Travelling to Tibet via Chengdu, you have the chance to explore this famous Chinese city, discovering the traditional enclaves amid a modern city. Panda Research Centre introduces you to these delightful iconic animals. Travel south of the city to the Leshan Giant Buddha, carved into the hillside. Chengdu’s famous tea houses and a traditional Sichuan hot pot dinner immerse you in the local culture.
Arrive at Chengdu.
Arrive at your hotel. Dinner is included this evening at a local Sichuan Hotpot restaurant. Whilst Sichuan food is traditionally amongst the spiciest in China, hot pot can be served to suit all levels of chilli enjoyment (including none)!
Chengdu sightseeing: visit Panda Research Base, Kunzhai Xiang and Chinese tea houses.
First stop, The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (30-min drive). This is a huge park with rivers, lakes, ornamental green lawns, wild bamboo forests and man-made rocks and caves created to provide a healthy environment for the pandas and other endangered species including red pandas, swans, peacocks, rare birds and butterflies. There is a museum and a cinema explaining research, environmental issues and pandas’ lives.
Kunzhai Xiang is an area of three parallel old city alleys with 45 courtyard houses dating from the Qing. Restored, it has become a popular area with many bars, restaurants, teahouses and shops selling interesting Chinese souvenirs. It provides a good opportunity to learn about local life during the Qing Dynasty and appreciate Sichuan crafts and entertainments. Take a break at one of Chengdu’s many famous teahouses.
In the evening you have the option to see Sichuan Opera A tradition originating in the C17th when immigrants flooded into Sichuan bringing different dramas and blended them into the local dialect, customs, folk music and dances. The main highlight of Sichuan Opera is the ’face changing act’ when actors change their masks – sometimes 10 masks in less than 20 seconds!
Chengdu sightseeing: visit Leshan Giant Buddha.
This 71m tall stone statue was carved out of a cliff face at the confluence of three rivers in the C8th; complete with drainage channels. Depicting a seated Maitreya (future Buddha) it is the largest stone Buddha in the world. Stairs at either side allow you to climb up for a closer look. Nearby Wuyou Si monastery (ad742) has many impressive decorations, statues and painted scenes from the Journey to the West (one of the four classical Chinese novels written in the 16th century).
Returning to Chengdu you may depart to Lhasa by train or flight.