Pete Sweeney (more chengdu)|
Southwest Sichuan. It's the capital of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
You can fly from Chengdu Shuangliu Airport to Xichang Qingshan Airport.
Or you can take train(s): 5611, K165 (15:08-01:08), K117 (18:01-03:10), K145 (16:10-01:38), K113 (13:20-2
5611次 成都-西昌南 21:25 - 08:03
K165 成都-西昌南 15:08-01:08
K117 成都-西昌 18:01-03:10 K145 成都-西昌 16:10-01:38 K113 成都-西昌 13:20-23:06 N754/N755 成都南-西昌 19:29-05:23 N770/N771 成都南-西昌 20:36-06:24
5621 成都南-西昌 16:56-02:24
5611 成都南-西昌 21:54-07:54
One of the downsides of traveling in the beautiful Sichuan hinterlands is the mode of transit. Bus, bus, and more bus. Getting up into the western mountains, as worth it as it is, definitely taxes your ass like the Swedish government. That’s why Xichang is such a welcome exception. While it is in the mountains, you can roll right down there by overnight train. That’s not, however, the only reason to visit.
Xichang is a place where you can spend a lot of time. I spent four days there and had barely gotten started. In addition to being the political and cultural center of the fascinating Yi ethnic group, there are tons of outdoor activities. There’s a big lake, which they call a “sea,” Qiong Hai (邛海), which you can boat around on, or water-ski on. They have a water-skiing contest there every year, and there’s a jump ramp you can watch from one of the tea houses on the shore. Lu mountain (泸山) is a steep, semi-tropical forest infested by wild monkeys, beetles, and monasteries. The biggest and best monastery is Guangfu (光府寺) monastery, which also has a great restaurant and decent rooms (squat toilet warning!) for between 100 and 160 kuai per night. Staying there offers convenience to the lake, to the quaint villages on the opposite shore of the lake, and to the hiking trail up the mountain. The summit features tables and hammocks and vendors peddling beer and potato chips. The weather is, as a rule, quite nice: hot and muggy in the mornings, clearing as the day wears on, and wonderful in the evening.
The town itself is quite developed. Xichang does well via mining and nearby you have one of China’s space launch centers. There is no ex-pat friendly hostel there and some Chinese is required to get around, but it’s worth it to get off the beaten track so painlessly.