Where to stay in China - Banyan Tree Ringha
I have always dreamed of visiting Shangri-La ever since I read the book “The Lost Horizon”. In the book, Shangri-La was described as a mystical and harmonious paradise, hidden in the Himalayan mountains that is isolated from the world. The people there are almost immortal, living hundred of years beyond the normal lifespan and permanently happy. Doesn’t it sound intriguing? When I found out that Banyan Tree Ringha is actually based in Shangri-La City in Yunnan, I know that I just have to go and visit.
Although geographically, Shangri-La City is in the Yunnan Province, but culturally, the locals are actually Tibetans. The main religion there is Buddhism. Growing up in Beijing as a Han (the largest ethnic race in China), I have always been fascinated by Tibet. Therefore, visiting Shangri-La and experiencing Tibetan culture is like a dream comes true. And I was so thrilled to be able to do it together for the first time with my kids.
Banyan Tree Ringha is about 3.5 hours drive from its sister hotel, Banyan Tree Lijiang. They are two of the first properties that the Banyan Tree resorts founded in China. While Banyan Tree Lijiang draws its charms from the snow mountains and old towns, Banyan Tree Ringha is a more spiritual place. The resort is actually situated in front of one of the most sacred rivers in the region and beside a highly worshipped Lama Temple. All of the villas in the resorts were actually original farms houses where the locals use to live. But after some years, some of the families decided to upgrade their houses, so they will sell their old houses. Bayan Tree resorts basically bought about 20 of these old farm houses, asked the local carpenters (who actually built the houses) to take down the houses piece by piece, transported them into the resort location, and then rebuilt them again (again piece by piece). Then they changed the interior, and furbished it some soft furnisihing objects from the local artisans. The result couldn't be more stunning! Not only they kept the authentic Tibetan flair, but also make it even more luxurious and charming.
We stayed at a two-bedroom two-storied Tibetan lodge, which overlooks Ringha’s mesmerizing landscape, with its mountains, valleys and river. The bathroom, which you can find downstairs (typical in Tibetan homes), is spacious and a giant round wooden bathtub in the middle of the room. It really uplifts the experience of staying in this villa into a whole different level. Everyday, our villa was stocked with fresh fruits, homemade cookies and most importantly, freshly made ginger tea (on request). It was without doubt the best one I have ever had! A bit spicy, but delicious.
During your stay, you really ought to try the local cuisine offered at the Banyan Tree Ringha, such as the Tibetan Hot Pot.
During our two days in Shangri-La, we visited Ganden Sumtseling Monastery and Potatso National Park. We visited a local Tibetan family and tried their homemade tea and snacks. It was really interesting to see the way the locals live and observe their cultural heritage. All these activities were arranged by the Banyan Tree Ringha. Just like all other Banyan Tree resorts, they offer really fascinating cultural and natural activities for the guests to experience the destinations.
It was absolutely fascinating to visit Shangri-La and I learned so much about the Yunnan as well as Tibetan culture. Would love to visit Tibet again to explore more next time.