Tagged villages

weekend – huizhou beach august 24-25

Quayside lanes too hot in the noonday sun, the only sounds are a sizzling wok behind a speckless doorway. On this new trip from China Tea Leaves, we’ll skip town to find brilliant-colored villages and an easy-going beach town in our neighbor Huizhou.

To the east of Shenzhen, a taste of Minnan culture seeps in the the local culture from nearby Fujian province. Here temples celebrate stories unique to this region, under sweeping cornices decorated in the distinctive multi-colored mosaic tiles you find in Xiamen and Fuzhou. 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.

After our village exploration, we’ll head to one of Huizhou’s best coasts on Xunliao Bay, with powdery fine sand, then enjoy some local Hakka and barbecue dishes near our bayside hotel. On the second day, we’ll visit another pristine corner of this peninsula of Huizhou before heading back to Shenzhen. Clear waters and skies never seemed so close to Shenzhen before.

This may become your go-to escape for a holiday in the sun.

You may also join us for day one only of the trip, still enjoy the villages, beach, and dinner, then head back to Shenzhen on Saturday evening.

Price: two days: 960RMB each adult, double occupancy at hotel
includes private transportation, hotel (double occupancy) at a good quality mid-range hotel, dinner and breakfast. For Saturday I will ask everyone to pack a lunch for the village, Sunday lunch cost additional.
one day: 465RMB each adult
Ask for kid’s price, and about discounted partner price – available for ABNet members or SWIC members

Saturday, August 24 – Sunday August 25
Day One
8:15 Depart Shenzhen
10:30 Arrive Huizhou
Walking tour, exploration, Picnic lunch in villages (please pack lunch yourself)
Shuttle to beach, short walking tour in town, then free time on the beach
Food court barbecue dinner (included)
Day Two
Breakfast (included)
Visit another beach
Lunch (additional)
13:00 Depart Huizhou
~15:00 Arrive Shenzhen

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

day trip – watertown july 13

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. (Price not included in tour: small boat 150 per boat/up to 5 people, large boat 250 per boat/up to 10 people, pay directly to boatmen on the day)

A lovely traditional place to escape just for a day away from the city.

Price: 330RMB per adult, 235RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (20RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Saturday, July 13
Depart 8:00AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

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

includes round trip private shuttle, access to two water towns, lunch and Cantonese dessert, and tour

Minimum 8

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 – kaiping july 6

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, July 6: approximately 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

Price: Adult: 545RMB, 515RMB SWIC or ABNet member.
Child 1.2-1.5m: 295RMB, 275RMB SWIC or ABNet member.

Price includes: Private shuttle from Shenzhen and around Kaiping, entrance tickets, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.
Does not include lunch. Dining options are very limited around the villages, so please pack a picnic lunch.

Minimum 8 people, maximum 14

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 – watertown june 15

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. (Price not included in tour: small boat 150 per boat/up to 5 people, large boat 250 per boat/up to 10 people, pay directly to boatmen on the day)

A lovely traditional place to escape just for a day away from the city.

Price: 330RMB per adult, 235RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (20RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Saturday, June 15
Depart 8:00AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

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

includes round trip private shuttle, access to two water towns, lunch and Cantonese dessert, and tour

Minimum 8

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)

summer trips – jun-jul 2019

Ready to travel to the China you have been dreaming of? China Tea Leaves is here with countryside jaunts, seaside escapes, hiking adventures and more, all starting from Shenzhen, going on through the summer. All trips are organized and run by me, Greta Bilek, American in Shenzhen for over 6 years. Browse the rest of this site for more information about our trips and approach to travel in China, and a special thanks to our media partner Shenzhen Party for featuring China Tea Leaves trips. 

zhuhai june 7 (dragon boat festival)

Beach or mountain? Zhuhai treats you to both and much more, in a one day jaunt from Shenzhen. We’ll start out by taking the ferry from Shekou to Zhuhai. From there, we’ll use public transportation to tour around some of Zhuhai’s top sights.

We’ll walk along the Lover’s Road, with swaying palms above and the delta’s lapping waters stretching out to the horizon. We’ll visit the symbol of the city, the Fisher Girl, standing stately in the waves of the delta, and her lover the Fisher Boy, who looks on from the top of Jingshan Park, a small mountain park. After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we’ll have the option of free time on the beach or heading to a historical curiosity of Zhuhai, the recreated Old Summer Palace of Beijing. (Adult: 405RMB/Child: 245RMB)

macau june 11 (tuesday)

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. After the end of the tour, you can stay on in Macau to enjoy its nightlife and fine dining. (Adult: 550RMB/Child: 280RMB)


watertown june 15 (saturday)

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)

dapeng june 18 (tuesday)

Shenzhen has its own share of distinctive destinations, prime of which is its eastern bookend of Dapeng Ancient Fortress. Dapeng is a fortified village that dates back to the Ming dynasty, predating the urbanization of Shenzhen, and was in charge of controlling pirates off the coast of China. Today it still retains many narrow alleys to walk, with people living a quiet life in the village and shops selling traditional foods and gifts.

First we’ll visit a grand Buddhist temple with a history equal to the neighboring fortress, under the misty hills which ancient cartographers first marked this area for. After touring the streets and homes of the generals inside the fortress, we’ll head to the beachside town of Jiaochangwei. Now it takes the form of a young Chinese surf town, with many restaurants, cafes, and hostels in its colorful blocks. There we’ll enjoy lunch and some free time on the beach. (Adult: 200RMB/Child: 150RMB)

guizhou june 22-24 (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. 

We’ll stroll the charming village, crossing covered bridges and ducking under drum towers rising out of the tangle of the hidden village. 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. With a third day (Monday), we can visit yet another area, a Miao village that has kept its unique customs since the Qing dynasty. It is also possible to attend only day one and two of this trip and return to Shenzhen on Sunday. (Adult: 1680RMB/Child: 980RMB)

kaiping july 6 (saturday)


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 hometown of overseas Chinese. It is also the home of diaolou (碉楼), 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)

zhuhai bridge and tai o july 9 (tuesday)

Come experience a modern marvel of China, the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, and see the Pearl River Delta from the cutting edge to the traditional, a snapshot of China in one seaside adventure.

One of the main features of this trip will be to cross the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. This mega structure is 55 kilometers in total length, and is now the longest sea crossing in the world. This is one of the greatest engineering feats of our time, and it is right in our backyard!

We will travel by official bridge shuttle from Zhuhai to Hong Kong. After we arrive in Tung Chung Hong Kong, we will journey on to Tai O, the quintessential fishing village of Hong Kong. Scarcely a kilometer away from the modern marvel of the HZM Bridge lies this quiet port, where life in many corners has not changed for centuries. Wander amongst the fisherman’s houses teetering on stilts over the water. We will also take a short cruise to get a closer look at the stilt houses and venture out into the bay in search of the famous pink dolphins of this side of Hong Kong. Head back to Tung Chung for dinner or stay on for a sunset drink over Tai O’s quiet bay. (Adult: 458RMB/Child: 328RMB)

watertown july 13 (saturday)

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)

dapeng july 16 (tuesday)

Shenzhen has its own share of distinctive destinations, prime of which is its eastern bookend of Dapeng Ancient Fortress. Dapeng is a fortified village that dates back to the Ming dynasty, predating the urbanization of Shenzhen, and was in charge of controlling pirates off the coast of China. Today it still retains many narrow alleys to walk, with people living a quiet life in the village and shops selling traditional foods and gifts.

First we’ll visit a grand Buddhist temple with a history equal to the neighboring fortress, under the misty hills which ancient cartographers first marked this area for. After touring the streets and homes of the generals inside the fortress, we’ll head to the beachside town of Jiaochangwei. Now it takes the form of a young Chinese surf town, with many restaurants, cafes, and hostels in its colorful blocks. There we’ll enjoy lunch and some free time on the beach. (Adult: 200RMB/Child: 150RMB)

yunnan mushrooms july 24-28

Yunnan in summer is wet with dew and rain, but it is the perfect playground to discover all the wonderful things coming to life in its hills and valleys! This five day tour celebrates the mighty mushroom, and all the many varieties which can be found in Yunnan province. Yunnan is wonderfully biodiverse, with microclimates, forests, and mountains harboring thousands of flora and fauna not found anywhere else on earth, including many, many varieties of mushrooms.

We will visit the regions of Shaxi, and Shuhe of the Lijiang area. Both were important trading towns on the ancient Tea Horse Road running between Burma and Tibet through Yunnan province. The town markets in July will be brimming with local fruit, nuts, and of course funghi of all kinds, just brought in from the wild mountainsides. Take a custom mushroom foraging tour, and immerse yourself in Bai style cooking and Naxi courtyards back in the villages. Massive mountains, grand temples, fields of green and gold—Yunnan’s treats will have you coming back for more. (Adult: 3808RMB plus airfare/Child: price on request)

foshan august 3 (saturday)

Come on a day trip to see Foshan, the colorful hometown of Cantonese traditions! Enjoy a day out to learn about kung fu, lion dancing, ancient ceramics and traditional culture.

On this day trip, first we will visit the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln, a ceramics kiln that has been in continuous operation since the Ming dynasty, for over 500 years. From here, we’ll head to lunch in Lingnan Tiandi, a historic district developed with many restaurants and quaint cafes.

After lunch, we will explore the Ancestral Temple, which has been a central part of Foshan people’s religion for centuries. The highlight of the day is the heart-pumping kung fu and lion dance demonstration. 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. A day in Foshan is a must when living in Guangdong province! (Adult: 360RMB/Child: 270RMB)

Note: posted prices typically are all inclusive: transportation, meals, guide, tickets. 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)

also featured on Shenzhen Party at: http://www.shenzhenparty.com/events/elsewhere-china/summer-travel-china-tea-leaves

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)

day trip – kaiping april 13

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 two and a half to 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, April 13: approximately 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

Price: Adult: 545RMB, 515RMB SWIC or ABNet member.
Child 1.2-1.5m: 295RMB, 275RMB SWIC or ABNet member.

Price includes: Private shuttle from Shenzhen and around Kaiping, entrance tickets, and full service guide by Greta of China Tea Leaves.
Does not include lunch. Dining options are very limited around the villages, so please pack a picnic lunch.

Minimum 8 people, maximum 14

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 – off the grid april 6

The long weekend of Qingming Festival is approaching – a time to remember family members who have passed, as well as a marker of spring in full swing, and a time to venture out to the countryside for freshness of air and mind.

I have designed a route to enjoy some of the neighboring Pearl River Delta, but without running into any droves of tourists, hence, we are going Off the Grid.

From Shenzhen, we will head west to the southwestern area of Shunde bordering on Jiangmen. These regions are covered in a jigsaw of fish reservoirs, laced with canals and tendrils of villages entwined.

First, we’ll visit a local temple dedicated to Guanyin, Buddhist goddess of mercy. Perhaps on this religious feast it will be full of color and incense lifting up prayers just made. Nearby are several clan houses of local families, tucked among the village roads.

For lunch we will have the option to dine at a unique farmhouse private kitchen. In an older part of outer Jiangmen, fish, shrimps, tea and Shunde desserts are served in artful brick courtyards.

Heading up into Shunde, we can really go off grid and explore some of the roads winding up into the fish and farming plots. We will find the essence of the Guangdong countryside.

Our final goal will be the ancestral village of martial arts master Bruce Lee. Lee himself was born in San Francisco, but his parents had roots in this corner of Shunde. A Li (李) family clan house still stands at the entrance of the village, with just a few Li family members socializing in its courtyards. A memorial to Bruce Lee and an earlier important Li family member still marks the place.

Come for a day out exploring Guangdong, off the tourist track and tracing the lines of this province’s heritage.

Price: 340RMB per adult, 240RMB for kids between 1.2-1.5m (30RMB off for Shenzhen ABNet or SWIC member), kids under 1.2m get an additional discount – contact me.

Saturday April 6
Depart 8:00AM, return Shenzhen 6:00PM

includes round trip private shuttle, entrances, and tour. lunch not included.

Minimum 7

How to Book:

Contact Greta on WeChat (Scan QR code)

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

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

october holiday adventure – 5-8 days in yunnan

 

Looking for an adventure for your October holiday? We’re gathering a group of intrepid travelers to venture to one of my favorite places in China, the northwest region of Yunnan province. This is a five-day trip taking place during the golden week in October 2018, extendable to 8 days including an optional hike.

Yunnan is the China of your dreams, with blue skies, colorful clouds, cobblestone villages, and mountain vistas. I’ve designed the trip to get to some lesser known places and skip the most crowded days of the national holiday, so you don’t have to worry about the crowds.

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 will fly into Lijiang (丽江 elev. 7900ft/2400m) to start our adventuring. First we’ll travel down to the Dali (大理 elev. 6480ft/1975m) region near the famous Erhai Lake. The Bai minority are the most populous in this area, with elegant ladies in colorful headdress working the markets, restaurants featuring local vegetables and even the Bai people’s own kind of cheese, and of course narrow lanes made lively with hand painted entrances and distinctive tie dyed fabrics.

We’ll also visit nearby Xizhou (喜洲), another Bai town, known for its daily market, ornate courtyard homes, and well known embroidery shops.

On our third day we will venture up to the Shaxi (沙溪 elev. 6890ft/2100m) valley, where green rice paddies and blue hills encircle the special town of Shaxi. The preservation of its central opera stage, temple and other distinctive buildings won an award from UNESCO. We’ll arrive here on Friday in time to catch the action at its market, frequented by villagers who come down from the hills for their weekly supplies.

On the fourth day we’ll head northward ascending to Shuhe and Baisha (束河,白沙 elev. 7900ft/2400m), in the region of Lijiang. 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. We’ll stay in the relatively quiet town of Baisha, which was the former capital of the Naxi kingdom.

If departing on the 5th day (October 7), we’ll visit the Tea Horse Road museum in Shuhe in the morning before your flight, to send you off dreaming of wildflowers, clear running streams and mountain adventures.

If your holiday schedule allows, what better way to finish off your time in Yunnan than with a stunning 2-day hike in 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, following a deep gorge along the Jinsha River, which becomes the Yangtze River as it flows from here 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 Baisha, 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: Fly to Lijiang, travel to Dali, visit Dali old town
Day 2: Visit Xizhou, market and crafts
Day 3: Travel to Shaxi, Sideng market and hiking
Day 4: Travel to Baisha
Day 5: Fly Lijiang to Shenzhen, or visit Shuhe
(optional Day 6: Tiger Leaping Gorge
(optional Day 7: Tiger Leaping Gorge
(optional Day 8: Fly from Lijiang)

Group size: 6-10 people

(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.)

Announcement: This trip has already been launched in agile mode to accommodate a group early bookers! If you are interested in joining this trip, just contact me and I will do my best to add you to our group! Please note some exclusions in the price due to ongoing registration.

This trip is already confirmed, so registering will remain open until Thursday September 27

Price:

3800RMB per person for 5 days, 4800RMB per person for 8 days.
Contact me for current price

Does not include airfare or meals. Price includes hotels (double occupancy), private shuttle transportation for 5 days, travel insurance, and personal English speaking guide. Price based on hotels available at time of writing; please contact me for current price and inclusions.

Recommended flights: Oct 3: CZ8581 SZX-LJG, Oct 10: CZ8582 LJG-SJX. Approximately 3100RMB. If you need help booking your flight, just contact me. I can book it for you for a small fee.

discounts available for ABNet members or SWIC members

Single supplement: 500RMB for 5 days, 750RMB for 8 days option

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.