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Buddhas & Buddhas Gansu, Sichuan itinerary

11 Days / 10 Nights

Overview

Uncover a treasure trove of wonders in Gansu and Sichuan provinces. Gaze in awe at ancient Buddha images at Binglingsi, camp among the nomads in Xiahe, explore the incredible landscapes of Jiuzhaigou and so much more. Each day brings a new surprise that will impress even the most seasoned of travellers. 

Trip Highlights

Buddhas & Buddhas Gansu, Sichuan itinerary

See incredible Buddhist monuments

Discover ancient carvings at Binglingsi, meet monks at Labrang Monastery and stand in the shadow of Leshan’s massive Buddha image.

Experience a taste of nomadic life

Camp in a tent, trek through grasslands and ride horses in the remote highlands alongside nomadic people.

Spend a day at Jiuzhaigou

Explore the UNESCO heritage National Park, taking in the Five Colour Pond, Nourlong Waterfalls, Pearl Shoal and more.

Itinerary

1

Lanzhou - Xiahe

Lanzhou Airport to Binglingsi Temple (160 km): 4 hrs Binglingsi Temple to Xiahe (180 km): 5 hrs 30 mins *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Welcome to Gansu province!

Kodachrome Mountains, endless grasslands, Silk Road history, and rich culture abound in Gansu, a 450,000 square kilometer province located in China’s northwest.  At the crossroads of Eastern and Western China, Mongolia and Sichuan province, Gansu has played a pivotal role in the development of China’s trade and a meeting point for various cultures – Chinese, Hi, Dongxiang, Tu, Manchu, Kazak, Mongolian and Tibetan all call the province home.  

Begin this Sichuan tour in Lanzhou, the cultural, economic and political capital. While neither a mega-city nor small village, Lanzhou offers a pleasant combination were ancient and modern mingle in a ‘countryside’ vibe.

After breakfast, begin Sichuan tour with a drive out to Bingling Si.

Upon arrival, pay a visit to the Binglingsi Temple. A network of natural and manmade grottoes, Bingling Si is adorned with Buddhist sculptures and frescos located in a canyon along the Yellow River (about 130 km south of Lanzhou.)

The temple region became a sanctum as ascetics took residence in the area (around the Western Qin Kingdom period- 420CE), inspired by the beauty and wilderness of the canyon. Over time, each subsequent dynasty paid homage to the holy men and the spirituality of the area, evident in the varying styles of sculptures and frescoes. Its position among the karst formations lining the Yellow River makes for a stunning setting.

After exploring the temple, board a small, private speed boat (basic, local vessel) for a short cruise to a nearby restaurant for a riverside lunch.

Continue the drive to Xiahe.

Dinner and bonfire at camp.

Overnight in Xiahe in Luxury Tent.

Option: Upon request, we may prepare a Finnish sauna: an ideal means of decompressing. A bucket fed hot shower is also available to complete the experience and the deck overlooking the river offers an ideal place to linger.

2

Xiahe

Xiahe-Darzong Lake (approx.1h40): 130km Xiahe – Sangke Grassland: (approx. 30min): 15km *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Today’s visits will soak in the area’s highlights. Begin with a trip to Darzong, a highland lake located just north of 3,000 meters (10,000 ft.), surrounded by forested mountains. Afterwards, wander through the Sangke Grasslands, a prominent feature in this Tibetan Enclave where endless green carpets are dotted by black nomadic tents and herds of yaks and sheep. 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 1: Visit a Real Nomad Camp (lunch included – appr.4h) - Journey out into the grasslands for an authentic nomadic experience. Share a lunch with a family, and get in contact with a truly different way of life.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 2: Horseback riding (possible to combine with Visit a Real Nomad Camp or to be done at local camp). While motorbikes fit very well in the nomad’s lifestyle, horses are still the real cornerstone of their culture. Explore the grasslands on horseback, led by one of the local families.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 3: Half day or full-day hike (picnic lunch included on request) – Hike into the surrounding hills on a half- or full-day adventure. 

Overnight in Xiahe in Tent

3

Xiahe

One of the main highlights of this Sichuan tour is Labrang Monastery. Once a very well-known university, Labrang hosted thousands of monks and was one of the biggest monasteries outside Tibet.

Led by a local Tibetan monk, wander through a maze of rooms and inner temples while gaining some ‘insider's’ knowledge into monastic life.  Moments of prayer and ceremony are commonly held every day, a very unique site to witness. 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Hike Around the Monastery -the monastery’s size and majesty can only be fully appreciated from a bird’s eye view. Hike along the hillside surrounding the monastery to appreciate the scale of Gansu’s largest functioning monastery. A hearty picnic based on yak or vegetarian sandwiches can be included; over lunch enjoy a stunning view of Labrang’s two faces, the monastery and the modern town.

ACTIVITY TIME: 2 hours (supplement for lunch).

Afterwards, visit the local market to experience a local way of life (guide not included).

Note: Not far from Xiahe is a sacred lake where ritual water burials are sometimes performed. For those interested, we can check in advance for a possible visit to the lakeside.

Overnight in Xiahe in Tent.

4

Xiahe/Hezuo/Langmusi

Today the Sichuan tour runs from Xiahe to Langmusi.

En route, visit to Hezuo’s Milarepa Pavilion, a peculiar tower destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but rebuilt in 1988 following building’s original plan.

Continue the journey to Langmusi.

Overnight in Langmusi.

5

Langmusi

Langmusi is home to a mix of  different ethnic groups: Buddhists and Muslims, Tibetans and Huizu. A cluster of monasteries and lamaseries are found here, randomly located in the proximity of a sacred spring. The enclave hosts less than 5,000 people, in an atmosphere of sacred campment.

Spend the morning exploring the Lama Temple and its surrounding areas.

Note: At the back of the village there is a dedicated area where ‘sky burials’ are sometimes performed. The ritual is not to be taken lightly; spectators are asked to remember that the rite of passage is very sensible for locals – both concerning their religion and considering the recent loss of dear ones.

Overnight in Langmusi

6

Langmusi/Jiuzhaigou

Langmusi to Jiuzhaigou (320 km): 7 hrs 30 mins *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Spend the morning of the Sichuan tour on a private transfer to Jiuzhaigou; en route, pay a visit to Huhai Lake and the Zoige Marsh, the largest high-altitude marsh in the world (3,600mt). The area is known in Chinese history for the Red Army’s passing during the Long March of 1935; it became a nature reserve in 1994.

Overnight in Jiuzhaigou

7

Jiuzhaigou

Noted: Happy to announce that Jiuzhaigou National Park is now open again after being seriously damaged in the earthquake of 2017. At present, 85% of the Jiuzhaigou National Park has been reopened for trail service, including Zharu Temple, Shuzhenggou (except Spark Sea), Rizegou (Nuolanglang to Wuhuahai section), and Chagougou.

The entire day will be set aside for a visit to the Jiuzhaigou national park.

Part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Project, Jiuzhaigou is known for its tree-covered lakes whose palette changes from turquoise and navy blue to emerald green. While the temperatures are more moderate between April and October, the autumn spectacle of golden and red leaves on the trees is exceptional. The winter that follows seems like a fairy tale as pine cones turn to crystal and the snow takes on the intense blue of the lakes.

Note: The site is an example of an increasingly popular vision for eco-tourism in China. Eco-busses  freely whisk guests around the park and provide a good alternative to walking.

The main attractions of the park range from the Shuzheng, Tiger, and Rhinoceros Lakes to the Five Color Pond, Long Lake (with its backdrop of snow-topped mountains), and range of nearby waterfalls. Additionally, the Nuorilang waterfalls, Pearl Shoal and Five Flower Lake are considered to be some of the greatest highlights in the park.

Overnight in Jiuzhaigou

8

Jiuzhaigou/Chengdu

Jiuzhaigou to Huanglong (130 km): 3 hrs 30 mins Huanglong to Huanglong airport (55 km): 1 hr 45 mins Chengdu airport to Chengdu city (20 km): 1 hr *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Journey onwards to Huanglong National Park. Pass through various typical Tibetan villages en route and, providing the weather is good, soak in the magnificent landscape of mountains bathing in seas of clouds.

The main area of the park is an ascent through a pine forest passing by incredibly beautiful turquoise, yellow, and emerald green limestone ponds (there are nearly 700 in the park in total). There are several viewing platforms located along the route of the walk, all made of wooden logs. It should take around two hours to reach the summit, and the same again to come back down.

The hard hike will be rewarded upon arrival to the mythical setting of the Yellow Dragon Temple, offering amazing views over the Five Color Lake.

Return transfer to Huanglong airport and flight to Chengdu.

Suggested flight information: 3U8604 (21:40/22:40)

A guide will be waiting upon arrival to Chengdu for a welcome and hotel transfer.

Overnight in Chengdu

9

Chengdu

Chengdu city to Panda breeding center (30 km): 45 mins *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Start the morning with a visit to the Panda Breeding Center (about 15km from Chengdu city center) home to around 100 pandas (the largest centre for captive Pandas in the world.) The panda is an endangered species that the Chinese Government and NGOs have been consciously protecting since the 1980s. Their efforts have been rewarded and the latest population counts have shown an increase of nearly 50% in the number of pandas in the world.

Continue onwards to the Wenshu Temple (or Manjushri Temple), the best preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu. Relax over a cup of tea in the House of Tea next door.

Warmed from the revitalising cup, head onwards to People’s Park, a typical Chinese park where locals practice everything from Tai-Chi and Kung-fu to sword dances, meditation, gymnastics and more.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: For those interested, enjoy an evening at the Sichuan opera, characterized by spectacular mask changing.

Overnight in Chengdu

10

Chengdu / Leshan

Chengdu city to Leshan (140 km): 2hrs *Depends on local situation (the weather/construction/traffic jam, etc…), may take longer

Continue the Sichuan tour with a departure from Chengdu for Leshan, where the largest Buddha statue in the world was carved into a cliff over 1,200 years ago. The Giant Buddha measures in at 71m (231ft) high and 28m (92ft) wide – truly a stone giant!

Continue the pleasant visit through the Oriental Buddha Park, lined with small temples, thousands of small statues, and a 170m long (558ft) reclining Buddha, one of the most impressive in the world.

Transfer back to Chengdu.

Overnight in Chengdu

11

Chengdu

Spend the morning at leisure until a transfer to the airport for the departing flight.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner).
  • English speaking guide(no shopping basis rates)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals not mentioned
  • Visa for China
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and domestic flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.

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    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

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    We’re experts who take pride in tailor-made itineraries that suit any need. Please fill in the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

    Please fill in the appropriate information below regarding any travel plans or enquiries. Our team of travel experts will get back to you shortly.

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