Pandas. Giant, round, black-and-white pandas with patches over their eyes and ears. They eat bamboo, waddle through groves, climb trees, and somersault down hills. At Dujiangyan Panda Base, a nearly 800-acre breeding and reintroduction center, you can volunteer to feed and clean up after the large animals, plant new bamboo, or visit the baby nursery.
Now that the pandas have turned your attention to the province of Sichuan, welcome to the Qing Cheng Mountains. The huge, bear-like creatures may be the main draw to Southwest China, but they certainly aren’t the only reason to visit the area. Mount Qingcheng was the birthplace of Taoism, the Chinese philosophy that emphasizes living in harmony. Ancient fortresses, UNESCO-protected temples, decorative bridges, and stunning waterfalls also stand among the densely forested mountains.
With so much to explore, you’re going to need a relaxing resort on which to base yourself. Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain fits the bill perfectly. The fairly new resort—it just opened three years ago—sits northwest of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. The base of the Qing Cheng Mountains is just five minutes away. It only takes 10 minutes to reach the pandas. And though it’s an hour drive from the airport, a Tesla Model S will greet you upon your arrival. The electric car features a glass roof so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. It’s the first of many sustainable features at the resort.
But Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain doesn’t look like a resort. It actually looks more like a traditional Chinese village. The heart of the resort is a pretty main square. It’s surrounded by low, cream-washed buildings with wooden beams and upturned roofs. The spacious suites—the 850 square feet are larger than your apartment—have high ceilings and lots of sunlight. The natural palette in the simple wooden furniture and white linens is only interrupted by a lime green daybed with lemon pillows. A smartphone app controls everything from the lights to the air conditioner. While the zen vibe continues into the bathroom, where you’ll find a free-standing bathtub with a garden view.
There’s a lot to explore beyond the suites, as well. First, there’s the food. Three restaurants use vegetables and herbs from the resort’s organic garden. Farm2Fork is actually a garden-to-table restaurant. 28Zodiac is a fine-dining spot that serves Sichuan favorites. Plus Sala Thai features dishes from Chiang Mai and Phuket. You can also find take-away snacks, including steamed bao buns, at Wok Mee Shack. Farm2Straw will add organic honey to fresh juices and smoothies. Classic tea ceremonies will make you linger in the Tea Lounge. While creative cocktails, like a Drunken Uncle made with the grain alcohol baijiu, are shaken at Moon Bar.
Then there’s the spa. It focuses on holistic treatments and natural products. It’s your first chance to get a bamboo massage, which actually uses bamboo sticks. A heated pool is inside a gorgeous beamed building. It’s surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of sun loungers. More activities, including hiking and photography tours are just minutes away. You’ll surely start with the pandas, though.