Off-the-Track Places in  Sichuan

Sichuan is a loved and hated land, both for perfectly understandable reasons. One will love the food when another one will not bear the spicy/numby side of it. One will enjoy the tranquil, leisured and even sometimes uninterested side the Chinese (Sichuanese) can have in everyday life situations, another will find it rude and impossible to overcome and in the end will have difficulties to adapt.

But one thing everyone will agree on is that Sichuan has uncanny varied landscapes could it be some Rocky-like mountain chains displaying wild spring deep-blue torrents running down its narrow valley; Or the High dry Tibetan plateau, their endless chains of small hills, flowery in spring, lush green in summer, brownish in autumn and snowy white in winter, by all times covered with multitudes of yak herds conducted by local friendly Tibetan shepherds, sometimes by foot, sometimes on a motorbike ; Or the great forests around the Leshan Buddha and Emei Mountain ; or even the seducing flatness of the Sichuan basin, its numerous old towns and fields turning rapeseed-yellow when spring comes. Adding the urban touch that represents Chengdu and Chongqing completes the picture.

To make it clear, Sichuan is a land of abundant and various landscapes, fitting for all tastes, could it be Hikers, Trekkers, people that enjoy urban or rural areas, lively or calm places, even people who like ancient Chinese history !

 

Our team has travelled in Sichuan and will give you a few of the uncountable “of-the-check” places to visit.

 

  • Yarchen Gar/亚青寺

One of the less known places in Sichuan to visit and for a good reason ! Situated in the Ganzi autonomous region, it is close in ressemblance to its much more well known sister Seda/Sertar (check it out !) but much more tiny and isolated. The roads you’ll take to go there are absolutely indeed breathtaking, but you’d be warned to be accompanied of someone who can speak Chinese clearly.

The place is a great Buddhist monk city situated in the middle of a West Sichuan high valley (4000m).

The city population has a majority of Tibetan monks. Its isolation is its main asset. The emotions anyone will feel in such a place are strong especially while walking around the small streets surrounded by red habitations emanating the strong and particular smell of the Tibetan speciality: Yack meat.

Multicolour flags and the unique hue of the sky varying at any moment of the day, at any season adds to the overall uncannily rich experience anyone will go through while visiting. For a better comprehension of the place and the people, don’t hesitate to read about Tibetan Buddhism and the History of the city itself.

 

  • Langzhong/阆中

Lovers of Chinese ancient style towns, those marvellous oriental cliché small houses, watering our imaginaries for centuries, are going to rejoice you.

The two three floors traditionally built habitations, adorned with the well-known sharpy roof edges, a red lantern hanging below each one of them is on its own a good reason to go there. Just wandering the small streets filled with particular Chinese food scents is a happiness for all Five Senses.

On top of having one of the largest traditionally built ancient town parts, Langzhong is also home to two important Sichuan dishes. 黑醋 black vinegar and 张飞牛肉 Zhangfei style beef. The small alleys will be filled with these distinctive smells, the softly acid odour of vinegar and the strong smell of beef mixed with red chilly and Sichuan numby pepper.

Surrounding the city (almost literally) is the Jialing River and lots of hills on top of which the view on the whole city is absolutely astonishing.

It is truly a must do for all you food and ancient China lovers.

 

  • Pingle/平乐

Similar to Langzhong, but much tinier, Pingle is a small traditional town in Mid West Sichuan not far from Chengdu. Its cuteness and smallness will seduce you rapidly, would it be for its old town or the landscapes all around it. Small mountains surrounding the city, a river by which you can have a nice walk, even a cup of tea with locals if will be. You’d be then surely recommended to eat some of the local food 钵钵鸡(Boboji) Normally served in a sort of big bowl with cold served chicken skewer (Leshan variant) It is here simple chicken slices served in a spicy sugary sauce ; or milk soup noodles奶汤面 (naitang mian).

Pingle isn’t a place you will want to stay forever, rather incorporate it in a more important travel, but it is one of the best ways of discovering lovely sides of the Sichuan people, their culture and customs.

  • Ruoergai/若尔盖

Surrounded by emptiness, green hills and small streams piercing the beautiful monotony of endless grass fields, this little town his truly a wonder for the eye.

High up, perched at 3500 meters above sea level, the calm life of the Tibetan town will struck anyone who makes it there.

There is not much to be done or seen there because there is not need to. Nature at its simplest can be enjoyed all around us accompanied by some exotic Tibetan food available anywhere.

Yacks and shepherds are in and around Ruoergai as protectors of the peaceful way of life of the inhabitants of this truly magical place.