I propose to cycle from Phnom Penh in Cambodia to either Manning or, maybe further (perhaps Guangzhou), in southern China. I am fairly confident that the Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam legs can be achieved (I have travelled Southeast Asia extensively and lived in Cambodia for the last 2 years), however I have never visited Southern China and am aware that the culture will vary quite dramatically as will the terrain, climate and of course many more factors. I want to ask if anyone has any advice or knowledge on this region (and all the regions proposed in fact) and therefore can share any useful information with me as to what I should know and expect / what I must be aware of / what I can do to prepare for such a trip.
I am very grateful in advance for any replies to this post, or indeed any links to other websites / blogs / forums I should take a look at.
#1 Seby_C has been a member since 16/5/2011. Posts: 11
Culture is indeed totally different the south-east Asian countries but nothing to worry about.
If you don't speak Chinese (and in this part of china: Cantonese) I'd suggest to stick to main cities and tourist areas and find you some Chinese folks who speak English to help you around. always fun. Cycling sounds like a good option but bear in mind that distances in china are huge!
I'd plan out your route for china well before you go there to be sure how long it takes to get you to the next place.
Thanks for your response. Do you know if some of the smaller towns have guesthouses, or locals will allow someone to put up a tent in their land... someone with no knowledge of the language that is? Obviously I know this question cannot be answered yes or no, but generally would you have any idea about this?
I plan to stick to the main routes, cycling between and staying in the big cities where possible, but as you say with the large distances it is inevitable that I will have to stay in some of the smaller towns. Is the southern region 'touristy' and able to provide accommodation do you know in the smaller towns between Vnam boerder and Guangzhou?
#3 Seby_C has been a member since 16/5/2011. Posts: 11
I think if you stick to the main route all the way south of china from Qinzhou to Guangzhou (not going to Nanning: as I can suggest it's a lovely city to visit) you should be fine for guesthouses as this is all at the beach and I know a lot of chinese people come here for holiday as well.
Don't know about the route from Nanning to Guangzhou but It's going to be more of an effort to find a place to stay between these 2 cities.
Take a chinese dictionary with you that might help you out a lot so you can ask the locals where you can stay.
If you're heading to Shanghai as well with the bicycle: you can just follow the coastline as well and sometimes just go a little bit inland to check out the places there.
Good luck on the tour: wish I could join you
Check out Crazy Guy on a Bike. Chances are someone has written about the places you want to cycle through. The site is a treasure chest of excellent travel.
Here are a few examples of links just to get you going ...
I've found this site to be the very best source of info on cycling in the area that's out there. Much of it is very up-to-date, with some in real time.
@Svendj – thanks for your continued advice – extremely useful for me and it sounds like you’re talking from experience so I really do welcome your comments.
All the way to Shanghai… very tempting indeed… these things do have a habit of becoming much more than they ever intended to be!
If I may, could I quiz you on another thing or two?
- I see that the two most viable border crossings are either at Mong Cai or Pingxiang… have you crossed either of these into China? Any good, or one better / easier than the other?
- If I were to take Mong Cai, at the various maps I’m looking at it seems the road from here to Fangcheng is a bit dubious if I were to take this route – do you know this road, or area?
- Is bringing a bike in to China fairly simple – any idea what documents I will need?
- Know any good bike shops in Bangkok with English speaking staff? I am 6’3” tall and have to buy a bike there so need to have a detailed conversation with staff about my requirements! Have looked in Phnom Penh but they are few…
And Tilapia – many thanks for those links – started reading last night – some very interesting travels by this guy and some great tips. Please also if you have any info on the above feel free to pitch in!
I have just discovered that there is actually a forum here on travelfish dedicated to cycling in Asia so I will repost this thread on there too – please comment in either
#6 Seby_C has been a member since 16/5/2011. Posts: 11
No Sorry Seby, never took any of these borders and never taken the road from Mong Cai to Fangcheng. definitely worth a try though :). It's only about 100 km I guess so It should be fine to finish in a day of course. If you're heading to Pingxiang it's going to take you a little bit longer to get there I guess.
I crossed the borders at Mengla in south-west China to explore Yunnan province and then took a flight to Guanxi and places around... don't know all of it anymore.
Not really an idea about the bike shops, there are some good ones around run by american guys but I have no idea where it is. just ask around. or find you a thai person who can speak english.
There are a few great bike shops in Bangkok. One that most people use and recommend is ProBike (http://www.probike.co.th/). They are located near Lumpini Park. Might be a good choice if you're staying in that area.
Closer to Banglamphoo and the main backpacker/flashpacker ghetto is Velo Thailand (http://www.velothailand.com/). The owner's name is Ae (Ae Thagoon Laogorsakul) ... a great guy with excellent English. They sell a lot of Trek bikes. The shop is small, but quality is high and the location is great if you're staying near the river. I've used this place several times over the years and have always had superb service. The shop is very close to the Banglamphoo canal, just off of Samsen. You can walk there from Khao San Road in about 5 minutes.
By the way, I don't recommend cycling out of Bangkok. It's doable, but it's a royal pain. Better to throw your bike onto a train and get off when you're out of the city. I've never had a problem riding in and around Bangkok, but leaving the city is another story.
Great stuff - thanks for the advice, just what I need. I'm gathering a small list now of bike shops in BKK so will contact a few and then dedicate an entire day or two to visiting them all when I get over there. If I get a bike first time I will not cycle out of BKK - I won't start this trip until Phnom Penh - thanks for advice.
#9 Seby_C has been a member since 16/5/2011. Posts: 11