Adventure Yunnan – South of the Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour


If there would be the need to decide for one of China´s provinces, says the guide book Lonely Planet, you should for sure decide for Yunnan. Yunnan means south of the clouds. The beauty and diversity of nature and the sinuous mountain roads on this Yunnan motorcycle tour also convinced us.
The landscape is so manifold, you could also ride through a whole continent. Starting in the Subtropics at Lijiang and Dali, where bananas and tea are growing, and then going up into the gorges of the Himalayas, where a vast moonscape is waiting for you.
On this tour through the south west of the Middle Kingdom, close to the borders of Laos and Myanmar, we will experience a lot of cultural minorities and a million bends. Through the gorges of Yangtze and Mekong we take gorgeous roads into the Tibetan world and deep into the Himalaya mountains.
This Yunnan motorcycle tour shows you not only the highlights of China´s southwest, but also the hidden gems and less-travelled roads and stunning landscapes seldomly visited by outsiders.   


Tour Overview – Adventure China: South Of The Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour

Dates 2020:
Dates 2021:
21.03 – 04.04 / 17.10. – 31.10.
20.03 – 03.04 / 16.10. – 30.10.
Prices:2.980 € (Shineray X5 400) / 3,280 € (BMW F 310 GS)  3,580 € (BMW F 800 GS) / 2.580 €  (Pillion Rider) / Single Room Supplement: 495 €
Highlights / itinerary:Dali – Shaxi – Qizong – Yunling – Shangri-la – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Wumu – Lugu lake – Lijiang – Nuodeng – Lushi – Weishan – Dali
Level of difficulty:3/5 – Experience on hairpin turns and on curvy mountain roads is a pre-condition.
Duration / Length:15 days / 11 riding days / ~ 2500 kilometres
Longest riding day: 6 hours, 250 kilometres / Average riding day: 5 hours, 200 kilometres
Yunnan Motorcycle Tour. Accommodation in mid-range hotels and guesthouses. Most of the roads are in good condition and paved. Only countryside roads with little traffic and no highways.

Ratio unpaved/paved: 5/95

Media: Tibetmoto-BlogBlog of a rider, South of the Clouds with an BMW 1200 GS Adv
Motorcycles:Shineray X5 400 / BMW F 800 GS / BMW G 310 GS

We offer this Yunnan motorcycle tour together with our partner, the MOTORRAD action team, Europe’s largest motorcycle magazine. Check their catalogue here.




→Adventure Yunnan – South of the Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour – Photos Gallery – November 2018 – ←


Adventure Yunnan – South of the Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour Photos Gallery ←

Daily itinerary – Adventure China: South Of The Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour

DayRoute: Description
1Arrival in Dali: Airport pick-up from Dali airport. Alternatively, we can also pick you up from Lijiang airport. Meet the team, your fellow riders and enjoy an authentic Yunnan welcome dinner.
Dali is former capital of the Nanzhao kingdom located at the shores of azure Erhai lake measuring 42 kilometers. Dali is at an altitude of 2100m situated between the lake and the 4100m high Cangshan mountain range.
2Dali: Get ready for your Yunnan motorcycle tour. Today, you will get to know your bike and visit the old town and other sights in and around Dali. 
3Dali – Shaxi: The way to Shaxi leads us over remote and sinuous mountain roads, through small villages and rice terraces with water bufalos. Here we can experience the original China.
Stone chisel work from the time of the Nanzhao Kingdom (dating back 1200 years) adorns the stone treasure mountain and is considered to be amongst the most stunning in the entire southwest China area. Many small daoist temples, partly constructed into the cliff, can be seen on the mountain.
Shaxi is an old trading place of the Teahorse road. We can visit the old wooden town centre and square with the theatre stage. Historic buildings, the open theatre, and a tea trade bridge will “beam” you two centuries into the past.
4Shaxi – Qizong: On the fourth day of your Yunnan motorcycle tour you will ride along the shores of Yangtze River from Shigu. At Shigu the Yangtze is flowing in a spectacular bend of 180 degrees on its way out of the Himalayas.
Because of the shallow water the Mongolian conqueror Kublai Khan managed to cross the Yangtze here on his campaign, centuries later also the People´s Liberation Army. In Qizong we have the option to visit two monasteries up in the mountains, marking the beginning of the Tibetan-Buddhist world and the soon to come Himalayas.
5Qizong – Yunlin: We wave, for now, goodbye to the Yangtze just to follow the shores of another mighty Asian river: the Mekong. Before having lunch we cross a 3000 meter high pass and visit the highest rice terraces on earth. On a sinuous road we are winding out of the subtropical jungle up into the moonscape of the Himalayas. Here a Tibetan family is waiting for us to serve us diner and homemade red wine in their beautiful living room decorated with local handmade wood art.
An excellent view of the nearby Kawa Karpo’s peak (6.700 M) can be seen from the flat roof and the village offer grand views on a bend of the Mekong River. At night, the starry sky can be observed. A number of farm animals (such as goats, chickens, and cows) are owned by the host family as well.
Visiting a Tibetan family gives you the unique chance to get to know the locals and their cultures instead of only passing by.
In the nearby hotel we have spectacular views on the Mekong valley and the roof terrace is inviting for a cold beer.
More infos about our Tibetan homestay can be found here.
6Yunlin –Shangri-la: After leaving the village we ascent into the height of the Himalayas. Soon, we arrive at an altitude of 3,400 meters at the viewing platform of Mt. Kawa Karpo (or Meili Xueshan in Chinese). Mt. Kawa Karpo is a holy peak for the Tibetans and with 6,770 meters one of the highest peaks of the Eastern Himalayas.
After a short stop at the flying temple, an important temple for pilgrims, where we can light a butter lamp for favourable weather, we continue our ascent to Baima snow mountain and enjoy the fantastic views on the Himalaya landscapes from a 4,300 meter high pass of the white horse.
Across many curves we decent to a mere 1,900 meters and visit the first bend of the Yangtze River and Dunzhuling monastery, before riding up to Shangri-la. Here we enjoy the wooden old town and its many small cafes and bar. In the afternoon we can visit tallest prayer wheel in the world, located in the old town of Shangri-la. Those who want to improve their Karma can go wheel for it. A temple on the small turtle hill in the middle of old town offer nice views on the surrounding hills and wooden houses.

7Shangri-la: A day to relax, buying souvenirs, do the laundry and prepare yourself for the next days of your Yunnan motorcycle tour.
8Shangri-la – Tiger Leaping Gorge: After Shangri-la the road is snaking up to 3700m altitude leaving the Tibetan areas and their enormous monasteries. We  are entering the area of Naxi and Lisu minorities, mountain people living in small wooden huts. After riding along cliffs and some of curviest roads we find ourselves in Tiger Leaping Gorge – one of the deepest gorges of the world. Above the gorge throneing the 5500m Jade Dragon Snow mountain. There is no guard railing and the rocky sides are sometimes vertical for over 2000m.
In early afternoon we will arrive in our guesthouse in the gorge and begin a hiking tour down the gorge to Tiger Leaping Stone.
9Tiger Leaping gorge – Wumu: An adventurous ride down to the ferry which will bring us across the river on a bad gravel road is waiting for you after breakfast. 
Ride to the Stone Village Shitouchen. The Stone Village was built during the 7th century on top of a difficult to reach rock in order to be safe from looting Tibetan horsemen. From here you can enjoy the vast views across the valley and the green and blue river.
Overnight we will stay in Wumu. Here you can fully experience the daily life of the Naxi minority. There is a beautiful moto-path along a high path river which connects the town with other villages in the area. You can ride along the path all the way until it abruptly ends in the middle of a remote little village. Here you will find the best views of the entire region!
We will have dinner together in our wonderful boutique guesthouse, overlooking the small village and Yangtze River. 

Wumu – Lugu lake: We will continue to follow the Yangtze river and we will cross the water via a truly spectacular bridge. After the bridge the road leads up to a 3,900 meter high pass. At Lugu lake, which is surrounded by a dense coniferous forest, we will spend the night near Lige, a peninsula. You can hire small paddle boats to explore the lake and its small islands. This area is inhabited by the Mosu minorities. There are many small Buddhist temples along the shore and on some of the few sandy beaches. The whole day will lead us along stunning mountain roads with breathtaking views.

11Lugu-Lake – Lijiang: We will ride along rice and grain-paddies to Baisha, a small and authentic old town north of Lijiang before we are heading to one of the most well-know highlights of Southwest China; the UNESCO world heritage city of Lijiang.
After check-in we have time to explore the old town on foot and to visit all major sights.
12Lijiang – Nuodeng: Narrow countryside roads bring us to Nuodeng, a village know for its tasty ham. The village was built on a small hill overlooking the region.

Nuodeng – Weishan: A long riding day will bring us in the hot lowlands of Yunnan. The lowest point today is 1,400 meters above sea level. Banana and pineapples are going here beside agaves. In an ancient village we have a short lunch break before heading to Weishan, our last highlight of our Yunnan motorbike tour. Weishan, the birth place of the founder of the Nanzhao kingdom, surprises with a calm and friendly old town.


Weishan – Dali: Before riding back to Dali, we visit the Wei Bro Shan mountain and take a walk to the many taoist temples overlooking the valley below.
We arrive in Dali around mid-day – plenty of time to buy the last souvenirs and get ready for our goodbye dinner.

15Dali Departing Day: End of your Yunnan motorcycle tour and transfer to your point of departure, either the airport or train station. 

= Estimated riding time without breaks

Drone Video: South Of The Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour

Included Services: South Of The Clouds Yunnan Motorcycle Tour

14 overnight stays in mid-range hotels and guest houses

Motorcycle of your choice (Shineray X5, BMW G 310 GS, BMW F 800 GS)

Mechanic service, engine oil, spare parts, comprehensive insurance with self contribution

English speaking motorbike tour guide on own motorcycle

English speaking local guide

Breakfast, dinner, mineral water

Entrance fees for sights
Supply vehicle for luggage and pillion riders
Temporary Chinese driver´s license

All group transfers from/to airport in Dali

Not included services:

International flights
Travel cancellation expenses insurance
Gas for Motorcycles



5 star ratingA Trip that I Must Take Again! Motorbiking with Tibetmoto was an adventure that I will definitely seek to have again. I knew that I had picked the right company to tour with by the warmth and kindness that I experienced from both the owner, Hendrik and Tenzin who had been patient, pleasant and informative while he answered all of my initial questions and concerns.

From the beginning of this journey, I felt like I was in good hands and that I could trust Sonam to guide us on this wonderful trip and he did. The land was absolutely stunning. The small towns were amazing and the ever-expansive rice terraces were unbelievable. I can’t imagine seeing the Yunnan province in any other way. I am so happy that I followed my first mind and rode with Tibetmoto. It’s a trip that I have to definitely take again. I can’t wait to go back! Highly recommended!

leeleethoms Avatar

5 star ratingExperience Tibet with your family We had a family friendly tour in China´s Yunnan Province. Highlights were the Tibetan family home-stay at Jiabe (can you believe there are baby goats for the kids to play with- they enjoyed it a lot).
Since you go in Yunnan Province you have the feeling to experience Tibet and the Tibetans and eat their local and organic food (and homemade wine) and great easy hiking trails into deep ancient forest nearby. There are other places nearby you can visit as the old town of Dali and the old town of Lijiang.
Our guide was very professional. He also was willing to take care about our children and that the kids liked him.
I recommended this tour to all my friends and family. This is once in a lifetime experience not to miss.

Latifi A Avatar
Latifi A

5 star ratingTruly Amazing tour in Yunnan! I truly enjoyed myself on this tour! When getting ready to prepare for it, they made sure to vividly inform me of what to expect as well as clear suggestions in an itemized list of what I should pack for the tour. I learned a lot from the guide, and I like the fact it didn't feel rushed like other tours I've experienced. The guide was courteous and truly cared about my overall experience. The vehicle was in great condition, as well. I highly recommend it!

Alexis W Avatar
Alexis W

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