Sichuan Explorer

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Sichuan differs markedly from the rest of China, with varying attitudes, cuisine and spectacular landscapes of forest and mountain. Richly endowed with natural and cultural wonders, touring this magnificent province never fails to steal your breath away.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Chengdu (1N) - Emeishan (2N) - Mengdingshan (1N) - Chengdu (1N) Dujiangyan (2N) - Chengdu (1N) - Wulong (2N) - Chongqing (1N) - Chengdu (2N) -New Zealand

Days: 1-2 Fly to Chengdu
Fly to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. (D)
Day 3: Discover Chengdu
Travel to Leshan to see the Grand Buddha. The 71-metre Buddha, the world’s largest and UNESCO World Heritagelisted, is carved into a hillside overlooking the confluence of the Dadu and Min rivers. Completed in the year 803, it is said that the Buddha’s presence has calmed the turbulent waters of the river. View the Buddha from the Leshan Buddha Park. A short boat trip will give an even better perspective. Continue to holy Mt Emei. (B,L,D)
Day 3: Discover Chengdu
Day 4: Explore Mount Emei
Mt Emei is the cradle of the Buddhist religion in China with the first temple built here, on its peak, in the 1st century. Pilgrims and tourists mix amongst the lush vegetation and inconspicuous old temples, all admiring the striking and diverse natural beauty of the mountain and its setting. Spend the day soaking up the ambience and exploring. You will spend the evening at the foot of the mountain. (B,L,D)
Day 4: Explore Mount Emei
Day 5: Mendingshan
Travel to Mengdingshan. Explore amongst the vast stretch of tea bushes and take a tour of a plantation, where you will be shown the whole process of producing tea, from plucking the leaves to brewing the perfect cup. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Mendingshan
Day 6: Pingle Ancient Town
Dating back to the Han Dynasty, Pingle was a stopping point on the Tea Horse Road. Take some time to walk through the maze of teahouse-lined streets before seeing the bamboo forest from above on Jinji Suspended Rope Bridge. Later, drive back to Chengdu. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Pingle Ancient Town
Day 7: Dujiangyan Panda Base
Visit one of the world’s finest panda conservation centres where you will gain a real insight into the hard work that goes into caring for and boosting the population of this endangered species. The pandas here are kept in conditions very close to their natural habitat. Later, visit the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, an infrastructure constructed in 256BC and still in use today to irrigate 5,300 square kilometres of land. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Taoist Mt Qingcheng
Mt Qingcheng is the most important Taosit Holy mountain in China, it is also a truly beautiful spot with numerous peaks covered with lush greenery and secluded palaces. You will be welcomed by a Taoist priest at the Old Master Pavilion on the summit of Mt Qingcheng. Take the opportunity to speak to him and learn about his religion. You will also be shown the art of Chinese painting and handwriting. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Taoist Mt Qingcheng
Day 9: Dujiangyan to Chengdu
In the morning, drive back to Chengdu, a journey of approximately 2 hours. The rest of your day is free at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Dujiangyan to Chengdu
Day 10: Chengdu - Chongqing - Wulong
This morning, travel to Chongqing by a 2-hour bullet train. On arrival, you will be transferred around 3 hours by coach to Wulong – an area of stunning natural scenery with towering limestone karsts, deep gorges, caves and natural bridges. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Chengdu - Chongqing - Wulong
Day 11: Three Bridges National Park
This morning you will visit Three Bridges National Park, a rare geological wonder consisting of three natural karst bridges: Tianlong Bridge, Qinglong Bridge and Heilong Bridge. Continue to Longshuixia Fissure, a narrow fault line that has been carved out by the river. The gorge is 5km long and 500m deep. You will climb down several hundred steps, then travel further down by elevator before walking several hundred steps to the bottom of the gorge. Please note, walking today will be approximately 4 to 5 hours on some uneven and slippery terrain which require extra care whilst walking. It is strongly advised that you wear sturdy footwear with ankle support if needed. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Three Bridges National Park
Day 12: Wulong - Heishan Valley - Chongqing
This morning, you will make the 3-hour journey back to Chongqing. En route, you will visit Heishan (Black Mountain) Valley, a scenic area enveloped by mysterious fog that is home to deep valleys, lush green forests, majestic waterfalls, rivers and streams, caves, and wildlife. Take time to explore the highlights of the valley before continuing to Chongqing. Please note, walking today will be approximately 2 to 3 hours on some uneven and slippery terrain which require extra care whilst walking. It is strongly advised that you wear sturdy footwear with ankle support if needed. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Wulong - Heishan Valley - Chongqing
Day 13: Chongqing - Chengdu
This morning, visit charming Ciqikou and Erlin Gardens before learning about Joseph W. Stilwell, an American general who was posted to Chongqing during World War II, at General Stilwell Museum. Later, take the bullet train to Chengdu, a journey of approximately 2 hours. (B,L)
Day 13: Chongqing - Chengdu
Day 14: Local Chengdu
Spend the day absorbing the culture of People’s Park. People watching here is an endless pleasure, from the locals playing mah-jong to the lonely singles looking for love in Matchmaker’s Corner. Join them in an exciting square dancing session. Stop at a local teahouse and wander through the historical Wide and Narrow Alleys. In the evening, enjoy a delicious Sichuan hot pot dinner and an optional ‘face changing’ show (at your own expense). (B,L,D)
Day 14: Local Chengdu
Day 15: Depart Chengdu
This morning is at your leisure before you are transferred to Chengdu airport to board your flight to New Zealand, arriving home to same or following day. (B))
Day 15: Depart Chengdu
Day 16: Arrive New Zealand
Arrive home today.

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:


Single Supplement from $590
Land Only (Chengdu to Chengdu) 14 days from $3,740 per person
Additional charges: Customary tipping - RMB750 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
06 Oct 2019 & 04 Oct 2020 departure coincides with Golden Week celebrations and sightseeing may be affected
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular in China and you will find high quality coverage. China has active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and China is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
 
For independent passengers, or group passengers with pre/post tour arrangements, you should allow USD5-10 per person per day.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure, and China has a vast array of shopping opportunities for those who love to seek out a bargain. From hand carved jade to local silk products or pearls from the South China Sea – the variety and choice can seem endless.
 
In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
 
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost.
 
Breakfast is served in the hotel and usually includes western dishes. As is traditional in China, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on a ‘Lazy Susan’ so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. In China all the dishes are served in various styles and brought out to the table for everyone to share. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
 
Each individual place setting will consist of a bowl of fan (rice), a pair of chopsticks (you may request western cutlery if you prefer), a flat bottomed soup spoon and a saucer. Chinese food is usually served in courses where a typical meal will consist of rice, one to four meat or fish dishes, two vegetable dishes, and one soup dish. Almost all food is cut into bite sized pieces. The centre of the meal is the fan or rice. The meats and vegetables that we think of as the focus of the meal are known as ts’ai, which roughly translates as ‘side dishes’. Fish is not always available, particularly outside of the bigger cities.
 
The Chinese are also not big on desserts with meals normally complemented with fruit to clean and refresh the palate.
 
Sichuan cuisine is distinguished by its use of ginger, chilli and the ‘Sichuan peppercorn’ called the fagara. Each meal will usually have some mild dishes but many of the local speciality dishes will be hot. If your group find there are not enough mild dishes served, please inform your National Escort/Local Guide so that they may resolve the problem for the next meal.
 
If you would like to drink beer, soft drink or bottled water with your meals, payment is to be made directly to the restaurant staff. Beer is traditionally consumed in small glasses; not the larger pints glasses that you may be used to.
 
Green tea is sometimes provided complimentary. All other drinks will be at your own expense.
If you have booked a tour that does not include all meals, your local guides will be able to recommend a variety of restaurants to meet your taste and budget.
 
It is possible to buy snacks in supermarkets within major towns or cities. Alternatively, you may also like to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars, and tea/coffee from home.
 
Any food/diet requests MUST be specified at the time of booking and you should mention it again to the National Escort/ Local Guides when you meet them – they will do their utmost to cater for any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or food to be avoided in case of allergies.

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Why Book This Tour?

Sichuan contrasts markedly from the rest of China, with differing attitudes, cuisine and spectacular landscapes. This never fails to take your breath away. A good level of fitness is required for this tour!

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