Baishuitai is a natural feature and tourist attraction in Shangrila County, Yunnan, China. It is located north of the town of Haba, between Lijiang and Shangrila, near the Jinsha (Yangtze) River valley, at an altitude of 2400m.
Baishuitai (白水台) means white water terraces. The main attraction in the area is a large, white mineral deposit in the form of terraced pools, formed by calcium-rich water emanating from springs at the top of the formation. It is described as the largest feature of its type in China. This area is in the process of being developed for tourism, with the addition of artificial pools and terraces, a viewing platform, more robust trails, reduced vegetation on the mineral deposit, and a visitor center. It will continue to require climbing a hundred or so stairs, although a horse may be available for rent to bypass the bulk of the climb.
The terraces are associated with the founder of the local Dongba religion, and are credited with teaching the local Naxi minority people how to adapt the region's hillsides for agriculture. As such they are an important local pilgrimage site, and there are several shrines in and around the terraces.
The main landscape feature is a calcium-based mineral deposit 140m long and up to 160m wide, located on the flanks of Haba Snow Mountain.
Flora and fauna
There may be a daily bus running between Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge (Tina's Guesthouse) and Baishuitai around 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at Tina's Guest House or Tibet Guest House. Renting a car and driver will cost 300 RMB or so and take 3-4 hours. As of December 2016, the road is in excellent condition but is far from straight.
There are two daily buses between Shangrila town and Baishuitai, leaving around 8:30am and 2 pm, or a car and driver will cost 300 RMB or so. As for Tiger Leaping Gorge, the road is excellent, winding, and takes 3-4 hours.
Entry fee is currently (December 2016) 30 RMB. If you enter early for sunrise, they'll charge you the fee as you leave.
Seeing the pools requires climbing up a set of stairs and walking around on a boardwalk. It may be possible to skip part of the stairway by renting a horse.
The attraction is the calcium deposit with its terraced pools, trees, and springs.
The town near the entrance has several guesthouses. You could also consider staying in Haba town to the south, but this is not particularly nearby and transportation could be a challenge.