Tongzhou Canal route: East bank to west bank

A long, flat meander along both banks of the gorgeous Grand Canal

Using completely vehicle-free bike paths for most of the route, this ride is perfect for a family day out with the children – or for anyone who’s had enough of Beijing’s traffic. But be sure to pack a picnic and lots of water, as there’s little chance to pick up supplies en route.

Distance Around 16.5km
Bike time One-and-a-half to two hours
Difficulty Moderate – the distance is long but it’s a simple, flat route and you’ll hardly have to look at your map.
Highlights Car-free riding and great views of the Grand Canal

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Ambitious riders can cycle from Beijing’s centre to the start of this route. But be warned: it’s at least a 25km trek from the East Third Ring Road – and that’s just one way. If your legs are up to the challenge, but your bike isn’t, consider hiring a top-end road bike from Serk. If you don’t fancy yourself the next Bradley Wiggins, drive out to the start or hire a mini-van to take you and your bike there. We recommend Mr Jack (136 5137 4172), who charges from 400RMB for the return journey and waiting time.

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The starting point is on the east bank of the Grand Canal, on the east side of the bridge where Yunhe Xi Dajie becomes Tonghu Nan Lu. On the south side of the road, right where the bridge meets the land, you will find a dirt track that leads into the 1 Grand Canal Ecological Park. Head southwards, following the curves of the canal. You’ll pass bushes plump with fuchsia flowers and continue along a raised wooden-plank walkway, which cuts through wetland with reeds.

When you get to the end of the park, you’ll have to briefly continue on the side of the main road (Beiyunhexindi Lu), crossing underneath two large road bridges (the second one is the Sixth Ring Road). At the first opportunity, turn right and re-join the tree-lined cycle-and-pedestrian-only path, heading south along the canal. Along this stretch, grass patches make convenient 2 picnic spots. Around 2km further along, you will cross under another road bridge (Songliang Lu), and come to an abandoned cultural centre on your left and, on your right, a jetty sticking out into the canal. Take a moment to admire the view through the 3 traditional-style gateway by the jetty. On the other side of the canal, you’ll see a 4 moon-shaped island and pretty, old-style bridge. You can also park up and 5 explore the sculptures in the garden just south of the former cultural centre.

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Continue about 5km south along the canal, until you get to the next bridge (Wuxing Lu). Cross over here onto the west side of the canal. Turn right and head north, following the bike path all the way along the canal until you reach Yunhe Xi Dajie again.

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