Home to towering peaks, fertile plains and verdant forest, Sichuan province is known for both its natural beauty and its delicious, fiery food. Capital Chengdu is a cheery city and home to everyone’s favourite member of the bear family – the Giant Panda.
Sichuan’s capital Chengdu is a laidback, modern city with a cheerful outlook and plenty of green spaces. An excellent place to base yourself to explore the magnificent sights of the eastern region of Sichuan, Chengdu adds the exotic combination of pandas, great food and a thriving tea house culture to your travels.
The Giant Panda has taken it’s place in the hearts of both the Chinese and people around the world as everyone’s favourite bear. Native to a few of the mountain ranges of central China, particularly Sichuan, due to development and deforestation, pandas have become a conservation reliant endangered species. As much an emblem of China as the dragon, efforts have been stepped up to save the Panda and it’s habitats – something that you will be able to see for yourself, especially visiting the Giant Panda Base in Chengdu or the more remote Bifengxia breeding facilities.
Giant pandas have roamed the bamboo forests of Sichuan for millions of years so it’s only appropriate that the majority of the conservation work to save this endangered species also takes place here. The Chengdu Panda Base is home to around 80 individuals who you can observe in their spacious enclosures – they are most active in the morning – as well as visiting the informative museum to learn more about the achievements of the breeding programme. The base is also home to a number of another native species, the red panda. Whilst they do share a name the giant panda and the red panda aren’t closely related but both are equally fun to watch.
Bifengxia is a breeding facility set in the beautiful landscapes of Bifeng Gorge about 2 hours from Chengdu. Welcoming fewer visitors than Chengdu and arguably a more authentic setting for a panda experience, the base houses a breeding centre where you may be able to see tiny new borns, a kindergarten for playful ‘toddlers’ and large foliage filled enclosures for adults.
Around two hours by road from Chengdu, the Giant Buddha of Leshan sits serenely overlooking the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi Rivers. At 71 metres tall he is the world’s largest Buddhist sculpture and was built in 713 in an effort to calm the waters that made the route traitorous for shipping. Whether it was Buddha’s influence or the amount of rocks that ended up in the river during the construction process, the waters became safe meaning that you can take to the waters yourself for the best views.
Mount Emei is one of the four Buddhist mountains of China and the site of its very first Buddhist Temple. Swathed in forest and dotted with fascinating old temples Emei offers the chance to explore an ecologically diverse and pristine environment just 2 and a half hours from Chengdu. Whilst you can spend the day wandering the lower paths of the mountain with the many pilgrims, and taking the cable car up to the summit, you can also spend a few days here, hiking deeper into the forest and even spending a night or two at one of the many monasteries nestled peacefully amongst the trees.
Hundreds of pools in vivid colours, formed by thousands of years of mineral deposits, tumble gently down the Huanglong Valley. Set within a diverse forest ecosystem which plays host to a number of endangered species, in the area you will also find waterfalls and hot springs, all enclosed within snowcapped mountain peaks. Located 150 kilometres from Chengdu a visit here can be incorporated with a trip to Jiuzhaigou. This spectacular area has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.
In Chengdu's International Finance Square, one of the city's most fashionable addresses, the stylish Niccolo by Marco Polo is the place to be seen. A haven of peace in the midst of the city, the Niccolo has plenty of excellent facilities, stylish restaurants and a bar and luxurious, contemporary rooms in which to relax after a day of explorations.
The centrally located Yinhe Dynasty Hotel in Chengdu has guest rooms equipped with modern amenities. The hotel restaurants serve international cuisine and local specialties to cater for a wide range of tastes. Other facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, sauna and massage centre, bowling alley and billiards room.
The Sheraton is a centrally located hotel close to local amenities and boasts well-designed and beautifully appointed guestrooms. Recreational facilities include a sauna, Jacuzzi, steam room, fitness centre, massage rooms, hair salon, and an indoor swimming pool. The hotel’s dining choices include traditional Chinese and western cuisine.
The Shangri-La Hotel is a modern sanctuary in an ancient capital with spacious rooms and luxurious comforts. Relax in the spa with a treatment based on traditional Asian therapies or rejuvenate in the superbly equipped gym and exquisite indoor swimming pool. The fine dining options include the opportunity to try the best in local Sichuan cuisine.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.