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Extra Day in Chengdu

Itinerary

Day 1: Chengdu, China
Arrive in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Overnight at the elegant Shangri-La Hotel in the heart of this vibrant city on the Brocade River. Meals are on your own today, and our hotel's dining options offer appealing choices—or ask our representative for local recommendations.

Day 2: Cultural Discovery Around Chengdu
Rise early for breakfast at the hotel this morning, in anticipation of a full day of exploration in the Chengdu region. Meet your local guide and set off for a 2-hour drive to see the Leshan Giant Buddha. Carved out of a cliff face that lies at the confluence of three rivers in southern Sichuan province near the city of Leshan, the stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below his feet. At 233 feet tall, it is the largest stone Buddha in the world, featured in poetry, story and song. His fingers alone are 27 feet long, and there are 1,021 intricately carved buns in the Buddha’s coiled hair. Begun in the year 713 during the Tang dynasty and finished in 803, the statue took nearly a century to carve, with thousands of workers enlisted on the project. The Mount Emei Scenic Area, including the Leshan Giant Buddha, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, after extensive restoration to the statue by the Chinese government.

Our next stop is the nearby Mahao Cliff Tombs, located in a vertical stone wall on the northern bank of the Mahao River just outside Leshan.* The tombs date to the Han dynasty, from the second century B.C. to the second century A.D. The museum on the site of these ancient Chinese graves holds a collection of more than 2,200 unearthed artifacts, including intricate pottery figurines. Five of the tombs have been restored, showcasing the extensive network of ceremonial halls, chambers and passageways within. On the walls are many exquisite relief paintings that give a three-dimensional effect with their curved relief sculptures crafted with bold and vigorous lines. The slabstone paintings are fine examples of the Han dynasty esthetic.

We also visit Wuyou Monastery, which sits atop Wuyou Mountain, where it enjoys impressive views of the Giant Buddha and river below.* Founded in 742 A.D. at the height of the Tang dynasty and comprising seven Buddhist palaces, the monastery complex has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries. Today it functions mostly as a museum, filled with calligraphic paintings, carved terracotta monks and other Buddhist artifacts.

After a stop at a local fishing village and lunch in Leshan town, we make our way back to our hotel in the heart of bustling Chengdu, arriving in time to freshen up before meeting our Expedition Leader and the rest of our group around 5 pm.

*Note: Climbing the steps alongside the Buddha, as well as visits to the Mahao Cliff Tombs and Wuyou Monastery, are dependent upon individual physical abilities and are not guaranteed. An additional option for viewing the Buddha by boat is available for those with more limited capabilities.
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