With Etihad Airways now operating flights from Dublin via Abu Dhabi to the ancient Chinese city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and with British Airways starting direct flights from London to Chengdu in September, travel agents should note that Jon Baines Tours offers two cultural tours to the region that include Chengdu and enable visitors to learn more about its history, culture and people.
Trail of the Tea Horse
12th – 29th September 2013: From Chengdu take part in an exciting journey to Tibet and Everest Base Camp on the Trail of the Tea Horse. Travel from Chengdu up to Kunming in Yunnan province and along the trail of the tea horse via the ancient trading towns of Dali, Lijiang and Zhongdian and into Tibet. From there you continue across the Tibetan Plateau to base camp and return to Lhasa for two days and then back to Chengdu to see the pandas and a Sichuan Opera.
The tour is led by Dr Anne Macalister, a GP and experienced tour leader specialising in leading tours at altitude. Price: £3,880 including return flights, meals, accommodation, tour guide, etc.
Journey Along the Yangtze
11th – 27th October 2013: Visit Chengdu as part of the Journey Along the Yangtze tour. While there explore the spice and art markets, enjoy a hot pot (a special lunch), and visit Wushan monastery, the Dazu Grottos, the panda breeding programme and the giant man of Leshan.
The tour is led by Professor Hugh Baker of the School of Oriental and African Studies, who provides expert commentaries throughout. Price: The ground-only cost of the tour is £2,940 (excludes international flights, visas and transfers).