Visit the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center and meet privately with the scientists responsible for developing the center’s advanced panda reproduction program, which has produced more than 46 cubs in 11 litters over the past ten years. Explore the grounds and have your photo taken with baby and adult pandas.
A little over two hours away from Chengdu is the Leshan Giant Buddha. Carved out of a stone cliff face, the Buddha is situated in Leshan at the juncture of three rivers: the Min, Qingyi, and Dadu Rivers. Carving began in the Tang Dynasty in 713 and ended in 803 AD, a monumental 90-year effort that resulted in a 233-foot (71 meter) high Buddha. His hair is comprised of 1,021 separate buns that form an elegant coif.
The Qingyang Taoist Temple is considered the birthplace of Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism. As the day winds down, relax in the tea pavilion’s bamboo chairs, sip fragrant jasmine pearl tea, and observe a fast-paced game of mah jong.
Visit the Shu Xiu Fang embroidery workshop where you learn from artisans who craft Sichuan’s legendary textiles, renowned for fine needlework, elegant colors, graceful lines, and their design in the style of traditional Chinese paintings.
See an abridged Sichuan Opera at the Wuhou Temple, where performances are held in the traditional courtyard setting with tea service. Different from Western (or even Peking) Opera, this local style is distinguished by elaborate acrobatic stunts, sharp wit, lively characters, and audience participation. Afterwards, meet with the performers and catch a glimpse of the usually off-limits backstage area and dressing rooms.
Visit Wenshu Monastery, an exquisite architectural site. Dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), it is one of the most active Buddhist centers in China; its sculptured roofs, colonnades, reflecting ponds and ornate, crimson buildings are a fine and increasingly rare example of classical Chinese architecture. Afterwards, enjoy a Sichuan style lunch at the temple’s vegetarian restaurant.