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Overview

Be immersed in Cantonese culture in the Guangdong Province. See how centuries of international trade have influenced the ways of life in this coastal province. Bike through traditional neighbourhoods and trek to ethnic hill tribe villages to see, up close, the incredible heritage of the Cantonese. 

Trip Highlights

Cantonese Culture in Guangdong Province

Learn about deep-rooted traditions

Discover the secrets of Cantonese traditional medicine, see thousand-year-old tombs and experience the tea culture.

Stay in a typical Yao village

Get an immersive experience with the Yao, experiencing their way of life and sleeping sleep in a local family’s house. 

Explore Guangdong’s natural beauty

Bike, boat and trek through countryside to see the beautiful waterfalls, caves and rice paddies that make Guangdong so amazing.

Itinerary

1

Guangzhou (Canton)

Start off the Guangzhou biking tour with a visit to the French-British influenced Shamian Island. Situated along the Pearl River, this verdant park is an excellent spot to ease into the Guangzhou experience, surrounded by locals practicing gymnastics, Qigong, and Tai Chi under century-old banyan trees. Cycle out of the park along well-preserved colonial structures, passing the striking Lady of Lourdes Church along the way.

In stark contrast to the verdant, colonial nature of the park, the next stop is the neighborhood of the Qing Ping Market. Historically famous for its sale of dogs, cats, rodents, and owls (for consumption!), this thriving locale still retains its traditional character, though it has been shut down in recent years. Nearby, Chinese medicine shops sell everything from ginseng varieties to dried scorpions, seahorses, deer antlers, and rare mushrooms. Combining the scents of spices, the sights of exotic fruits, and the clacking moves of mahjong players… this region is a complete sensory experience. 

The Guangzhou biking tour continues through the vibrant neighborhood with clothes vendors shouting sales pitches and clapping their hands to attract customers. Quite literally a living theatre, this zone ends with the Longjin Market, a fruit, meat, and fish market ripe with sights and smells.

The cycle ends at the 19th century Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family. Built by inhabitants of the 72 villages in the region, this temple demonstrates the region’s clan system as well as traditional ancestral worship that is still practiced to this day. Boasting a large array of typical southern Chinese architecture, sculptures and paintings give homage to the Chen clan, a merchant clan very influential in the region.

Putting the bicycle aside, a four-wheeled journey succeeds to the Western Han Nanyue King’s Tomb Museum. Home to a vast collection of funerary objects from the second king of Nanyue (Zhao Mei: 137-122 BC), this museum is considered to be one of the best in the country. Though largely pillaged after its discovery in the 1980’s, the tomb itself survived along with Zhao Mei’s burial suit of jade and pottery/furniture symbolizing the king’s importance.

Overnight in Guangzhou

Optional: What’s a visit to Guangzhou without sampling the regional dim sum? An integral part of Cantonese cuisine (one of the four main cuisines of China), we are happy to arrange a tasting of these delicious steamed snacks (upon request.) 

2

Guangzhou – Kaiping - Guangzhou

Guangzhou – Chikan (approx. 140 km): 2h (by car) Chikan – Jinjiang (13km) by bike Jinjiang – Majianglong (7km) by bike Majianglong – Chikan (10km) by bike Chikan – Li garden (7km) by bike Li garden – Chikan (6km) by bike Chikan – Zili village (8,5km): 20 min by car Zi village- Guangzhou (approx. 135km): 2 h (by car) *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

With guide and bikes in tow, Day 2 begins the Guangzhou countryside experience with a drive out to the village of Chikan. Recognizable thanks to its lavish riverside homes built by international Chinese merchants, these grand residences are often used as a backdrop for films set in colonial times.

Resuming the Guangzhou biking tour from within the town’s centre, the journey aims towards the countryside where rice fields, bamboo forests, and banana plantations set the scene. Soak in the rural atmosphere as chickens run through the streets, water buffalos wade in the muck, and (reared) ducks bob along in the nearby ponds.

Option: Interested in learning the origins of roasted duck? An opportunity is available to meet a local duck farmer who will explain his work, daily routines, and role within the local economy. Ducks are bred in massive numbers around Chikan, particularly to satisfy the growing demand from local restaurants serving the specialty dish ‘Cantonese style roast duck’.

The first stop in the Guangzhou countryside will be at the village of Jinjiang. A waiting here is one of the most beautiful diaolou, or multi-storied watchtowers, in the region. Known as  the Ruishi Lou, this structure is most notable for its Byzantine-style architecture. Another famous complex in the region is the cluster of towers at Majianglong. With a backdrop of mountains and the peaceful Tanjiang River in the front, it is another visually stunning locale… reputedly with great Fengshui!

Follow flagged paths winding through bamboo groves, distant watchtowers, and lush countrysides, leading back towards Chikan for lunch (not included).

After lunch, head back towards the villages (Zili) where the villa laden, Italian-style Li Garden awaits. Soak in the beauty of Li before packing the bikes away and taking the drive back to Guangzhou.

The local system of social ranking is based on grouping together the descendants of a single (common) ancestor located in the same geographical area, a system which influences ancestor worship as well as trade. Certain diaolou, therefore, are constructed by a number of villages who wish to prove the strength of their ancestral heritage line. Heading back to Guangzhou you will get the chance to visit Zili village which is home to the greatest number of diaolou in the region. The towers here were built by the Fang clan who took inspiration from time spent in both Chicago and Malaysia.

Overnight in Guangzhou

(Ride up to 43 km).

Note: Chikan provides the best options for lunch; if you choose to skip lunch, it reduces the total itinerary by 4km.

Cycle Difficulty: Moderate (flat all the way, one third of the Guangzhou biking tour will be along national road)

3

Guangzhou – Liannan

Guangzhou – Liannan (approx. 250 km): 5h *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Continue the experience with a drive out (and off the beaten path) to Liannan in the north of the province, crossing the karst formations of the Yingxi Corridor along the way. Also known as the Sugarloaf Mountains, these mythical structures are typical to Southern China, a place known for inspiring poets, painters, and photographers from around the world. In addition to their majestic facade, these peaks also hide an extensive cave system. A short boat ride will expose the interiors of these caves, housing natural, grand ceilings similar to those of a cathedral.

Also en route to Liannan is the “Thousand-year Village.” 15 kilometers (10 miles) from town, this area is known to house the Yao Minority, a small cluster of China’s population spread across the mountainous zones of the five southern provinces. Explore the mountainside villages with their curved, brick houses laden with black tile roofs and quaint vegetable gardens. Locals here still don the traditional Yao clothing and many gather & sell ingredients connected to Chinese Pharmacopoeia.

The life of the Yao people is directly linked to religion, influenced strongly by Ancestral Worship and Taoism. Learn all about the remains of stone tombs (or Kistvaen), reserved for the Yao kings, which were nearly demolished during the Cultural Revolution. Top off the visit at the summit of the village, home to a small ancestral temple and some brilliant panoramic views of the surrounding forests and Karst mountains.

Overnight and dining that evening with a local host family

Note: Though well maintained and clean, the lodging conditions of the local houses are basic.

4

Liannan -Yingde

Liannan –Yingde (approx. 180 km): 4h30 *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Traveling from Liannan Yao Community to Yingde, check in to the Jiuzhou Resort, positioned at the foothills of Tianmengou Mountain. The mountain is divided into 9 walking stations, each corresponding to differing degrees of difficulty. Explore the first 5 stations (taking between 2-3 hours, depending on your pace), ripe with small pools of crystalline water, crisp fresh air, idyllic waterfalls, and brilliant views of the region (from Station 5.)

Why trek out to this little-known region? In addition to its beautiful scenery, Jiuzhou is also known for its “well being” treatments. Overnight in comfortable log cabins perched in the trees, days and nights spent soaking in the many hot springs (combatting the day’s explorations)... even treatments linked to Chinese medicine will be both explained and available at the resort (hot stone massage, flower baths, acupressure, etc.)

Top off the day with a delicious local barbecue and food coming straight from the resort’s vegetable garden.

5

Yingde - Guangzhou

Yingde – Guangzhou (approx. 150 km): 2h30 *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Interested in learning the origins of some of the world’s best tea? Before departing the Guangzhou countryside, explore the Tea Plantations of Yingde, combined with a memorable tasting session. Cocoa-like odours, amber colours during infusion, a light peppery taste… it’s a tea-lover’s dream! To take the experience to the next level, meet up with a local tea producer who will give in-depth guides to green, black, oolong, aromatic, white, and compressed teas.

Originally consumed for medicinal purposes, tea rapidly became the favourite drink of the Chinese. The tea trade flourished globally during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). With its rich diversity and complexity, tea culture in China can be compared to wine culture in the West.

Return to Guangzhou airport and flight to your next destination.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in selected hotel
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
  • English speaking guide without shopping (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals not mentioned
  • Visa of China
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and Domestic Flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance

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