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JC98 May 30th, 2011 12:43 PM

Questions about Chengdu/Sichuan and Lhasa
Hi all,

I'll be in Chengdu toward the end of Sept for business, and would like to travel around Sichuan and hopefully to Lhasa. I'll have about a week and possibly can stretch it to 10 days. I'm interested in beautiful scenery (day hiking), historical sights, good regional food.

Some questions:
1) Tibet permit. How and where to apply for it? How much it costs?
2) Lhasa--how many days to spend here? Anything close by to visit?
3) 1st week of Oct I think is China's national holiday. Is it a holiday for the entire week? Should we avoid it at all costs? The other option is to travel around mid Sept. Is the weather good in Sichuan and Tibet at that time?
4) Any info on train from Chengdu to Lhasa? How long does it take?
5) Please suggest a good itinerary. I'm interested in going to Jiuzhaigou, Emeishan, the big Buddha, etc.

Lots of questions here. If you could help in any parts, that would be great.

Thanks much!

thursdaysd May 30th, 2011 01:34 PM

1 - you should be able to get it in Chengdu, but this is something that changes frequently and unpredictably. You usually need to be part of a group of at least four, but the travel agencies will concoct a group just for purposes of getting the permit.

2 - lots to see in Tibet besides Lhasa. Suggest spending time with a good guidebook.

3 - absolutely avoid National Day and several days either side. Mid September is likely to better for weather in that part of the world as well.

4 - for train info for China see For Lhasa specifically see You will almost certainly need help to get tickets as it's a popular train starting further east.

5 - you might find my TR helpful See

MariaTravel Jul 6th, 2011 08:04 PM

1. Regarding the Tibet permit. According to the current situation, only the travel agencies can help you apply for it. But you need book for a package tour, no travel angency will only apply for a permit.
2. You can spend 2-3 days exploring Lhasa city. Highlights are Potala Palace, Jokhang temple, Drepung monastery and Sera monastery and other small monasteries which are historical sights.
Around Lhasa, Namtso Lake and Yamdrok Lake are good places for beautiful scenery.

3. Chinese National Holiday will last from Oct.1 to Oct.7. There will be floods of people almost in each scenic spots. Transportation is bad, hotel is hard to reserve and cost is higher. If it is possible, I suggest you to advance your tour in Mid-Sept. The weather at that time is good both at Sichuan and Tibet.

4. Take the train is good, but it will take about 44 hours from Chengdu to Lhasa. From the first 22 hours ride, there is no special scenery. During the last 22 hours, you will enjoy wonderful Tibetean highlights including snow-capped mountains, grassland, beautiful lakes. But considering your time is tight, I suggest you to fly to Tibet. A short flight to Tibet will give you a panorama of the snowy Himalayan ranges.

5. Here I draft a rough itinerary for you.

Day 1 Fly to Jiuzhaigou , explore Huanglong park
Day 2, full day explore Jiuzhaigou vally
Day 3, fly to Chengdu.
Day 4 Leshan big Buddha
Day 5 Emeishan
Day 6 fly to Lhasa
Day 7 Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Barkhor street
Day 8 Drepung monastery and Sera monastery
Day 9 Namtso Lake or Yamdrok Lake
Day 10 Fly back to Chengdu

rkkwan Jul 6th, 2011 09:06 PM

First, TTB permits have always been available through agents only, and these agents will only sell you whole package with a guide. CURRENT situation (today) is that Tibet has been closed to foreigners since late June, and won't be opened up until sometime in August.

Second, while the places to visit in that "rough itinerary" is good, the sequence of visits pay no attention to the affect of altitude at all.

- While flying to Jiuzhaigou and then immediately going to Huanglong is a common thing tour companies do, it is stupid and dangerous and uncomfortable. Many who've done so complained about moderate altitude sickness with this arrangement. The sensible thing to do is to visit the lower Jiuzhaigou first before going to Huanglong.

- If one's going to both Jiuzhai/Huanglong and Tibet on the same trip, then it makes sense to put them back-to-back. Not separate them with 2 days in the "low country" when one has already get acclimated to the high altitude, and then lose it.

- After arriving in Lhasa, unless one's already adjusted to the high altitude, DON'T go to the Potala Place the next morning with lots of steps to climb. Go to the other monasteries first, and save Potala for a later time. But putting Yomdrok or Namtso at last is good idea, since those are even higher.

JC98 Jul 8th, 2011 12:18 PM

Thanks, all, for the great suggestions! I had never heard of Huanglong until you mentioned it, and from google images it looks spectacular. Any other suggestions like this would be really great.

Also suggestions on where to stay the night and which places would be sufficient for daytrip, etc. would be great too. Heard that Huanglong can be visited as a day trip from Juizhaigou?

It looks like it might be difficult to go to Tibet. Any other scenic/ancient historical sites to see in Sichuan or convenient provinces nearby? How about Yunnan?

Thanks a lot!

MariaTravel Jul 11th, 2011 12:05 AM

Yes, Huanglong is also a great place to visit and a day trip is enough from Jiuzhaigou airport to Huanglong. After several hours exploring, you can drive to Jiuzhaigou for overnight, better choose a hotel near the entrance of Jiuzhaigou vally, such as Xingyu Hotel, Qianhe Hotel or Jiuzhai Resort.

If no plan to Tibet and considering your time, I suggest some highlights in Sichan such as one day Chengdu tour, Dujiangyan Irrigation System and Mt.Qingchen, Dinosaur Museum and Yanjing in Zigong and some highlights in Chongqing such as Dazu Grottoes. Chongqing is located within southeast of Sichuan Province, but since 1997 it has been an independent metropolis under the direct jurisdiction of the Central Government. Below is a rough itinerary for you.

Day 1, Chengdu city sightseeing;
Chengdu Panda Base & Jinsha Museum&Jinli street
Chengdu panda Base&Wenshu manastery&Wide and Narrow Lane

Day 2, One day trip to Dujiangyan & Mt. Qingcheng;
Overnight at Chengdu

Day 3, Chengdu / Leshan Grand Buddha / Mt. Emei(suggest overnight at Baoguosi area);
Day 4, Emeishan one day tour; Overnight at Emeishan
Day 5, Drive from Emei to Zigong, visit Dinosaur Museum and yanjing. Overnight at Zigong;
Day 6, Drive from Zigong to Dazu, visit Dazu Grottoes Overnight at Chongqing
Day 7, Chongqing one day tour( People's Assembly Hall, Ci Qi Kou Ancient village,the General Stilwell Museum or etc.);
Day 8, Fly to Jiuzhaigou airport and visit Huanglong, and then drive to Jiuzhaigou(near the entrance);
Day 9 full day explore Jiuzhaigou vally
Day 10 fly to Chengdu

JC98 Jul 11th, 2011 02:14 PM

Thanks, Maria, for your suggested itinerary. I will be in Chengdu for 1 week of business meeting, so I'll see Chengdu for sure. I've been to Chongqing for 1 day before, so not keen on going back there. So, with just 1 week to travel outside of Chengdu, I'll do Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Emeishan. Anything else that I can fit in?


MariaTravel Jul 11th, 2011 06:42 PM

If no plan to Chongqing,just exclude it. As I suggested in above itinerary, you can visit Dinosaur Museum and Yanjing in Zigong, Dujiangyan Irrigation System & Mt. Qingcheng in Dujiangyan. Rough itinerary as below

Day 1,Chengdu/Dujiangyan/Mt. Qingcheng/Chengdu
Overnight at Chengdu

Day 2, Chengdu / Leshan Grand Buddha / Mt. Emei(suggest overnight at Baoguosi area);
Day 3, Emeishan one day tour; Overnight at Emeishan
Day 4, Emei/Zigong /visit Dinosaur Museum and yanjing/Chengdu
Overnight at Chengdu
Day 5, Fly to Jiuzhaigou airport and visit Huanglong, and then drive to Jiuzhaigou(near the entrance);
Day 6 full day explore Jiuzhaigou vally
Day 7 fly to Chengdu, Chengdu sightseeing if you are not tired. Jinsha Museum&Jinli street or Wenshu manastery&Wide and Narrow Lane

MariaTravel Jul 11th, 2011 06:46 PM

If you still have some doubt, I'm glad to help you. I'm working in Chengdu,let me know if you need any help.

rkkwan Jul 11th, 2011 07:39 PM

The fact that this poster continues to push for flying into Jiuzhaigou airport and then hit Huanglong immediately should mean something to those following this thread.

thursdaysd Jul 11th, 2011 08:31 PM

Since said poster's email address is windhorsetours it's pretty obvious where she's coming from. Not that the screen name and posts weren't dead giveaways.

Kathie Jul 12th, 2011 06:47 AM

Yes, it's been pointed out a number of times that Maria is a travel agent. She's more interested in her agenda than in what you want, JC.

JC98 Jul 12th, 2011 11:41 PM

I'm shocked by how expensive admission prices are in China--220RMB ppfor park entrance and another 90 for shuttle bus. That's like $50 per day per person! Even small museums in Chengdu are charging 50+ RMB. Are foreigners charged more than locals?

MariaTravel Jul 13th, 2011 06:13 PM

All admission prices in Sichuan province is the same for foreigners and locals.

rkkwan Jul 14th, 2011 08:32 AM

JC98 - There are plenty of wealthy Chinese tourists wanting their pictures taken at the famous sites, so they can charge as much as they want. Until they go to a more "fair" lottery system or pre-ordering process, that's also their means of crowd control. Of course, that's a topic for a separate thread, for another time.

JC98 Aug 3rd, 2011 08:33 AM

Thanks, all, for your pointers. Please critique the following itinerary:

9/17 (Sat evening) arrive in Chengdu. Overnight in Chengdu
9/18 (Sun) Bus or train (which one is better?) to Emei. Go to see Leshan. Overnigt in Emei.
9/19 (Mon) Hike in Emeishan. (Possible to do templestay? Maybe switch itinerary of Sun and Mon and just stay in temple on Sun? We want a private room that's clean with bath. Which temple?)
9/20 (Tue) Train or bus back to Chengdu airport for 10 a.m. or late afternoon flight to Jiuzhaigou. Overnight at entrance of Jiuzhaigou.
9/21 (Wed) Full day in Jiuzhaigou. Bus up, hike down.
9/22 (Thur) Huanglong. Back to airport. Evening flight to Xian.
9/23-9/25 (Fri,Sat,Sun morning) -- Xian (too long?)
9/25 (Sun afternoon) Fly to Chengdu

1 week in Chengdu for conference.

Appreciate any suggestions and details on how to get around--from and to airport, and to destinations, etc.


JC98 Aug 3rd, 2011 10:48 AM

Also, some specific questions:

1) Where can I find bus or train schedule to/from Emeishan and Chengdu? Which one is faster, more comfortable, safer?

2) Read that Huanglong is similar to Yellowstone. I just went to Yellowstone last year and spent a whole week there exploring all kinds of mineral pools. Given that and how difficult it is to get to Huanglong, do you still think it worth going? I'll be going to Jiuzhaigou for sure, but not certain about addding on Huanglong.

Please advise.


MariaTravel Aug 10th, 2011 11:59 PM

Your itinerary is good,below is some suggestion for you.

9/18 take bus to Emei at Chengdu Xin Nan Men station. Bus is faster,convenient and comfortable.The train ticket is difficult to buy and you may stand all the way on the train.

9/18 you may stay at Baoguoshi temple and there are also many budget hotels there near Baoguoshi

9/19 you can stay at the top of the mountain so that you can see the sunrise the next morning.There are budget hotels there which is cheap, the best hotel on the top is Golden Summit Hotel (3star) The sightseeing bus includes the up and down, even you go down the mountain the next day, the ticket is still valid.If you choose to climb up and down by sightseeing bus, the price is the same.

9/20 bus back to Chengdu airport.You'd better buy the air tickets in advance in this tourism peak season.

9/22 it's up to you whether you visit it or not.

9/23-25 I think 1.5 days or two days are enough for the visit to Terracotta Warriors,Great Mosque, Xi'an City Wall, the big Wild Goose Pagoda,Shanxi Provincial Historic Museum etc.

JC98 Aug 12th, 2011 09:30 AM

Thanks, Maria, for your helpful response.

Some more questions:

1) Any monastery you would recommend staying at the summit for sunrise viewing? My main concern is cleanliness, and don't care about fancy amenities. Do they have private room for 2 people? Do I need to make advanced reservation?

2) Panda Breeding Center worth it? I have seen pandas in top notched zoos in the U.S. (San Diego zoo, etc.) and elsewhere. Would this be very different and worth the trip? Is half a day enough to see it including transport out there and back to Chengdu?

3) I have a full spare day in Chengdu. Would you recommend going to the Irrigation Project and possibly with the Taoist Mountain nearby? Or go to Sanxingdui Museum?


rkkwan Aug 12th, 2011 09:44 AM

2. Yes, it's worth going. Visit as early as possible when the pandas are feeding and before most local tourists arrive. Half a day is enough.

3. I've been to all 3 and all are very worth going. Sanxingdui is in the same direction as Panda Center, and in fact I went to both as part of local Chinese one-day tour.

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