Western Sichuan Highlights Driving Tour – 7 Days
Western Sichuan Highlights Driving Tour – 7 Days
Sichuan offers you a chance to see different cultures and sceneries in a single trip. It has many wild destinations, such as Kangding, Tagong, Danba, Mount Siguniang. All these classic destinations and wild destinations are not very far away from each so you can travel at a very leisure pace. You will visit the Shangli old village, Kangding and also enjoy beautiful Tagong Grassland, featured Tibetan Village of Danba and alpine snow mountains and wild forests and valleys in Mount Siguniang.
Day 01 Chengdu – Mengdingshan – Shangli Old Village
Start from your hotel by 9 am and drive towards Ya’an, the traditional tea-making place and an important transaction spot on the Southern Silk Road, the Tea-horse Road. After arrival, we will first go to the origin of Chinese Tea-Making Park – Mendingshan. Mengdingshan is located between the plain and the mountains, which provides a perfect climate to nurture tea. This place has the best green tea in Sichuan. The visit involves a ride using the cable car and a short walk among the tea terraces. An optional visit is available to its tea museum, one of the few in China. Today’s activity is nice and easy. After the visit, drive further into the mountain to the traditional village Shangli and check into local style guesthouse. Explore the old village by evening.
Mengdingshan: Mengdingshan is located in Ya’an and close to Bifengxia. It is home to Mengdingshan Green Tea. A drive takes 30 minutes from the town of Ya’an. At Mengdingshan, there is a tea museum providing knowledge of tea in China, tea terraces where tea farmers working during spring and well-preserved ancient tea trees.
Shangli Old Village: Shangli Old Village is located 27km north to Ya’an and close to Bifengxia. Shangli was once one of the 10 major towns in Sichuan Province. It was first named Luosheng and was a main post used by caravans on the Southern Silk Road. It was also the head office of the Tea Officer in Tang Dynasty. Five big families have dwelled here for generations, so these five families are somehow the people of the town: Han, Yang, Chen, Xu and Zhang.
Day 02 Shangli – Kangding
Today to start by 9am and it is a full driving day with stops at places worth to take photos. The road is the main access from traditional China to traditional Tibet. It is called national highway 318, which is used by many travelers today to go further west to Tibet. We will pass Erlangshan Road Pass and enter into Luding, the former town that is famed by being one of the major stops made by red army during Long March in 1930s led by Mao. After Duda River, we will enter into Kangding, a half Chinese half Tibetan town with the largest population of any Tibetan town here. Wander the street of the town and join the public dance at the central square by 7pm if time allows.
National Highway 318: The main road from traditional China to Tibet, following the ancient tea-horse road. It is considered to be the most beautiful, also dangerous road in China due to its connection of different and important locations.
Kangding: Kangding is the frontier town between traditional China and Tibet. It is located 300km west to capital city Chengdu of Sichuan Province. Kangding is the capital city of Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture. Kangding is one of the biggest cities in traditional Tibetan area. Historically it was an important business centre between China and Tibet on the Tea-horse-road. Datseto is the former name of Kangding. Kangding is the center of Kham Tibet, a religious, economy center of this part of Sichuan.
Day 03 Kangding – Tagong
Start by 8am and you can have a morning walk in the town of Kangding to experience local Khampa Tibetans and the modernization of this town before drive over Zheduo Pass at 4300 meters. (Or to drive over the other pass which will have less traffic and different views.) Have a quick stop by the pass if weather is good and continue driving pass Xinduqiao before arrive in Tagong. The drive takes about 3 hours. After arrival, explore the street and visit the monasteries.
Tagong: Tagong is located 110 kms northwest to Kangding near the airport. It is rather a pasture of rolling land than a flat plain. Grassland and yaks, monasteries and Lamas, anthentic Tibetan lifestyle can be witnessed on the pasture. Greens, clear sky and snow-capped Yala mountain sum up the natural highlights. As a people of religion, local Tibetans always delightedly say "Tagong" having the significance of "a place that The Bodhisattva favours". It is easy to find the reasons when walking on the 700 sqaure meters' grassland. The pasture goes gradual ups and downs until it reaches the Yala mountain where on the top, glaciers are not melted even in Summer. Unknown flowers embellish the meadow everywhere. Rivers meandering through nurtured not only the creatures dwelling here but the spirit that rest in the om mani padme hum. The Peace Prayer is a big ritual for locals or even pilgrims from far away. Another picture of this pasture is its local life. Nomads' black tents dot the grassland. In the morning, after several cups of buttered tea, cowboys come out of their tents to milk and set the animals free for grazing towards further land. Many cowboys are talented singers. They usually sing when they are out herding. Life here is less impacted by the world outside but visitors beir more. It is a relatively remote place in terms of accommodation facilities and transportation accessibility.
Day 04 Tagong – Danba
An optional hiking on the Tagong Grassland. Start the walking from a Nunnery and view the beautiful Zhara Latse, a 5800 meters’ holy mountain in Tagong and visit ancient Tagong Monastery. After worth continue drive to Danba and check in hotel.
Tagong Monastery: Tagong monastery was built in 600s AD when princes Wencheng start her journey to Lhasa, earlier than many monasteries in Tibet. It is a widely-worshiped Sakya sect monastery across Kham. It has a taste of ancient Chinese style, located at the end of Tagong Xiang(Town). Three temples and a yard of stupas behind composed this complex. One in the middle is the main temple where the Sakya sect Saram Konkalhinpo statue is worshiped. The one on the left has the Dorje Kasung. A copy of a 12-year-old life-size Sakyamuni statue is in the temple on the right. Other parts of this monastery are temple of stupas (stupas of merits and virtues), monks' dormitory, temple of Padmasambhava and statue of the thousandhand Avalokitesvara. Surrounded are big prayer wheels inscribed with the six-word martra hanging on the enclosure spinned by pilgrims clockwise for realizing enlightment and purifying bad karma. From morning to afternoon, people sipinning the wheels and chanting the "om mani padme hum" to stabilize their minds.
Day 05 Danba – Shuangqiao – Rilong
Today the trip starts (8am) by walking in the traditional Tibetan village of Jiaju, a very beautiful village considered one of the most attractive traditional villages in China. The Jiaju Village has unique watchtowers and their distinctive Jiarong houses. Spend two hours wondering in the village, then drive about 2 hours to enjoy a leisure natural sightseeing in Shuangqiao Valley where you can see peaks, primitive forest. Shuangqiao is one of the three opened valleys of Mount Siguniang. It is over 30km long and a valley that you can see lots of snow mountains. Tourist buses are used for visiting this valley. The valley is with a series of “scenic spots”, which are the places where you get off the bus and take photos. A road was built in the valley however one can still choose to walk between the bus stops. The buses are running like public buses: you can get off and get on at the bus stops. After the visit to Shuangqiao, drive to Rilong for accommodation.
Danba Tibetan Village: Jiaju, Zhonglu are the two representatives of the Tibetan villages in Danba. They are authentic and traditional Tibetan villages. People there work in the farm and orchards. Their houses are unique and beautiful. The villages are located on the sunny slope and composed of over decades of families. The village bends into the shape of the mountain side: some lower and some higher. Green orchards and colorful houses made the villages here very attractive. Jiaju Village is more popular because it has more houses in numbers whilst Zhonglu is more secluded as fewer travelers go there.
Shuangqiao Valley of Mt. Siguniang: Shuangqiaogou Valley is a zigzagged, deep and quiet valley stretching over 35km in which there are more than 70 small attractions. Far away from your sight are the bright snow mountains, while surrounding you may be blooming flowers, flourish and colorful trees, or pure streams flowing from unknown place.
Day 06 Changping Valley
Today, you will hike into Changping Valley with a 10-minute riding of bus to get to the starting point and walk on wooden planks in the bushes and forest. Total walking time is up to 7-8 hours and up to 20kms with flexibility. The walking trail is not steep and the first 4 km is well-paved boardwalk. Walking for around 12km into the valley one can reach Muluozi, the foot of Mt. Views of Mt. Siguniang from its west are totally different from that of the south. It shows you the big steep wall of this big mountain. Although the walking is quite challenging for some but it can be replaced by a horse ride. After today’s walk, go back to the same hotel.
Changping Valley of Mt. Siguniang: Along this 29-kilometer-long green corridor, there are 21 amazing attraction for you to explore. Once entering the valley, you will be met by a peaceful Tibetan village with unique Tibetan decoration style. Exploring deeper, you will see Tibetan monastery, ancient path, wild forest, red stones, etc.
Day 07 Rilong – Dujiangyan – Chengdu
Depart Mount Siguniang via Balangshan Pass en route visit Dujiangyan Irrigation System, a 2000-year old human construction and a display of ancient Chinese wisdom. After the visit drive back to Chengdu.
Wolong Panda Base: Before Wenchuan Strong Earthquake in 2008, Wolong used to be the largest base of Giant Panda with more than 70 pandas. The earquake caused tremendous damage to the base, and forced Wolong to move pandas to Bifengxia Panda Base. After nearly 8 years preparation and reconstruction with the sponsirship of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the new base open officially to public finally. In the future, the base will keep developing, and become an important center for breeding, reproduction, wildness trainings and scientific studies of giant pandas.
Dujiangyan Irrigation System: Built by of the governor of Shu state, Li Bing, the irrigation system on the River was to prevent flooding. After a lengthy study and years’ hard work by the local people, the great Dujiangyan Irrigation Project was completed. Nowadays, the project still plays a crucial role in draining off floodwater, irrigating farms and providing water resources for more than 50 cities in Sichuan province.
Attractions Visited in This Tour
- Shangli Ancient Town
- Danba Tibetan Fortressed Village
- Mt.Siguniang( four girls)
- Dujiangyan Irrigation System