Sichuan & Jiuzhaigou
Sichuan, a province in the southwest of China, contains many of China’s most interesting natural wonders, wildlife preserves, and ancient monuments.
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, is known for its "hot and spicy" cuisine and has been named one of the UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy, the first city of its kind in Asia. Chengdu's other famous attraction is the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, which is the easiest way to catch a glimpse of China's favourite animal outside of a zoo. Home to nearly 50 giant and red pandas, the Giant Panda Museum is also located at its base and gives visitors a quick guide on their characteristics, habitat and distribution in the wild.
The stunning Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve is one of Sichuan's star attractions. An incredible 1.5 million people visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site every year to gawp at its famous crystal clear lakes, rushing waterfalls, and deep-green trees backed by snowy mountains. The best time to visit is in September, when you're most likely to have clear skies and blazing autumn colours to contrast with the turquoise lakes.
Last but certainly not the least, the Giant Buddha of Leshan stands ever serenely after 1,200 years overlooking the confluence of the Dadu River and the Min River. At 71m tall, the world's tallest Buddha draws tour boats close by for panoramic views and plenty of tourists crowding the steep, winding stairway around it.