Sichuan might be most famous for its giant pandas, which you can see frolicking at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, but this enormous province holds a wealth of other treasures. Outside of the bustling modern capital of Chengdu, discover a dramatic landscape of breathtaking beauty of snow-dusted mountains and alpine lakes. Discover sacred ancient relics and indigenous cultures.
Join the throngs of pilgrims as they climb the holy mountain of Emei Shan or stare into the 10-foot (3-meter) wide eyes of the Buddha statue of Leshan carved into the cliffs. At 233-feet (71-meters) high it is the largest Buddha in the world.
Head north to the magical and ethereally beautiful Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic Area and Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area where bright turquoise pools, lakes and waterfalls glisten in the pristine landscape. Hike the trails, go horse riding in the lush landscape of Songpan and experience the indigenous cultures that abound in the surrounding villages.
The wild west of Sichuan is an untamed place where towering mountains topple into neighboring Tibet. The bright sunshine and cold winds are unforgiving and the roads even more so, yet brave the journey and you will be rewarded by astounding natural beauty and a proud Tibetan culture. Kangding marks the jumping off point to the west, yet towns such as Derge and Litang hold the greatest appeal. Visit monasteries that were once home to dalai lamas, watch the famous horse festivals or head into the snow-capped mountains for hiking.
Spend some time in the bustling capital of Chengdu. Sample the fiery Sichuan cuisine and visit the serene Wenshu Monastery. Head south to find the gently swaying Southern Sichuan Bamboo Forest, a natural forest with more than 50 different varieties of the plant. Stop at the quirky Zigong Dinosaur Museum.
Chengdu is the gateway to the province, with a busy international airport and network of public transportation radiating out of it. The public transportation options get sparser as you enter the wilder corners of the province but with some prior planning it is possible to venture to even the most far-flung spots.