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Sichuan

If cuisine is a good reason to visit a place, then Sichuan province, in central China should be at the top of every traveller’s list of places to visit. Sichuan, which means ‘four rivers’, is one of China’s largest provinces and is located to the east of the Tibetan plateau. Its capital is Chengdu, known widely for the nearby Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, an organisation tasked with conserving this rare animal. Vibrant and inviting, Chengdu is known to be one of China’s friendliest cities, and Chengdu people are famously relaxed. Sichuan has a culture very different to much of the rest of China, shaped by both its remoteness and its proximity to the Tibetan plateau. A visit to the province will excite even the most well-travelled travellers, and a taste of real Sichuan cuisine will blow the mind of the most experienced food enthusiast.

Whether you’re looking for a cultural holiday or a wildlife holiday in China, Sichuan travel will meet your needs. Aside from the chance to see Giant Pandas, and to explore this bustling city, one of the main reasons to visit Chengdu has to be the food. If you like spicy food and your dishes to be packed full of flavour, then Chengdu cuisine has to be an absolute favourite. If you have never tasted the numbing properties of a Sichuan pepper, prepare your palate, as you are about to experience a whole new level of taste!

Beyond the culinary delights, spend some time exploring the city. Its many lush parks will tempt you in, where giant bamboo shoots into the sky as elder Chinese perform Tai Chi, sit and drink tea, or perform elaborate square dancing. Another favourite place in the city is Du Fu Thatched Cottage, a beautifully designed house dating from the 16th century, based on a cottage owned by the poet Du Fu in the 8th century, set in lush gardens with bamboo groves, sub-tropical vegetation and classical Chinese designs. One must also experience Sichuan opera; watch in amazement how performers quickly change their colourful masks, in the face-changing performance. Chengdu is also a good place to experience the modern side of China. Young fashion-conscious locals flock to the Taikoo Li area, with its designer shops and craft-beer bars.

After experiencing the many pleasures of Chengdu, consider visiting the Giant Buddha at Leshan on a day trip from Chengdu. Carved into a rock face, it is the largest stone Buddha in the world. Located within the Mount Emei scenic area, one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China, it is in the perfect location allowing visitors to combine a visit to the Giant Buddha with hiking in the mountains along lush green trails with the backdrop of imposing jade coloured mountains, and the pretty sound of bird song in the air. 

For accommodation, whether you are looking for luxury hotels in Sichuan province, spa hotels, boutique hotels, or perhaps you are travelling as a family and looking for a good family friendly hotel, you will find many comfortable options. There is also some great city centre accommodation where you’ll be able to discover the vibrant cities of the province, and those with more of a rural setting. There are some fantastic luxury hotels in China with a great range across the board.

Like much of China, the best time to visit Sichuan province is April and May, or September, when the temperature will be warm but not stiflingly hot, and the scenery will be lush. A visit to Sichuan province combines well with Xi’an or Chongqing, and transport links to the rest of China are excellent. There are even some direct international flights into Chengdu, which incidentally is the most convenient place to base yourself to experience the best of what Sichuan province has to offer.

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There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson

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