Chengdu: Panda Country

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4 Days
Spring, Fall
Chengdu
Chengdu

Explore southwest Sichuan, home to sacred peaks, spicy peppers and China’s natural treasure: the giant panda. You’ll view these unique creatures in a natural setting, savor a spicy hotpotfeast, discover Sichuan opera, and marvel in the presence of the world’s largest stone Buddha.

About this Journey

Travel into the heart of the southwestern province of Sichuan, home of the panda and the pepper. Despite being the fourth largest city in China, Chengdu remains a calm metropolis with a relaxing teahouse culture. The slower pace of life in Sichuan makes it the perfect place for the laidback giant panda to prosper. On this trip, you’ll not only get the chance to view China’s cuddly icon at a panda base, you’ll also get the chance to sample Sichuan’s famous numbing peppercorns, experience Taoist spirituality, witness the Sichuanese operatic art of face-changing, and stand in the presence of the world’s largest stone Buddha.

What we love
  • Getting the chance to see China's adored giant panda in a natural setting at Chengdu Panda Base
  • Immersing yourself in Taoism at Qingyang Temple, where legend has it that Taoism's founder Lao Tzu was born
  • Tasting Sichuan's world famous spicy cuisine
Where you're going
Chengdu and Leshan map
Itinerary

Day 1Arrival in Chengdu

First Stop: Chengdu

Located in the heart of eastern Sichuan, Chengdu is the capital of this southwestern province. Geographic and political remoteness have always contributed to the free-spirited nature of the Sichuan people, and the modern cosmopolitan nature of Chengdu reflects this.

As the economic hub of Southwestern China, but also the home to a large, thriving community of students and intellectuals, Chengdu embodies liberal thinking and progressiveness across a wide range of interests and pursuits. Chengdu’s identity as a thriving metropolis, epicenter for preserving Giant Pandas, and source for some of Sichuan’s most delicious cuisine, makes it one of the most interesting cities to visit in China.

Your Journey Begins

Today is the day, the start of your WildChina adventure. Step off the plane in Chengdu and meet your local WildChina guide in the airport arrivals hall. They’ll be waiting to welcome you and will have your private vehicle on standby, ready to whisk you off to your hotel for check in.

Kuan Zhai Alleyways

The Kuan Zhai Alleyways are a dynamic collision of traditional architecture and modern culture, where Qing Dynasty buildings play host to some of Chengdu’s best coffee shops, bars, galleries and boutiques. Rub shoulders with locals who love to roam these quirky lanes on their day off and tuck into some of the city’s traditional snacks, although you might want to watch out for some of the more, let’s say, ‘exotic’ local delicacies.

Sichuan “Face-Changing” Opera

The illusory, face-changing Sichuan Opera is shrouded in such mystery that a superstar Hong Kong actor allegedly once paid 3 million yuan for a master to reveal its secrets. Marvel at this arcane art as well as the acrobatics, comedy, and vivid characters that make up this regional opera in a VIP experience made all the more Sichuanese by the opportunity to have your ears cleaned by a local master during the show (if you like your ears just how they are, no need to worry, ear cleaning is optional).

Day 2Chengdu

Qingyang Temple

Start your day at Qingyang Taoist Temple, the birthplace of Lao Zi, the founding father of Taoism, which promotes the principle of wuwei, which means “do nothing.” The religion also encourages its followers to calmly go with the flow of nature. As such, this temple is designed to reflect an ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy: “The sky is round and the earth is square.” Thus, the temple boasts an “Eight Trigrams Pavilion,” which is an eight-sided domed building set on a square foundation. Hidden throughout the grounds, under the open sky, nestled amidst the leaves, are small idols to different Taoist deities. Discovering them is discovering both the temple and Taoist thought.

People’s Park

At the center of Chengdu sits the beating heart of local life, People’s Park, a cultural playground of rock gardens, lakes, and century-old teahouses. Locals descend here for the whole gamut of activities from dancing to dating. Get lost in this giant tableaux of Chinese culture and be sure to listen out for the clanging instruments of roaming ear cleaners, who like nothing more than to show off their skills on an international guest or two.

Jinsha Archaeological Museum

When construction workers struck upon the lost city of Jinsha in 2001, what they found in the 3,000-year-old site would change the world’s understanding of Chinese history. Huge gold masks with giant, bug-like eyes and menacing smiles emerged, so unlike other artifacts of the time that rumors began to spread of alien involvement. The Jinsha museum displays all the site’s best discoveries, but don’t miss the resplendent Golden Sun Bird, now the official symbol of Chengdu.

Sichuan Hotpot Dinner

Enjoyed by locals and travelers alike, hotpot is communal mad-grab of some of China’s most delicious bites. Dip meats and vegetables into an expansive pot of spicy broth and have a taste of Sichuan’s fiery spirit. For those seeking a gastronomic adventure, drop in a few of the restaurant’s more exotic ingredients.

Day 3Chengdu

Drive to Dujiangyan

The ride from Chengdu downtown to Dujiangyan will take around 1.5 hours.

Dujiangyan Panda Base

Located about an hour and a half outside of Chengdu, Dujiangyan Panda Base is one of our favorite choices for getting up close with giant pandas. The first wild pandas were first spotted in this area in 1953 and the bamboo-covered hills of the conservation center replicate the iconic animal’s natural habitat. The ultimate goal of Dujiangyan panda base is to boost the population and prepare the pandas for life in the wild. Be sure to look out for the keepers, who may well be hanging out with China’s national animal dressed as pandas themselves.

(Volunteer activities are optional and on request.)

Hike to the Daoist Mountain – Qingcheng Mountain

Qingcheng Mountain is a respite from the hustle and bustle of Chengdu’s center, a mountain known as “the most peaceful and secluded under heaven.” Your visit starts with a cable car ride, the views opening up as the mountain falls away. At the top, you keep climbing, this time on foot, exploring the temples you find along the trail. Qingcheng Mountain is known for its many Taoist temples, many of which are found on the front side. Finally, the summit and its spectacular views of lush green hills rolling into the horizon.

Back Mountain, Qingcheng

Qingcheng Mountain is known for its many Taoist temples, many of which are found on the front side. This means that the back side of the mountain is quieter and better known for its scenic trails and a beautiful, albeit small temple at the top. On Qingcheng’s ‘Back Mountain’ you’ll spend the day hiking past waterfalls, caves, and primitive forests, and wind your way up to the peak. The full hike is around 20 kilometers, but there are two cablecars that can half the walking distance should you want.

Day 4Day Trip to Leshan and Departure

Next Stop: Leshan

The town of Leshan in Sichuan Province is as laidback as the languorous river it is nestled against. However, what really draws visitors to this relaxed city is the natural and cultural riches that rest inside its confines: Mount Emei and the Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest ancient Buddha carved in stone in the world. Take life at the speed of Leshan as you explore the region’s luxuriantly green forests and gaze upon stone fingernails larger than a human.

Drive to Leshan

Find your zen (or just gaze out the window) on the approximately two-hour drive south from Chengdu to Leshan, home of the world’s largest ancient Buddha and beautiful Mount Emei.

Leshan Giant Buddha

Carved dramatically into red sandstone cliffs and smiling benevolently over the river hundreds of feet below is the colossal Leshan Buddha, a 1,300-year-old, 71-meter-tall sculpture so big that an adult person would easily fit on its smallest toenail. The Buddha, built in AD 713 by a Chinese monk named Haitong to calm the river waters, was crafted from a cliff face. So much stone from the carving process fell into the river below that it did, indeed, calm the area’s waters.

Leshan is an exquisite UNESCO world heritage site that is not to be missed for its impressive size and beautiful surrounding area. Be aware that Leshan is a popular tourist destination that invites many domestic tourists. However, the beauty and history of the Buddha is worth the crowds.

Your Flight Back Home

Your WildChina guide will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight home.

Hotels

Buddha Zen Hotel Chengdu

Buddha Zen Hotel Chengdu sits inside a traditional courtyard home in the city’s Qingyang District, just a short stroll from the Wenshu Temple. Inside, the décor emphasizes zen, creating a vibe of eastern elegance through modern amenities and hints of traditional Chinese culture. In the restaurant, fiery Sichuan peppers and numbing spices provide a welcome contrast to the peaceful atmosphere, enriching it with unique regional flavors. From the rooms and restaurant to the spa and tea house, the Buddha Zen Hotel Chengdu is a welcome corner of serenity for tired travelers.

Address: B6-6, Wenshufang Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu, 610017
成都市青羊区文殊坊b6-6号院

Phone: +86 028 8692 9898

The Temple House, Chengdu

Room Type: Studio 60

An enthralling and vibrant hotel in Chengdu, The Temple House celebrates a city with a rich, fabled past and extremely exciting future through an inspiring blend of traditional heritage touches and modern comforts. With an ideal location in the heart of the city, the hotel invites travelers to unwind at the teahouse, fill up on a variety of Chinese and western cuisines, and rejuvenate with a bespoke treatment at the day spa. From your first steps through the historic Qing dynasty courtyard to the elegant rooms, The Temple House is an engaging journey.

Address: 81 Bitieshi Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu, 610021
中国四川省成都市笔帖式街81号

Phone: +86 028 6636 9999

Six Senses Qingcheng Mountain

Room Type: Deluxe Room

Located an hour outside of Chengdu, the Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain offers travelers a contemporary escape into Sichuan’s stunning Taoist mountainside. The hotel offers traditional Chinese villas and modern suites set against a backdrop of bamboo-laden slopes. With nature at their doorstep, guests can enjoy a peaceful hike nearby or stay in with options on-site like a Sichuan cooking class and taichi lesson.

Address:: No.2 Dong Ruan Road Qingcheng Mountain Town Dujiangyan, Chengdu, Sichuan, 611844 China 中国四川省成都市都江堰市 青城山镇 东软大道 2 号

Phone: +86 28 8712 6666

Details

Recommended seasons

Spring

Fall

What’s Included

  • All overland transfers with private chauffeur and in-transport refreshments
  • All admission fees and activity expenses, as noted in the itinerary
  • All meals as noted in the itinerary with complimentary drinking water
  • All services of WildChina English-speaking guide(s)
  • All accommodations, based on double-occupancy and including breakfast, service charge, and government tax
  • Private chauffeur service to and from airport at start and end of your trip

What’s Excluded

  • International and domestic flights, domestic trains, plus relevant taxes
  • Chinese tourist visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Meals, apart from those included in the itinerary, and alcohol
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
  • Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers
Why WildChina

We’re on the ground with you

Our team of advisors will design every detail of the trip with you through close consultation, then orchestrate your entire journey while on the ground. We’re in the same time zone as you, so we can fulfill requests and handle issues without a hitch. With over 40 staff in Beijing and an expansive network of operational partners across the country, we have the manpower to ensure your journey is safe, reliable and comfortable from beginning to end.

Your trip, your way

Flexibility is our highest-ranking compliment. We pull off journeys for pioneers with a 6-hour layover to Hollywood’s elite, and everywhere in between. Our team regularly pulls off unprecedented logistical feats; nearly any time frame or budget is within our realm. No matter how you wish to experience China, we are here to bring that dream to life.

We embody passion

WildChina guides are carefully handpicked for their knowledge and charisma, then meticulously trained to maintain our exceptional service standards. They are expert storytellers and passionate natives of the regions where they guide, having the perfect combination of local insights and service know-how to bring you seamless once-in-a- lifetime moments all across China.

The little things, the big picture

Supporting inspired local economies allows you to experience the soul of the destination, while also protecting and cultivating China’s artisanal culture. From watching artisans hand make shoes in Yunnan, to picking organic vegetables for dinner on a local farm in Fujian, our tours are designed to showcase and protect China’s heritage, both natural and human.

2 Reviews
Sort By:RatingDate

MMHLondon-Madison

Family Traveller

WildChina gave our family (party of 4 with two 20 something children) a truly memorable, first class touring adventure around China, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will remember and treasure forever. This was our first private tour anywhere. We tend to research a place and do it “our way.” This trip changed my view of traveling—so much of what we did and saw could not have been accomplished on our own, and certainly without any knowledge of Mandarin. And throughout the trip, we luxuriated in the knowledge we were in the safe and savvy hands of WildChina. They made the trip extraordinary—I never could have arranged what they did and as seamlessly. We would highly recommend WildChina to anyone who is thinking about taking a trip to China and would not hesitate to book another tour with them again!

January 2, 2020

A & R

Couple Traveller

We had a good trip with NatHab and saw lots of pandas (none in the wild but they told us that would be exceedingly rare) but plenty of cute babies playing and we got to clean some panda enclosures and feed them some carrots. Also, saw the golden snub-nosed monkeys which were very entertaining and the beautiful golden pheasants and lots of Takin and other wildlife.

You and your staff did an excellent job in organizing our trip and we will definitely refer our friends and will contact you again when we return to China.

May 14, 2019