Treat your tastebuds to some Chinese dumplings whilst enjoying a fabulous Xi’an performance which will take you back to the days of the Tang Dynasty. Delve into Chinese history with a visit to the mind-boggling Terracotta Army, before flying south to Sichuan Province, home of the tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper, to explore the heart of Chinese Buddhism at Dafo (the Giant Buddha) and Emei Shan, one of China’s holiest mountains. Stop in Chengdu for a city tour and also pay a visit to the giant pandas.
Minimum adult travelers: 2
Day 1 Xi’an arrival
Your guide will meet you on arrival at Xi’an Xianyang International Airport or Xi’an Railway Station and transfer you to your hotel. We recommend you book a train or plane which arrives in Xi’an before 12:00 p.m.
Break for lunch at a local restaurant
Xi’an City Wall
Dating from the Ming Dynasty, the restored 12 m (39 ft) high Xi’an City Wall is one of the oldest and best preserved city walls in China. While it’s possible to walk or cycle the entire 14 km (8.5 mi) perimeter of this wall, you’ll be able to take a stroll and get a good view of its battlements, towers and gates as well as the landscaped park and dry moat around its base. (40 minutes)
Tang Dynasty Show and Dumpling Dinner
In the evening, feast on a traditional shui jiao dumpling meal. One of China’s staple dishes, these succulent dumplings are handmade and filled with ground meat and/or vegetables.
Then lay back and enjoy a breathtaking performance of Tang Dynasty dancing. Heralded by Sinologists as the most glorious of all the Chinese dynasties, the Tang Dynasty saw acts of ritual prayer for good harvests develop into a high art form of dance and song accompanied by traditional Chinese instruments, at the same time incorporating the multi-cultural influences of this old Chinese capital.
Overnight at the Grand New World Hotel or similar hotel.
Day 2 Xi’an–Chengdu
8:00 a.m. Xi’an hotel pickup
The highlight of any Xi’an tour and one of the world’s top archaeological finds, the Terracotta Warriors were accidentally unearthed by peasants in 1974. Here you’ll see over 6,000 life-size Qin Dynasty-era terracotta soldiers, chariots and horses, an army designed to protect Qin Shihuang, China’s first emperor, in the afterlife. This impressive site is located to the east of his tomb. (4 hours)
In the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Chengdu. We recommend you book a flight which departs Xi’an after 5:00 p.m.
Overnight at the Furong Leading Hotel or similar hotel.
Day 3 Chengdu–Leshan–Emei Shan
9:00 a.m. Chengdu hotel pickup
11:30 a.m. Leshan arrival and lunch
1:30 p.m. Giant Buddha
Leshan’s Giant Buddha, or Dafo, is the largest Buddha of its kind, carved out of the face of Lingyun Mountain at the juncture of the Min, Dadu and Qingyi rivers. Before the Tang Dynasty and the Giant Buddha’s construction, ships would often wreck near these shores, but the amount of stone transferred from the mountain face to its base is said to have modified the currents below, rendering the waters safe for passing ships. After admiring the giant stone statue from the waters, climb to the top of the Giant Buddha’s head which is 71 m (233 ft) high, to take in the fantastic view of Leshan and the confluence of the three rivers below.
2:30 p.m. Lingyun Temple
Then walk behind the Buddha’s head where you’ll find the Lingyun Temple and the Lingyun Temple Museum which provide an even deeper insight into the history of this amazing Buddhist site. Take a closer look at Dafo’s head and view the surrounding temples, pagodas and high mountain bridges.
4:30 p.m. Depart for Emei Shan
Then head to Emei Shan (Mount Emei), one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. Together with the Leshan Giant Buddha, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
5:00 p.m. Emei Shan arrival
Check into the Ginza Huasheng Hotel or a similar hotel.
Day 4 Emei Shan–Chengdu
8:00 a.m. Hotel pickup
9:30 a.m. Emei Shan (Woyun Nunnery and Huazang Temple)
Jump on a shuttle bus to Lei Dong Ping Parking Lot and walk roughly 1.5 km (1 mi) (about 25 minutes) to catch a cable car (at your own expense) which will whisk you up to the 3,077 m (10,095 ft) high Golden Summit of Emei Shan.
At the summit, walk first into the Woyun Nunnery. Built in the Ming Dynasty, it’s made up of two halls. In the Golden Hall, the ceiling, tiles, pillars, doors and window lattices are made of gold and copper, and an impressive 5 m (16.4 ft) tall statue of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva riding his four-headed, six-tusked elephant stands at its center, an icon of the mountain. The second hall houses an elegant jade Buddha statue.
Then visit the larger Huazang Temple, restored to its original condition in the 1970s. This temple contains three halls: Laughing Buddha Hall, Great Hero Hall and the Hall of the Universal Benevolence God. When the sun shines upon the roof of the temple, it shines a bright gold—a magnificent sight to behold.
During your visit, look out for padlocks inscribed with couples’ names that decorate the area.
10:30 a.m. Golden Summit
The Golden Summit is one of the most beautiful scenic spots in the whole of China. From this peak, behold a beautiful performance of nature as the wind playfully guides the misty clouds, brushing them against the rugged peaks, into shadow and sunlight, at times hiding and revealing the multiple facets of the mountain. The Chinese call this yunhai, or sea of clouds, one of four wonders which can be observed from Emei Shan. The others are foguan, the Buddha halo or rainbow-like rings that surround and move with your shadow, richu, the sunrise, and shendeng, the magic lanterns which can sometimes be seen floating through the valley folds. Look out for them as you wander around the summit, walking in the footsteps of countless devout pilgrims.
1:00 p.m. Lunch
Taste wonderful Sichuan cuisine at a local restaurant. Then hop on a shuttle bus down to the gate and depart for Chengdu.
Overnight at the Furong Leading Hotel or similar hotel.
Day 5 Chengdu Tour and Departure
8:30 a.m. Chengdu hotel pickup
Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
Chengdu’s Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is home to over 80 of China’s iconic pandas. Most are of the familiar black and white variety, but you can also see a number of the smaller, lesser-known red pandas.
Watch the animals happily at play and munching on bamboo in a carefully maintained environment which mimics their natural habitat. You’ll also learn how scientists and ecologists are working to protect the few remaining wild pandas. The fact that over 100 bears have been born at the Base since 1987 is testament to their efforts. The Base is essential to the survival of these pandas and tourist visits help provide both moral and financial support for the ongoing conservation effort.
Wuhou Temple & Jinli Old Street
After lunch, head to Wuhou Temple, the main shrine to Sichuan’s ancient Shu Kingdom and the heroes that made it legendary during the Three Kingdoms period. Wuhou Temple was first built to house Shu Emperor Liu Bei’s remains in 221 AD. During the Ming Dynasty, the remains of some of his subjects were also housed here, most notably those of his strategist and close adviser, Zhuge Liang, a character immortalized by fiction in the late Ming Dynasty epic novel, “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.”
Next, visit Jinli Old Street, an authentic Chengdu street located to the east of Wuhou Temple. Replicas of Qing Dynasty mansions line the bustling street and vendors sell local souvenirs as well as tea, books, musical instruments and caricatures. The small snack alley that lies between the temple and Jinli is filled with the aromas of sweet caramel, stinky tofu, spicy beef and sesame buns and is a big favorite of the locals.
Return to your hotel or Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport for your onward flight.