China 2023 Trip
Come Along On Our 8th Annual Bridge Trip To China
October 1 - October 14, 2023
Our 8th annual High Over China Bridge Tour is now official with special plans to visit several major suspension and bridges under construction that are between 300 and 640 meters high including the World's Longest Span High Level Bridge and the World's Highest Suspension Railway Bridge as well as the 565 meter high Beipanjiang Duge cable stayed bridge.
For 2023 we will experience construction site tours of the spectacular new Tiger Leaping Gorge / Jinshajiang Hutiaoxia spans in Yunnan Province. Like in recent tours, this new tour will be geared as much as possible towards bridges that are under construction with on-site construction tours of at least 10 super spans in various stages of completion that range in height from 250 to over 500 meters high. We will also have an amazing visit to the 565 meter high Beipanjiang Duge Bridge - The World's Highest Bridge ever built as well as the Xiangjiang cable stayed bridge with towers almost 300 meters tall. We will also see the gargantuan 300 meter span of Ganxi Bridge, the largest span high level beam bridge on earth.
The trip will only be open to a maximum of 6 people as we will be traveling in one oversized SUV. This is no chartered bus trip for a group of 50 people looking to peer out a window to snap a quick photo of a bridge but a gathering of adventurous bridge fanatics who don’t mind a journey off the beaten path.
Our 8th annual bridge trip will follow the pattern set with the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 High Bridge Trips with a small group of bridge fans meeting in Shanghai before a short flight to Western China's capital of high bridges - Guiyang City.
Expect to smell, touch and feel these bridges in a way you could never do in Europe or the U.S. Prepare for some dust, dirt and a lot of sweat.
You will visit more than 12 of the world's highest bridges on this trip
including construction tours of several of the world's highest suspension, cable stayed
arch, glass and so much more!,
The 8th ever HighestBridges.com Organized Bridge Trip to China includes:
• All Ground Transportation via one 8-seat SUV for 2 weeks
• 14 Nights of Lodging from Sunday Night 10/1 through Saturday Night 10/14
• Flight from Shanghai to Guiyang in Western China.
• Three meals per day plus snacks & drinks
• Construction tours at approximately a dozen bridges including Jinshajiang Hutiaoxia road and railway, Jinshajiang Jin'an, Beipanjiang Huajiang, Zangkejiang, Malinghe Bridge Jinzhou, Duohua Glas, Wujiang Zenyu, Wujiang Bridge Deyu, Azhihe Bridge Naqing and the Xianrenjie Glass Platform as well as the Niahuhe Glass Elevator and Bridge.
• Exclusive 2021 Trip Photo Album posted on this website.
- 2011 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
- 2012 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
- 2013 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
- 2014 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
- 2015 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
- 2016 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
- 2018 High Bridge Trip Photo Album
• All for just $4,950!
• You can reach me at email@example.com
2023 China Bridge Trip Sampler
Bridge highlights will begin with a visit to the Duohua Glass Bridge - the highest glass bridge on earth. A special tour will be taken to the huge 255 meter towers rising from the slopes of the gorge. You can also take the highest public bungee jump in the world from the glass deck nearly 250 meters above the river surface.
the Maling gorge itself has managed to retain an untouched, virgin feel with a fabulous collection of waterfalls and cliffs unequaled in mountainous Guizhou Province. The encroachment of an ever-expanding Xingyi City on both sides of the river valley have produced a spectacular collection of high crossings including Fenglin, the highest Malinghe bridge of all at 361 meters.
On our third day we visit the giant Mengdonghe arch bridge with a concrete filled steel tubular span of 268 meters and a height of 250 meters. Our visit will coincide with the completion of the soaring main arch composed of thin, hollow tubing that will be stiffened with concrete.
In the afternoon we tour Aizhai Bridge, currently the longest span high bridge in the world with a tower to tower gap of 1,196 meters, nearly as long as the Golden Gate Bridge. Probably the most beautiful high bridge in all of China, the Aizhai Bridge made media headlines when it opened in 2012 on the new G65 expressway in Hunan Province as the world's highest tunnel to tunnel bridge span. Located over a protected scenic spot, the towering rock formations and cliffs of the DeHang canyon have made the crossing a new tourist destination and in 2015 the walkway inside the huge truss opened to the public for the first time, allowing unprecedented views of the deep abyss below.
Yangbaoshan Bridge is the first 6-lane bridge in the world to exceed 300 meters in height. The steel truss stiffened suspension bridge crosses the upper reaches of the Qingshui River in central Guizhou Province on a more direct east-west expressway that connects Guiyang with the cities of Longchangzhen, Jiuhouzhen and Huangping. The deck is approximately 320 meters above a reservoir or 360 meters above the original river level.
The lower leg of the 186.5 meter tall west tower measures 110.7 meters below the deck making it a unique "suspension-bridge-on-stilts". There are only 6 other suspension bridges in the world with tower piers that exceed 100 meters below deck including Sunxihe, Qingshuihe, Honghe Bridge Jianyuan, Dahe, Malinghe Fenglin and Tiger Leaping Railway.
Our adventure continues west into Guizhou with a stop by the giant Kaizhouhu Bridge, one of the longest span high level crossings in the world with a tower to tower distance of 1,100 meters that soars 220 meters above the reservoir formed by the giant Goupitan Dam across the nearby Wu River. The full height drop to the original level of the Qingshui River below the deck is approximately 305 meters.
North of Guiyang we encounter the beautiful red arch of the Xianghuoyan Bridge under construction with a concrete filled span of 984 feet and a height of 574 feet. A giant 260 meter long Indiana-jones style footbridge next to the arch will offer amazing vantage points to see the two halves of the arch rising up from their abutments.
The Zunyu expressway is another one of Guizhou's impressive mountain routes filled with high bridges including the spectacular Xiangjiang cable stayed bridge with a tower 288 meters tall, ranking among the world's top 12 tallest bridge structures.
East of Bijie are two high speed railway arches that will be epic in scale when they become operational in 2017. The first is the Xixhe 255 meter high arch span that will be unique as the two halves will be under construction on scaffolding high up on the edge of the canyon waiting to be rotated out over the canyon. The nearby Yachi Railway Bridge will be even more spectacular with a central span of 436 meters that rank among the longest span railway arches ever constructed. The highline towers of the Yachi Railway Bridge are the tallest ever erected for a bridge anywhere in the world at over 170 meters.
The Beipanjiang Bridge Duge turns heads around the world with its drop of over 500 meters supported by towers 269 meters tall. We will walk across the catwalk hidden within the giant truss that supports the roadway.
Wujiang Bridge Meishi is another Guizhou giant crossing almost 300 meters above the great Wu River. The truss stiffened span of 680 meters is the largest on the route between Meitan and Shiqian. Further upstream the Wu River is the very similar Wujiang Bridge Zunyu which also has a span of 680 meters and is about 300 meters high.
Located at Km 57 the Meishi Bridge has a span configuration of 9x40 +680 +24x40 meters. The original level of the Wu River is hidden under a reservoir formed by the Silin Dam.
On our sixth day the trek heads to Northern Guizhou Province to our next giant arch, the twin track high speed Yelanghe Railway Bridge with a herculean concrete main span of 1,214 feet - larger then the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge over the Colorado River.
The giant crossing is the longest span bridge ever built in Guizhou Province, a region of China with several other colossal suspension bridges. Even more amazing the east tower of Dahe Bridge will stand 314 meters in height making it the second tallest suspension bridge tower ever built surpassing Japan's Akashi Kaikyo Bridge but just behind the 328 meter towers of Turkey's Çanakkale Bridge over the Dardanelles Strait.
The design for the Tiger Leaping Gorge Railway Bridge crossing was studied for many years before the engineers finally decided to go with a 660 meter span truss stiffened suspension bridge that ranks among the 10 longest span railway bridges in the world. Located just a kilometer downstream of the equally impressive expressway suspension bridge, these two sister spans will surely become the most iconic bridge structures in Yunnan Province and a favorite of the millions of photo and video hungry tourists passing under the spans as they travel along the main road leading into the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge scenic spot. The new railway line will allow a fast travel time of around one hour between the tourist cities of Lijiang and Shangri-La.
Our final day will be in and around the famous tourist city of Lijiang high in the mountains of Yunnan near the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge. Later in the afternoon we all travel to nearby Liupanshui City Airport for a 3 hour flight to Shanghai.
A total of 2 to 4 people will be on the trip plus myself, an interpreter and a driver. As trip planners and organizers, we will be taking care of everything for the 2 to 4 additional guests. This includes the round trip air fare from Shanghai to Western China as well as the hotels, meals and car travel. We are hoping to pair single people together in hotel rooms but if you don’t mind the additional cost you can have your own private room for the duration of the trip. With each spot being filled on a first-come, first-served basis, you might be out of luck if you wait too long!
This trip is not for the timid or physically challenged. We will occasionally be traveling down into the canyons beneath these bridges on dirt roads that are often bumpy and dusty. There will be short but occasionally strenuous hikes down paths to reach spectacular viewpoints. At the end of the day you will be a little sweaty, dirty and wanting a hot meal, a hot shower and a cool hotel room to sleep in.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at Eric@HighestBridges.com. The price of this nearly 2-week trip is under 4,000 dollars which is an incredible bargain, so don't be shy about contacting me. This trip can only happen if at least 4 people sign up!
Want To Create Your Own High Bridge Trip?
Regardless of whether you want to be a part of my bridge tour or head off to Western China on your own, you need to understand up front that you cannot drive to these high bridges yourself. Since you must hire your own guide and/or driver, the following travel advice is for anyone who might be thinking about planning their own high bridge trip through Western China. Much of this advice also applies to those who might be coming on my 2015 trip.
With so many spectacular, high bridges in one region of the world, many will be wanting to hop on the next plane to China and begin a whirlwind tour of these “high”ways in the sky. Before you run out and buy a ticket, there are some very informative suggestions you need to learn about. These are not just tips but very important warnings that can make the difference between a once in a lifetime experience or an unforgettable nightmare.
A visit to the rural mountains of Western China is a world apart from a trip to a modern city like Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong. The big city hotels and western style restaurants that cater to English speaking tourists are not to be found in Western China outside of a handful of large cities. The high bridges located within this web site are far away from these big cities in mountainous regions of mostly poor farmers, many who have never seen a foreigner. This means that you will have to be resourceful and adapt to a rough environment that is more like a third world country where access to reliable transportation, food and lodging cannot be taken for granted.
First, do not even think of driving or renting a car in China’s western provinces. You can only visit these bridges by hiring a taxi driver for every day you are there. The mountain roads are incredibly dangerous, requiring an experienced driver to dodge any and every imaginable form of human and animal life as well as reckless trucks, automobiles and motorcycles. These assaults will come at you from every direction. When you are on these secondary roads, your driver is going to be using his horn constantly. Driving-by-horn in the mountains is not just an option but an important survival tool. To avoid colliding with people, bicycles and animals, a constant “beep” is required to warn each and every one of them. For a taxi driver, the use of a horn is second nature - for you it is not. Much of the time you will be on unpaved dirt roads filled with potholes, rocks and mud. Trucks and buses coming in the opposite direction are going to pass slower traffic by coming head on into your lane, forcing you to come to a sudden stop. If you did get in a collision, in a very real sense, you would be at fault even though the other driver came into your lane! Other times you will be stuck behind a slow moving truck, trapped in a cloud of dust and exhaust thicker than a dense fog.
Hired drivers and taxis are good because they know their regions well, they know what roads might be under construction or are washed out, what roads are dangerous and what roads are safe. Outside of the major highways, maps have little or no detail and only Chinese names. The rural sign-age you encounter on local roads will also be in Chinese language if there is even a sign at all.
But even if you could convince a Chinese car rental company to rent you a car and even if you could read Chinese road signs, and even if you could learn to use the horn and dodge oncoming traffic, the most important reason to hire a driver relates to the bridges themselves. You are there to walk across and under the bridges to take photos and experience the scenery. Many of these bridges do not have safe areas to pull over and park. In some cases, your driver will have to drop you off and park further down the highway and wait for you. In other cases you will want him to take you down to the bottom of the bridge on some unknown side road. A personal driver means having no worries about leaving your car on the side of the road with your belongings left unattended. It means no worries about getting lost, and best of all, no worries about getting in an accident. There is also no cost difference. For a little over a $125, you will have your own personal car and driver for the entire day. No insurance papers or damage waivers to fill out, no unforeseen tows or car repairs, no expensive late fees.
Finally, the best reason you might want a driver is food. When you are up in the mountains, you will not be able to stop off at a Denny’s or a McDonalds. The driver will know what places to avoid. He will not shy away from going into the back of the restaurant to check on the quality and trustworthiness of the meat you will be eating and how it will be prepared.
Now that I have convinced you that hiring a driver is the only way to go, you need to be warned that many drivers cannot be trusted and you will have to pick a driver that can be counted on to serve you and not try to steal or rip you off. If you don’t watch out you could find yourself sitting on the side of some mountain road, your taxi driver having taken off with your belongings, never to be see again.
Due to the long distances between these bridges, there might be days you are going to have to bring all of your luggage with you as your one or two day taxi driver is going to be dropping you off in a different city from the city where you hired him in the morning. That means you will have to entrust your belongings with him as you visit the different bridges. As an outsider in these regions, you are going to stick out like a sore thumb. People might want to take advantage of you if you let them.
If you do not have the money to have a travel agent set you up with your own driver for the entire trip then the best person to find you a good taxi driver each day will be the concierge at the hotel you are staying at. They will have a known pool of drivers that they use and the drivers will be less likely to try anything funny. Even so, a driver knows you are unfamiliar with negotiating and so the price you agree on should be clear and well established before you leave. You should expect to pay him extra if the day extends to 14 hours instead of 12 as you had planned or if you drove 600 miles (966 km) instead of 500 (805 km). All of this should be worked out in advance. You should expect to pay him in cash when you get back to your hotel in the evening. If you have to stay overnight away from his city, you will need to pay for his hotel room. You should also expect to pay for his lunch. It is an inexpensive courtesy that may earn you some points if you get back a little late or want him to do something risky like illegally pulling over in the middle of a bridge, etc. And if you had a great day, why not invite him to dinner when you get back to the hotel. I got along with my driver so well in Guiyang, he agreed to come back the next morning and spend two hours showing me another high bridge I had not know of - for free! When you get into the taxi, always snap a digital photo of his license which should be on the dashboard.
The most important thing you can try to bring with you on a vacation to Western China is another person, whether it be your own spouse, a close friend or a hired Chinese guide. He or she can be a second set of eyes as well as someone who can go along with you when you venture down into some unknown gorge to take photos. I visited many of China’s high bridges with an English speaking Chinese engineering student from Shanghai who handled all of the dealings with the taxis and hotels. He made sure every driver was an honest one as well as telling the driver what will be in store for them. Many of these small taxis have low clearances that are unsuitable for such horrible roads and a driver might not want to head into the mountains to have his car get abused for the same money he can make in the city on normal roads. Communicating your desire to go “off-road” is crucial to finding a good match for a driver. Finally, do not ever agree to go along with a taxi driver who wants to “bring his friend along” for the day. Two guys taking you into the mountains or down a back alley could easily be a setup for a rip-off.
Once a good driver is found, your biggest hurdle will be communication. The driver will not know English or any other language outside of Chinese, so you will need to be prepared. Prior to leaving for China, you should print out a full size image of every bridge you plan to visit along with the Chinese and English names also printed on the photo. In addition, be sure to print out any maps from this web site with the location and names of the bridges you want to visit as well as purchasing a China Road Atlas that is available at most airports and bookstores. Also good for planning your entire trip is a fold out map like the ones sold by Nelles that cover the general regions of Central and Southern China. People are very un-knowledgeable about bridges. They don’t know the difference between a suspension or a cable stayed bridge. Photos, names and map locations of each bridge will be your only way to show the driver exactly what bridge you want to visit and its general location. Even so, expect to be frustrated as you will get lost from time to time - ultimately the driver is not likely to know these rural back roads any better than you will. Asking locals for directions will often be your only guide.
Outside of the concierges in the nicer 4 or 5 star hotels in the cities of Chongqing, Guiyang and Kunming, people in the western provinces do not speak English or any other foreign language. There are few hotels in most of the smaller cities and towns in the mountains. For those visiting the West Hurong highway, the cities to stay in are Enshi and Yesanguanzhen. Along the Yangtze River, most of the larger cities have hotels that cater to tourists. You should always plan on getting back to a hotel by the end of the day. Driving at night is generally not safe except on the major highways and in the cities. You can read more at http://wikitravel.org/en/Driving_in_China. Be sure to scroll down to the section titled “Danger”. Remember, for every mile a person travels on a road in China, the likelihood of getting killed is the same as driving 10 miles in Europe or the U.S.
Now that I’ve covered the nasty side of travel on China’s tough roads, I will go over the easy side of travel - the planes, trains and buses. Unlike most countries in the world where you must buy plane tickets in advance, China’s airports are more like bus terminals where you can sometimes purchase a ticket just a few hours before a flight. Even so, large discounts can be had on the web if you book a ticket on line at least a day in advance. All of the airlines can be compared and purchased on http://english.ctrip.com/. This makes it a perfect way to travel between a larger city like Chongqing or Guiyang with some of the smaller cities like Yichang or Wanxian. Instead of spending 5 hours in a bus you can hop between two cities in just an hour.
Buses may be slower than planes but they are the only form of transportation outside of a taxi that can take you to some of the smaller cities and towns that are in the mountains. In addition to easy accessibility, they also tend to run more frequently than planes and trains and are quite comfortable.
Trains are not any quicker than a bus or a taxi but they are incredibly cheap in China and allow you to catch up on sleep or take in the countryside. Train tickets are generally divided into separate classes. The hard and soft seat are the cheapest and most common way to travel but they are often crowded and uncomfortable for long routes. The best is the soft sleeper with only 4 beds to a room and not much more than a hard sleeper where there are 6 beds to a room. Getting a ticket is the most difficult aspect of train travel. Large stations are often crowded and travel during holiday periods should be avoided. You don’t have to worry about eating as all trains have roving trollies and a dining car where cooks can prepare hot Chinese meals. You might want to prepare for the toilets though as they can be dirty and stinky and require you to squat over a hole in the floor, keeping your balance as you try to aim. Finally, expect to bring your own toilet paper - train bathrooms will never have any.
So if you use some common sense and plan out your route carefully, you can have a bridge adventure you will never forget. Just remember that sudden setbacks will come up. Bad weather can come at anytime. Cars, buses and trains break down. Also remember that the advice I have given to you is no substitute for all of the normal, travel related things that you would have to prepare for on any big trip to China that are mentioned in such guidebooks as Lonely Planet or Fodors. The process of obtaining travel insurance, visas, permits and vaccinations are all well described in these books and beyond the scope of this website. Since I have traveled to western China several times, I do have some good contacts with drivers who have visited some of these high bridges and are trustworthy. If you are planning a bridge trip to western China, I will be glad to give you any advice and suggestions.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org