“Nature, time and patience are the three great physicians”. It’s a traditional Chinese proverb — and one we wholeheartedly agree with. Thankfully, across the land that brought us Tai Chi and Taoism, there are plenty of resorts and retreats equipped to deliver on all three of these seriously serene fronts.
From the Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain — where you’ll find everything from meditation experts to medicinal herbs — to a pair of award-winning Aman retreats, we’ve searched from Suining to Shanghai to find the most beautiful wellness retreats in China…
In Lijiang, Amandayan will teach you Tai Chi
With 33 luxury resorts dotted across the globe, Aman has one of the most consistently comfortable, dependably decadent portfolios of any modern brand. This particular resort, set atop Lion Hill in the old town of Lijiang, is one of the best; with panoramic views, a tranquil spa and accommodation house in elegant wooden dwellings inspired by Nakhi architecture.
And where better to hone the art of Tai Chi? In a wooden pavilion, around a 20-metre heated swimming pool, the Aman Spa harnesses both the wisdom of local healing traditions and China’s cornucopia of medicinal herbs. On a deck surrounded by trees, there’s also a Tai Chi master on hand to teach you the slow graceful movements that focus the mind.
The Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain has harnessed Taoism’s healing powers
Just over 10 miles south of the incredible ‘Dujiangyan’ — an ancient irrigation system and UNESCO World Heritage site — the Six Senses resort chain has established a beautiful bastion of Taoism; the age-old religion and philosophy of China. A village of Chinese-inspired courtyard villas and suites, some with private pools, form the retreat.
The ‘Chengdu’ spa can be found on site, working wonders for guests. With calming waterfall and garden views, it’s a serene place to enjoy a signature therapy (options include ‘Gua Sha’ skin treatment, ‘Tui Na’ martial-arts massage and a ‘Mountain Green Tea Scrub’ ) and rebalance your qi. The most intriguing offering? ‘Moxibustion’ — a traditional treatment, over one thousand years old, that uses dried plants to stimulate pressure points across the body.
Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain
Sangha by Octave promises to ‘rewire’, ‘renew’ and ‘reframe’
In Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai, you’ll find this floating paradise. The city itself is known as ‘the Venice of the East’, and Sangha by Octave has harnessed the style of the beautiful waterways, grand lakes and enchanting stone bridges to create a retreat of unparalleled calm; the perfect destination for reflection and transformation.
From Traditional Chinese Medicine to Ayurveda, the spa itself strives to be open-minded, immersive and integrated. There’s no wrong or right answers here; no strict rules about sticking to ancient remedies. Instead, the wellness options are almost entirely bespoke, offering guests an array of layered, inter-connected treatments to “realign mind, body and energetic spirit at their deepest level”.
Sangha by Octave
At the base of Moganshan mountain, Naked Stables Retreats is a sustainable haven
There are over 120 rooms at Naked Stables, the first retreat in China to achieve LEED Platinum certification. It’s an accolade that expresses the efficiency and eco-friendliness of a building’s design — and the tree-top villas and earth huts that make up this retreat are at the cutting edge of sustainability.
Sitting at the base of Moganshan — a mountain in Dequing County — the treatments available at Naked Stables are relaxing and ritualistic. There are six indoor treatment rooms, but also eight outdoor rooms — where you can enjoy massages from hot stone to bamboo. The facials are particularly well-reviewed; split into four categories (Wind, Rain, Bird and Forest) they incorporate unique natural materials to clean and rejuvenate.
Naked Stables Retreats
In Yangshuo County, Alila Yangshuo sees the modern meet the traditional
Nestled between the many mountains of Yangshuo County, Alila Yangshuo resort was once a working sugar mill. Today, it offers the ultimate haven for visitors seeking both premium comfort and breathtaking scenery.
Upon arrival, you must choose your preferred accommodation, with offerings including the Sugar House Retreat, Deluxe Retreat, Family Loft, Townhouse, Heritage Suite or Pool Villa. Each will afford you incomparable views of Yangshuo’s world-renowned landscape of karst mountains, rich green hills and winding rivers.
On the outskirts of Shanghai, Amanyangyun is a tranquil treat
We began this list with an extraordinary Aman property, so it makes sense to end on another — the art of Tai Chi and concept of ‘yin and yang’ are all about balance, after all. And what a resort with which to restore order; Amanyangyun is a tranquil sanctuary on the edges of bustling, urban Shanghai. Found in a ‘rescued’ forest of camphor trees, it is a created, contemplative haven.
Like Amandayan above, the spa is the star here — with its hydrotherapy suite, private hamman and reflexology facilities. But we’re particularly intrigued by the dining options. From Chinese restaurant LAZHU (overlooking a bamboo grove) to hotpot restaurant YIN LU (serving a modern spin on the classic Cantonese dish), guests can expect the freshest, locally sourced delicacies wherever they choose to dine.
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