See the best of Sichuan and Guanxi in 7 days. With its main hub at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou, China Southern Airlines flies to LA, San Francisco and New York in the US and now connects Australia and New Zealand with Europe. This opens a gateway to China for many new visitors and onward connections then deliver you to destinations including Chengdu and Guilin.
This itinerary is a sample of the kind of tours on offer.
Arrive at Chengdu airport where you will be welcomed by a local guide and transferred to your accommodation. (Major hotels include the Sofitel Wanda, Chengdu.)
As the capital of one of the most affluent rural areas in China, Chengdu has developed into a large and modern city, yet within crooked backstreets you will still find all the charms of old China. Wander amongst the traditional wooden houses and bustling street markets, with the aromas of Sichuan spices.
Morning: Visit Tianfu Square, Renmin Park or Kuaizhai Lake – all approximately 20 minutes’ walking distance from central hotels.
Lunch: Your guide will take you to lunch at a typical Sichuan restaurant such as Bauobuyi.
Afternoon: Visit the Jinli Old Street, one of China’s oldest commercial streets, a reminder of China’s past and a great place for people to see Sichuan folk art with many craft stores.
Evening: Dinner maybe followed by a Sichuan Opera performance.
Enjoy a day trip to one of the most spectacular and memorable sights of Sichuan – the Grand Buddha of Leshan (meaning Happy Mountain). You will drive past the town of Leshan at the meeting of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers and the site of the tallest Buddha statue in the world, carved out of the mountainside. The story goes that the river here was once treacherous, with a whirlpool that overturned so many boats and drowned so many fishermen that locals suspected that a demon lurked under the water. They carved an enormous statue of Buddha at this point on the river, to pray to him to placate the whirlpool below. Whether it was due to Buddha’s presence or the fact that the locals threw tonnes of rock into the riverbed as they carved away at the mountain, the river is now calm, allowing the calm ferry ride to view this remarkable site.
Lunch: At a local restaurant such as Jiazhou. Return to Chengdu for dinner.
Sightseeing today begins with a visit to the famous Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding. Opened to the public in 1995, the reserve has a museum, research facility and a protected wilderness and breeding area. Pandas are adored around the world and are the mascot of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Explore the grounds, with a chance to see some of the pandas up close and learn more about these endangered species and their habits.
Lunch: Ou Hu Island.
Evening: fly to Guilin, to be met by a guide and transferred to your hotel such as The Shangri-La.
Guilin is one of China’s most panoramic cities, founded in the Qin Dynasty and renowned for the mountains that fringe the city. Guilin developed as a trading town due to the building of the Ling Canal, which links the important Pearl and Yangtze River systems.
Cruise along the beautiful Li River to Yangshuo, passing tranquil farming and fishing scenes and picturesque villages. The main attractions are the stunning limestone karsts that tower above the river creating a magical landscape of mountains and water. Take rainproof gear – it can be misty and wet.
A packed lunch will be organised for you today.
After disembarking in Yangshuo, take a short walk to your hotel through this incredibly busy and attractive little tourist town lined with tempting shops; or to a transferpick-up for accommodation such as the tranquil, contemporary Yangshuo Resort.
In a setting of limestone peaks, lush green rice paddies and surrounded by meandering rivers, Yangshuo provides an interesting contrast to the big Chinese cities. You can relax today, explore the cobblestoned streets or simply soak in the natural scenery.
This evening’s dinner will be enjoyed at the Rosewood Restaurant followed by The Liu Sanjie Show, or Yangshuo water impressions show. Liu Sanjie is a story that originates from the Zhuang minority people, the largest minority group in China. The light show utilises the waters of the Li River as its stage, with the mist shrouded hills as its backdrop.
Morning: Explore the local markets, shop and explore then have lunch maybe at the Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.
Afternoon: Drive back to Guilin, visiting the Reed Flute Caves. The caves were named after the clumps of slender reed that were once commonly found at the entrance. You will also visit Mt. Diecai, which offers a bird’s eye view over the surrounding mountains and fields of this unspoiled province.
Depart for Guilin Airport for onward travel to Guangzhou and connections with China Southern Airlines.
Big shout out to Asia specialists Wendy Wu.