This unique tour visits some of the most famous sites along the old Road to Shu on a 17-day bus excursion as we travel off the beaten track and experience an older, more traditional China. We will hike the beautiful cypress-shaded old flagstone road that once connected Chengdu with Xi'an. All hikes will be leisurely, not over three hours although there will be an option for anyone to extend two of the hikes with our local guide Miss Li. We will also visit a reconstructed plank road along a gorge in the Jialing River, spend four nights in Langzhong's Old Town where we will dine in two restored Qing dynasty residences. In addition, we will visit five towns along the road to Shu in Sichuan province(Zitong, Wulian, Puan, Jianmenguan, Guangyuan) which are not on the usual tourist circuit. Even though we will be hiking in remote areas, we will still be close enough to town to have comfortable lodgings and marvelous meals which we'll eat family-style at a single table. We'll also visit the pandas in Chengdu and attend a Sichuan opera and a traditional puppet show.
The two links in blue below and in the left column will lead you to pages with more information and photos.
To return to this page, click on "2017 Tour," in the headings list in the left column of the page.
View a photo album of the 2011 tour compiled by Wendy Lycan Jackson. Wendy's Album
Day 1, March 12, Monday – Leave the USA on overseas flight to China
Day 2, March 13, Tuesday – Arrive Chengdu
I will meet you at the airport whenever you arrive. We are going to stay at the Chuangang hotel five minutes from the airport the first night, as most people will be arriving during the evening and night. I will either send you to the hotel in the hotel courtesy van or come back with you in the van depending on the time of other people’s arrival. The van ride takes five minutes. If you arrive in the afternoon, we will have dinner at the hotel. I will change US dollars into Chinese yuan at the hotel. $50 per person should be enough to buy beer, soda, or other incidentals. I can change more if you let me know how much you need.
Day 3, March 14, Wednesday – Sightseeing in Chengdu
Our bus will pick us up at the hotel after an early breakfast. We can leave our luggage in the bus as we head to the newly expanded Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, eating lunch there and returning to town to check into the Jinjiang Hotel in time for a rest before dinner at a famous hot pot restaurant on Qintai Road where all the buildings have recently been rebuilt in the traditional imperial style. After dinner we will watch a performance of the Sichuan opera just down the street. You can read about Chengdu in my book, pp. 75-80. We’ll return to our hotel about .
Day 4, March 15, Thursday – Sightseeing in Chengdu
We'll have a leisurely buffet breakfast at the Jinjiang Hotel, we’ll take our bus to the Temple of the Martial Marquis (pp 90-92) for a stroll around the shady grounds and a tour through a very small Three Kingdoms Museum. The original temple on this site dates from the 6th century and was built to honor the Three Kingdoms strategist, Zhuge Liang and his ruler Liu Bei, who both played an important role along the old road in the 3rd century A.D. We will havel lunch at one Chengdu's most famous “little snacks” restaurants located in the Chunxi Mall where we will glimpse in passing the new consumer-oriented China which we are soon to leave behind. We'll return to the Jinjiang for dinner.
Day 5, March 16, Friday –Bus to Langzhong
After another leisurely breakfast at the Jinjiang Hotel buffet, we’ll board our bus for a four-hour drive to our next destination, Langzhong (pp. 187-190), one of the best-preserved Old Towns in the country. No cars are allowed in the old city, so we will have to carry our own bags about three blocks to our hotel. Any luggage not needed or purchases along the way can be left on the bus as it will always be locked. We’ll arrive between 1 and and have a dumpling snack at a local restaurant and explore the old town before dinner at the Zhenjianglou, the former home of a Qing dynasty official which has been turned into a hotel with an excellent restaurant. After dinner we will enjoy a half-hour foot massage before returning to our hotel.
Day 6, March 17, Saturday – Sightseeing in Langzhong
After breakfast in our hotel, we'll explore the old town, visiting the local market and eating lunch nearby. In the afternoon we'll visit the Huaguang Tower for a bird's eye view of the old town. The rest of the afternoon will be spent shopping on your own in Langzhong or returning to our hotel for a rest before dinner. Dinner will be at the Du Family Courtyard House (p.190), which we will tour before dinner. After dinner we will walk down to the river to see a traditional puppet show.
Day 7, March 18 Sunday – Langzhong Sightseeing
After breakfast in our hotel, our bus will take us across the Jialing River and up to the top of the mountains which overlook Langzhong to visit the White Pagoda for a bird’s eye view of the old city enclosed in a curve of the river. Then the bus will drop us off farther down the mountain near the Zhuangyuan Cave Pavilion for a pretty short hike through this complex and then through the grounds of the Tang Dynasty Great Buddha Temple. Our bus will then drive us all the way down the mountain to the river where we will catch a local ferry boat. Our bus will meet us on the other side, returning us to our hotel for a late lunch. After lunch there will be free time to explore the old town on your own and do some shopping. Dinner will again be at the Du Family Courtyard House.
Day 8, March 19, Monday Langzhong sightseeing
After breakfast at our hotel, we'll spend the morning visiting the Zhang Fei Temple, where a famous Three Kingdoms hero is buried, and the Civil Service Hall, where civil service exams were held in imperial times (pp. 194-198). After lunch, we will take a ride on the Jialing River on an excursion boat and the rest of the afternoon will be free for wandering on your own in the old town. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 9, March 20, Tuesday bus to Zitong and Temple
After breakfast we will return to our bus for a three-to four-hour ride to Zitong along a small highway that takes us through some beautiful countryside. After lunch at our hotel, we will visit the Qiqushan Great Temple, one of the temples Isabelle Bishop visited when she traveled the Road to Shu in 1896. Dinner at our hotel in Zitong.
Day 10, March 21, Wednesday - Wulian Hike
After breakfast at our hotel, our bus will take us for a half hour drive along the Green Cloud Corridor, a highway built over the old road and still shaded by the ancient cypress trees which once lined the road (pp 100-105). Our bus will drop us off in the hills outside of Wulian (pp 133, 135-6, 138-9). Here we will take a short hike down the hill into town on the only stretch of the old flagstone road that was spared by the highway construction. The hike will be very leisurely as we will pass an interesting grave and several farmhouses so it will probably take two hours even though it could be done in 30 minutes. We’ll eat lunch in Wulian, then visit the nearby Pure Land Temple, famous for its Ming dynasty frescoes. Then we will continue to drive north along the Green Cloud Corridor to our next destination, Puan, (pp 106-111), arriving in about 45 minutes. Dinner in our hotel, the Jiange Hotel.
Day 11, March 22, Thursday Puan and Green Cloud Corridor
After a Chinese-style buffet breakfast in the Jiange Hotel, we'll spend the morning exploring the market and the Old Town which includes the old south gate with a stretch of flagstone street and a bit of city wall on either side, the old bell-drum tower, and some of the old wooden houses which still line the original narrow street, now paved over but never widened (pp 116-117). After lunch at our hotel, our bus will take us north on Route 108, a 45 minute ride, to the Green Cloud Corridor (pp 145-146) where a special fenced in section of the old road is lined with more than 100 ancient cypress tress some over a thousand years old. Miss Li will meet us here. She is a local lady who speaks only Chinese, but she originally helped me find the old road. She will accompany us on hikes for the next three days Dinner at our hotel in Puan.
Day 12, March 23, Friday -Liangshan Hike
After breakfast at our hotel, our bus will take us south of Puan on Route 108 to Liangshan were the old road is preserved all the way into Puan. We will hike the road lined with beautiful cypress for about three hours, returning halfway instead of going all the way into Puan. Miss Li will accompany anyone who wants to continue to hike all the way into Puan. Our bus will take the rest of us back into Puan for lunch. After lunch we will visit the Hemingshan Pagoda (pp 122-123) with the option afterwards of walking down the hill on the old road back into Puan or returning to town by bus. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 13, March 24, Saturday - Hanyang Hike
After breakfast our bus will take us north again on Route 108 until we reach Hanyang, a half-hour ride out of Puan. We will disembark here and hike south back toward Puan along one of the prettiest remaining stretches of the old flagstone road which is lined with more than 400 old cypress trees and winds its way past small villages and along the crests of hills with long views into the valleys below. We will hike for three hours which will involve some climbing of stone steps up hills, but with lots of rest stops and climbing will be intermixed with many level and downhill stretches as well. After a picnic lunch, our bus will meet us to take us back to Puan. Miss Li will accompany anyone who wants to continue to hike all the way back into Puan. We will all meet for dinner at our hotel.
Day 14, March 25, Sunday - Sightseeing in Jianmenguan
Today we will head north again through the Green Cloud Corrider (p 118) all the way into Jianmenguan (pp 140-142).. Stopping to visit two sites of the old road along the way. Once in Jianmenguan, Miss Li will show us her apartment and rooftop garden and then we will have lunch in one of the local restaurants that specialize in excellent doufu dishes. After lunch we will visit an old bridge just outside of town, then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the main street of town, which has recently been turned into a pedestrian walkway, restoring the flagstone road that Route 108 had replaced in the 1930s. The attractive old style houses which line the road, were all built after an earthquake damaged the quite ugly modern houses which had been built along the highway. Dinner in our hotel in Jianmenguan.
Day 15, March 26, Monday-SwordGatePass
We will spend the day visiting the famous Sword Gate Pass (pp 147-150) site of a famous Three Kingdoms battle where a small Shu army held off a larger force from Wei. The site has been much improved by moving the highway that once passed right through the pass, diverting it through a newly built tunnel. Dinner at our hotel in Jianmenguan.
Day 16, March 27, Tuesday - Sightseeing in Zhaohua and bus ride to Guangyuan
After breakfast our bus will continue north along Route 108 to Zhaohua, another stopping place on the Road to Shu. This small old town, with a large portion of its city wall and three of its original gates, has unfortunately been almost completely rebuilt, but it still retains some of it's original charm. Our final destination will be a half hour farther north, Guangyuan, where we will stay at the newly remodeled Fengtai Hotel, a lovely Chinese-style building complex located on a small island in the South River.
Day 17, March 28, Wednesday – Sightseeing in Guangyuan
After a nice buffet breakfast in our hotel, our bus will take us to a beautiful bridge recently rebuilt in the traditional style and lined with shops. Mr. Chen, a now retired librarian, will meet us in one of these shops which is a tea house where we will meet some locals which he will invite to meet us and take photos. Then he will join us for lunch in a hot pot restaurant. After lunch he will accompany us to a local pre-kindergarten school where the children will sing for us and we’ll sing for them as best we can manage. Mr. Chen will then give us a tour of his very modern condo. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 18, March 29, Thursday – Sightseeing in Guangyuan
After a very nice buffet breakfast at our hotel, our bus will take us north along the Jialing River to visit the site of a famous ancient plank road (pp 176-80) which once stretched along the side of a cliff above the river. A long section of the original plank road has been reconstructed by inserting new wood into the old holes. We can walk along the cliff on this rebuilt road and then take cart ride through the Tiger’s Mouth, a section of half-tunneling directly above the plank road blasted out of the solid rock in the 1930s in order to run the highway along the cliff. A new highway has been built farther inland, leaving the old highway as a tourist area with no cars. Our bus will then take us to a nearby town for lunch and a visit to the Thousand Buddha Cliff, once one of the most treacherous spots along the Road to Shu. It is also a famous site of early Buddhist carvings and has recently been improved by rerouting the highway that once passed right next to it. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 19, March 30, Friday – Bus Ride Back to Chengdu
After breakfast at our hotel, our bus will take us south back along route 108 through the Green Cloud Corridor, stopping at Zitong for lunch. After lunch our bus will continue on to Chengdu, about a three-hour ride, and we will stay in the hotel near the airport we stayed in the first night we arrive. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 20, March 31, Saturday – Fly Home
After breakfast, we will take the hotel shuttle bus to the airport for our flight home. As we gain a day on the way home, with good connections we will arrive home on the same day.