There is a unique region in China that can be described as “breathtaking”, “diverse” and “pure”. This region is “Western Sichuan” (川西), where even more primitive and stunning than Tibet - the Roof of the World. Western Sichuan refers to the land in the west of Chengdu Plain, and it is mainly composed of Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. This piece of land is vast, wild, undeveloped and gorgeous. The Last-Shangri-La or called the Last Pure Land on Our Blue Planet is in this region. With epic mountain vistas, lively Buddhist monasteries, grasslands peppered with yaks and alpine lakes, traditional Tibetan-styled houses dotted in the idyllic villages or along the roads...this is Western Sichuan, which is similar to Tibet. For travelers who want to seek for the charm and feel the primitive beauty of Western Sichuan, there are two recommended tourist routes - Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop and Western Sichuan Large Tourist Loop. Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop is relatively easy to finish while the large one is a big challenge for most travelers.
● Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop: Chengdu - Dujiangyan - Yinxiu - Wolong - Siguniangshan - Xiaojin - Danba - Bamei - Tagong - Xinduqiao - Kangding - Luding - Ya'an - Chengdu. The whole distance for the loop is about 1800 kilometers. You need to plan for 6-10 days for the trip.
● Western Sichuan Large Tourist Loop: Chengdu - Wenchuan - Lixian - Ma’erkang - Sertar - Luhuo - Garze - Dege - Batang - Litang - Daocheng Yading - Xinduqiao - Kangding - Luding - Ya’an - Chengdu. The whole distance for the large loop is about 3600 kilometers. Compared with the small loop, it goes deep into the bordering destinations in Sichuan which is more wild and pure. The estimated visiting needs about 15 to 20 days and even longer. It is not recommended for regular travelers.
Click and Jump to the Destination on Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop:
Altitude: 592 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 59 kilometers (1.5 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Dujiangyan Panda Base, Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Mount Qingcheng
Recommended Visiting Time: 1 day or 2 days
Dujiangyan, located in the northwest of Chengdu, is one of the most popular destinations for travelers who want to do a side trip around Chengdu. You can spend one full day involving in the meaningful panda volunteer program to take care of the adorable Giant Pandas. Dujiangyan Panda Base offers this kind of experience, which is the nearest panda base for travelers who want to join in this program.
If you have another day, you can have an exploration about the world heritage sites - Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Mount Qingcheng. Dujiangyan Irrigation System is the ecological engineering feat originally constructed around 256 BC. You can learn how Chinese uses natural topographic and hydrological features to solve problems of diverting water for irrigation, draining sediment, flood control and flow control without the use of dams. Mount Qingcheng is the birthplace of Taoism therefore you can not only have a good learning about Taoism culture, but also relax yourselves in the verdant forests.
Recommended Short Trips:
Altitude: 3,000 - 5,484 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 205 kilometers (4-5 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Mount Siguniang, Shuangqiao Valley, Changping Valley, Haizi Valley
Recommended Visiting Time: about 2 days
Mount Siguniang, also called Four Girls Mountain, is praised as the “Sacred Mountain in the East” and listed into the National Geo-park of China and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2006 as the sanctuary of Giant Pandas in Sichuan. Mount Siguniang National Park is composed of four peaks - Dafeng, Erfeng, Sanfeng, Yaomei Peak and three valleys - Shuangqiao Valley, Changping Valley and Haizi Valley. It is a challenge for regular travelers to climb up the four girls mountains. The highly recommended way to explore Mount Siguniang is visiting its three valleys with amazing hiking experience. You won’t miss the chance to catch the gorgeous appearance of Mount Siguniang in good angle.
|Shuangqiao Valley||left one||34.8 km||sightseeing bus; easy to explore the whole valley||most beautiful landscape with three forest belts. Can not see Mount Siguniang peaks directly||Half day or 1 day|
|Changping Valley||middle one||29 km||hiking, horse riding; paradise for regular hikers; finish two-thirds of the valley||can catch Mount Siguniang view clearly; typical highland scenery||1 day|
|Haizi Valley||right one||19.2 km||horse riding; tough hiking experience||offers the best location to shoot Mount Siguniang scenery||1 day|
Recommended Short Trip:
Altitude: 2165 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 386 kilometers (6.5-7 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Jinchuan River Valley, Sha’er Village in Jinchuan County
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 day
Jinchuan County is situated between Mount Siguniang and Danba County. There is no doubt that spring especially March and April is the best time to visit Jinchuan County. During this period, the whole land turns into a wonderful pear flower sea just like the angel descending to earth. To fully appreciate the extremely beautiful pear flowers, you should not miss Jinchuan River Valley and Sha’er Village. Reputed as “Jiangnan Area in Plateau”, Jinchuan River Valley is stretching hundreds kilometers with over 100,000 pear trees and when flowers in blossom in spring, it is so awe-inspiring. Another best place to enjoy the pear flowers is at Sha’er Village. Surrounded by high mountains, Sha’er Village is so peaceful and idyllic. Traditional Tibetan houses with red roof and white wall elegantly dotted in the valley, numerous pear trees around the houses and farmlands...when the white pear trees in full blossom, I bet this will become your dreaming land that never want to leave. Reach the top platform for a panoramic view of the whole Sha’er Village which is unbelievable amazing...
(Travel Tips: Jinchuan County is highly recommended to be visited in spring especially in March and April. In other seasons, if your time is tight, you can skip Jinchuan County on the route.)
Altitude: 1860 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 315 kilometers (6-6.5 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Jiaju Tibetan Village, Zhonglu Tibetan Village, Suopo Village
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 day
Danba County is located on the way between Jinchuan and Tagong. The Chinese National Geographic has rated Jiaju Tibetan Village in Danba as “the most beautiful countryside in China”. With a history over 5000 years, Danba has three highlights to see and experience. There are “Hundreds of Watchtowers”, “Charming Tibetan Villages rich in Jiarong Tibetan Culture” and “Beautiful Girls”. To fully catch the essences of Danba, you must pay a visit to Jiaju Tibetan Village which is the best example of Danba Tibetan Villages and the concentrated place to experience Jiarong Tibetan Culture. There is another Tibetan village called Zhonglu Tibetan Village, it is a little similar to Jiaju, but it is more primitive. To see numerous ancient watchtowers, you’d better head to Suopo Village which is called “A Place with Hundreds of Ancient Towers”. Danba is the true beautiful land full of Jiarong Tibetan cultures.
Altitude: 3500 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 382 kilometers (7 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Daofu Folk Houses, Huiyuan Monastery, Bamei Stone Forest
Recommended Visiting Time: about half day to 1 day
Located between Danba and Tagong, Bamei Town is less known among travelers. Like the name “Ba Mei”, Bamei Town is a beautiful town with different kinds of sceneries. There are three attractions well worth your visiting. Bamei Town is in Daofu County which is called “The Art Capital of Tibetan Folk Houses” that you can pay a visit to Daofu Folk Houses. You will be welcomed by rows upon rows of local Tibetan Folk Houses in red, white and muddy-brown that shining brightly under the sun. The second attraction is the “Lotus Holy Land” - Huiyuan Monastery, lying on the way to the sacred Yala Mountain. Not far from Huiyuan Monastery, you can visit the third site - Bamei Stone Forest (Moshi Garden Scenic Area), in special shapes and postures, which is as beautiful as the karst stone forest in South China.
(Travel Tips: If your schedule is tight with limited time, you can only visit Bamei Stone Forest, or skip Bamei for a direct transfer from Danba to Tagong.)
Altitude: 3730 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 360 kilometers (6 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Tagong Grassland, Tagong Monastery, Yala Mountain
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 day
Tagong, meaning “A Place Favored by Bodhisattva” in Tibetan language, is a picturesque town in Kangding City, well known for its scenic grasslands, devoted monks and Tibetan nomads with their thousands of thick-coated yaks. Tagong Grassland is a vast expanse of meadow and home to Tibetan nomads grazing their herds of yaks and living in traditional black yak wool tents. You can try horse riding on this green grassland and if time is right, attend the Horse Racing Festival during late June to early August. Tagong Monastery, reputed as “Little Johkang Temple”,was built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to honor the journey of Princess Wencheng on the way to Lhasa for her wedding to Tibetan King - Songtsen Gampo. The highlight of this temple is the life-sized statue of the Shakyamuni at the age of 12. Standing on this open grassland, you can overlook Yala Mountain in near distance.
Altitude: 3300 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 340 kilometers (5-5.5 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Mount Gongga Panoramic View, Beautiful Tibetan Villages
Recommended Visiting Time: about half day to 1 day
Xinduqiao is the middle stop of Kangding City and Tagong Grassland, about 78 kilometers from Kangding and 37 kilometers from Tagong. There is no outstanding attraction in Xinduqiao. What you can feel is a world of light and shadow. The small Tibetan villages scattered artistically on both sides of the Road 318 with clear streams following through, the white polar trees standing in front of the houses in row, shining in golden when autumn coming, yaks and goats grazing leisurely on the grassland...Yes, this is the common scene in Xinduqiao - idyllic, harmony and lively. The most beautiful sections are between Zheduo Mountain and Xinduqiao, Xinduqiao and Tagong Grassland. You’ll travel through the true paradise - blue, white, golden, black, green, red with elegant light and beautiful line, making you immerse in painting-like scenery. Of course, you won’t miss the magnificence of Mount Gongga that you can overlook 145 snow-capped peaks in front of your eyes. This is the best reason why you come here!
Altitude: 2560 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 280 kilometers (4.5-5 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Mugecuo Scenic Area, Mount Gongga
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 day to 3 days
“Horses run on the mountain, and there is a cloud. The moon brightens the city of Kangding. The moon, the crescent moon, brightens the city of Kangding...” Yes, this is Kangding - the most romantic city in China. Located on the famous National Road 318, Kangding is the gateway city well linking with key destinations in Sichuan and Tibet. Xinduqiao and Tagong in its west belong to Kangding City. Apart from the two, you can pay a visit to Mugecuo Scenic Area. It is famous for snow mountain scenery, alpine lakes, primitive forests, grassland, springs and Tibetan customs. The King of Sichuan Mountains - Mount Gongga (Minka Konka) is situated in the south of Kangding. It is a big challenge for travelers to conquer this mountain. For regular travelers, you are suggested to catch the magnificent appearance of Mount Gongga in different angel.
Altitude: 1321 - 4200 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 235km kilometers (3.5 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Hailuogou Scenic Area, Yanzi Valley, Moxi Ancient Town
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 day
Luding, the east gate of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, is a stopover point between Chengdu and Kangding. The top reason to visit Luding is definitely for Hailuogou Glacier Park, the only glacier forest park in China.Besides, it preserves the precious modern marine time glacier at low altitude, and be the largest scaled and most beautiful among those at the same altitude. Hailuogou Glacier Park, at the east slope of Mount Gongga, is the best place to admire the highest peak at a height of 7556 meters. On every sunny morning, several snow mountains will be dressed by the first wisp sunlight with a piece of golden robe like the guardians guarding Hailuogou and the entire valuable nature reserve. Near the Hailuogou Glacier Park, you can explore Yanzi Valley with about 20 kilometer long river belt of red rocks to dazzle your eyes and mind.
Altitude: 627 meters
Distance from Chengdu: 140 kilometers (2-3 hours’ driving)
Top Highlights: Bifengxia Panda Base, Bifengxia Valley, Shangli Ancient Town
Recommended Visiting Time: about 2 days
Ya’an is located between Chengdu and Luding. It is not only known as the Rain City in China with fresh air and comfortable environment, but also the Hometown of Giant Pandas as the first panda specimen was found here in 1868. Furthermore, Ya’an is the “Throat of Western Sichuan” and almost every traveler who do the Western Sichuan travel will pass Ya’an. Spend 1 or 2 day exploring the charm of Ya’an. If you are panda fans, head to Bifengxia Panda Base for close observation of the lovely pandas and you can do panda volunteer program in this base. After having contact with pandas, relax yourselves in Bifengxia Valley with a light hiking. Extend a little farther to Shangli Ancient Town, you can enjoy the antiquity of the old town and feel the slow-paced life here. This is not the end of your trip!
Recommended Short Trips:
|Destinations||Altitude (m)||Major Attractions||Types of Highlights||Seasonal Highlights||Driving Distance from Chengdu|
|Chengdu||500||Chengdu Panda Base, Jinli Old Street, Wenshu Monastery, Jinsha Site Museum, Qingyang Palace…||Giant pandas, old streets, parks, historical museum, city squares, shopping malls, pedestrian streets, tea houses…||Spring: Peach flowers, pear flowers, rape flowers, sakura…|
Summer: new-born panda babies, Strawberry Music Festival…
Autumn: Chrysanthemum exhibition, golden ginkgo leaves…
Winter: Skiing at Xiling Snow Mountain, snow scenery at Mount Emei, wintersweet…
|Ya’an||627||Bifengxia Panda Base, Bifengxia Valley, Shangli Old Town…||Giant Panda Volunteer, scenic valley, old town||Summer escape at Bifengxia Valley, Spring tea picking…||140km; 2-3 hours|
|Luding||1321 - 4200||Gailuogou Glacier Park, Yanzi Valley, Yajiageng Red Rock Park, Luding Bridge, Moxi Town…||Glacier, primitive forest, snow mountain, hot springs, red rocks, sea of clouds, macaque, alpaca and other animals, old town…||Spring azalea flowers, colorful autumn forest, Winter snow-covered forest, winter ice activities…||235km; 3.5 hours|
|Kangding||2560||Paoma Mountain, Mugecuo Scenic Area…||Alpine lakes, primitive forest, snow peaks, hot springs, waterfalls, azalea, horse racing activities…||Azalea flowers (April - July)||280km; 4.5-5 hours|
|Xinduqiao||3300||Yingguan Tibetan Village, Juli Monastery, photographers praised countryside view from Jiagenba to Tagong…||Tibetan village, monasteries, grassland, rolling mountains, stream…||Bright colorful countryside view (May - July)||340km; 5-5.5 hours|
|Tagong||3730||Tagong Grassland, Tagong Temple, Kwanyin Temple, Muya Golden Pagoda…||Grassland, temples…||Horse racing (July - August)||360km; 6 hours|
|Bamei||3600||Moshi Park Stone Forest, Huiyuan Temple...||Stone forest||/||390km; 6.5 hours|
|Danba||1860||Jiaju Tibetan Village, Zhonglu Tibetan Village, Suopo Tibetan Village, Moerduo Mountain view, beautiful lakes and forests at Daling...||Tibetan villages, snow mountain, lakes, forest…||Spring red and white flowers with green paddle fields (March - April) and colorful village in forest (November) at Tibetan villages; views of lakes, snow mountains and golden forest (October) at Dangling…||370km; 6-6.5 hours|
|Mount Siguniang||3,000 - 5,484 (Yaomei Peak : 6,250)||Mount Siguniang, Changping Valley, Shuangqiao Valley, Haizi Valley||Snow mountains, scenic valleys, dense forest, alpine meadow, alpine lakes, horses, yaks...||Summer azalea blossom, Chaoshanhui Festival (Lunar May 4th- 6th); colorful forest and clear lakes in Autumn…||206km; 4-5 hours|
|Wolong||1200||Wolong Shenshuping Panda Base||Giant panda volunteer||/||105km; 2 hours|
|Yinxiu||892||512 Earthquake Relic||Earthquake relic||/||85km; 1.5 hours|
|Dujiangyan||592||Dujiangyan Panda Base, Dujiangyan Irrigation System, Mount Qingcheng…||Giant panda volunteer, irrigation project, Taoist mountain, Taoist temples…||Water Discharge festival during Tomb-Sweeping Day, summer heat in Mount Qingcheng…||62km; 1.5 hours|
Driving is the best and most popular way to explore Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop. Start from Chengdu, pass endless snow mountains, emerald alpine lakes, vast grasslands, glacier park, primitive valleys, holy Buddhist monasteries, featured Tibetan houses, ancient watchtowers, red stone beach...and then drive back to Chengdu.
With so many destinations and attractions along the 1800-kilometer trip, you should not miss Mount Siguniang, Danba, Tagong, Xinduqiao, Kangding, etc. The travel length usually lasts about 6 to 10 days.
Day 1: Chengdu - Mount Siguniang; explore Shuangqiao Valley this afternoon. Stay in Siguniangshan Town.
Day 2: Mount Siguniang for full day visiting. You can choose either Haizi Valley or Changping Valley with cool hiking or horse riding experience.
Day 3: Mount Siguniang - Danba; visit Jiaju Tibetan Village and Suopo Village in this afternoon. Stay overnight in Danba County.
Day 4: Danba - Tagong. In this morning, pay a visit to Zhonglu Tibetan Village and make a transfer to visit Tagong Grassland and Tagong Monasteries.
Day 5: Tagong - Xinduqiao - Kangding - Moxi Ancient Town. Drive from Tagong and pass Xinduqiao and explore on the way. And then drive to Moxi Ancient Town.
Day 6: Hailuogou Glacier Park for full day exploration. Follow the route: Entrance - Sightseeing bus (via primitive forest, No.1 Camp and No.2 Camp) - No.3 Camp - Cableway - No.4 Camp - Cableway & sightseeing bus - Moxi Town.
Day 7: Moxi Ancient Town - Chengdu. Drive back to Chengdu and have a good rest.
If you want to cut down some destinations or add more places into the trip, or have your own ideas, requirements about Western Sichuan travel, please feel free to tell us any of your plans to our professional travel consultants who are here ready to customize the tour for you.
Once you step into the Western Sichuan region, you are at an average altitude of 2,500m or so. And with the mountain or plateau height ascends and the farther west you go, the altitude will increase, which means you’ll may be walking around day-to-day with altitude lung or head pains. And you will more likely to get the altitude sickness if you risk getting up even higher by hiking or trekking mountains, because most of the mountains in this region are at 3,000, 4,000m or even 4,000m on average.
Before the trip, you are advised to have some Rhodiola Rosea tablets at least a week before you go. However, Rhodiola Rosea may be not available for everyone and cannot cure everything. If possible, please listen to your doctors about whether you can have a tour and whether you can take some medicine.
During the trip, you are suggested to be accompanied by an experienced local guide and walk slowly, drink more hot water and wear warmer.
Western Sichuan is a large area composed of a complex climate. The temperature there changes as season changes and altitude rises. Normally, the best time to visit Western Sichuan is from mid-May to October. From mid-May to July, Western Sichuan is a lively world with flourishing alpine flowers in different colors. In the autumn season from September to early November, it is the time to meet with oil-painting-like colorful forests, meadows and valleys. However, from November to April of the next year, the scenery is relatively monotonous and the road is slippery to navigate.
Prepare better for your tour and take all necessary goods will be helpful with altitude adaption in this alpine area. Sunglasses, light backpack, hiking shoes, hot water bottle, camera, tissues, cash and Phone with SIM Card of China are usually the musts.
If you are going to have some trekking experience in one or some of those mind-blowing mountains, professional mountaineering things are also suggested, like trekking poles, hiking jackets, etc. Bring or rent your stoves, gas canisters tent and sleeping bag from Chengdu if you are keen on camping trekking. Oxygen tanks are also recommended for tourists afraid of severe altitude sickness.
Travelling Western Sichuan alone is not a good idea. During the way, you need professional local guides to tell you how to find the right way, how to behave politely to the local culture and how to relieve or acclimatize altitude sickness! Yes, this region offers unbelievable breathtaking landscapes to be explored. However, the trip will soon become dull and tiring if you don’t know the cultures, since most of the sceneries, villages and monasteries look like the same (as you may think).
Besides, if you want to go further to those mountains and forests like Mount Siguniang, you are required to be accompanied by experienced local guides, or you are not allowed to do so.
China Discovery is the local-based travel agency in Chengdu and Sichuan, offers the best travel experiences in any of the destinations in Sichuan at competitive prices! Your safety is guaranteed when traveling with us.
Similar to the Tibet region, people in Western Sichuan area have their devotion to their faith and culture. Please show your respect to their cultures and religious traditions once you are there. Don’t take offensive pictures for the monks and interiors of monasteries until you get a promise. Even if you don’t approve their religious which is different with yours, you are suggested to be polite and decent, and your respect and cation will be appreciated.
To get more travel Western Sichuan travel tips, you can go for further reading about 15 Things to Know before You Visit Western Sichuan >>
China Discovery is the local travel agency headquartered in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. We have been specialized in offering Chengdu tours, Panda tours, Jiuzhai Valley tours, Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei tours, Mount Siguniang tours, Danba tours, Kangding Tours, Daocheng Yading tours and other interesting tours.
No matter you want to travel the whole Western Sichuan Small Tourist Loop, or cover some of the stunning destinations in Western Sichuan or China, China Discovery can provide you best tour guides and experienced friendly drivers with comfortable private cars. Our English-speaking tour guide will accompany you all the way, showing you the best traveling route and telling beautiful stories of the mysterious Sichuan.
The tour can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interest, budget and other special need. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help or customize the tour with free quotation!
Top 3 Western Sichuan tours chosen by most customers to explore Western Sichuan in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Chengdu / Dujiangyan / Mount Siguniang / Danba / Tagong / Xinduqiao / Hailuogou / Chengdu
Chengdu / Mount Siguniang / Danba / Tagong / Xinduqiao / Leshan / Emei / Chengdu
Chengdu / Wolong / Mount Siguniang / Danba / Tagong / Xinduqiao / Kangding / Chengdu
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