Chengdu & Sichuan

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province which is famous for its unique and spicy cuisine. It is also the home of Giant Panda conservation with a very successful research and breeding centre that cannot be missed. But the natural beauty of Sichuan is the best reason to linger in this scenic province.

Panda Reserve

With only a thousand Giant Pandas remaining in the wild, they are an endangered species. To ensure their survival, China developed a conservation centre in Chengdu which now houses about 80 pandas, the world’s largest captive Giant Panda population.

The reserve comprises a large area covered by trees and bamboo, reminiscent of the pandas’ natural habitat. Stroll around the grounds to observe the pandas in their enclosures and visit the informative museum to learn more about the achievements of this successful research and breeding program.

When circumstances permit, there may be the chance to meet and hold a baby panda. This is at additional cost and is arranged and paid for locally.

Panda Care Experience

Visit Bifengxia Panda Reserve, about 100 miles from Chengdu, where we can arrange unparalleled access to the pandas. Accompanied by one of the experienced keepers, you have the opportunity to assist with the animals’ daily care routine. The program will vary but may include preparing natural foods, feeding the pandas, washing the pandas and cleaning the enclosure. It is also sometimes possible to be involved with collecting behavioural data and administering medical care.

This is a very hands-on way to experience the vital work that is carried out here. If you wish you may visit for several days which will give you plenty of time to observe and really get to know the pandas that you are caring for. Please note that we now only offer the Panda Care Experience at Bifengxia as it is no longer available at the Chengdu Panda Reserve.

Grand Buddha of Leshan

At Leshan is the remarkable Grand Buddha which is reputed to be the world’s largest stone-carved Buddhist statue. Completed in 803 AD, it stands 71 metres tall and is etched into a river cliff. It was hoped that the presence of the Buddha would help to calm the treacherous waters below which regularly swept away the fishermen. Happily, it was successful as so much rubble from the construction was deposited on the river bed that the currents changed and the waters became safer. The best way to experience the Buddha is to take a short boat ride on the now gentle waters from where the giant statue towers above.

Mt Emei

Mt Emei (Emeishan) is one of the four holy mountains of China and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an important centre for Chinese Buddhism and there are over 30 temples in the area. There are many pathways to allow an exploration of the mountain that is known for its steep cliffs, lofty peaks and roaring waterfalls. Walk past the towering trees and fragrant flowers to truly appreciate the beauty of this sacred place.

Mt Emei is about two hours from Chengdu by road. We recommend two nights in the area and to combine this with a visit to Leshan.

Nine Villages Valley

Possibly the most beautiful secret of China, Nine Villages Valley (Jiuzhaigou) is a natural wonderland. Located in the mountains of Sichuan, the national park is an idyll of forests, waterfalls and lakes, each with its own character. Five-Colour Pond boasts rich shades of green and blue while Five Flower Lake has crystal clear waters through which ancient tree trunks can be seen resting on the lake bed. Viewing the scenery at Long Lake, one can easily imagine being in the Swiss Alps or Canadian Rockies.


In the same region as Nine Villages Valley is the equally alluring area of Huanglong. Here natural mineral pools have formed on the hillside creating a landscape of beautiful colours set against a backdrop of forested slopes and snow-capped mountains. A boardwalk allows for a delightful hike to the temple at the head of the valley, although you are advised to take it steadily as the altitude here reaches 3,500m. A chairlift provides an easier option.

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