Tagged trips

nov-dec 2019 trips

Looking for the China of your dreams? China Tea Leaves is here for you with countryside jaunts, historical explorations, hiking adventures and more ways to get to know the wonderful corners of our China home. All trips are organized and run by Greta Bilek, American in Shenzhen for 7 years. More information about our trips and approach to travel in China can be found here on the tours page and a special thanks to our media partner Shenzhen Party

Huizhou Beach November 2 (Saturday)

On this new trip from China Tea Leaves, we’ll skip town to find brilliant-colored villages and an easy-going beach town. To the east of Shenzhen, a taste of Minnan/Fujian culture can be found in these villages, where temples celebrate stories unique to this region, under sweeping cornices decorated in the distinctive multi-colored mosaic tiles you find in Xiamen and Fuzhou. Quayside lanes are further spotted with clan houses and temples in crimson and turquoise green; everyone’s door is swept neat as a pin and festooned in orange and red couplets. We’ll also hit the beach at one of Huizhou’s best coasts, then enjoy some local Hakka and barbecue dishes nearby. Clear waters and skies never seemed so close to Shenzhen before. (Adult: 390RMB/Child: Price on request)

Macau November 4 (Monday)

Beyond the glittering lights and tourist-flooded streets, you can 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 this tiny city’s 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. (Adult: 550RMB/Child: 280RMB)

Kaiping November 9 (Saturday)

Come with China Tea Leaves to Kaiping, 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 hometown of overseas Chinese. It is also the home of diaolou, a unique building type that acted as a fortress, watchtower, and clan house. Thousands of diaolou are sprinkled throughout Kaiping’s districts, often rising seven, eight, or nine stories from low-lying villages. These architectural wonders combine elements of vernacular buildings with Western designs the overseas Chinese encountered abroad. 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. We will visit three of the UNESCO listed sites, all fantastic scenes with villas and castles sprouting out of the rice fields. (Adult: 545RMB/Child: 295RMB)

Gankeng Hakka Village November 11 (Monday)

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. (Adult: 225RMB/Child: 130RMB)

Foshan Xiqiao and more November 16 (Saturday)

On this new tour in the cultural city of Foshan, our first stop will be Xiqiao Mountain, an important sacred mountain in the Lingnan area. The mountain is the site of a temple with a history of 600 years, one of the tallest figures of Guanyin in the world, its own ecosystem and villages scattered around its peaks. After a vegetarian lunch at the temple, we will head on to 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. Feel free to explore the village lanes and artisans shops for the perfect souvenir or gift. (Adult: 390RMB/Child: 290RMB)

Kaiping November 18 (Monday)

Come with China Tea Leaves to Kaiping, 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 hometown of overseas Chinese. It is also the home of diaolou, a unique building type that acted as a fortress, watchtower, and clan house. Thousands of diaolou are sprinkled throughout Kaiping’s districts, often rising seven, eight, or nine stories from low-lying villages. These architectural wonders combine elements of vernacular buildings with Western designs the overseas Chinese encountered abroad. 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. We will visit three of the UNESCO listed sites, all fantastic scenes with villas and castles sprouting out of the rice fields. (Adult: 545RMB/Child: 295RMB)

Watertown November 21 (Thursday)

You don’t have to travel to Suzhou and Shanghai to see the Venice of China, since we have such a quaint village right in our backyard across the Pearl River Delta.

On this day trip, we’ll head by private shuttle bus to the outer villages of Shunde district, part of Foshan city, famous for Cantonese culture and culinary excellence.

We will experience the landscape and lifestyle of two water towns, where shaded streets line the water ways connecting the many rivers of the region. Locals still base their lives around the central clan house and a relaxed game of Chinese chess. Simple dumplings and fisherman’s noodles make up lunch, and in foodie town Shunde, local desserts and sampling the tasty snacks are a must. Round out your day by hiring a boat to paddle you around the canals. (Adult: 330RMB/Child: 235RMB)

Guizhou November 23-24 (Weekend)

One of the most beautiful villages in China, hiking, rice terraces, minority culture…all on a quick trip from Shenzhen? Yes, and you can come join an easy escape to the smoke ringed mountains of Guizhou province.

We will be whisked away by high speed train to southeast Guizhou province, known as Qiandongnan, an autonomous region of the Miao and Dong minorities. This trip will focus on the area of Congjiang, where we will encounter one of the most beautiful villages in all of China. 

The town’s museums will also inform about the local Dong culture, their grand song tradition, and textile arts. On the second day, we will journey up the valley to a neighboring village for a view over the rice terraces, and hike back through the misty fields and other village clusters. (Adult: 1680RMB/Child: Price on request)

Private day trip November 30 (no group trip)

Huizhou Beach December 7 (Saturday)

While December is still mild in Guangdong, let’s skip town to find brilliant-colored villages and an easy-going beach town. To the east of Shenzhen, a taste of Minnan/Fujian culture can be found in these villages, where temples celebrate stories unique to this region, under sweeping cornices decorated in the distinctive multi-colored mosaic tiles you find in Xiamen and Fuzhou. Quayside lanes are further spotted with clan houses and temples in crimson and turquoise green; everyone’s door is swept neat as a pin and festooned in orange and red couplets. We’ll also hit the beach at one of Huizhou’s best coasts, then enjoy some local Hakka and barbecue dishes nearby. Clear waters and skies never seemed so close to Shenzhen before. (Adult: 390RMB/Child: Price on request)

Note about December:

Mid-December will feature a number of our best day trips from Shenzhen, targeting the week of December 14-22 for families who have finished school and those with guests visiting before the holidays. Stay tuned to the forthcoming December calendar, or contact Greta directly for more information.

Note: posted prices typically are all inclusive: transportation, meals, guide, tickets. Group size normally 8-14 people. Contact Greta for exact details for each trip and for information about partner discounts.

Custom Travel Planning

Besides joining the set date group trips above, I can also offer custom plans for your group to many destinations throughout China. I draw on my own experience and resources to create a plan tailored to your group, interests, and timeframe, whether you are a couple wanting to get away from the city for a weekend, or a family coming to the Middle Kingdom from abroad for a two week adventure. I am able to coordinate and arrange everything in advance, providing you with maps and illustrated guides so that your experience is as smooth and informative as a guided tour, even if I am not with you. I have arranged for custom travel to Guilin, Yangshuo, Yunnan, Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Zhangjiajie, plus even more destinations available – just let me know what you’d like to see in China!

For booking and more information:

Contact Greta on WeChat:

or contact by email (chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com)

yunnan paradise – october skies edition

 
 For a limited time we can offer 1000 RMB off the above price – due to a drop in airfares. Contact us now to reserve your spot – chinatealeaves @ yahoo.com or via the WeChat QR Code below.

China Tea Leaves Guided Tour – Yunnan 9-Days 

Shuhe, Baisha, Lugu Lake, Shangri-La and Tiger Leaping Gorge

October 21-29, 2017

Personal Tour with Greta Bilek

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.

I’m Greta Bilek, and I’ve lived in Shenzhen for nearly five years. During my time here, I’ve often traveled to Yunnan province, among other places, writing and discovering the hidden treasures of China. I’ll be your personal guide, taking you to my favorite places and sharing stories that open up the symbols, history and culture we will encounter. This is a small group tour (6-10 people), so we can relax into the pace of Yunnan life and discover places off the beaten track.

We’ll be visiting Shuhe and Baisha, outside of Lijiang; Lugu Lake; Shangri-La; and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

We will fly into Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m), a major stop on the ancient Tea Horse Road in western China. Our home base will be the old town of Shuhe, a village 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).

Once we check into our courtyard hotel in Shuhe (束河 elev. 8000ft/2440m), all the knots of your hectic modern life will start to melt away, as we sip tea, listen to the ancient guqin played by Liping, and fall into a slow rhythm of life.

We’ll visit 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 local street food, and hunt antiques and fabrics in the shops of the old town.

Then we’ll hit the road to head to Lugu Lake (泸沽湖 elev. 9095ft/2770m), a clear lake in the mountains on the border between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. This is the home of the Mosuo people, also known as the “kingdom of women” due to their specific matrilineal customs still practiced today. The clear blue waters dancing under your wooden boat and the Tibetan religion of the area will also leave their impression on you.

After going back through Baisha, 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.

From Shangri-La, we will head back south to start our two-day hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡 elev. 6230-8690-6890ft/1900-2650-2100m). This is one of the most renowned hikes in the world, a deep gorge along the Jinsha River, which becomes the Yangtze River as it flows through Sichuan province. Every view is breathtaking, gazing up at snow mountains so close you think you could reach out and touch them.

After one tough day of hiking, we will stay overnight in a guesthouse on the trail, and wake up to silent mountains looking on outside our window. We will continue hiking through farming enclaves, waterfalls and vistas to reach our shuttle back to Lijiang.

Our final night will be spent in Shuhe, before we fly back from Lijiang 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.

Day 1: Evening flight Shenzhen – Lijiang, stay Shuhe

Day 2: Visit Shuhe and Baisha, stay Shuhe

Day 3: Shuhe to Lugu Lake, stay Lugu Lake

Day 4: Lugu Lake visit, Lugu Lake to Baisha, stay Baisha

Day 5: Baisha to Shangri-La, Old Town visit, stay Shangri-La

Day 6: Visit Songzanlin Monastery, stay Shangri-La

Day 7: Shangri-La to Tiger Leaping Gorge, hike, stay TLG

Day 8: Finish hike TLG, return to stay in Shuhe

Day 9: Afternoon flight Lijiang – Shenzhen

All-Inclusive: Round trip Airfare (direct flight on Shenzhen Airlines), Ground Transportation, Hotels 8 nights (double occupancy), Entrance Tickets, Meals, Travel Insurance

10580RMB

(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)

the grand tour in kaiping

Come with China Tea Leaves to Kaiping (开平), for a weekend 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.

On our two day trip to Kaiping, we will see the best of the region. Our private shuttle will take us from Shenzhen to Kaiping, taking about three hours. There, we’ll check into our hotel, the Helen Bergh hotel, one of the best in Kaiping, with a great swimming pool and grand fortress-like design. Then we’ll have lunch at the nearby mall which has lots of options to choose from, including sushi, Western, Cantonese, etc. (just this lunch is not included). After lunch we’ll set out to see the diaolou.

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 can go by foot (about 45 minutes walk) 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. Later we’ll have dinner back in town and have a relaxed evening at the hotel.

The following day, we will head back to the rice fields, which with all the watchtowers and arcades might be starting to look like someplace between King’s Landing and Winterfell. First we’ll visit Jinjiangli (锦江里) village and its fine dialou cluster. Their turrets, arches and colorful frescoes will make you feel like you’ve been transported to medieval Italy. From here, we’ll move on to Majianglong (马降龙) Village, which is known as the most beautiful village in diaolou country. Towers peek out like Roman villas from primordial forests, and from the roof your view dances across the tops of swaying bamboo branches. We’ll make a stop by Chikan (赤坎) town, whose many western buildings have been used as movie sets for historic Chinese films. A late afternoon departure brings you back to Shenzhen by evening.

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

Saturday, September 16: 8:30am pickup in Shekou, travel, visit diaolou
Sunday, September 17: visit diaolou, travel, 7:30pm return to Shekou

Price: Adult: 1600RMB per person (double occupancy), Kids 1.2m+ 1180RMB

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: Private shuttle from Shenzhen and ground transportation in Kaiping, 1 night (double occupancy) at Helen Bergh Hotel, meals (except Saturday lunch), entrance tickets, travel insurance, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.

Payment: by cash, payment to be made by September 10

Minimum 6 people, maximum 12

Contact Greta on WeChat (lilies-of-the-valley) or by email (chinatealeaves@yahoo.com) to book your spot.