Chongqing China

Travel in Sichuan: All the places I want to go

I wrote this post nearly a year ago and have since then travelled to many of these places. Therefore I am adding links to posts about these places, if those are things that interest you.


 

I have a confession.

I have a list of places I want to travel to in China and its obscenely long. I would probably several months of straight travel to do it all.

Sometimes people sort of poo-poo on traveling in China. They say its polluted, crowded, and feel nervous about the political situation. There definitely is pollution and crowds, but that is NOT all there is. There is so much to see here! I used to just know about Beijing, Shanghai, and the terra cotta warriors but now I think about hiking the tiger leaping gorge, riding horses in Inner Mongolia and taking cruises down the Yangtze.

However, with a few small exceptions, I mainly plan on staying in Sichuan for this year. There is so much here I want to do, and I really want to see the parts of China that are less known.

So this is my travel list of all the places I want to go to in Sichuan. I presently have a little less then 8 months to do all this though I’ve already knocked a few of these off my list.

1. Chengdu

The capital of Sichuan its one of the largest cities of China. I would like to go back to explore a few more temples and to see a few more museums but likely what will put me on the train is the desire to see a bit more a modern city with fun restaurant and quirky stores to check-out. Its only a 90 minute train ride and I really should take more advantage of it.

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I wrote this post about exactly how much I love Chengdu

2. The Panda Research center

Most people lump this together with Chengdu since its just outside the city. Its home to 50 giant and red pandas. In the early spring they “fall in love” (it never ceases to amuse me that pandas are “sexually reluctant”) and in the late fall you can see baby pandas. I can’t even imagine how cute they are and will probably act ridiculous when I see them. My boss keeps hinting he may take us so I’m waiting to see if that pans out.

Chengdu panda

3. Juizhaigou valley.

Look at the picture. Seriously. Of course I want to go there. Its a UNESCO world heritage site and it looks so beautiful. I’m really excited to go, I love seeing national parks back home and it might be time to expand out to foreign national parks. There is another park, Huaglong park nearby so I would be able to see both pretty easily.

I wrote This post about visiting Juizhaigou. Really beautiful. Really Crowded

4. Songpan

Not too far from Juizhaigou is this northern Sichuan town. Its supposed to be really beautiful with lots of chances to do horse treks, hiking, biking, camping and all the other best things in life. I can’t really imagine myself doing a horse trek but there is a first time for everything

songpan horse trekking

Songpan…. didn’t live up to my hopes

5. Emei mountain

One of the 4 most famous Buddhist mountains in China, its a mountains filled with temples and monastaries. You can take a cable car  or a bus to the top (It will be a cold day in hell that I ride my way to the top of a mountain) but for a hike its supposed to be really quiet and scenic. You can stay at the monastery that double as hostels. Its supposed to be big deal to very at the peak for sunrise. It also has a great deal of monkeys.

I never made it to Emei. tried twice and failed twice. I’m a little bitter

6. Western Sichuan

Western Sichuan is historically Tibetan and its on the Tibetan plateau. Once you’re on the Sichuan-Tibet highway things become progressively less Chinese. I would love to see some of the culture and the landscape without dealing needing a special visa for Tibet. They put a lot of restrictions on westerners going to Tibet including needing to be with a tour guide at all times and a 9pm curfew. I would love to go to Lhasa but I’m not sure I can deal with all that and have a lot of strong feelings about the whole situation. However Western Sichuan is not restricted (except sometimes). Again I could do hiking/biking/horseriding as well as visit temples and possible even do a homestay with a Tibetan family. I have my sights set on Tagong as a destination for that.

7. Leshan

Home of the Giant Buddha, as awesome as the experience of seeing the Buddha was, I really enjoyed walking around the attached park. Winding in and up some mountains I got to go from statues in caves to climbing up a temple carved into the mountainside. Leshan was also a beautiful small Chinese town that was very peaceful to be in.

Leshan Giant Buddha

8. Langzhong

I loved wandering the ancient town, which is the largest one in Sichuan. Its the birthplace of Feng Shui which is evident when you see the map of the area. Its also known for its vinegar mills, which is why I got my painful vinegar foot massage there. I’d love to go back to see the Feng Shui museum and to climb some more of the mountains. They also have several Buddhist and Taoist temples I’d like to visit.

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9. Bamboo Sea

In southern Sichuan there is a bamboo forest, another national park with 30 kind of bamoo. You can hike through it, take a cable car above it, or paddle down the river that runs through it. All 3 options sound lovely to me. Unfortunately this is the one I think I’m most likely to miss because its a pain to get too from Nanchong. Honestly of all the things I’ve listed this one seems the least exciting to me, so I won’t be too heartbroken if it doesn’t work out.

Bamboo sea

However, before I head off to national parks or start riding horses and seeing all that is lovely and unique about Sichuan, I have a plan to see a very well-known place in china. I’m meeting my parents in Beijing at the beginning of August!!!! I can’t wait to explore the city, hike the great wall, and eat delicious food. I want to show my parents all that is wonderful and bizarre about this crazy country I’ve grown so fond of (usually). I’ve got 24 days until I board my 24-hour long train ride to Beijing and I’m a very happy girl.

Tell me what you think. Is my Sichuan list missing anything? Where would you want to go? Anyone have advice for horseback riding treks?