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Chengdu

 

One of the three most populous cities in Western China, Chengdu is home of the country's national treasure, the Giant Panda. It is also a thriving cultural hotspot that mixes rich history, literature and fine art with scientific innovation and technology.

 

Tours and activities in Chengdu

There’s so much to see and do in Chengdu that you should consider booking a guide or taking one of the many organized tours available. Whether you want to experience the fairy-tale surrounding of Jiuzhaigou, the Giant Pandas or the ancient history of the area, a guide with local and historical knowledge will only add to your enjoyment.

A guide will also help you to book tickets for the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a night of opera or a visit to one of the many beautiful tea rooms in the city.

Best time to visit

Chengdu has a mild, humid climate throughout the year, but the best time to visit would be March-June when you’ll experience pleasant spring conditions. September to November are cooler but are also pleasant, while the rainy season in July and August usually brings storms, so you might want to avoid that time of year.

Top Attractions in Chengdu

Chengdu is packed full of cultural activity, so it’s worth drawing up an itinerary if you plan to make the most of your stay there.

The Wuhou Temple
1. The Wuhou Temple
Landmarks and icons

The Wuhou Temple (also known as the Memorial Temple of Marquis Wu) covers 398,277 square feet. It was rebuilt in 1672 and is surrounded by old cypress trees and red walls, with a nostalgic air. 
It contains culture relics of great value, the most important of which is the Triple-Success Stele, a huge stele that contains an article by Pei Du, the famous minister of the Tang Dynasty, calligraphy by Liu Gongquan and a statement about the achievements of Zhuge Liang.

The Sanxingdui (or Three-Star Piles)
2. The Sanxingdui (or Three-Star Piles)
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

The Sanxingdui (or Three-Star Piles) museum is top of the list for many tourists in Chengdu. Located near an important archaeological site, the museum has phenomenal modern facilities. Based around the Three-Star Piles archaeological dig site, the museum is a testament to a discovery that helped to shape the modern understanding of ancient Chinese and Sichuan culture.

Jiuzhai Valley National Park
3. Jiuzhai Valley National Park
Nature, parks and outdoors

Jiuzhai Valley National Park is considered to be one of the most breath-taking natural sites in the world. Regarded as a holy mountain by the Tibetan people, the area is famed for its almost fairy-tale beauty; fitting as the area is also steeped in wonderful legends, including one in which the deity of the mountain made a gift of a mirror made of wind and cloud to a goddess. This mirror was broken into 108 pieces, resulting in the awe-inspiring crystal blue lakes of the area.

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda breeding
4. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda breeding
Things to do with kids

If you’re looking for a day out with the family in Chengdu, one attraction you must visit is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. While close contact with these famous national treasures has been suspended for the time being, this wonderful research base replicates the natural habitat of Giant Pandas, and you can still get a look at them.

Round the Clock Festivals
5. Round the Clock Festivals
Regular festivals and celebrations

You’re spoiled for choice in Chengdu if you aim to catch a local festival. Five famous festival fall over the course of each year. The Grand Temple Fair is held every year during the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year and runs for 15 days, showcasing traditional Sichuan folk art as well as the modern fashions and trends in the city.
Other festivals include the Lantern Festival, the Dujiangyan Water Releasing Festival, the Huanglonxi Fire Dragon Festival (with, as you might imagine, so incredible paper dragons) and the South China Snow and Ice Festival.

Mount Qingcheng
6. Mount Qingcheng
Nature, parks and outdoors

Mount Qingcheng and the lake are popular for its breath-taking beauty, known as the birthplaces of Taoism and considered as the host of multiple temples. Giant Panda Center which is a  UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also located here. The site is perfect for photography and you can also call it a piece of heaven on earth. There are tons of exciting activates for visitors and you can also enjoy pampering animals here

Du Fu Thatched Cottage
7. Du Fu Thatched Cottage
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

Du Fu Thatched Cottage is a 24-acre park and museum located at the western outskirts of Chengdu city. It was constructed in the honour of the Tang dynasty poet Du Fu. The site is among National Heritage sites of China. Inside, there is a memorial hall where the poetry of Du Fu is displayed along with translations in several languages.
There is also a reconstructed thatched cottage which is a facsimile the living style and working environment of Du Fu's times.

Getting here and getting around

Chengdu boasts the busiest airport in Central and Western China and has flights from more than 70 domestic cities and 20 international cities. Only 16km from the center of the city, perhaps the easiest way to travel from the airport is by train; routes lead to two stations in the city, and your journey will take only 10-15 minutes. There are also shuttle buses that regularly run to downtown Chengdu.


If you’re arriving in the city from elsewhere in China, the train is once again your best bet, with a total of three railways (and a fourth under construction). However, Chengdu has a well-developed transport network, with several large-scale road projects in development; when completed, it will take only half an hour to get from Jintang or Heilongtan to Chengdu.


Traveling within the city itself is easy. Four metro lines are currently in operation with another two under construction and more to follow, while city buses are widely available, charging only ¥1 for most trips. There are hundreds of taxi stands across the city, with flag-down rates starting at ¥12 or ¥13 depending on the time of day, but it’s recommended that you discuss fares with drivers in advance for journeys to and from bus and railway stations: they’re liable to switch off their meter.

Eating and drinking

Sichuan cuisine is famous in its own virtue. Piquant and with complex flavors, this style of cooking has evolved and developed over time, with typical dishes like Ma Po Tofu, Kung Pao Chicken and Twice Cooked Spicy Pork Slices all considered specialties. Be warned that much Sichuan cooking is hot; however, the complex flavors intermingle making them unique.

If you’re adventurous and would like to try some of the best Sichuan cuisines in the city, try the Piaxoue Sichuan Cuisine Restaurant, Shizilou or Baguio Biyi. Alternatively, the city is lined with all manner of snack bars and street foods.

Nightlife is diverse in Chengdu, with teahouses, bars, and guesthouses opening late. You might also like to sample some of the areas rich operatic culture. The Bianlian or Changing faces can be seen in the Sichuan Opera Theatre on Zhuangyuan Street.

Getting a good night's sleep

Even the most expensive hotels in Chengdu are relatively well-priced. Top of the list of high-end places to start is the Ritz-Carlton. This fairly new hotel with a familiar name offers great service, rooftop dining and a range of spa treatments.

If you’re traveling on a budget, check out the Dragontown International Youth Hostel, but if you can afford mid-range prices, you’re spoiled for choice. The Sofitel Chengdu Taihe and the Crowne Plaza Chengdu City Centre both offer great value, with excellent service and good locations.