Getting out to the sights is a bit tricky. Catching buses part of the way and hiking is one possibility, while some of the closer attractions can be reached by bicycle. Some highlights of the region are the traditional villages that are scattered between Téngchōng and Yúnfēng Shān (Cloudy Peak Mountain).
Southwest of Téngchōng, Héshùn is well worth a visit. It has been set aside as a retirement village for overseas Chinese, but it’s of more interest as a quiet, traditional Chinese village with cobbled streets. There are some great old buildings in the village, providing lots of photo opportunities.
A Taoist mountain dotted with 17th-century temples and monastic retreats, Yúnfēng Shān is 47km north of Téngchōng. It’s possible to take a cable car, close to the top from where it’s a 20-minute walk to Dàxióng Bǎodiàn (大雄宝殿), a temple at the summit. Lǔzǔ Diàn (鲁祖殿), the temple second from the top, serves up solid vegetarian food at lunchtime.
Sea of Heat
The intriguingly named Sea of Heat is a steamy cluster of hot springs, geysers and streams (but no actual sea, per se). Located about 12km southwest of Téngchōng, it’s essentially an upmarket resort, with a few outdoor hot springs, a nice warm-water swimming pool along with indoor baths.
Téngchōng County is renowned for its volcanoes, and although they have been behaving themselves for many centuries, the seismic and geothermal activity in the area indicates that they won’t always continue to do so. The closest volcano to Téngchōng is Mǎ’ān Shān (马鞍山; Saddle Mountain), around 5km to the northwest. It’s just south of the main road to Yíngjiāng.