Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan (Tips, Photos & Map)

Plan your Sichuan Tour? Sichuan is located in the southwest of China. With Chengdu as its capital, Sichuan is the essential economic center of the Western China.

Sichuan reminds people of the performances of face-changing, the lovely giant pandas, tea houses,  fiery food and ancient Shu culture.  If you venture far to the north, you will see blue-green lakes and alpine valleys;  head to the west, you will experience the Tibetan culture and mesmerized by the high-plateau grasslands and glacial mountains.

In a word, Sichuan is a paradise for travelers with different tastes. The list of the star attractions in Sichuan is on and on. Looking for the Top 10 Thing to do in Sichuan. Here is our list of the Top 10 Places in Sichuan.

1. Yading Nature Reserve  亚丁风景区  

Yading Nature Reserve is located within Riwa Township, Dacheng County,  in the south of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan. Yading is oft-lauded as “The last piece of pure land in the water-blue planet”.  Yading  and Dacheng are often put together and known as the last Shangri-la.

Check out my another article Yading Brings You Inner Peace for more travel information.

A close-up view of Jambeyang with prayer flags fluttering.

The Yading  Nature Reserve mainly comprises three holy mountains known as Chenresig, Channa Dorje and Jampelyang which are all above the altitude of 6000 meters with Chenresig the highest at 6032 meters. Chenresig is often likened to the giant Buddha; Channa Dorjie as a young man and Jampelyang as a girl.  The three holy mountains are just like three sacred souls,  a pilgrimage place for Tibetans.

Besides the three holy mountains, the reserve is also dotted with high-plateau grasslands and green lakes, like Milk Lake, Five-color Lake, Luorong Grassland and Changgu Monastery. The 12-km koral around the 6032 m Chenresig is a huge rewarding experience. If you don’t have strong legs, you may stop overnight on camping and do it next day to continue your hike.

Yading Nature Reserve is a perfect natural eco-system formed by the featured geography and natural climate. The best time to visit Yading is Spring and Autumn. Yading is closed in winter.

Visiting Time: suggested 1-2 Day
Entrance Fee:  RMB 150 ( April – October )
Opening Hours: all day
Best Time to Visit: April – October
How to Get There
Hire a vehicle or hook up with other travelers to reach Yading Natural Reserve from Dacheng.

2. Mount Emei ( Emeil Shan ) 峨眉山

Emei Shan is situated on the southwest of Sichuan basin, 7 km west of Emei Shan City,  37 east of Leshan City, 170 km southwest of Chengdu. Mount Emei is one of the four sacred Buddhism mountains in China.  Mount Emei and Leshan Giant Buddha were listed as Culture and Nature World Heritage in 1996.

the Golden Summit of the Jinding  Temple

The highest peak – Wanfo Summit is at the sea level of 3099 meters and the Golden Summit of the Jinding  Temple at 3079.3 meters. Mount Emei is famous for its grandeur, elegance, Holiness, Oddity and soul as well as the thick Buddhist culture. Emei Shan has much to offer including Baoguo Temple, Qingyin Pavilion, Ecological Monkey Zone, Wanian Temple, Elephant Bathing Pool,  Jining Temple, Fuhu Temple and Xianfeng Temple.

Visiting Time: suggested 1-3 Day
Entrance Fee:  RMB 185 ( Jan 16 – Dec 14 ); RMB 110 ( Dec 15 – Jan 15)
Wannian Temple: RMB 10
Baoguo Temple: RMB 8
Fuhu Temple: RMB 6
Location: 170 km southwest of Chengdu
Opening Hours: all day
Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn
How to Get There
Going to Mount Emai is a breeze. You either take buses or trains from Chengdu to Mount Emei.

3. Chengdu Panda Base 大熊猫繁殖基地

This is the most popular attraction in Chengdu. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is located about 20 km north-east to Chengdu. The Giant Panda is well known all over the world.  It is regarded as”living foosil”. The breeding center is a non-profit organization engaged in the search, breeding, protection and tourism promotion of the endangered wild aninals.

Check out my another article Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding for more information.

Villa 1 and Villa 2 are the habitats of adult pandas

The breeding base mainly comprises the research building, an open research lab, an animal hospital, animal hens, panda playground, panda museum, panda hospital and panda kitchen, constituting a natural and man-made and suitable for the panda and other endangered animals.

The breeding base is home to about 80 pandas and other red small pandas.  It is preferable to visit the breeding center in the morning when pandas tend to be more active. March to May is the “falling in love’ time for pandas, so if you come here in autumn, you may see the tiny newborns in the base.

Visiting Time: suggested 4-5 hour
Entrance Fee:  RMB 58
Location: 18 km northeast of Chengdu
Opening Hours: 7:30 – 18:00 all year
How to Get There
Public Bus: first take the public bus to Chengdu Zoo, then connect Bus 87 or 198 and get off at the Breeding Base.
Taxi: Approx. RMB 50

4 Jiuzhaigou National Park 九寨沟风景名胜区

Jiuzhaigou literally means “Nine Village Valley” in Chinese. Listed as World Cultural Heritage in 1992. Jiuzhaigou is well known for its beautiful water – multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes. Jiuzhaigou is located in Jiuzhaigou County of the Aba Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, 436km north of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province.

Check out Huanglong Scenic Area and Jiuzhaigou Trip for more information.

Jiuzhaigou has three valleys naturally formed in a Y shape. The Rize Valley 17km long and Zechawa Valley 18km long flow from the south and meet at a confluence where they form the Shuzheng valley 15km long in the middle, continuing to flow north to the mouth of the Shuzheng Valley. All the three valleys are accessible both by shuttle bus and boardwalks.

Take tons of pictures of Five-color Lake

There are 17 waterfall groups, 47 springs and 114 lakes in the park. People usually first visit Shuzheng Valley, then either visit Rize Valley or Zechawa Valley. People have to spend almost whole day in the three valleys. There is a service center in the confluence where the three valleys meet with a big restaurant providing three kind of buffet lunch. There is also a grocery by the restaurant where you can buy instant noodles, biscuits, fruits, water and mnay more to feed yourself.

Visiting Time: suggested 1-3 day
Entrance Fee:  RMB 220  (peak season ) and RMB 80 ( winter season)
Location:  436km north of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province
Opening Hours: 6:30 – 18:00 (April – Nov.15);  6:30 – 17:00 (Nov.16  – March);
Best Time to Visit: Autumn
How to Get There
First take flight from Chengdu to Jiuhuang Airport where you connect the local bus for Jiuzhaigou

5. Leshan Giant Buddha 乐山大佛

Leshan City is about 145 km southwest of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province. The city of Leshan is situated at the confluence of three rivers including Minjiang River, Qingyi River and Daduhe River. The world famous giant Leshan Buddha,  a statue of Maitreya in sitting posture opposite to the city of Leshan across the rivers.  This is the largest  cliff stone caved Buddha sitting sculpture.  Listed as UNESCO World Heritage together with Mount Emei 1982.

The Leshan Grand Buddha is also known as Lingyun Grand Buddha, a sitting  Maitreya posture, the largest cliff carving statue. The construction of the grand Buddha started in the year of 713 and it was completed in 803, lasting almost 90 years.

Check out Trip to Leshan Giant Buddha for more travel information.


You may take a boat passing by the cliffs for a panoramic view of the Grand Buddha or you pay entrance fee to have a close at the grand Buddha posture.

Visiting Time: suggested 4 hours
Entrance Fee:  RMB 90
Location:  145 km southwest of Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province
Opening Hours: 7:30 – 18:30 (April – Oct 07);  8:00 – 17:30 (Oct 08  – March); 
How to Get There
Take buses from Chengdu, Emei Shan or other cities to Leshan

6. Tagong 塔公 

Tagong is a tiny Tibetan village surrounded by beautiful grasslands – Tagong Grassland. It is situated within Kangding County of  f Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, about  113 km north of Kangding, 416 km west of Chengdu.

Tagong, literally ” A place favored by the Buddha”, has a convenient transportation with the Sichuan-Tibet highway passing by.  Tagong is well known for its mesmerizing grasslands, green forests, glacial mountains, temples and Tibetan architecture, constituting a palette of Tibetan folk life.

Check out my another article Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba (Tips, Photos & Map) for more information.

A close-up view of the Muya Golden Pagoda in Taigong

The Tagong Scenic Area comprises mainly Tagong Temple, Tagong Pagoda Forest, Yala Snow Mountain. Tagong Temple is one of the essential temples respected by Tibetans in (Kham) Kampa area.  Yala Snow Mountain is one of the four sacred mountains in Tibet.

Visiting Time: suggested 4 – 8 hours
Entrance Fee:  RMB 20
Location:  113 km north of Kangding
Opening Hours: 8:00 – 18:00
How to Get There
Take buses from Kangding to Tagong Village

7. Zizong 自贡

Zigong city is located about 180 km southeast of Chengdu. Zigong is an interesting city with a 2000-year history of salt production. It boasts the deepest salt well in the world ( 1001 meters). The other big draw is Dinosaur Museum, the first dinosaur museum in Asia. Zigong is oft-lauded ad ” City of Lanterns” and ‘King of Tea Houses”.

You can kick off for a few hours on a day trip to Zigong. The major attractions include Salt Industrial Museum, Shenhai Salt Well, Dinosaur Museum.

Visiting Time: suggested 1-2 day
Location:  113 km north of Kangding
Best Time to go: May – August
How to Get There
Take buses or trains from Chengdu, Chongqing and Yibin

Dinosaur Museum
Dinosaur Museum

8. Songpan 松潘

Songpan is a laid-back historical town with plenty of hiking trails. Songpan Old Town is located in Jinan Township of Songpan County, about 310 km north of Chengdu.

Songpan Old Town was once the essential gate of the northwest area in Sichuan, a military fortress. The old town was greatly fortified in Ming Dynasty and much of the remnants of the broken walls and old time building were built during that time.

Songpan Old Town

The major attractions include a visit to the town city wall ( partly rebuilt), ancient gates and two wooden bridges. The local activities include hore trekking to the idyllic mountain forests and green lakes surrounding Songpan.

Visiting Time: suggested 1-2 day
Location:  310 km north of Chengdu
Best Time to go: Summer
How to Get There
Take buses or trains from Chengdu

9. Langzhong 阆中

Langzhong old town is located in the northeast of Sichuan basin, about 268 km northeast of Chengdu. Situated on the middle reach of Jialingjiang River, Langzhong old town is one of the four well preserved ancient towns in China.

Langzhou has a history of over 2300 years with well preserved flagstone streets,  black tiled roofs, temples and pavilions, and cliff carvings, constituting a unique tourist resources and culture in Langzhong.

Langzhong old town

Visiting Time: suggested 1-2 day
Location:  268 km northeast of Chengdu
Best Time to go: Spring
How to Get There
Take buses or trains from Chengdu

10. Danba (Rongtrak ) 丹巴 

Danba County is located in the west of Sichuan and east of Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Danba town is about 137 km north of Kangding, 368 km west of Chengdu. Venture to east of Danba, you enter Siguniang Scenic Area and Jiuzhaigou National Park; to the south, you may enter Kangding and Hailuo Glacier Park.

Check out the following two artcles for more information about Danba:

Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers

The stone houses clinging to the forested mountain slopes, tier above tier

The town itself is somewhat grubby and forgettable, the surrounding cluster of watching towers, Tibetan villages and Daduhe River Gorge are what you seek after. The ancient stone Qiang watchtowers are perched among the villages overlooking the Daduhe River ( Dadu River). There are quite some nice Tibetan villages around here.

Visiting Time: suggested 2-3 day
Location:  368 km west of Chengdu
Best Time to go: Spring and autumn
Opening time: all day
How to Get There
Take daily buses from Chengdu and Kangding

Hassle-free Chengdu & Sichuan Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to visit the tomb of Wang Jian in Chengdu
How to Visit Wangjiang Pavilion Park in Chengdu
How to visit Qingyang Palace in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
Qintai Road, Qintai Gujing Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shaoling Road Bar Street Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Jiuyanqiao Bar Street in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Any questions, just drop a line.

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan (Tips, Photos & Map)

  1. I am planing to go Yading this year .
    Is it too late to see beautiful autumn if I go inside the park on 30-31oct?
    Thank you

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