Sichuan Province Travel Information
The Sichuan Province is located in the South-West of China. With a landmass of 485’000km2 it is slightly smaller than Spain and bigger than the State of California. Geographically the Sichuan Province is one of the most divers provinces of China. Sichuan means literally translated “4 Rivers” referring to the 4 large Rivers crossing the province: The Jialing, Min, Tuo and Yangtze.
In the West of Sichuan Province are the endless grasslands of the Tibetan Highlands. Here the highest peak of the Gongga Mountain range towers over 7550m into the dark blue Tibetan skies.
In the northern part are the not less magnificent National Parks of Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong.
History enthusiasts will find an endless supply of historic sites in Sichuan. Only 70 km north of Chengdu is Sanxingdui, one of the most important archaeological sites in China. In 1986, numerous masks and statues made of bronze as well as numerous valuable objects made of gold and jade were found, suggesting that the area around Sanxingdui was the capital of China’s first kingdom called "Shu" about 3000 years ago. Various Buddhistic caves, old salt wells, the ancient ingenious irrigation system of Dujiangyan or the largest Buddha statue in the world will thrill even the experienced traveler.
CHENGDU, CAPITAL OF SICHUAN
The modern City of Chengdu is Sichuan’s capital. Chengdu will probably be the starting point of a journey to the Sichuan Province. Chengdu is a captivating modern city with many food-stalls, restaurants, historic sites and an exciting nightlife.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the massive changes of recent years, Chengdu is a city with many exciting contrasts. Once you head into the small alleys behind the modern skyscrapers you can still find the old, traditional Chengdu with its typical hairdressing shops, noodle-stalls and local markets.
Chengdu has a modern Subway system which makes it easy to move around. Chengdu airport has direct flights to all major Chinese and Asian cities. There is also a limited amount of direct flight from Chengdu to Europe.
WHERE TO FIND THE PANDA BEARS IN SICHUAN PROVINCE?
For the Sichuan Province the Giant Panda Bear is probably the cutest and most prominent inhabitant. Millions of tourists travel to Sichuan Province to see the Giant Panda. The easiest way to see the Giant Pandas is at the Panda Research and Breeding center located about 18km north of Chengdu. The Panda Station of Chengdu was established in 1987 in collaboration with the WWF. Here you have the opportunity of observing these endangered animals at close quarters. It is recommended to visit the enclosure early in the morning when the Pandas are particularly active during their breakfast time. Another good time to visit is during the cooler winter months when there are less tourists and the pandas are more active during the day as well.
Another option to observe Panda Bears is at the Bifengxia Panda Base located about 180km south-west of Chengdu. The Bifengxia Panda Base was built in 2003 to complement the Panda Station in Wolong further north in Sichuan. The idea was that, in case of an epidemic in Wolong, another healthy Panda population was still available for breeding. Especially after the earthquake of 2008, when the Wolong Panda Station was destroyed, this idea proved to be the right one. The entrance fee needs to be paid at the Bifengxia Visitor Center. From here there a mandatory park bus will take the visitors to the Panda enclosures.
Another option to observe Giant Panda is at the Gengda Panda Base within the Wolong Nature Reserve. The old Wolong Panda Base was destroyed during the 2008 earthquake. It was then decided to build an entirely new Panda Station near the town of Gendga, about 20km away from the old Wolong Station. The Gengda Panda Base opened its doors to the public in 2016. It takes about two hours to drive from Chengdu to Gengda Panda Base. If you are heading from Chengdu to Siguniangshan and Danba on the Tibetan Highlands of Western Sichuan, then it is very convenient to take a break at the Gengda Panda Base.
SICHUAN’S FANTASTIC NATIONAL PARKS
Sichuan Province has some of the finest National Parks in China. In the north of the Sichuan province there is the beautiful Jiuzhaigou National Park. The name Jiuzhaigou means "The Valley of the Nine Villages" and refers to the nine Tibetan villages which are in the park. Jiuzhaigou National Park is famous for the deep blue lakes, the magnificent waterfalls and the rich vegetation. Jiuzhaigou is also well known for its beautiful autumn colors during September and October.
A visit to Jiuzhaigou can be combined with the nearby Huanglong National Park. The Huanglong – or Yellow Dragon - National Park enthuses the visitor with wonderful, white sinter terraces with various pools that reflect the water in all sorts or colors. The sinter terraces of Huanglong National Park were formed over 250000 years by lime deposits from the water, which flows constantly over the terraces.
Another magnificent National Park is the Yading National Park in the West of the Sichuan Province. Located about 75km south of Daocheng the Yading National Park stretches over an area of 1300km2 of the Tibetan Plateau. The scenery of the three, over 6000 meters high, snow covered peaks of Chenresig, Chana Dorje and Rigsum Gonpo is simply breathtaking. Yading offers some of the best hiking options in Sichuan Province.
There are many more scenic areas like the Xiling Scenic Area or Emei Shan both about 2 hours away from Chengdu.
SICHUAN PROVINCE WEATHER AND CLIMATE
The climate in Sichuan is vastly different between its eastern and western parts. The Sichuan Basin in the east has a humid sub-tropical monsoonal climate, with mild winters, hot summers, long frost-free period, plentiful rainfall and mist, high humidity, and less sunshine. Its average temperature in July, the hottest month, is 26-30C; in January, the coldest month, 3-8C.
The Western Sichuan Plateau sees dry, warm springs and autumns and cold winters. Most rain falls between May and October when thunderstorms are a common occurrence. On higher elevation it may even snow during the summer months. All year around, warm clothing is recommended as the nights can get quite chilly and the weather can change rapidly in these altitudes.