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Sichuan Travel Guide

Sichuan Overview

Sichuan is a province in Southwestern China with its capital in Chengdu. As the hometown of panda, Sichuan possesses various fantastic natural resorts which not only attract domestic visitors but also highly praised by foreign people.

With an area of 485,000 square kilometers and a population of over 87 million, Sichuan is the hometown of Deng Xiaoping, the general architect of China’s reform and opening up to the outside. Besides this civilization factors, Sichuan is a fairy land in the world with its marvelous attractions. 5 scenic spots in Sichuan, namely Jiuzhaigou Valley, Huanglong Scenic Area, Dujiangyan Irrigation System—Mount Qingcheng, the Giant Stone Buddha at Leshan-Mt. Emei, and Giant Panda Habitat, have been listed as World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO, just next to Beijing in terms of heritage site numbers. Almost every variety of tourist resources is available here: plateaus, mountains, ravines, basins, hills, plains, rivers, lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, limestone caves, and even danxia formation.

Sichuan Facts

Basic Information

Chinese Name: 四川

Location: Sichuan is located in the upper reach of the Yangtze River and the hinterland of Southwest China.

Provincial Capital: Chengdu

Area: Sichuan covers an area about 485,000 square kilometers.

Famous Cities: Chengdu, Leshan, Jiuzhaigou, Garze

Population: According to the data, the population in Sichuan is81,620,000 (2009). There are 55 ethnic groups with a population of 4.22 million in Sichuan. The Yi, Zang, Qiang, Miao, Mongolian, Tujia, Lisu, MSichuan Location Mapanchu, Naxi, Bouyei, Bai, Zhuang, and Dai are indigenous ethnic groups in the Province.


Sichuan is located in the upper reach of the Yangtze River and the hinterland of Southwest China.It is bordered by Hubei and Hunan in the east, Guizhou and Yunnan in the south, Xizang (Tibet) in the west and Qinghai, Gansu and Shanxi in the north. Thanks to the favorable climatic conditions, intensive farming and numerous mineral resources, Sichuan wins the honor of “Land of Abundance”. The capital of Sichuan province is Chengdu, situated in the middle of the Province.

The area lies in the Sichuan basin and is surrounded by the Himalayas to the far west, including the nearby Tibetan Plateau, Qinling range to the northeast and mountainous areas of Yunnan to the south. Gongga Shan is the highest point in the province at 7,556 meters situated within the Daxue Shan. The Yangtze River flows through the basin and thus is upstream to areas of eastern China. The Minjiang River in central Sichuan is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, which it joins at Yibin. Plate tectonics formed the Longmen Shan fault, which runs under the north-easterly mountain location of the 2008 earthquake.

Administrative Division

Sichuan consists of eighteen prefecture-level cities and three autonomous prefectures. Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Ganzi Zang Autonomous Prefecture, Aba Zang and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Mabian Yi Autonomous County, Ebian Yi Autonomous County and Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County are habitations for ethnic groups.

Sichuan Culture

Cultural Region: Bashu Culture is a branch of the Chinese culture and it can be divided as Ba culture and Shu Culture. Ba Culture main region is centered on Chongqing of Sichuan Basin, and Shu culture is of the Sichuan region. Bashu culture took shape over thousands of years ago, dating back to the late Neolithic Age.

Ba culture region: Nanchong, Bazhong, Dazhou, Guang’an, Leshan Muchuan, Neijiang (Longchang, Zizhong), Guangyuan east and Zigong, Yibin, Luzhou (note: the complete Ba culture area is Chongqing, northeastern southeast of Sichuan, Hubei Enshi and Yichang, and Shaanxi Hanzhong and Ankang region)

Shu culture region: Chengdu, Mianyang, Deyang, Suining, Ya’an, Meishan, Ziyang, Leshan, Guangyuan
west, Zigong (Gongjiang and Rongxian county) and Neijiang (downtown district, Dongxing strict and Weiyuan)

Panxi culture region: Panzhihua and Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Liangshan (Liangshan prefecture capital of Xichang, so often referred to as Panxi)

Western Sichuan Plateau culture region: Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, and Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (located in the western Sichuan plateau area).

Language: Sichuan dialect is popular and is the main language in Sichuan and Chongqing area and adjacent areas of surrounding provinces. Chinese ancient southwest mandarin originated from the ancient Shu language. Sichuan dialect has about 120 million users. Today's Sichuan dialect took shape of the Qing dynasty emperor Kangxi period of "Hubei and Hunan fills Sichuan" big immigration movement, which was a fusion of different places immigrant dialects of Shu dialect that popular in Sichuan province before Ming and other dialects from Hubei and Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi and other places gradually. Chengdu-Chongqing dialect (in Chengdu and Chongqing area) is the standard pronunciation of Sichuan opera and all kinds of Chinese folk art forms, due to the Sichuan dialect mutual intelligibility degree is higher, so all the area can communicate barrier-free.

Sichuan Opera: is a colored and dazzling pearl in the treasure-house of Chinese opera. It has a long history, and it saves a lot of excellent traditional repertoires, rich melodies and superb performing arts. As early as the Tang dynasty there is a saying "Shu opera plays champion in the world".

Sichuan Transportation

Train: After construction unceasingly, Sichuan became the southwest transport hub. Railway transport is an artery of connecting means in and out of the Sichuan province. Sichuan railway has formed railway network including 5 trunk railways, 8 railway branch line and 4 local railways of Baocheng railway etc.

Water Transport: Yangtze River across the Sichuan province is the trunk waterway transportation that connects with the Minjiang River and the Jinsha River and other branch lines, and forms a natural water transportation network in the land of Sichuan. Sichuan waterways mainly are the Jinsha River section, the Yangtze River section, Tuojiang River and Jialing River system. Among them, the below Jinsha River new town, the Minjiang River in Leshan, and Jialing River Langzhong here all the year round can connect steamers, Luzhou, Leshan, and Yibin are the important cities along the waterway.

Highway: Sichuan road mileage in the country is the first, total mileage of highway is the first in the west of China.
Chengdu is the center of Sichuan as the road network, trunk and branch roads distribute as radial, at the same time, complement with intertwined east-west line road and north-south line. The main arterial roads are: Sichuan-Tibet highway, Sichuan-Qinghai highway, Chuanlong highway (Sichuan to Gansu), Chuanshan highway (Sichuan to Shaanxi), Chuanyu highway (Chengdu-Chongqing), Chuanyun east highway (Sichuan-Yunnan east), Chuanyun middle road (Sichuan- Yunnan middle), Chuanyun west road (Sichuan-Yunnan west), and Sichuan-Yunnan highway, etc. Chengdu passenger bus station is one of the largest highway passenger transport hub stations in Sichuan. Sichuan first highway, Chengdu-Chongqing expressway is a highway traffic artery between Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality directly under the central government.

Air: Sichuan has Chengdu Shuangliu international airport and other feeder airports. Chengdu Shuangliu international airport has become one of the four major airports in China, is one of the busiest civil aviation hubs in the Midwest China, and it is the most important passenger and cargo distribution center in southwestern China. There are airlines use Chengdu Shuangliu international airport, more than 140 routes, which can directly fly to many cities at home and abroad.

Sichuan Climate & Weather

Sichuan is located in the transitional zone between Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the eastern plains and therefore has complex and diverse climates with rather obvious regional differences and vertical changes. There are distinct disparities between east and west Sichuan as well.

The overall characteristics of Sichuan’s climate can be summarized as follows: monsoon climate is obvious and rain and heat happens in the same seasons; regional climate differences are prominent in that the east is characterized by warm winters, early springs, hot summers, rainy autumns, much cloud and fog, little sunshine and a long growing season while the west is characterized by coldness, long winters, almost no summer, sufficient sunshine, concentrated rainfall and distinct dry and rainy seasons; vertical climate changes are significant and climate types are varied; meteorological disasters happen in various forms with a high frequency and large scope, which are mainly droughts, rainstorms, floods and cold weather.

Tips for Sichuan Weather

Best season to visit Sichuan:
The best time to travel in Sichuan is in spring and autumn, especially in February and March, July to October. Spring is dry in Sichuan lowlands and south area, with little but concentrated precipitation on the plateau. Summer is hot in Sichuan lowlands and south area, but on the plateau, there seems no summer. In July, the temperature has reached 25ºC to 29 ºC in the lowlands, 11 ºC to 17 ºC on the plateau, and 22 ºC to 26 ºC in the south. Autumn is rainy season in Sichuan lowlands and south area, but is with strong sunshine on the plateau. Winter is warm in Sichuan lowlands and south area, but a little cold on the plateau. In January, the temperature may be 3 ºC to 8 ºC in the lowlands, -9 ºC to 3 ºC on the plateau, and 8 ºC to 13 ºC in the south.

Clothes for travelling:
The temperature difference between day and night in the scenic areas in Sichuan Province is big, and sunshine time is long; even if in summer, it is cool in the morning and evening and hot at noon. Please bring enough clothes to keep warm. In winter, if you go to the Xiling Snow Mountain or high altitude places in Sichuan, be sure to wear thick sweater and warm clothes, also you can bring down jacket.

Avoid Peak Holidays
It is not a good idea to travel in China during Chinese holidays when huge numbers of Chinese people are travelling around. The busiest three national holidays in China are Chinese Spring Festival (usually in late Jan or early Feb.), International Labor Day (May 01 to 03) and National Day (Oct 01-07). Spring Festival is an especially crowded time to travel. The advantage of being in China at this time is that you will get the opportunity to experience "first hand" the significance of these celebrations in Chinese culture.

Other Tips:
The weather in Sichuan is different in lowlands, on the plateau and in the south area, tourists should pay more attention to the climate of your destinations of your Sichuan Tour.

The sunshine in summer is so strong with ultraviolet ray. Tourists who take outdoor activities for long time should wear the sun hat, daub frost prevention, in order to protect the skin.

The northwestern Sichuan plateau area is high altitude, do not do some unfavorable drastic exercises, do not walk quickly, more can't run. Tourists had better take rain gear and commonly used drugs.

Best Places for Sichuan Travel

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, located in the west plain in the Sichuan Basin, is a famous historical and cultural city with a history over 3,000 years. It serves as the provincial center for politics, economy, culture, and transportation. Known as the land of abundance, Chengdu boasts plentiful local products, a pleasant climate, a large number of scenic spots and historical sites, and fine traditional handicrafts well known both at home and abroad. In Chengdu, tourists can go to Panda Base to play with panda, Sanxingdui Museum to dig out the history of Sichuan, and Jinli Old Street to experience the local life.

Leshan City, original called Jiazhou, belonged to Shu Country in the history. It is the national historic and cultural site. Leshan City possesses two world heritage sites (Leshan Giant Buddha and Mr. Emei) in the world.

Jiuzhaigou County, original as Nanping County, is located in the western Sichuan. It is one the boundary between Sichuan Province and Gansu Province. The world famous scenic sport Jiuzhai Valley lies in the southwest direction of Jiuzhaigou County, about 41km away from the county. The various geographical characters and various scenic types make Jiuzhai Valley as the unique site in the karst geography in the world.

Sichuan Minorities and Festival

Minorities: Sichuan is a multi-ethnic habitation, there are 55 ethnic minorities of 4.908 million people. Yi, Tibetan, Qiang, Miao, Hui, Mongolian, Tujia, Lisu, Manchu, Naxi, Bai, Zhuang, Buyi, Dai for indigenous minorities in the province. Sichuan is the country's only habitation of Qiang minority, and the largest habitation areas of Yi and second largest Tibetan habitation areas of the country. Minorities mainly live in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture and Muli Tibetan autonomous county, Mabian Yi autonomous county, Ebian Yi autonomous county, Beichuan Qiang autonomous county. It is known as "China's second Tibetan area", "China the only Qiang zone", "China's first Yi communities".

Yi minority has the largest number of people among Sichuan ethnic minorities, they mainly inhabits in Sichuan Liangshan and Anning river valley. Tibetans in Sichuan, 95% of them speak Tibetan and Gyalrong, there are about 40% of the Tibetans well-versed in mandarin. 95% of Yi minority use Yi language, of which about 60% of them well-versed in mandarin. Qiang people, about 70% of the population speak Qiang language and 70% of them can speak Chinese. Among indigenous minorities, except the Hui minority, other minorities use their native language.

Sichuan is a big province with Hakka people in the western China, since "Hubei and Hunan fills Sichuan" immigration movement at the end of Ming dynasty and the beginning of the Qing dynasty, gradually formed Hakka dialect centered on Longquanyi district. Hakka population of 500000, and they have better retained the hakka language and culture of life. In the whole Sichuan, currently there are 700000 people can speak hakka dialect. More than 85% of people in Luodai ancient town are hakka descent, and they are still fully carried on hakka customs and they speak hakka dialect which praised as "ancient Chinese living fossil".

Festival: Yi minority has the largest number of people among Sichuan ethnic minorities, they mainly inhabits in Sichuan Liangshan and Anning river valley. Yi people have their own language, and calendar. The lunar June 24 is the Yi people's most grand festival, Torch Festival. Torch festival is the ancient and important traditional festival of Yi, Bai, Naxi, Jino, Lahu minorities, which has a profound connotation of folk culture, renowned at home and abroad, known as the "Oriental carnival". When to hold the Torch Festival is different according to different minority, but mostly in the lunar June 24. The main activities are a bullfight, sheep fight, chicken fight, horse racing, wrestling, singing and dancing performance, beauty contest, and so on. In the new era, the torch festival is endowed with new folk custom function, and produced a new form.