All inclusive land costs:meals, lodging, entertainment, attractions, bus rental, tips
Flight to China not included
You pay for your plane fare and visa
Tea comes with meals, you pay for alcoholic drinks and sodas
Single supplement: $500
$100 deposit Oct. 1
First payment of $1650 due December 1, 2023
Second payment of $1650 due January 15, 2024
Optional Tour Extension on your own I can help you extend your tour with a three-day cruise on the Yangzi
or a three-day stay in Beijing, Shanghai, or Xi'an
Tour limited to 13 people
Contact me for more information or to sign up
On this tour we will retrace the route of the old Road to Shu by bus through Sichuan Province, stopping in nine towns which once served as post stations. Some of these post stations are now big cities, but others are still small towns well off the beaten track which offer glimpses of traditional Chinese life and comfortable but not first-class lodgings. Along the way we will explore several well-preserved old towns and temples, and take a walk along a reconstructed plank road though a gorge by the Jialing River. But the main attraction are the four hikes we will take along the remaining sections of this beautiful cypress-shaded old flagstone road that once connected Chengdu with Xi'an. All hikes will be leisurely, not over three hours in length, and there will be an option for anyone to extend three of the hikes to all day with our local guide Miss Li. There will be some uphill and downhill slopes and the flagstone road will be uneven in places but it is easily navigated by anyone in average physical shape. Other attractions include a visit to the pandas in Chengdu, attending a Sichuan opera, a traditional puppet show, a foot massage, and soaking in a hot spring.
See the full itinerary below plus links to photos of previous tours and Chinese documentaries of the 2015 and 2017 tour.
Day 1, March 6, Wednesday – Leave the USA on overseas flight to China
Day 2, March 7, Thursday – Arrive Chengdu, Joyhub Hotel at Tianfu International Airport
We will be flying into the new airport in Chengdu, the Tianfu International. I will meet you when your flight arrives if you arrive between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Otherwise, you will take the free shuttle to our hotel, the Joyhub, located in the airport. They will know you are coming and we will see you at breakfast the next day. Dinner at the hotel is included if you arrived by 6 p.m. 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. Only unpack as much as you need for one night. We will be changing hotels the next day.
Day 3, March 8, Friday – Sightseeing in Chengdu, Jinjiang Hotel
Our bus will pick us up after breakfast and we can leave our luggage in our locked bus as we visit the Temple of the Martial Marquis (pp 90-92) for a stroll around the shady grounds and a tour through a very small ThreeKingdomsMuseum. 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'll have lunch at a local duck restaurant and then explore an "old-fashioned" shopping alley next to the temple. We will then check into the Jinjiang hotel and have time for a brief rest. Dinner will be at one of 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.
Day 4, March 9, Saturday – Sightseeing in Chengdu, Jinjiang Hotel
After a very nice buffet breakfast at the Jinjiang Hotel, we will visit the newly expanded GiantPandaBreedingResearchCenter, eating lunch there and returning to town 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 10 pm.
Day 5, March 10, Sunday –Bus to Langzhong, Galaxy Minyoun Hotel
After another buffet 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. Langzhong was also a major town on one of the branch roads of the Road to Shu. We will arrive between 1 and 2 pm and have lunch at a local dumpling restaurant and explore the local car-free streets, finishing with a half-our foot massage before driving across the river and checking into our hotel. After a rest, dinner at our hotel.
Day 6, March 11, Monday – Sightseeing in Langzhong, Galazy Minyoun Hotel
After breakfast in our hotel, we'll explore the old town, visiting the local market, the Huaguang tower and the Civil Serivice hall where exams were held in imperial times (p. 194-98). After lunch we will attend a traditional puppet show, returning to our hotel for a rest and then returning to the old town for dinner and a tour of the Du Family Courtyard House (p.190).
Day 7, March 12, Tuesday – Langzhong Sightseeing, Galazy Minyoun Hotel
After breakfast in our hotel, our bus will take us across the JialingRiver 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 TangDynastyGreatBuddhaTemple. Our bus will then drive us back to our hotel for a late lunch and a rest. In the late afternoon we will return to the old city for an excursion boat ride on the JianlingRiver and dinner in the old town.
Day 8, March 13, Wednesday - bus to Zitong and Temple, Qiqushan Hotel
After breakfast we will return to our bus for a three-to four-hour ride to Zitong, the first post station we will visit along the Road to Shu (the first two post stations have become big cities with no old road.) The small highway we travel will take us through some beautiful countryside. After lunch at our hotel, the Qiqushan Hotel, we will visit the QiqushanGreatTemple, one of the temples Isabelle Bishop visited when she traveled the Road to Shu in 1896. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 9, March 14, Thursday - Wulian Hike, Jiange Hotel
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 several interestingl 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 PureLandTemple, 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 10, March 15, Friday Exploring Puan, Jiange Hotel
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 and a rest at our hotel, our bus will take us up into the mountains overlooking the town to visit the Hemingshan Pagoda (pp 122-123). Dinner at our hotel.
Day 11, March 16, Saturday -Liangshan Hike, Jiange Hotel
Miss Li, a local lady who helped me find the Road to Shu, will meet us at our hotel after breakfast. Our bus will then 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, have a picnic lunch, then retrace our route back to the bus and return to Puan. Miss Li will accompany anyone who wants to continue to hike all the way into Puan and we will all meet for dinner at our hotel.
Day 12, March 17, Sunday - Hanyang Hike, Jiange Hotel
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 13, March 218, Monday - SwordGatePass, Jianmenguan Hot Springs Hotel
Today we will head north again through the Green Cloud Corrider (p 118) all the way into Jianmenguan (pp 140-142), the next post station along the old road. On the way we will stop to visit the official Green Cloud Corridor tourist site (p 145-146), where a special fenced in section of the old road is lined with more than 100 ancient cypress trees some over 1000 years old. Lunch in Jianmenguan at one of the local restaurants that specialize in excellent doufu dishes. After lunch we will spend the rest of the day exploring Sword Gate Pass, (pp 147-150), the site of a famous Three-Kingdoms battle where a small Shu army held off a much larger Wei force. The site has been much improved by building a tunnel to divert the highway that in the 1930s was built over the old road right through the pass. Dinner at the Jianmenguan Hot Springs Hotel, about a half hour away in Jiange, where we will also be staying. Enjoy the hot springs in your hotel room or in the several large pools out back.
Day 14, March 19, Tuesday-Dachao Hike, Jianmenguan Hot Springs Hotel
After breakfast our bus will take us up into the mountains to the next post station along the old road, Dachao. This is a very, very small town that when I first passed through hadn't changed much since the 19th century. We will hike the old road down the mountain toward Jianmenguan for about two hours, then our bus will take us back to Jiange for lunch and to enjoy the hot spring. Miss Li will guide those who want to continue to hike to Jianmenguan where the bus will meet them and return them to Jiange for dinner at our hotel.
Day 15, March 20, Wednesday - Sightseeing in Zhaohua, Gu Jia Courtyard Hotel
After breakfast our bus will continue north to Zhaohua, another post station on the Road to Shu, and one that has preserved quite a bit of its old town, including three gates, some city wall, and many old houses. Our hotel in Zhaohua is the Gu Jia Courtyard Hotel, an old house that has been turned into an inn. Lunch at the Gu Jia then a guided tour of the old town. Dinner at a local fish hotpot restaurant.
Day 16, March 21, Thursday – Sightseeing in Guangyuan, Feng Tai Hotel
After breakfast, our bus will take us into Guangyuan, our last post station on the old road which is now a very large and prosperous city. After lunch at a local hotpot restaurant, I am hoping to visit a local pre-kindergarten school where the children generally sing or perform for us, but Mr. Chen who always arranged this has moved to another town so he may not be able to accommodate us. If not we will visit the Huangze Temple, a famous Buddhist temple with Tang dynasty statues dedicated the Wuzitian, China's only empress. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 17, March 22, Friday – Sightseeing in Guangyuan, Feng Tai Hotel
After a buffet breakfast at our hotel, our bus will take us north along the JialingRiver 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 a 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 18, March 23, Saturday – Bus Ride Back to Chengdu, Joyhub Hotel, Tianfu International Airport
After breakfast at our hotel, our bus will take us south on the new expressway back to Chengdu, about a three-hour to four-hour ride. We'll have lunch in Chengdu before returning to our hotel near the airport that we stayed in the first night we arrived. Dinner at our hotel.
Day 19, March 24, Sunday – 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.