Guangyuan--An up and coming tourist destination

By Chris Parker
Print E-mail, July 1, 2014

The Cuiyuan Corridor in Guangyuan City, Sichuan Province, is a park filled with ancient cypress and pine trees, some of which were allegedly planted by the Three Kingdoms generals Zhang Fei and Liu Bei. [Photo provided to]

Sichuan Province has long been a popular destination for foreign tourists. Featuring Chengdu, the home of the giant panda, the holy mountain E'meishan and spicy food that has gained a reputation throughout the world, Sichuan is a must visit destination for many international travellers.

The city of Guangyuan, however, is not so widely known to Western travellers. This is surprising in many ways, as it acts as the northern gateway of Sichuan Province, situated conveniently between the popular tourist sites of Chengdu, Xi'an and the city of Lanzhou in Gansu Province.

Guangyuan has several claims to fame. First, the city is significant in Chinese history as an important strategic pass. After the breakup of the strong and bureaucratic Han Dynasty, China slowly descended into chaos, and three rival factions – Wei, Shu and Wu –emerged in a period that became known as the Three Kingdoms. The area around Guangyuan was the site of many fierce battles on rough and seemingly impassable terrain, and the area preserves much of its historical heritage today.

The city also was the birthplace of China's only female empress from the Tang Dynasty, Wu Zetian. She had a humble background, and was later sent to a monastery to become a nun. Eventually, however, Wu Zetian was promoted to the imperial court and then rose rapidly to become the de-facto ruler of the country.

Guangyuan is surrounded by scenic areas, hot springs and historical sites. The best times to visit are in the spring and autumn, when the climate is most comfortable. The city boasts excellent air quality, and has won a number of Chinese environmental awards. It is known as a natural "oxygen bar," and visitors will find it a welcome relief from the smoggy cities of northern China.

Guangyuan recently held the 2014 Sichuan International Culture and Tourism Festival, and is making great efforts to boost its international image.

The city also just hosted a colorful and lively performance at its central theater, highlighting the history and folk culture of the area including Wu Zetian, the battles of the Three Kingdoms, local embroidery and paper cuts.

Through international cooperation, Guangyuan has already become a common destination for tourists from around East Asia. The city is developing quickly, and with regular flights to Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen and excellent rail connections with surrounding provinces, it is set to gain in popularity in the years to come. It is well worth a visit if you are travelling through Sichuan Province!

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