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Home to some of the most spectacular mountain landscapes in the world, more than a dozen ethnic minorities, the most varied cuisine in the world, the allures of the eastern Tibetan region of Kham, and a strong sense of unique culture (including unique language), Sichuan is as large as Spain and feels like a separate country. Three-fourths of the province is mountains, and it’s the mountains that stand out most enticingly in any itinerary. The problem is where to start and where to finish; traditionally, it’s the mountains south of Chengdu that have attracted most traffic, particularly Emei Shan with its monasteries and hiking trails. In the ...

Home to some of the most spectacular mountain landscapes in the world, more than a dozen ethnic minorities, the most varied cuisine in the world, the allures of the eastern Tibetan region of Kham, and a strong sense of unique culture (including unique language), Sichuan is as large as Spain and feels like a separate country. Three-fourths of the province is mountains, and it’s the mountains that stand out most enticingly in any itinerary. The problem is where to start and where to finish; traditionally, it’s the mountains south of Chengdu that have attracted most traffic, particularly Emei Shan with its monasteries and hiking trails. In the same region, particularly in Ya’an, the mountains hold peasant villages that seem to morph out of Chinese fantasy paintings. In terms of nature and landscapes, however, it’s the Min Mountains in north-central Sichuan that are most impressive, particularly a cluster of nature reserves centered around Jiuzhaigou. For culture, most exotic is the wild northwest region of Kham, where Tibetan nomads dominate the undulating grasslands and the large monasteries rival many of those found in Tibet itself. Dege, at the extreme northwest, has a Tibetan printing press and library that’s estimated to hold seventy percent of all historical Tibetan manuscripts.

Victor Borg
About the Expert

Victor Borg has authored whole guidebooks to Malta and Gozo for Time Out and Rough Guides, and has contributed to other guidebooks on Libya and China, where he lives.

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Victor Borg for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Tibetan Plateau is an elevated region in East Asia; Sichuan is a province in western China that lies on the southeastern portion of the plateau
  • Language: Mandarin, Tibetan, Other
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Sichuan | Tibetan Plateau | Sichuan
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    April and May, October and November