Immerse yourself in the many faces of Sichuan, from the modern skyscrapers of Chengdu to rural landscapes celebrated in classical Chinese poetry. Fringed by snow-capped mountains that made it hard to reach from the rest of China, the province developed its own, proudly individual culture. From the fiery cuisine to its deep Buddhist heritage, Sichuan is an experience to savour.
Rugged mountains, meandering rivers and cosmopolitan cities, in southwest China
Things to do
For a fascinating picture of the past, head to the Jinsha archaeology site in Chengdu, the vivacious capital of Sichuan. Discovered accidentally in 2001, Jinsha is vast – some call it a city – and will take the best part of a day to explore. Among the many treasures that were unearthed there are ivory, jade and gold objects alongside ornate stone carvings.
Sichuan is home to some of China’s most famous residents: giant pandas. Visit the recently reopened Wolong National Nature Reserve to see these magnificent monochrome mammals up close, and learn about the vital conservation work to protect them. You may also spy other endangered animals such as snow leopards and red pandas.
One landmark stands above all others in Sichuan: the Leshan Giant Buddha. Carved into the red sandstone cliffs above the river, this colossal statue stands at 71 metres tall – making it the largest Buddha in the world. It’s almost always busy – but take a full day to explore the river and surrounding walking trails. While the big Buddha grabs the spotlight, there’s also a number of fascinating cave shrines and temples to explore, further up into the hills.
Try to catch a performance of Sichuanese opera – an exciting regional style known for its magical ‘face changing’ sequences.
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