes us back along the Yangtze River, through small villages and past strawberry, tobacco and corn fields.

Distance: approx. 110 km

Day 6: Baisha – Dali

Baisha is the non-touristy counterpart to the Old Town of Lijiang. Here, in the middle of corn fields, the authentic old town can be visited. Small cafes invite you to linger. A visit in the newly founded Weaving Mill Institute, where many masters exercise the craft again gives an insight into this almost lost craft. Within a 4 hour drive over the mountain pass we get back to Dali. Within a 4 hours drive over the mountain pass we get back to Dali. Depending on the time, an extension to the east side of Erhai Lake is possible.

Distance: approx. 190 km

Day 7: End of the trip in Dali

Free time in Dali and transfer to the Airport.

North Yunnan Motorcycle Tour Version 2 – Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Dali

Our journey begins in the old town of Dali, the former capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom, which was built on the banks of the 42-kilometer Erhai Lake. Airport pickup and transfer to your hotel. Depending on arrival time we have trough Dali old town and visit the 1200 years old Three Pagodas.

Day 2: Dali – Shaxi

We start our tour with a drive along the lake towards Shaxi. Soon we leave the lake shore with the houses of the Bai minority and take the winding road to the side of the Cangshan Mountains, whose peak is over 4000 M. high. Free time to visit the old town of Shaxi. Shaxi is how many other places and villages part of the historic Tee Horse Road and still remembers much of that time, such as the arched stone bridge over the river and the village square with its wooden stage. If you like to, theres the possibility to visit the Shi Bao Mountain which is around 12 kilometer far away. In the beautiful old town of Shaxi you will spent the night.

Distance: approx. 190 km

Day 3: Shaxi – Shigu – Qizong

After a few hours driving up north we will reach the Yangtze River, which takes a 140 degrees bend in Shigu thousands of miles before it flows into the sea. Before lunch we climbe the edge of a small hill to enjoy the view. After that it is possible to take a small boat out onto the river and take a break on one of the small islands. All the way up to our destination, we follow the Yangtze through fertile valleys up north. Once we arrived in Qizong we visit a Tibetan Buddhist temple that was finished only a few years ago and shows how the Buddhism is flourishing again. Here we can relax in the garden or have a cup of tea with the monks.

Distance: approx. 200 km

Day 4: Qizong – Cizong – Jiabe (tibetan Homestay)

Soon after we leave Qizong we reach the Mekong river which is on its way down from the Himalayan heights to South East Asia. We follow this wild river for many kilometers today until we reach in the upper Mekong region – only a few kilometers away from the actual Tibetan border – a small Tibetan village. We will be guests in a traditional Tibetan farm house and share meals together with the family. A real highlight of the entire trip. The green village is perched between mountains and a welcome contrast to the spectacular but rough Tibetan landscape and the wild Mekong river. The time in the village will give you the possibility of an unmasked insight into Tibetan culture and village life. The farm was built in traditional architectural style and has a traditional spacious living room with Tibetan wood carvings and a ceremonial prayer room. From the flat roof terrace you can see the peak of Mt. Kawa Karpo (6.774m), one of Tibet´s most holiest mountains.

Distance: approx. 120 km

Day 5: Jiabe – Kawa Karpo – Shangri-La

From Jiabe we follow a side valley to Deqin and Feilaisi, the flying temple which serves a view platform for holy Mt. Kawa Karpo (6774 meter high). We are now already on 3.400m. Bevore decending to Shangri-la we will have to cross mighty Baima pass (4.300m) which offers great views on Baima Snow Mt. and high altitude yak pastures. In Benzilan we visit another great Buddhist monastery of the area. Here we encounter the Mekong again – now wide and peaceful. We cross Tibetan grassland scattered with yak herdes and reach Shangri-la where we visit the old town, the largest prayer wheel in the world and the largest Tibetan monastery of southern China: Tsumtsaling.

Distance: approx. 200 km

Day 6: Shangri-la – Tiger Leaping Gorge

After breakfast we drive along the old road to the 3700 M. high mountain pass that demarcated the plateau of Shangri-la over centuries. The little busy road leads through the villages of the Naxi Lisu and isnt straight for more than 100 meters. On this windy road it goes to the White Water Terraces (Baishuitai), the birthplace of the endangered threatened Dongba religion. Here we will have lunch, put the bike aside and visit the sacred source of Dongba. Two hours later we see from the top down to the Tiger Leaping Gorge, which opens up like a giant crack in the valley. The road through the gorge offers fantastic views of the Yangtze River and into one of the deepest canyons in the world. It also offers spectacular views of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, a massive of about 5000 M. height. We will spend the night in a guest house, overlooking the gorge.

Distance: approx. 170 km

Day 7: Tiger Leaping Gorge – Baisha

The drive to Baisha is very short (about 1.5 hours), so there are different possibilities. 1. A three hour hike into the canyon and the Tiger Leaping Stone. The walk-rock is in the middle of the river at the narrowest point. 2. Early arrival in the old town of Baisha, 10 kilometers north of Lijiang. Ride to the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town of Lijiang and visit the Black Drangon pools, one of the most famous photographs of China. But before we get there the road takes us back along the Yangtze River, through small villages and past strawberry, tobacco and corn fields.

Distance: approx. 80 km

Day 8: Baisha – Lugu-Lake

From Baisha we will follow the wide Yangtze river over several bridges, farmland and small villages to Lugu lake. The alpine clear blue lake is surrounded by pine forest and more than a dozen beaches. Around the lake shore small Buddhist temples can be visited. Lugu is inhabited by the Mosu minority which still nowadays has a matriarchal clan structure. Tonight we stay in Lige, a small peninsula on the lake, where we will stay over night. From here you can take a boat to nearby islands.

Distance: approx. 220 km

Day 9: Lugu-Lake – Chenghai-Lake

We will drive along rice and grain-paddies towards Yongcheng, a small village in one of the most remote regions of Yunnan. Nearby there is a small lake, that can be circled and explored.

Here, in this little village, we will spend the night.

Distance: approx. 230 km

Day 10: Chenghai Lake – Dali

Drive back to Dali. Soon we will arrive back at Erhai-Lake. We will drive along it back to the old town, this time exploring its eastern shore. Before we reach the old town, a fisherman will take us with paddle boats to a small island and a 450year old temple.

In the late afternoon we will visit the 3 1.200year old pagodas in Dali, as long as we arrive before 4pm.

Distance: approx. 210 km

Day 11: Dali departing day

End of the tour in Dali.

Questions & Answers

Will every tour take place exactly as described in the tour itinerary?2021-01-08T23:13:47+01:00

All our itineraries give you a good overview what you will experience and discover when booking with tibetmoto. The itineraries are nevertheless best understood if they are seen as a suggestion rather than as a 100% planned and a thousand times done way of traveling. We like to keep every tour, every adventure, every trip unique and special. We are proud to say that we have never done a trip two times exactly the same way. Our team does not like to offer mainstream tourism tours, and we believe that people enjoy their time best when they have freedom and possibilities to choose from. Freedom and flexibility are very good ingredients to cook an exceptional discovery or adventure, to meet unusual people and visit off-the-beaten-track places.

How does camp life look like on expeditions?2020-11-12T18:02:03+01:00

After arriving at the camp ground we pitch up the tents, our team will set up the mobile kitchen, the electricity generator is being started and we can think of having a cold beer. All supplies and the luggage is carried by our supply truck. We do not have always pre-chosen camp grounds which are always frequented by us, since every expedition is different. Depending on the time in the afternoon we start looking for “the perfect spot”. Perfect spots have a water source such as a river or a lake and a flat piece of land for the tents. Some spots we use more frequently since they are so perfect that the location is hard to beat. Camping together with nomads offers an opportunity to experience their way of live, culture and habits. Sitting in the evening together in a nomad tent somewhere on the Tibetan grassland and listening to Tibetan nomads` songs is a truly genuine experience.

Dinner is being served in a large dining tent where we have tables and chairs to comfortably sit together, eat and drink. The separate, smaller, sleeping tents are designed to accommodate each two people, but if you choose the “single room” option (you will find that option below each expedition itinerary) you will have your own tent. Our tents are army tents where you can almost stand upright. The sleeping “hard wear” is a foldable army field bed, which puts your body about knee height away from the ground. We provide you with the entire hard wear, plus blankets and insulation mats. The only item you should bring along is your personal sleeping bag. If you don´t want to bring your sleeping bag all the way to China we can provide you with a new sleeping bag for a reasonable price.

Which documents do I need?2020-11-11T22:35:03+01:00

You will need your passport, a pass picture, national driving license, international driving license and flight ticket. Please be sure to make photocopies of all of your important travel documents and carry them separately. They can be invaluable in an emergency.

We also need a scan of the Chinese visa six weeks before the tour starts.

All scanned documents should be sent to us on an A4 sheet of original size

What can I expect from an overnight stay with a tibetan host family?2020-11-12T18:01:15+01:00

A home stay is an opportunity to get access into another culture by joining the host family for dinner and breakfast and sleep under their roof, as their guest. Most families live together in a several generation house, from children to old grandparents. A lot of home stays are semi-farms with at least a few cattle such as chicken and cows around the house. Often are fields attached where family member go to work after breakfast. Here, local family and work life can be experienced as it is instead of “only” observing it from the outside.
We believe that joining a home stay is on of the best ways to get in touch which what surrounds you in a foreign country.

How well do I have to be able to ride a motorcycle?2020-11-11T21:59:51+01:00

You should be able to ride a motorcycle safely, especially on winding mountain roads. An uncertainty is common, but you quickly get used to the local traffic. Our tour guide will give the group useful and good tips on riding in China. Before the start of the Tibet and China Motorcycle Tour, there will be an introduction to road traffic behavior.


Do I need a driving license?2020-11-11T21:57:31+01:00

For the Tibet and China motorcycle tour you need a valid national and international driver’s license.

What is the currency in China?2020-11-11T21:56:01+01:00

In China, the currency is the CNY (Chinese Renminbi). The exchange rate is around 1€ to 7.56 CNY (as of 05/2020). The CNY is not a freely convertible currency, so you cannot get it at every bank in Europe. The exchange rate, which is determined by the Bank of China, can be observed under the following link: http://www.boc.cn/sourcedb/whpj/enindex.html

However, we recommend withdrawing a larger amount of CNY from an ATM with all major credit cards or debit cards after arriving in China. Our on-site tour guide is happy to help. Due to the often very poor exchange rate for the CNY in Europe, it is not worthwhile to exchange significant amounts of CNY in Europe. There are also many ATMs in Lhasa where you can withdraw money. Our experience shows that the majority of our participants spend around 20€ a day.

What about my luggage? Where can I transport it?2020-11-11T21:51:45+01:00

The luggage will be transported in the support vehicle. Don’t forget that on domestic flights, the pastries usually cannot exceed 20 kg!

What clothes should I pack?2020-11-11T22:26:29+01:00

For a motorcycle tour you should bring motorcycle clothing including a helmet. Of course you also should pack warm clothing (as layers or as undersuit). It can get cold! You should also bring gloves and a rain suit.

How is the Road Condition?2020-11-11T21:45:13+01:00

The roads on the motorcycle tour are mostly paved (with a few exceptions). Due to the new asphalting of road sections, it can temporarily lead to a poor condition of the road. The paved roads are mostly in good condition. However, there may be isolated potholes or gravel lying on the ground. The route on the motorcycle tour also includes sections with new asphalt, on which you can enjoy European standards or even better. These routes are wonderful to ride! Due to moisture and the difficult to see oil or diesel traces, however, extreme caution is always required!

What is the deposit for renting a motorcycle?2020-11-11T21:42:45+01:00

Deposit for a rental motorcycle (partial cover):

The following cash deposits are required:

Shineray X5 400: EUR 500
BMW G 310 GS: EUR 1,000
BMW F 800 GS: EUR 1,500

If the participant/motorcyclist causes damage during the Tibet motorcycle tour, the deposit is the maximum amount.

Do I need a chinese visa?2020-11-11T21:39:18+01:00

Entry/Visa:

All participants in the Tibet and China motorcycle tours require a visa to enter China. The passport must be valid for another six months. You have to apply for the visa yourself at a service center, the Chinese embassy or on behalf of an agency. Due to frequent changes in the application procedure, we recommend that you use an agency. This is slightly more expensive than filing your own application, but it saves you a lot of work and time.

We will apply for all of the necessary Tibet permits for the motorcycle tour.

Included Services2020-10-30T14:25:14+01:00

Included Services:

  • Shineray X5 400 / Yamaha YBR 250 / BMW G 650 GS
  • Overnights stays in hotels and guest houses
  • English speaking tour guide
  • Accompanying vehicle for pillion riders, equipment and luggage
  • Meals (Breakfast, lunch), mineral water
  • Gas, engine oil, spare parts
  • Help with applying a Chinese visa

Tour Concept by RC Hendrik

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