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Chengdu, home of the Giant Panda and capital of Sichuan province is famed for its outstanding natural beauty, fiery cuisine and China’s first, largest and best known Panda research and breeding centre. Arrive Chengdu airport and our rep awaits to transfer you to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free for you to spend at leisure.
This morning fly to Jiuzhaigou - a region that for centuries has been inhabited by various Tibetan and Qiang people. Tour the Huanglong Monastery - built during the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu, it is now a place of worship for the local Tibetan, Han, Qiang and Hui people, all of which have different religious beliefs. Afterwards enjoy a relaxing stroll by the region’s famed calcium travertines. Resembling a terraced field, the travertines flow gently into a series of multi-coloured, mineral rich ponds beneath. Onward travel to Jiuzhaigou.
Today is spent exploring the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Reserve. It’s home to densely growing conifers, broadleaf trees and of rare and endangered animal species such as takins, golden monkeys, Giant Pandas and white-lip deer. Visits will be made to Pearl Beach Falls, Nuorilong Falls and Long Lake. The ever flowing cascade of Nuorilong spans an impressive 320 metres - making it the widest waterfall in all of China.
Morning flight returning to Chengdu. An hour’s drive to the north west leads you to the ancient city of Dujiangyan. It was here, in 256 BC that provincial governer Li Bing set up the Dujiangyan Irrigation Scheme. The three part engineering project using a central dam and artificial islands to split the Min River into an inner flow for irrigation and an outer channel for flood control. A spillway directed and regulated the water while an opening carved through the hillside controlled to flow rate. The project was maintained until 2006 when a new dam was created 9km upstream. Tour the dam site, view the Anlan Suspension Bridge and the Dragon Taming Temple.
Today we tour Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding a short drive out of town. China’s Giant Pandas are considered the most endangered mammal on the planet. Due to a loss of habitat in the Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces it is estimated that there are less than 1500 giant pandas remaining in the wild - 80% of which are located in Sichuan Provence. Back in town afterwards, visit the Wuhou Memorial Temple, the Tomb of Wang Jian and Jinli Lu street - part of the old city where open air theatre and Sichuan Opera are performed in the evening.
Driving to Leshan our morning is spent exploring the the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dafo (Great Buddha) Driving onward take in the views from Emei Shan (Mt Emei) designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its incredible natural beauty and historical Buddhist sites. Arriving at Baoguo, located at the foot of the Mountain, we visit the Temple of Baoguo. Large and serene this impressive temple structure boasts Puxian and Guanyin statues, high roofed Ming style halls and probably most impressive are the figures of the eight immortals carved from stone betraying Baoguo’s Taoist origins. Spend the remainder of the day exploring this delightful village.
This morning we travel by cable car to the top of Mt Emei to tour the magnificent Wannian temple. The oldest structure on the mountain, its contents are stunning: three thousand tiny iron Buddhas surround a life sized enamelled bronze sculpture of Bodhisattva Puxian (the protector of the mountain) riding a gilt lotus flower astride his great six tusked white elephant. Weighing over 62 tonnes and standing over 7 metres in height the masterpiece had to be bought to the mountain top in pieces. Returning to Chengdu the remainder of the day is free.
If your flight is not until later in the day, consider a visit to the Tibetan quarter, south of the city, frequented by very few tourists. The district teems with shops stocked to their roofs with heavy clothes, turquoise jewellery, prayer wheels, conches and other temple accessories, much being purchased by Tibetan monks, cowboys and Khampa women (a minority group, similar though distinct with their own culture and dialect to Tibetans) all looking decidedly tall and robust next to the city’s local residence. Hotel check out and departure transfer to the airport.
Neatly dividing China into north and south, the 6340km-long Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world, winding ...