Tag: hangzhou

chinese new year – custom trip in blossoming hangzhou

Travel with China Tea Leaves for a classic Chinese New Year in 🌸🍃🍵 Hangzhou!

Hangzhou has always been one of our favorite places in China for its graceful beauty, and was one of the first inspirations for the concept of China Tea Leaves travel. On this trip, you can seek out the plum blossoms in the bamboo forest, taste the best green tea in China, see heaven on earth around the fringes of West Lake, and take a day trip to Wuzhen, a classic water town known as the Venice of the East.

This trip is arranged a little differently, to give you the most enjoyment with your family and the best value at a peak travel season. I am offering this trip as a featured private custom plan – not a guided group tour. This means that I can make all arrangements totally custom for what you and your family prefer, with special low planning and booking fees. I have suggested dates and activities below, but just let me know if you’d like to change something. I create the plan for you and make all the bookings, and provide you a very detailed itinerary document which acts as your guide, even though I am not actually there in person to guide you. You will also be provided an ebook – China Tea Leaves 杭州 Hangzhou, with photos, local food, and interactive maps to help you get around in Hangzhou.

(These dates are for example; trip may be arranged custom for your preferred schedule.)

February 5 Flight from Shenzhen to Hangzhou
Transfer from Hangzhou Airport to hotel

February 6 Visit West Lake – the inspiration for gardens throughout China and Japan

February 7 Taste green tea in the best region in all of China – Longjing village

February 8 Optional – Day trip to Wuzhen, Venice of the East

February 9 Transfer from hotel to Hangzhou Airport
Check out of the hotel and depart by flight Hangzhou to Shenzhen

Price: Will be quoted fully customized for you and your group

For example: (prices below are approximate. Contact me for current prices.)

2 adults

Round trip flights for 2 Shenzhen to Hangzhou: 2600RMB
Boutique hotel near West Lake (4 nights): 2980RMB (other options available)
Private airport transfers: 700RMB
Private car for Wuzhen daytrip: 700RMB
Planning and Booking fee: 700-800RMB

Total for 2: 7,680RMB

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

tour – spring festival in blossoming hangzhou

Come with China Tea Leaves for a classic Chinese New Year in 🌸🍃🍵 Hangzhou!

Hangzhou has always been one of our favorite places in China for its graceful beauty, and was one of the first inspirations for the concept of China Tea Leaves travel. On this trip, you can seek out the plum blossoms in the bamboo forest, taste the best green tea in China, see heaven on earth around the fringes of  West Lake, and take a day trip to Wuzhen, a classic water town known as the Venice of the East.

This trip is set in the middle of the Spring Festival vacation. Our tour takes place on February 17-20, the 3rd to 6th days of the national vacation, already past the biggest rush, and you can relax and follow my expertise for beating the crowds. Does your company or school have a longer vacation? Arrive early or stay longer in Hangzhou, or nearby Shanghai, Suzhou, etc. This tour is designed to be flexible and fit into your own personal plan.

Prices listed do not include airfare or trains (there are many of both available from Shenzhen and other major cities). Book your own, or ask me to help book for a fee. Coming from a different city? No problem! Just talk to me.

Note about Spring Festival: Trains on February 16 will start publicly booking from January 18. And millions of people across China will starting booking on this date. Be ready to book your own tickets as soon as possible, or contact me for help booking – before January 16 please for best results. Also, hotels will be booking fast, so make sure you contact me as soon as possible to reserve your preferred hotel.

February 16 Arrive by flight or train in the evening, check into your hotel

February 17 Personal tour of the quiet parts of West Lake

February 18 Taste green tea in the best region in all of China – Longjing village

February 19 Day trip to Wuzhen, Venice of the East

February 20 Stroll amongst the plum blossoms in Hangzhou Botanical Gardens
(you could choose to depart in the evening on Feb 20)

February 21 Check out of the hotel and depart by flight or train in the morning

Price: Adult: 4980RMB (double occupancy), Kids 1.2m+ 2800RMB

Upgrade to West Lake Shangri-La (5 stars): Add 1000RMB
Depart on February 20: ask me about deduction

ABNet or SWIC member: Take 300RMB off! (150 off kids price)

Price includes:
Local transportation around Hangzhou and Wuzhen
5 night (double occupancy) at Hangzhou Tea Boutique Hotel West Lake (5 stars) in Qingzhiwu, a trendy cafe and loft street
Entrance tickets
Travel insurance
and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.

Payment: Cash, WeChat, or Alipay. Deposit of 2000RMB per person to be made by January 26. Balance must be paid in full by February 13.
contact Greta below for other payment options

Minimum 6 people, maximum 12

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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


nation of travelers


China’s national holiday (国庆节 guo qing jie) is coming up, with seven days off from work from October 1st to 7th. The first marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and more and more every year travel reigns as the national pasttime for this holiday. The internet is filled with nightmare stories and images of stone bridges and great walls overflowing with humanity. So what to do if you’re in Asia while 1.3 billion people are on holiday?

Here are some tips and ideas.

  1. Seek out secondary cities, and even in major tourist cities, escape the crowds by going to lesser known sites.

Most Chinese tourists travel in large tour groups, and for the most part visit locales designed to hold busloads of people. So, this is a case where the 80/20 rule can be applied – often 80 percent of the people are just in 20 percent of any given area in China. So, when you’re in Hangzhou, and find the east bank of West Lake swimming with people, get yourself to the west banks with its private gardens, a nearby mountain, or a quiet tea village.

east side of Hangzhou’s West Lake
garden of the east side of Hangzhou’s West Lake

2. Relax and have a sense of humor.

The crowds may be maddening, but everyone’s out to have fun. Relax, find humor in the craziness, chat with other tourists. Chinese people, especially on vacation and especially with foreigners, are incredibly friendly and charming.

having fun on Qingming Festival

3. Don’t go to Beijing.

For your sanity’s sake, just don’t go to Beijing during the October National Holiday.

4. Consider traveling abroad, but remember that Chinese international travel is skyrocketing.

It seems like everyone I know this year is going to Japan during this National Holiday. Other spots across Asia are becoming popular with Chinese tourists, including South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.

5. Stay home.

Donghu park in Shenzhen

Finally, you may decide to simply stay home. Shenzhen and other modern cities will clear out for seven days, so take these days to enjoy the city without traffic. Go to a park or museum you’ve never been to.

China Tea Leaves has spent two national days abroad, and one at home in Shenzhen. This year, we’ll be venturing to the farthest reach of Yunnan province. We hope to find quiet and beauty, and hope you can too, wherever your travels take you.


a riot of blossoms

meihua yuan

In China these days, there is much talk of the flowers of the season. Pale pink cherry blossoms are opening in pockets of central China and Yunnan, actually the ancient place of origin of the esteemed bloom. But eastern China is maybe the best for spring flower viewing, especially in the jiangnan (江南) region, south of the Yangtze River.

apple blossom

Du Mu wrote over a thousand years ago:



Jiangnan Spring

A thousand miles of orioles crying, red among the green
Along the village shore and city wall, wine banners wave in the breeze
Four hundred and eighty temples of the southern court
How many towers hidden in the mist and rain

meihua pavilion

We’ve just returned from Qingming Festival in Hangzhou, part of the jiangnan region, where we saw so many of these ancient images painted before us. Peach blossoms in fiery pink, the pale plum blossom in early spring, the wild orchid in secret watery groves. Delicate young shades of spring green cascade through the landscape, in a way we miss in Shenzhen where it’s green all year.

orchid hz

Qingming is a traditional time to behold springtime flowers, but the jiangnan will be in bloom through April and May, so a trip to one of the area’s cities will be especially vibrant during this season. The May 1 holiday is one upcoming three day weekend, which could make a lovely time to visit this region. Hangzhou, the former capital Nanjing, Suzhou, and Yangzhou will all hold classical scenes as in the poems, and be dressed in beautiful blooms throughout these months. Here’s a great guide to flower viewing in Hangzhou.

west lake is always rewarding

水光潋滟晴方好 shimmering xihu

Water shimmering under a fine billowy sky
Or by mist and rain mountains colored something wonderful.
Dressed up or wiped plain, like Xi Zi
To take in West Lake is always rewarding.









This poem exalting the beauty of Hangzhou’s West Lake was used for the temporary covering of the city’s new Apple Store, revealed today and set to open this weekend. Calligrapher Wang Dongling painted the characters of the poem, written by Su Shi, or Su Dongpo, an 11th century poet and statesman of the Song Dynasty. While serving in Hangzhou, Su penned this poem and built the lake’s main causeway which now bears his name. A museum at the southern end of the Su Causeway is dedicated to Su Shi and holds other examples of his poetry and eclectic life. The new Apple Store, opening tomorrow morning at 9am, will be located on the east side of the famous West Lake, memorialized in Su Shi’s and many other classical poems. A video of the artist at work will remain on Apple’s website. Click the image below to go straight to the video.


Find out how to get around West Lake, and read more ancient poems dedicated to this alluring place in China Tea Leaves 杭州 Hangzhou.

spring festival is on its way

lanterns stringing

Spring Festival (春节 chūnjié), or Chinese New Year, is fast approaching on January 31. If you’re in China, this means kids are already out of school, department stores are fully decorated with red lanterns and budding trees, shoppers stock up on gift baskets, fruits, and baijiu, the classic white liqueur, and everybody’s already a little bit on vacation, mentally anyway. The preparations really kick up a notch starting today, the beginning of the xiaonian, (小年), the final week before the new year.

If you are in China before or during the Chinese New Year, you will enjoy a festive mood and be able to join in the special preparations and celebrations. Here are a few unique events and festivals you can experience before, during, and after the start of the new year.

Make niangao (sticky new year cake) and dumplings at a traditional folk fair in Tangqi Ancient Village outside of Hangzhou.

Visit the temples of Shanghai to ring the monumental bells for luck and pray for an auspicious year.

 Wrap up your Spring Festival at the Lantern Festival, the fifteenth day of the New Year, at Tang Paradise in Xi’an, and take a special walk around the City Wall to enjoy the brightly lit lanterns, towers, and rooftops.

The seven-day official holiday will start on January 31, but, like Christmas or New Year’s in the west, family celebrations really begin with the happy time anticipating the holiday and getting ready. This Year of the Horse (马年 mǎ nián) we say with special excitement, 马上春节回家!(Mǎshàng chūnjié huíjiā) – Very soon Spring Festival will return to our home!

Check back next week as we get ready for the New Year and the release of China Tea Leaves 西安 Xi’an!



where to say goodbye to the year of the snake


On January 30 we will say goodbye to the Year of the Snake, and welcome the Year of the Horse. Snakes in China have a bit of a bad reputation—a lowly creature, overshadowed by its popular relative, the Dragon. But a few snakes are also some of the most intriguing characters in Chinese folklore. Here are some special places in China to ring out the old year and celebrate these Snakes one last time.


One beloved snake is Lady White Snake (白娘子 bai niangzi) or Bai Suzhen (白素贞), the heroine of one of the most famous legends in China. Her story takes place around the beautiful West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Visit the Broken Bridge, where she first met her love, Xu Xian, and climb the Leifeng Pagoda, where legend holds she is trapped for eternity.

To read more about the visions of West Lake and the full story of Bai Suzhen, download China Tea Leaves 杭州 Hangzhou today!


Another interesting snake in Chinese culture is Nüwa, who was the daughter of the Jade Emperor and in some ancient myths created animals and humans from clay. She and her husband Fuxi were both snakes, as shown in this panel from the Shaanxi History Museum in Xi’an. A local legend says that Lishan, or Black Horse Mountain near the site of the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an, was where Nüwa repaired the Wall of Heaven after a flood caused by a quarrel between the gods.

Check back soon as we get ready to welcome the Year of the Horse, and find out more about our upcoming release of China Tea Leaves 西安 Xi’an!