Five things to do when visiting China's Sichuan province


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1. Visit

The Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, gives visitors an up-close view of these adorable creatures in their natural habitat.

Despite the giant panda's status as a Chinese national treasure, its population dropped dramatically. This facility was opened in 1987 to rescue and breed wild pandas.

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Strolling through the tall, cool bamboo forest that houses the base is an awesome experience, or hop on one of the open tourist buses.

2. Eat

For a tasty and fun dining experience, pop into a Sichuan hot pot restaurant in Chengdu.

A pot of bubbling stock with a second, inner pot of spicy broth sits at the centre of each table. Diners dip all sorts of things, including exotic mushrooms, dumplings, wontons, cocktail franks, duck intestines, shredded beef and chicken, tofu, seafood and seaweed, into the broth of their choice.

3. Cruise

Book a Yangtze River cruise and visit the Three Gorges Dam, one of the world's largest hydropower projects.

My ship, the China Goddess 2, was very modern with a maximum of 400 passengers. It was very peaceful gliding along the calm river through stunning gorges and past massive cities. There's plenty of entertainment and at least two shore excursions every day.

4. Float

Board a small boat and then an even smaller 20-seater motorboat to navigate the narrower passages of the pristine Lesser Three Gorges.

The Qutang and Wu gorges in Care often referred to as a gallery because the sheer cliffs are adorned with artefacts including the ancient plank road, Meng Liang stairway and mysterious hanging coffins.

5. Experience

The old sits amidst the new in Ciqikou, an old town preserved in the sprawling modern metropolis Chongqing.

Ciqikou's steep and narrow pedestrian streets house porcelain and handicrafts shops and tea houses.

These give visitors an insight into what many areas of Chongqing were like before the metropolis became a vast urban area with a population of more than 30 million.

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