Dali is a great place for cycling, with quiet country roads and sweeping mountain vistas. Most travelers in Dali choose to rent their own bicycles and explore Dali on their own. Many of them come back to Dali complaining that they spent most of the time along the highway - breathing in truck exhaust and enduring a neverending stream of horn honking - or carrying their bikes through rice paddies, unable to find their way. Don't make the same mistake! Check out ClimbDali's cycling itineraries:
Half-Day Dali Cycling Ride: Ride out of Dali OldTown and make a beeline for ErHai Lake, tracing your way along a route that is partially paved, partially dirt, and partially footpath. Pass through a few fishing villages and rice paddies en route to historic XiZhou, and enjoy some local BaBa (round bread) before taking a van back to Dali. (Optional extension to visit a Ming-dynasty temple and Zhoucheng tie-dieworks, and/or cormorant fishing).
Cycle Lake ErHai (2 days): Cycle through villages on the western shore of the lake, stopping in XiZhou for some BaBa, up to the dye-works at ZhouCheng, then along the main road to the eastern shore of the lake. Cut across the fields to Shuanglang, where we will spend the night at the Sky And Sea guesthouse. The next morning, we will continue through Wase and other small fishing villages, past Little PuTuo Island, before catching a ferry back to Dali.
Tea Horse Road Cycle Tour (2-3 days): This is the asphalt equivelent of the Southern Silk Road (known locally as the Tea Horse Road). Depart from New Dali for an exhilerating 1 hour downhill ride, followed by a steady climb up the YangBi River on the opposite site of the Cangshan Mountains from Dali. We will stop in the YangBi town for some lunch, and tour the historic section, including the 400-year-old Cloud Dragon Bridge (YunLong Qiao).
Keep cycling until you run out of energy, and then we'll find a guesthouse to sleep and enjoy a dinner in a local restaurant. The second day, we will continue cycling through small villages on a quiet country road, through a Eucalyptus plantation, a miniature suspension bridge, and terraced rice paddies before pulling into Shaxi in the afternoon. Tour what is perhaps the best preserved market square along the entire Tea Horse Road and the restored old town of Shaxi, before settling into a cozy guesthouse.
From here you can continue on to LiJiang/ShangriLa, or return to Dali.
ShuangLang Mountain Bike Ride: This is mountain biking for novices. This trail winds its way from a fishing village on the other side of ErHai lake from Dali, where we will follow a dirt road up into the mountains, passed remote villages and down to Wase before making a loop back to ShuangLang.
Old Salt Road Cycle Tour (~3 days): This route connects the two ancient towns of Nuodeng (Yunlong) and Shaxi.The former has been settled continuously for perhaps 2,000 years, and was formerly an important stopping point on several important trade routes due to its famed salt mines. Shaxi, meanwhile, is perhaps the best-preserved (and most importantly, least touristy!) market town on the old Tea-Horse road, between Dali and Lijiang.
Our route will take us well off the beaten path. We will begin in Nuodeng (Yunlong), and spend an evening exploring the ancient village and all of its hidden alleys. The next morning, we will leave early, and follow the Pipa river north, past several old bridges, in the direction of Lanping, before turning off towards Xiangtu, another ancient Bai minority village. From here, it is a long climb over an 800m pass, the top of which affords panoramic views of the valleys on either side and the mountains in the distance. The exhausting uphill will be rewarded with a downhilll ride that seems to continue on forever. We will spend the night in picturesque town of Madeng, before continuing on to Shaxi the next day.After the bike trip ends, you can continue on to LiJiang/ShangriLa, or return to Dali.