Van Camping Amid Pu-erh Tea Plantations

Xishuangbanna - China

Finding an exciting place to park our van was proving difficult in Xishuangbanna in southern China.

Sure, there were a few wide-dirt rims along the roadside, but nothing great for some days now.

pu-erh tea plantations patterns of xishuangbanna in china
Our van parked (lower center) amid the Pu-erh tea plantations of Xishuangbanna.

For us to really enjoy van life – you don’t want dusty, noisy side of the road sites nor the city garden parks (the latter option are simply boring and typical of Chinese RV owners, clustered together for public toilets and free water and crowded and noisy like apartment dwellers).

No, this is NOT our idea of van life.

tea plantations of xishuangbanna

Admittedly, the provincial roads were quiet but strangely there was nowhere scenic to stop, until we reached the tea growing hills after Pu’er City.

drone shot patterns of pu-erh tea plantations of xishuangbanna
Tea plantation patterns from above.

And we had found a scenic look-out point in Xishuangbanna amid a wave of gentle hills, sculpted by rows of small tea trees.

The location in Xishuangbanna that we found ticked all our van-camping boxes.




drone panorama of tea plantations of xishuangbanna
Drone shot of the surrounding area.

(Sure, there’ are sometimes a few more optional boxes like access to clean water, no insects – zero in this case, and away from any housing).

tea plantations of xishuangbanna
Pu-erh Tea plantations of Xishuangbanna.

In our eyes, the more scenic and remoter, the more prized is the van-camping location.

misty hills of tea plantations oin xishuangbanna in china
Misty morning view from the open van door; this was typical every morning until 10 AM. Then the sun came out, a little hot by early afternoon, and then cool in the evenings.

Xishuangbanna is (China) famous for the quality of its Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh (or Pu’er / pronounced: Poo-are 普洱 ) Tea is fermented and aged for some years and the best quality also comes with a high price tag.

“In China, pu-erh tea has long been sipped to achieve a variety of health benefits, such as improvements in heart health and reductions in cholesterol levels. It’s also said that pu-erh tea can help promote weight loss, enhance eyesight, stimulate circulation, and soothe hangovers.”

The Health Benefits of Pu-erh Tea
van life cooking and meals in china
Van life food: Since our recent van interior renovation in Shaxi in January 2021, there’s been more optimized storage and cooking space and kitchen appliances. (A detail blog + videos on that later).

TOP: Homemade hamburger: steak pattie blended with garlic + onion; lettuce, tomato, fried onion, cheddar cheese, bacon, ground black pepper + ketchup on fresh homemade bread. PLUS COLD BEER. A pressure cooker meal of meat, tofu, veg + rice.

BELOW: the new bread maker and Wei – wife, cook, interior designer and carpenter – inside the rear kitchen area, van parked amid the Pu-erh tea plantations of Xishuangbanna.

While access to the viewpoint was public, we were van-camped on private land. And we found this out when the tea plantation owner approached; she was fine with us staying a few nights.

Occasionally, locals and outsiders stopped awhile to admire the vista.

sunset over hills of Xishuangbanna in southern-most China
Van Life in China: Another sunset over hills of Xishuangbanna in the southern-most region of China.

But for 5 nights, it was ours alone.

Travels in China – 2021

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