By Greta

day trip – macau february 8

Our neighbor across the Pearl River Delta, Macau, has an outsized reputation as the “Las Vegas of the East,” and a quick European mini-holiday. But beyond the glittering lights and tourist-flooded streets, you will discover another side of Macau. Ornate temples wafting with incense, traditional bakeries, craftsman’s studios, and chapels and shrines with curious history can be found if you take the time to explore the winding alleys. 

On this insider tour of Macau, we’ll see a relic of a Christian saint, a secret garden inside a public library, the most beautiful black-and-white mosaic street in Macau, and a temple dedicated to the snake goddess held to be creator of the Chinese universe. In the afternoon we’ll stop by a cozy wine bar for a glass of Portuguese wine.

Please note:
This tour as priced and programmed starts in Shenzhen, journeys to Macau, and returns to Shenzhen. This involves exiting Mainland China to Macau, then returning to Mainland China on the same day.
Please ensure that you can bring your original passport on that day, and that you have enough entries on your China visa to allow re-entry into Shenzhen.

Saturday, February 8
8:00am Ferry from Shekou Ferry Terminal
~9:00am Arrive Macau
Walking tour, lunch, wine bar stop
17:00 Ferry from Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal
~18:00 Return to Shekou

Please let me know if you would like to board a later ferry and I will check availability for you.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Macau in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – foshan february 7

Let’s go out to discover Foshan, the colorful hometown of Cantonese traditions! Time spent in Foshan’s storied neighborhoods always makes for a great day out to learn about kung fu, lion dancing, ancient ceramics and traditional culture.

Foshan city is part of the Pearl River Delta and the third largest city in Guangdong, with distinctive Cantonese cultural traditions and rich history. Its name means “Buddha mountain.”

On this day trip, first we will visit the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln. Here you can see a ceramics kiln that has been in continuous operation since the Ming dynasty, for over 500 years. There are also many charming sculptural alleyways and shops to find a wonderful ceramic souvenir.

From here, we’ll head to lunch in Lingnan Tiandi, a historic district developed with many restaurants and quaint cafes. Cost of lunch is on your own. I will recommend a few restaurants to choose from, and provide a suggested menu to order from. I will recommend that groups of 3-5 dine together, rather than our entire group together for efficiency at the restaurants.

After lunch, we will explore the Ancestral Temple (祖庙 zu miao), which has been a central part of Foshan people’s religion for centuries. In this well preserved temple, you can also learn about Ip Man and Wang Fei Hong, two major kung fu masters from Foshan. The elements of Cantonese opera are demonstrated at the temple’s own traditional stage. And don’t miss the heart of the Ancestral Temple, the ornate halls of Beidi, the northern emperor god, to whom locals pray to watch over Foshan.

We will catch a lively performance of the temple’s students demonstrating the Foshan styles of kung fu and lion dance. The thrilling colors and traditions of Foshan will add to your best memories of your time in China.

Friday, February 7
Depart 7:30AM, return Shenzhen approximately 6:00PM

2 Pick ups by private bus will be arranged around Shenzhen, to be convenient to public transportation, for example Chegongmiao metro and Sea World metro.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Foshan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – watertown february 2

小桥流水人家 To make your home by a small bridge and flowing water.

These words describe the idyllic scenery of Chinese villages, which people come from across continents to see, often seeking out the tourist canal towns around Shanghai. But we have such a quaint village right in our backyard around the Pearl River Delta. The irrigated towns and paddies of Guangzhou and Foshan are a prime but overlooked place to find a classic scene of Chinese life.

On this day trip, we’ll head to the outer villages of Shunde district, part of Foshan just to the west of Guangzhou.

In the water town of Fengjian, you can wander the shaded streets of this village, catching glimpses of the local people’s relaxed life. Fishermen repair a net, two neighbors play chess along the river banks.

Shunde is also home to some of the most famous dishes of Cantonese cuisine, especially the popular desserts double skinned milk and ginger milk. We can taste these plus other snacks and sweets while lounging near the flowing river.

You can also take your family for a paddle in a traditional wooden boat in a loop around the canals.

This is the original Watertown group tour from Shenzhen. Come with China Tea Leaves to see some things that you can only see with us, and enjoy our relaxed, small group experience.

On this trip, you will experience:
– A guided tour of the village, with information about the history of the watertown and the families that lived there
– Lunch with introduction to some Shunde dishes
– Free time for shopping and riding the traditional boats
– Experience a second, non-touristy village

Sunday, February 2
Depart 8:00AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

Default pickup in Shekou. Contact me if you are outside of Shekou for other pickup options.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Watertown in your introduction.
加我微信的时候,请备注Trips或Watertown;如果没有,我可能不加你。

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – shawan january 18

Teachers, classmates, students of life, come to the scholarly village of Shawan in southern Guangzhou!

Shawan is a well preserved Lingnan style town, with a collection of stately buildings to explore. The grandest building is the Liugeng Hall, which is the ancestral temple of the He clan. This family has a long history going back to the Yuan dynasty, and a proud tradition of young scholars who performed well on the imperial examination. In fact, the whole town can be seen as a scholar’s study, so what better place to study China and wish yourself well for the rest of the academic year!

Saturday January 18 will also be the Xiaonian (small year), an important holiday leading up to the Danian (big year), the first day of the Chinese New Year. Come see how southern China prepares for the most important holiday of the year.

Saturday, January 18
~8:00am – ~5:30pm

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Shawan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

yunnan january 2020

Are you dreaming of a land of blue skies, colorful clouds, people living a quiet traditional life? A place where you can stretch your legs, climb green mountains, wade amongst wildflowers, and discover temples, new friends and always a bit of adventure? Sounds like a fairy tale, some kind of Shangri-La, you say?

You would be right. And you can find your own paradise in the northwest corner of Yunnan province.

Come with Greta Bilek, author of China Tea Leaves travel guides and explorer of China, on your dream trip to Yunnan province.

Yunnan province is located in southwestern China, tucked between Tibet, Sichuan and Guangxi provinces, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and is one of the most diverse provinces in China, with dozens of ethnic minorities; flowers, mushrooms and other wildlife; and dramatic landscapes with the weather of eternal spring.

We’ll be visiting the Shaxi valley; Shuhe and Lijiang; and Shangri-La.

We will fly from Shenzhen direct to Kunming. There we will be picked up by private shuttle to head to Shaxi (沙溪 elev. 6890ft/2100m), a pristine valley with a well preserved Bai minority village and world class historical sites. The Bai people are a Sino-Tibetan ethnic group, known throughout Yunnan for their intricately carved architecture and fine cooking with local ingredients. Shaxi was an important trading post on the ancient Tea Horse Road, which connected Tibet to southern Yunnan and beyond, for centuries of trade of horses (from Tibet) and tea (from southern Yunnan).

In Shaxi we will stay inside a temple/theatre that served entertainment for the gods of the Bai people. We will visit the market area, with its temple and theatre complex, recognized by UNESCO for its articulate restoration. On our the next day in Shaxi, we will journey into the rolling hills to find a secluded temple and the fascinating sculptural grotto of Shizhongshan.

From Shaxi we will head up to Shuhe (束河 elev. 7900ft/2400m) near Lijiang, another town located on the ancient Tea Horse Road. On the day of our arrival, we will stroll the colorful streets of Shuhe, in the view of the imposing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Shuhe and Lijiang were stops on the old Tea Horse Road, which connected Tibet to southern Yunnan and beyond, for centuries of trade of horses (from Tibet) and tea (from southern Yunnan). This area is the home of the Naxi minority, with their own writing system and religion.

The following morning we will take in the stellar view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from the famous Black Dragon Pool. Early in the morning in the week of the new year, the park will be filled with people singing, dancing, and celebrating the new spirit of the Year of the Mouse.

We will head north towards to Shangri-La (香格里拉 elev. 10,370ft/3160m), the center of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan province. You will really feel like we’re in Tibetan country, even though we won’t have crossed the border. Ladies in traditional pink headwear do their shopping and older folks grasp their prayer beads throughout the streets. We will visit a lively market, the old town of Dukezong, the largest prayer wheel in the world, and the Songzanlin monastery, which is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan.

Our final night will be spent in Shuhe, before departing back to Shenzhen. Package includes train from Lijiang to Kunming, for your flight return Kunming to Shenzhen.

After days dreaming in the heights amongst a rainbow of wildflowers and prayer flags, you will return to Shenzhen with a vision of paradise in your mind’s eye and a burning desire to come back to Yunnan province.

January 26: Arrive Kunming, transfer to Shaxi
January 27: Shaxi Shibaoshan temple, transfer to Shuhe
January 28: Visit Lijiang, transfer to Shangri-La
January 29: Visit Songzanlin Monastery, return Shuhe
January 30: Return from Lijiang, by train + flight or direct flightPrice: 4380RMB per adult. Ask for kids’ price.
Hotels (double occupancy), Private Ground Transportation, Entrance Tickets, Meals, Travel Insurance, and guide by Greta

(Note: Much of this trip is at high elevation – 7900ft/2400m and higher. Travelers will feel the effects of the elevation, but can usually adjust to normal activity level within 1-2 days. The Tiger Leaping Gorge hike has some steep inclines and is at high elevation. Hiking at this elevation is tough and incurs a real risk of altitude sickness. There are donkeys available on the trail for those who feel uncomfortable, for an additional fee.The trail is in good condition, and no special prior hiking experience is necessary. But this hike is best suited for those in good physical shape. Please notify us of any health conditions when booking. China Tea Leaves is not responsible for any injuries or accidents sustained during the trip.)

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Yunnan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – xiqiao january 13

This trip is a variation on our classic Foshan trip, to discover the natural side of this classic Guangdong city and delve more into the center of Shiwan ceramics.

Foshan city is part of the Pearl River Delta and the third largest city in Guangdong, with distinctive Cantonese cultural traditions and rich history. Its name means “Buddha mountain.” Our first stop will be Xiqiao mountain, an important sacred mountain in the Lingnan area.

The distinctive green hills of Xiqiao were formed by volcanic activity in ancient Foshan, and its freshness presides over this southwest side of Foshan. The Baofeng Temple here has a history of 600 years, and its site today is where the monumental figure of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, was built in 1998. The 77 meter tall statue is one of the tallest figures of Guanyin in the world.

After visiting the temple, we will enjoy a lunch in a vegetarian restaurant at the rear of the temple.

After lunch, we will visit the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln. Here you can see a ceramics kiln that has been in continuous operation since the Ming dynasty, for over 500 years. The remainder of our time of the day will be free for you to explore the many charming sculptural alleyways and shops to find a wonderful ceramic souvenir.

Monday, January 13
Depart 7:30AM, return Shenzhen approximately 6:00PM

2 Pick ups by private bus will be arranged around Shenzhen, to be convenient to public transportation, for example Chegongmiao metro and Sea World metro.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Foshan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – kaiping january 11

Come with China Tea Leaves to Kaiping (开平), for a one day getaway to a place with stunning architecture and pleasant villages, not far from Shenzhen. Kaiping is part of the five counties known as the top hometown of overseas Chinese. One in ten people with Chinese heritage living overseas have roots from this region.

It is also the hometown of diaolou (碉楼), a unique building type that acted as a fortress, watchtower, and clan house. Whereas palace and courtyard architecture throughout China expands out as it grows, the diaolou goes up. Thousands of diaolou are sprinkled throughout Kaiping’s districts, often rising seven, eight, or nine stories from low-lying villages. Those that emigrated sent back money they earned abroad, and sometimes brought back Western designs and furnishings adding to the distinction of their diaolou. This building phenomenon put Kaiping on the map as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, and makes it a must-see in Guangdong province today.


This is a special offer to see these UNESCO recognized sites in just a one day trip from Shenzhen. Our private shuttle will take us from Shenzhen to Kaiping, taking about three hours.

First we’ll visit the Zili village (自力村). Several diaolou are set amongst the rice paddies, including two maintaining their original furnishings. Go inside and climb to the top for classic views of your surroundings. From Zili village, we will head to Li Garden (立园). Along the way we’ll see village life, women farming the rice paddies, and other diaolou dotting the greenway. Li Yuan is a masterpiece of Qing dynasty design, but it also incorporates western and middle eastern elements into its myriad gardens.

After a picnic lunch, we’ll continue through the rice fields, which with all the watchtowers and arcades might be starting to look like someplace between King’s Landing and Winterfell. Finally we’ll visit Jinjiangli (锦江里) village and its fine diaolou cluster. Their turrets, arches and colorful frescoes will make you feel like you’ve been transported to medieval Italy. On our way out of town we’ll make a stop by Chikan (赤坎) town, whose many western buildings have been used as movie sets for historic Chinese films. The town is preparing for a massive renovation but we can take our chances to see backstage before the refurbishing starts. We will drive back in the evening after an enchanting day in the castles of Kaiping.

Without traveling far from Shenzhen, you can see a world of architecture and revive yourself in the slower-paced villages of Guangdong province.

Saturday, January 11:
Approximately 7:00 am to 8:30 pm

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Kaiping in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – macau january 9

Our neighbor across the Pearl River Delta, Macau, has an outsized reputation as the “Las Vegas of the East,” and a quick European mini-holiday. But beyond the glittering lights and tourist-flooded streets, you will discover another side of Macau. Ornate temples wafting with incense, traditional bakeries, craftsman’s studios, and chapels and shrines with curious history can be found if you take the time to explore the winding alleys. 

On this insider tour of Macau, we’ll see a relic of a Christian saint, a secret garden inside a public library, the most beautiful black-and-white mosaic street in Macau, and a temple dedicated to the snake goddess held to be creator of the Chinese universe. In the afternoon we’ll stop by a cozy wine bar for a glass of Portuguese wine.

Thursday, January 9
8:00am Ferry from Shekou Ferry Terminal
~9:00am Arrive Macau Ferry Terminal
Walking tour, lunch, free time
Wine bar stop
17:00 Ferry from Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal (if you prefer a later ferry so you can stay on in Macau, let me know at time of booking)
~18:00 Return to Shekou

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Macau in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – foshan dec 21

Let’s go out to discover Foshan, the colorful hometown of Cantonese traditions! Time spent in Foshan’s storied neighborhoods always makes for a great day out to learn about kung fu, lion dancing, ancient ceramics and traditional culture.

Foshan city is part of the Pearl River Delta and the third largest city in Guangdong, with distinctive Cantonese cultural traditions and rich history. Its name means “Buddha mountain.”

On this day trip, first we will visit the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln. Here you can see a ceramics kiln that has been in continuous operation since the Ming dynasty, for over 500 years. There are also many charming sculptural alleyways and shops to find a wonderful ceramic souvenir.

From here, we’ll head to lunch in Lingnan Tiandi, a historic district developed with many restaurants and quaint cafes. Cost of lunch is on your own. I will recommend a few restaurants to choose from, and provide a suggested menu to order from. I will recommend that groups of 3-5 dine together, rather than our entire group together for efficiency at the restaurants.

After lunch, we will explore the Ancestral Temple (祖庙 zu miao), which has been a central part of Foshan people’s religion for centuries. In this well preserved temple, you can also learn about Ip Man and Wang Fei Hong, two major kung fu masters from Foshan. The elements of Cantonese opera are demonstrated at the temple’s own traditional stage. And don’t miss the heart of the Ancestral Temple, the ornate halls of Beidi, the northern emperor god, to whom locals pray to watch over Foshan.

We will catch a lively performance of the temple’s students demonstrating the Foshan styles of kung fu and lion dance. The thrilling colors and traditions of Foshan will add to your best memories of your time in China.

Price: 360RMB per adult, 270RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (25RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Saturday, December 21
Depart 7:30AM, return Shenzhen approximately 6:00PM

2 Pick ups by private bus will be arranged around Shenzhen, to be convenient to public transportation, for example Chegongmiao metro and Sea World metro.

includes round trip private shuttle, entrance tickets, including kung fu and lion dance show, and tour

Minimum 7 to keep this price. If fewer, extra charge may apply. Ask me for details.

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Foshan in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

day trip – gankeng dec 19

Discover something different in Shenzhen when we visit the Gankeng Hakka Village, one of the original ten villages predating modern Shenzhen. The Hakka people migrated over the centuries from central China into Guangdong and Fujian provinces and play an important part in the culture of coastal Guangdong. This village was founded in the early Qing dynasty.

On our visit we can see the old village and sample Hakka rice wine and street snacks. Lanterns and red wish ribbons stream the streets around the old well, a central part of the original village. A new museum complex has rotating exhibits of classical Chinese artwork and artifacts. In recent years the area is being developed by OCT as a rural village experience with architecture from other provinces in China like Guizhou, Anhui, and Guangxi. A must in Gankeng village is a hearty Hakka lunch with dishes like squirrel fish, Hakka niang tofu, and clay baked chicken. Not many know that such a traditional place like this exists within our modern city.

Thursday, December 19
Approx. 8:30-15:00

Price: Adult: 225RMB, Child: 130RMB
Includes Private transportation, Lunch, entrance ticket to Phoenix Valley museum, and tour by Greta

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

If adding me for the first time, be sure to mention Trips or Gankeng in your introduction.

or contact me by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)