The Best Day Trips from Chengdu (Pandas, the Dam, and Tea)
Chengdu is the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province. Chengdu's history dates back to at least the 4th century B.C., when it served as capital for the Shu Kingdom. Artifacts from that dynasty are the focus of the Jinsha Site Museum. The city is famous for its relaxing teahouse culture, with favorite local institutions serving the same brews for generations. It also boasts a lively nightlife, with a strong showing of local partiers bolstered by large student populations. It's also popular for the food, famous both for heat and history even in this cuisine-rich culture. Another popular attraction here are the pandas, both the live versions and the plush, stuffed, cuddly kind for sale on seemingly every street. The city is home to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a conservation center where visitors can view endangered giant pandas in a natural habitat. Luckily, as Chengdu is the transport hub for the entire region, most travelers in China's southwest pass through this way and will get a chance to enjoy the different enticing aspects of the city for themselves. With so much to see and do Chengdu is a great place to experience, and there are several options for exciting activities day trips from the city to help you make the most of your time here.
Depart from your centrally located Chengdu hotel in a comfortable, air-conditioned minivan and travel the spectacular Qingcheng Mountain, a majestic mound surrounding by lush forest and secluded tranquility. Marvel at the perfectly preserved Taoist temples that decorate the enclave then climb aboard a boat for an idyllic cruise across the Yuecheng Lake. Energize with an invigorating 2-hour hike up the mountain and stop at various temples along the way; delve into their fascinating history and hear of how the Tang and Qing dynasties influenced construction. Choose to descend the mountain on foot or by cable car at your own expense, then reconvene with your guide and group at the foot of the landmark. Revitalize with lunch at a rustic local restaurant then admire the scenery on the drive to the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, a renowned hydraulic engineering project that changed the face of agriculture in China. Marvel at the dynamic designs, ancient statues and verdant gardens that surround the structure and hear a detailed history of the masterpiece from your expert guide. After thorough exploration, return to your comfortable vehicle and relax during the drive back to Chengdu, where the tour concludes.
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On this full-day tour of two of Chengdu's most visited attractions, you'll find out just what makes the region of China so popular. After an early hotel pickup, you'll head to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center, a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. On a guided tour, visit different sections of the center to get a full overview of a panda's development, from a baby panda to the full-grown giant panda. Visit the baby garden, where you can see giant panda cubs, which weigh only about 3.5 ounces at birth and by the third month are able to walk on their own. Then stop at the sub-adult garden, where the adolescent pandas hang out, and see the adult garden, which houses the giant pandas in all their full-grown glory. Take pictures of this endangered species eating bamboo, sleeping or frolicking about. Finally, try to spot the sleeping red pandas stretched out on branches in the red panda garden. After stopping for lunch at a local restaurant, you'll go to the Sanxingdui Museum, where you'll gain historical and cultural knowledge of this area of China. With your informative and friendly guide, peruse the many Bronze Age relics that were unearthed in the 1980s, when more than 1,000 bronze, gold, and jade artifacts were discovered. These archeological discoveries changed people's understanding of ancient history and culture, as there was little to no previous knowledge of China's Bronze Age. Learn about the significance of each relic on a walk through the different exhibition halls.
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In the morning, you will be picked up from your hotel in Chengdu by your guide and driver. Sit and relax in a private, air-conditioned car for the 2 hours' drive. Upon arrival, take a boat cruise for an opportunity to get a whole view of the Giant Buddha. The giant sitting Buddha statue rests along the cliff with a total height of 233. Then gaze at the head of the Buddha, with 1020 twisted buns on top. Generally, people think the buns were carved on the head, yet the truth is they are each made individually and inlayed in the head which helps you understand easily why it took in total 90 years to carve the Buddha along the cliff. Getting down to the feet of the Buddha, you will again be shocked by its scale because over a hundred people can sit on his foot at one time. After your whole day trip, you can rest in your comfortable car to get back to your hotel in Chengdu.
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Your Chengdu tour starts in the early morning, the guide will pick up you from your hotel and then head for Qingchengshan Mountain which is a 1 hour drive. You will enjoy the beautiful Chengdu plain and villages en route. After the Sichuan earthquake, they have been rebuilt successfully, and some of the villager's house can even be compared with villas in Europe. Arrive in Mt Qingchengshan, take a cable car up the mountain, and then you will hike up about 30 minutes to the summit of Mt Qingchengshan, Shangqinggong Palace. Then you will make a mild hiking tour down the mountain on the zigzag mountain trails. It will be an easy journey, just enjoying the beautiful scenery and breathing in the clear air. Walk to the Heaven Master Cave, one of the most important places in Mt Qingchengshan, where you will admire the huge and old Ginkgo tree, which is said to be planted by Master Zhangdaoling 2000 years ago, and you can also learn about the harmony theory of Taoism. Sit down for a pre-arranged lunch at the restaurant of the temple, it is a simple Chinese lunch, but you will be able to enjoy it inside the temple. After you descend the mountain in the afternoon, relax for the 20 minutes drive to the Dujiangyan Dam. As the most famous ancient Chinese Dam, Dujiangyan is still in function. You will learn about how ancient China made full use of local landscape and built this great project. In the late afternoon, you will return Chengdu from express way in a 1 hour's drive. Your travel guide will see you back to your hotel, and your Chengdu tour will be finished.
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Depart from your hotel in Chengdu in a private, climate-controlled vehicle and admire the scenery on the 2-hour journey to Mengdingshan. Listen as your guide offers fascinating insight into the region and its tea-making traditions then disembark to enjoy a delicious Chinese lunch in a rustic local restaurant. Revitalized, stroll towards the gorgeous greenery of the plantation and hear of the establishment's esteemed history; as one of the earliest places in history to have cultivated tea, Mengdingshan is shrouded in legend. Greet the resident farmer and weave your way to sets of beautiful tea terrace fields while your guide directs your attention to different kinds of tea bushes. Watch a leaf picking demonstration, then try your hand at picking the delicate leaves from the bushes before heading to the factory. Learn how to make a variety of tea types, process your freshly picked leaves, and then take home your product as a special souvenir. Bid farewell to the farmer and relax during the 2-hour journey back to Chengdu, where the tour concludes.
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