Hiking, horses and hot springs – Tengchong, Yunnan

10 May

Tengchong, Yunnan – when I told Chinese friends that’s where my company’s outing was going to be, the typical answer was either, “Where?” or “Who planned the trip?  They must really like history.”  Tengchong is not a well known name, except for the fact that there was a monumental battle there between the Kuomintang government and the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese war.  It is a “developing” tourism spot in the mountain district and facilities and options for travelers are still relatively limited.  The highways are still for the most part under construction and there is no high speed train meaning that the pace of live is much slower than Shanghai or the eastern part of China in general.

It is also the home to one of the largest hot spring complexes in the area and many hiking trails through the mountains exist.  Because it is so remote, the number of tourists is much smaller than in Dali or Lijiang and the overall atmosphere was very friendly, though we still had a tour guide who was pushing her own agenda, wanting us to buy jade at her family’s store.  Tengchong had the feel of a prosperous small town (of 600,000) with folks involved in construction, the tourist trade and the jade industry.  I learned quite a bit about jade and perhaps some day will actually purchase the jade bangle that my mother has been suggesting since I moved to China.

Traveling always stretches my Chinese ability – picking up place names and words specific to a region.  This trip I am proud to say that aside from asking the meaning of some words I spent four days locked into Chinese conversation – from breakfast through to bedtime.  It felt good – I wasn’t thinking about it, just speaking and living and enjoying.

The photos here are a summary of some of my favorite moments during the trip – trying to capture the joy, the ease of the trip.  This was a smaller group – we were about 15 people, the perfect number for a small coach – and the familiarity and comfort with each other was something that you don’t find every day.  I feel very lucky to have had the experience.

Have you ever gone to a developing tourism area before it was fully developed?  What has been your favorite “off the beaten track” experience?  I typically don’t like tour groups but in this setting it worked very well.  What kind of groups/or not do you like to travel with?


4 Responses to “Hiking, horses and hot springs – Tengchong, Yunnan”

  1. thirdeyemom May 12, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Wow, that area of China is really beautiful. How is the food? I remember a place we ate at twice in Shanghai called something Heaven which I believe was from the province. The hotel told us it wasn’t truly authentic but whatever it was, I LOVED it. I must admit, I did not like hardly any Chinese food when I was there, but loved this place. Do you know it? It is near the Bund I believe.

    • gkm2011 May 12, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      There is a restaurant I think called “Lost Heaven” that I believe serves Yunnan food that is supposed to be very good. There is also another one in the french concession that I have been to before. They are famous in Yunnan for different types of rice noodles and lots of very spicy food. The vegetables there are very fresh and mountain specific – we ate several things that I had never seen before. The food is very good, so glad that you found one type of Chinese food enjoyable.


  1. Buying a jade bangle « 中国 Jumble - August 5, 2012

    […] this year when I visited Tengchong with my colleagues we saw lots and lots of jade bangles, but I wasn’t quite ready to buy, plus […]

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