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With a long history and rich culture, the southwestern provinces of China-the Greater Shangri-la Region including Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan, are among the most alluring destinations in the country. This region lays claim to some of the most breathtaking scenery in all of China – from Jiuzhai Valley National Park and Hailuogou Glacier, to one of the largest waterfalls in China, Huangguoshu Waterfall, to mysterious Shangri-La and tropical botanical garden Xishuangbanna. Weather you travel one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China – Mount Emei, explore one of the most important Taoist centres in China – Mount Qingcheng, or take a trip through the magnificent ancient irrigation system, Dujiangyan – the cultural, geographical and ethnic diversity of this part of the World is simply overwhelming. In addition, strategies such as the “Road and Belt Initiative” and the new land-sea corridor in the west have brought more opportunities for development here.

Recommended Route

Sichuan — Yunnan — Tibet

Must-see Along The Route
01. Sichuan Province

Sichuan, “Chuan” for short , is the largest province in western China. Due to its abundance of natural resources, it is renowned as the “Land of Heaven.” 

The Sichuan Basin and West Sichuan Plateau make up most of the province. This hometown of giant pandas has magical landscapes including Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou Valley, praised as the “Jade Pool of the world,” and Hailuogou, at the foot of the snow-white Mount Gongga.

The climate is greatly different in eastern and western Sichuan. Sichuan Basin enjoys a subtropical climate, which is humid and cold in winter and extremely hot and stuffy in summer, and very humid. Western Sichuan has a plateau mountain climate with less rainfall and colder winters.

Sichuan has a long and splendid history. The Jinsha Ruins and Sanxingdui Sites have recorded her ancient Shu civilization. The Temple of Marquis Wu and the Zhang Fei Temple represent the culture of the Three Kingdoms period, and there are many Buddhist sites, including Mount Emei, one of China’s four most famous mountains of Buddhism.

Sichuan is home to Tibetan people, Yi people and Qiang people. There are charming Tibetan villages in Danba, Qiang villages in Taopin , and the warmest and most romantic Yi Torch Festival and Gathering of Walking around Mountain in Kham.

Located in southwest Sichuan province, Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries is home to more than 30 percent of the world’s giant pandas and constitutes the largest and most significant remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in the world. 

It covers 924,500 hectares with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. The sanctuaries constitute the largest remaining contiguous habitat of the giant panda, a relict from the paleo-tropic forests of the Tertiary Era. It is also the species’ most important site for captive breeding. The sanctuaries are home to some endangered animals such as the red panda, the snow leopard and clouded leopard. They are among the botanically richest sites of any region in the world outside the tropical rainforests, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora in over 1,000 genera.

In 2006, Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries was added to the World Natural Heritage List.

Li Bing, chief of Shu Prefecture during the Qin Dynasty, was responsible for building Dujiangyan. As a great ancient water conservancy project in China, it is also the world’s only remaining water conservancy project to divert water without a dam.

Garze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province is located at the southeastern end of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and in the west of Sichuan Province, commonly known as Kamba region or Kam area. Garze Prefecture has jurisdiction over 18 counties, including Kangding, Danba, Luding, Litang, Daocheng, Xiangcheng, Derong and Batang, with an area of over 152,629 sq km and a population of 920,000. The prefecture is home to many ethnic groups with the Tibetan people as the mainstay. Kangding, the prefecture’s capital, is a policital, economic and cultural center of Garze Prefecture.
Nuorilang Waterfalls
Seisenji Temple
Mosuo Folk Dance
Chengdu Jiuyanqiao Bar Street
02. Yunnan Province

Yunnan, “Dian” for short, is located in southwest China with Kunming as its provincial capital. Yunnan Province borders Myanmnar, Laos and Vietnam. The Tropic of Cancer crosses the southern part of the province. 

Yunnan’s terrain is high in the northwest and low in the southeast with an exceptionally great elevation difference. The main peak of Meili Snow Mountain, the highest point, is at an elevation of 6,740 meters, while the lowest place only 76.4 meters above sea level. Yunnan brings together the natural beauty of all kinds of climatic zones.

The province enjoys rich and diverse climate types. There are seven types of climates, the north tropical climate, south subtropical climate, mid-subtropical climate, north subtropical climate, warm temperate climate, mid-temperate climate and plateau climate.

Yunnan has 5 of China’s 45 world heritage sites, namely, the Old Town of Lijiang, Three Parallel Rivers, Lunan Stone Forest, Chengjiang Fossil Site, and Yunnan Hani Terraced Fields.

Yunnan is the province with the most ethnic groups in China, providing a variety of customs. There are Yi people in the Stone Forest, Bai people in Dali, Naxi people in Lijiang, Dai people in Xishuangbanna, Tibetan people in Diqing, etc. Each ethnic group has its own unique customs.

Shangri-La is located on the southeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, the northern end of the southern section of the Hengduan Mountains, and the outskirts of the “Three Parallel Rivers.” There are unique melting snow-capped mountains, canyons, grasslands, alpine lakes, virgin forests and ethnic customs.

The pagodas located at the foot of Yingle Peak, Cangshan Mountain, one kilometer northwest of the ancient city of Dali, were built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They are the most grandiose among the pagodas in south China. The splendid and momentum Chongsheng Temple behind the pagodas is the biggest monomeric building among the Buddhist temples and monasteries in China.

It is in Liuhuangtang (Sulphur Pool), 16 kilometers southwest Tengchong county town where there are abundance of boiling springs, hot springs and vapoour of terrestrial heat. The main scenic spots are “Big Boiling Pot,” and Pearl Spring. The hot spring has curative effect to rheumatism, neuritis, indigestion, cardiovascular disease, skin diseases, gynaecological diseases. Hotels and sanitariums have been built in this area offering good services for people to spend their holiday here.

Luoping Canola Flower
Tea-Horse Road
Yuanmou Soil Forest
Shinpei Hanakoshi
Wild Elephant Valley
03. Tibet

Situated in the southwestern border area of China in the southwest of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibet is bordered by Xinjiang in the north, Sichuan in the east, Qinghai in the northeast, Yunnan in the southeast, and Myanmar, India, Bhutan and Nepal in the south and the west. With an area of over 1.2 million sq km, the Tibet Autonomous Region has a population of over 2.7 million, with the Tibetans as the predominant ethnic group. 

Known as the “Roof of the World,” Tibet is a sacred land for numerous people in the world because of its beautiful natural scenery, colorful folk customs and strong religious atmosphere. Tibet has an average elevation of over 4,000 m, and more than 50 mountains in Tibet are over 7,000 m above sea level each. Of them, Mount Qomolangma on the Sino-Nepal frontier is 8,844.43 m above sea level, being the highest peak in the world. Covered with white snow all the year round, these high mountains look like a long silver snake in a distance, presenting unique and magnificent scenery. Tibet is, rich in water resources. The Ganges, Indus, Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers originate here. The snow-capped mountains and lakes add radiance and beauty with each other, the strong steeds gallop on the bast grasslands, the blue skies and white clouds seems to be touched with hand, and the special customs and lifestyle of the Tibetan people in the snowy region are very attractive to domestic and foreign tourists. Tibet enjoys a reputation of being the “land of songs and dances”; and the Tibetan people in colorful ethnic costumes love various kinds of sports, such as wrestling, throwing, tug-of-war, horse racing and archery. The bold and unconstrained characters of the Tibetan people will make tourists feel relaxing and happy. Tibet is also a world-renowned religious sacred land, which embraces many monasteries, such as the Potala Palace, Norbu Lingka, the Jokhang Monastery and the Tashilhunpo Monastery. Religious people from all over the world go to Tibet to pay homage to the sacred land in great sincerity.

After the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the dream of visiting the “Roof of the World” has no longer been unattainable. Let’s to to Tibet to feel the sacred land with heart!

Standing on the Red Hill in Beijing M. Road, Lhasa, the Potala Palace is the highest of its kind in the world. It was first built in the seventh century, and its 13-story main building, 117 m high, is composed of the Red and White palaces, with the red one in the middle. The main buildings in the palace consist of the Hall of Stupas of Dalai Lamas of the different historical periods and Buddhist halls. The White Palace is the residence of Dalai Lamas and the place for them to handle political affairs.

Located in the center of the ancient city of Lhasa, the Jokhang Monastery was built in the seventh century by Songtsan Gambo, the Tang Princess Wen Cheng and Nepalese Princess Bhrikuti. Its four-story main building demonstrates a combination of the Han, Tibetan, Indian and Nepalese architectural styles, as well as a mandala world outlook of Buddhism. With the Hall of Amitayus Sutra as its center, the monastery symbolizes the nuclear of the universe. The Hall of Sakyamuni is the essence of the monastery.

Also known as the Lake Conggo, it is in Xoka District in Gongbogyamda County with an elevation of more than 4,000 meters. It is more than 300 kilometers away from Lhasa. In the middle of the lake there is an ancient temple of the Rnyingma Sect built in the 17th century. During the Walking Around the Lake Festival on the 15th of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, Buddhist believers from Nyingchi and other places come to walk around the lake.

Mount Namjagbarwa at Dawn
Lhasa River
Rotating Prayer Wheels