Tagged mountains

dragon clouds so high above – yunnan may 27-31

Lofty mountains and flowing waters, a wildflower for your hair and a mushroom for your umbrella. Yunnan in May has sprung to life, expanses of playful clouds drifting by snow mountains and river valleys. Come along with China Tea Leaves to discover some of our favorite places in colorful Yunnan.

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. This five day tour celebrates two distinctive cultures of Yunnan, that of the Bai people in Shaxi, and the Naxi people of Lijiang and Shuhe.

We will fly from Shenzhen direct to Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m). 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).

Our hotel for two nights will be the Old Theatre Inn (alternative Miss May Hotel), located right 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 full 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 back to Shuhe (束河 elev. 8000ft/2440m) 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, sampling the bounty of spring, while locals offer fresh berries, foraged walnuts and more.

On our full day in the Shuhe area, we’ll venture yet closer to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to Baisha (白沙 elev. 8170ft/2490m), the capital of the region’s former Naxi kingdom, and today a small village that still holds its authentic, traditional feeling. We can chat with locals, taste unique street food, and hunt antiques and fabrics in the shops of the old town. We can also take a smooth hike from Baisha up to the Fuguosi temple, an active Tibetan Buddhist monastery, with grand views over the mountains and peaceful valley.

After one more night at our courtyard home at the Lazy Tiger Inn, we will visit one of the most classic sights of the Lijiang area, the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang, before setting out on our return flight to Shenzhen.

After days dreaming in the heights amongst a rainbow of wildflowers and curling dragon clouds, 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.

Monday, May 27: Morning flight Shenzhen to Lijiang, shuttle to Shaxi
Tuesday, May 28: Hike and temple visit in Shaxi
Wednesday, May 29: Shuttle to Shuhe, visit Shuhe
Thursday, May 30: Visit Baisha, hike to Tibetan Buddhist monastery
Friday, May 31: Visit Lijiang, Afternoon flight Lijiang to Shenzhen

Price: 5280 per person (double occupancy)
Discount of 250 available for SWIC or ABNet members

Price includes: Round trip airfare from Shenzhen, local ground transportation in Yunnan, four nights (double occupancy) at quality courtyard hotels, meals, entrance tickets, travel insurance, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.

(price based on current airfare Shenzhen-Lijiang; if airfare increases total price will be adjusted. so book early with Greta to get the best fares)
Not in Shenzhen? No problem. Contact me to find out the required arrival time in Lijiang airport to join the group.

Payment: by cash, or WeChat, deposit of 2500 at time of booking

Note: Much of this trip is at high elevation – 6890ft/2100m and higher. Travelers may feel slight effects of the elevation, but can usually adjust to normal activity level within 1-2 days. This itinerary includes some light hiking, but can be adjusted according to the level of the group. 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)

impressions inscribed by mountain and water

He walked up to peruse the sidewalk menu offerings, an American I guessed by the way he so casually started the conversation. Laoban, the older man said, to the young Indian man manning the restaurant, ni youmeiyou tandoori chicken? The “boss” laughed gently, tall, a little shy, wearing a soft linen shirt patterned with Chinese characters and some pastoral scenes, long hair in waves on the top of his head. Meitian wo mi lu, everyday I get lost, continued the American. He continued on down the street lined with German beer gardens and guesthouses, smiling in his lostness in the winding streets of Yangshuo.

We had spent four days getting lost in the hills of Yangshuo and Guilin, the two hometowns in China of rolling karst mountains, unique landscapes out of an ancient ink-and-wash scroll or some immortal’s daydream. These hills make for scenes you can’t find anywhere else in the world, not even elsewhere in China. The Chinese have a saying 桂林山水甲天下 – Guilin’s “shanshui” mountain-and-water scenes are the best in the world (which would get tagged by Chinese friends on every one of our social media posts about the region). Both Chinese and international travelers love these landscapes and visit in massive numbers every year. The region has built up a sophisticated system for moving tourists around in buses, trains, boats and rafts, and many lament the commercialism. This was one of the first places to be taken over by western backpackers in China, evidenced by the sandal-clad folks in German bars, the ukulele shops, and banana pancakes in all the guesthouses. But you can still find ancient brick villages and dirt paths winding amongst the green knobs of mountains where you can just be a lost man alone with your thoughts.

The first time you see the karst mountains of Yangshuo, it’s like nothing you have laid eyes on this planet before. How to describe them? An impossible shape of stone, sticking up out of the earth, vertical faces covered in vines and trees somehow rooted in rock, sometimes surmounted by a temple or pavilion perched on top. An even more impossibly, the horizon is a tangle of countless more of the same impossible mounds, extending in every direction. Soft peaks of meringue, dollops of whipped cream, a rumpled, hand-wrung hat, a falling-over windmill if you look at it long enough or crooked enough. And if you climb to one of the pavilions on top for a view, the hills spread out around you like a sea of clouds, stone clouds, frozen in place, and you are standing atop one as well, a calcium cumulus beneath your feet. Off into the distance a string of hills lies beyond another and another, an abstraction in shades of blue, just a wash of color giving the impression of distance and form, brushed by some unseen painter. Walking amongst them you are in a land before time, lush green not only covering the earth but rising up in canyon walls to your left and right. And day after day and evening after evening spent looking on these forms in the distance, the hills before you and behind you, reflected in windows and the water of the flowing river and the still rice paddy, inverting and warping their slumping shape. And even as you close your eyes in the afternoon sun, they make their mark in your mind’s eye, so that you cannot think of the land as simply a flat horizon any more but a sinuous curve in a constantly changing hue, from green and blue noon to peachy dusk to inky twilight. To be lost in Yangshuo’s shapes and colors is a happy reverie indeed.







trip to heaven’s peaks and gates in zhangjiajie

Experience a touch of another world in the wonders of Zhangjiajie – on this trip November 14-19! You may know these otherworldly stone formations as the inspiration for the “Halleluiah mountains” of the planet Pandora in the movie Avatar. After hiking beneath, around and over these columns and bridges you will have a new appreciation for the wonders of nature on our planet Earth.

The Number 5 Valley will be our hotel base for the first part of the trip. This is a secluded resort built in traditional Chinese style as a village overlooking a private valley. Each room is a combination of luxurious comfort and rustic warmth.

At last we’ll find the stairway to heaven at Tianmen (“heaven’s gate”) Mountain Park. This is a unique karst cave located at nearly 1000 meters elevation. It truly looks like it opens up to the heavens. We will also visit the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, which is the site of the famous Glass Bridge. There you can really walk over the clouds while looking safely down into the vast gorge. Nature has been at work sculpting these panoramas for hundreds of millions of years, be sure you see them during your time in China!

Tuesday, November 14:       8:00pm flight from Shenzhen, check into our courtyard hotel
Wednesday, November 15: hiking in the Zhangjiajie National Forest – see the Avatar Mountains, First Bridge under Heaven, hike through stone gardens
Thursday, November 16:     hiking in the Zhangjiajie National Forest – Golden Whip Stream, hike up through the Halleluiah mountains
Friday, November 17:           shuttle to Tianmen Mountain, gate to heaven high up among the clouds, check into town hotel
Saturday, November 18:      shuttle to Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, see the world famous Glass Bridge
Sunday, November 19:         early flight back to Shenzhen

Price: Adult: 7950RMB per person (double occupancy), Kids 1.2m+ 5350RMB

Early Bird Promotion: Book with your deposit by Friday October 13 and get a special rate of 7600RMB

Price includes:

Round trip airfare from Shenzhen
Private shuttle around Zhangjiajie area
3 night (double occupancy) at No. 5 Valley Inn, 2 nights (double occupancy) at city hotel
(flyer price is based on No. 5 Valley’s “Moon Villa Suite” with extra bed. other options are available for upgrade to valley view suite, or smaller room for discount. contact Greta by methods below for more details)
Entrance tickets, planned cable car tickets, Glass Bridge
Travel insurance
and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.

Payment: cash preferred, deposit of 3500RMB per person to be made by October 31. Balance must be paid in full by November 10.
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 Zhangjiajie or Avatar Mountains in your introduction.

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


escape to yangshuo – november


Announcing a 3 day getaway to the rolling hills of Yangshuo! Yangshuo and nearby Guilin are famous for their mysterious karst mountains and lazy rivers. The combination of mountains and waters (山水 shan shui) is a classic of Chinese art and a must for travel during your time in China! Jet away just 3 hours by high speed train to experience this oasis of relaxing nature.

Friday, November 3:      07:21am high speed train from Shenzhen North, Yangshuo style cooking class, relax at our courtyard hotel
Saturday, November 4: hiking amongst the karst peaks and rivers to Moon Hill, lunch, option for Impression Liu Sanjie light show
Sunday, November 5:    drifting on bamboo rafts on the Yulong River, high speed train back to Shenzhen


Price: Adult: 2480RMB per person (double occupancy), Kids 1.2m+ 1580RMB

Plus – If you book 2 or more people together, receive 50RMB off per person in your group!
For example – book 2 together, 100RMB off for you and your friend. Book 4 together, 200RMB off for each person! Maximum 200RMB off the original price. Ask about kids’ discount.

Price includes:

High Speed Rail from Shenzhen
Private shuttle around Yangshuo area
2 night (double occupancy) at Secret Garden Boutique Hotel
Meals (except Friday lunch)
Cooking class, bamboo raft, Moon Hill tickets
Travel insurance
and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.

Does not include optional Liu Sanjie light show (adults 198RMB, kids 85RMB)

Payment: cash preferred, deposit of 1000RMB per person to be made by October 20. Balance must be paid in full by October 31.

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 Yangshuo in your introduction.

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