Panoramic sights
and excitement await visitors to China’s
version of the Alps.

Images of snow-capped mountains do not immediately come to mind at the mention of China. But that’s exactly what Xiling Snow Mountain is – snow-dusted peaks located in the heart of Sichuan Province in the East Asian republic.

Thousands of tourists throng the picturesque venue daily. It is the country’s largest and most successful ski resort. Dubbed the Eastern Alps, the mountain’s proximity to the city of Chengdu – a major transportation hub – makes it easily accessible to skiing enthusiasts, both local and international.

They have courses for beginners to advanced skiers; visitors can be assured of a “sleighing” good time when they visit the resort.

Snowboarding is one of the exciting activities one can enjoy on the snow-clad slopes. -Photos from AirAsia X

The ski field covers an area of over 7sqm and can facilitate up to 2,000 skiers at any one time. And with four ski trails (one reserved for professionals while the rest are open to amateurs), there’s ample room for all to join in the fun.

If skiing is not your cup of tea, then the view itself is reason enough to visit the slopes. The name Xiling (which means “western mountain”) is derived from a famous poem by the renowned poet Du Fu (from the Tang Dynasty) who was enraptured at the serene beauty of the lush landscape. It is said he once lived in a secluded thatched-roof cabin in the mountain.

Snow blankets the mountain, giving it an ethereal look. Xiling Mountain is also equally beautiful during the other seasons.

The snow-capped peaks, however, are Xiling Mountain’s main attraction, visible throughout the changing seasons. More than just a ski resort, the 50,000sqm of mountain turf also offers a plethora of other family-friendly activities. An interesting form of entertainment during the summer is grass-skiing whereby tourists can step on tracks and, well, “ski” on the grassy slopes! There’s also tobogganing, hot-air ballooning and riding on four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle.

Those who want to enjoy the splendour of nature can hike and explore the beautiful terrain. There are a total of 20 specially reserved park areas, home to many species of flora and fauna.

The lush mountainscape in summer.

When in Xiling Mountain, there are a number of places that should be included in the travel itinerary. The Mandarin Duck Pond, for starters, is a place that is tinged with romance. Legend has it that a young man once jumped into the crater of a volcano to prevent it from erupting. Seeing the man’s heroic act, his lover followed suit. Then a stream of clear water magically flowed from the volcano, forming a pond. The name of the place is derived from the mandarin ducks that are commonly seen in the pond.

Another attraction, with a mystical element, is the Dufu Pavilion. Despite its name, don’t expect to see a real pavilion. It is actually an old tree whose form resembles that of the poet Du Fu after being struck by lightning.

The Five-Coloured Waterfall is a natural wonder. Its waters cascade over scale-like red rocks and you might just glimpse a rainbow through the mist.

For a spectacular view of the alpine forests, take a cable car ride up to the Sun and Moon Ground, 3,250m above sea level. The name reflects the fact that it’s possible to view the moon and the sun on clear mornings. And if you’re lucky, you might see an optical illusion dubbed “God’s Light in the Forest” – a halo of rainbow-coloured rings that seem to rise over the forests. The natural phenomenon reminds one of the Buddha’s halo.

Light on their feet and able to withstand the wintry weather, huskies are used as sled dogs at the resort.

Another attraction is Red Stone Peak, the highest point in the mountainous range, which is the best point to appreciate the beauty of Miaojiling, the main peak of the snowy mountain.

To make your trip all the more memorable, take some time off to meet the country’s giant pandas at the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre in Chengdu. Visit the nursery for a better understanding of the highly successful programme. The many lakes, bamboo groves and shady walkways at the centre provide a calm area for visitors to interact with the animals.

From the centre, make your way to Jinli Street, an ancient commercial venue that’s been fully restored in traditional Sichuan style. This bustling street offers plenty of sights and sounds. You can sample traditional Chinese food and delicacies and shop for traditional goods,

Xiling Snow Mountain is a winter wonderland that promises plenty of enthralling experiences for young and old alike. More than just an idyllic destination, it’s also a venue that offers an exhilarating holiday filled with amazing activities. — Story sourced for AirAsia X

AirAsia X flies daily from Kuala Lumpur to Chengdu. More details