One of the most naturally beautiful and culturally unique regions of China, the Sichuan Province is located in the country’s Southwest. Straddling the Tibetan Plateau and the Data Mountains, Sichuan has a long and rich history. Having undergone much distress during the 20th Century due to the Japanese occupation and the Great Chinese Famine, the region has been resurgent in recent years. Known for its distinct, spicy cooking and spectacular natural sights, Sichuan is one of the essential destinations in China.
Perhaps the most well-known destination in the Sichuan Province, Mount Emei is a site of considerable cultural importance to China’s Buddhist population as one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. The mountain and the city built around it, is known for its spectacular views, Buddhist architecture and biodiversity. Far from just a Buddhist pilgrimage site, there is much in Mount Emei to appeal to everyone.
Another significant site in Sichuan, Jiuzhaigou is one of China’s most spectacular nature reserves, located in the province’s north. One of the most beautiful parts of the entire ountry, Jiuzhaigou is known for its many lakes including Mirror Lake and Reed Lake amongst many others. It is home to a wide-range of endemic wildlife including the giant panda. The area is also known for its Tibetan villages, which harken back to generations passed. While the area’s increasing popularity from tourism has spoiled the scenery somewhat in recent years, it is still without a doubt one of the most amazing destinations in the entirety of China.
Leshan Giant Buddha
One of the most jaw-dropping sites in the world, the Leshan Giant Buddha is an immense sandstone statue measuring 233 feet tall. Dating back to the 8th Century, it was carved out of a cliff face along the confluence of the Min and Dadu Rivers in the Sichuan Province’s Southern region. The largest ancient statue in the world, the Leshan Buddha Statue remains intact and is a true sight to behold.
Chengdu Panda Research Base
The Sichuan Province is well known as being one of the few areas still to have giant pandas. The Chengdu Panda Research Base was founded over 30 years ago in 1987 as a means of protecting the endangered species. Arguably the best place in the world to see giant pandas, the Chengdu Panda Research Base is a world-leading institution in the conservation of the species and has become increasingly popular as a tourism destination.
Baoguo Temple Ancient Architecture Museum
In the Mount Emei region, Baoguo Temple is one of the major sites. Built over a thousand years ago, the temple is one of the most culturally significant Buddhist religious sites in the country, if not the world. Within the complex is one of the country’s most distinct museums-the Baoguo Temple Ancient Architecture Museum. Focusing on the history of Chinese architecture and the methodology of the building process, the museum is very enlightening while the temple itself is magnificent.
main image: image courtesy of hans-johnson, Flickr Creative Commons