Chengdu is a vibrant and culturally rich city located in southwestern China. This is the capital of Sichuan Province and a popular destination for tourists due to its unique blend of historical sites, delicious cuisine, and a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. Whether you’re a panda lover, a food enthusiast, history buff, or you are just passing by on your way to Tibet, Chengdu has something to offer to everyone. In this article we will let you know the best things to do in Chengdu, the gate of the Chinese wild west.
This city is the last of the big metropolises to the West. It seems that China developed, very fast, from East to West and Chengdu is a gate to the wild, where Han culture is still trying to overrule the presence of the alternative local cultures on official Chinese soil. Chengdu could be challenging, almost nobody speaks English and even the gestures are different from ours. Taxi drivers don’t like to take foreigners and the cooks can come to your table a dozen times to ask impossible questions before preparing a dish you showed on a picture. Chengdu is authentic and amazing. Relax, all takes time and you will enjoy every second.
what is Chengdu about
Chengdu has a history that dates back over 2,000 years. The city served as the capital for the ancient Shu Kingdom and is home to several historical sites, including the Wuhou Shrine, Jinli Ancient Street, and the Du Fu Thatched Cottage. These attractions offer insights into Chengdu’s past and provide a glimpse of its traditional architecture, art, and culture.
The city is renowned for its mouthwatering cuisine, particularly Sichuan cuisine. Visitors can indulge in spicy dishes such as hot pot, Mapo tofu, and Kung Pao chicken. The city is dotted with teahouses, street food stalls, and upscale restaurants offering a wide variety of culinary delights. Don’t forget to try the famous Sichuan peppercorns that add a unique flavor to the dishes.
Chengdu is known for its relaxed and leisurely lifestyle. Locals often enjoy spending their time in teahouses, parks, and traditional opera performances. The city’s numerous parks, such as People’s Park and Huanhuaxi Park, provide peaceful green spaces for strolling, exercising, and socializing. Chengdu’s residents take pride in their “slow life” philosophy, making it a great place to unwind and soak in the local atmosphere.
Beyond the historical attractions, this amazing city offers various cultural experiences. The Sichuan Opera is a must-see, featuring vibrant costumes, face-changing performances, and traditional music. Additionally, the city hosts the annual International Panda Lantern Festival, showcasing elaborate lantern displays and cultural performances.
Chengdu serves as a gateway to some of China’s most breathtaking natural landscapes. Visitors can take day trips to the majestic Mount Qingcheng, known as the birthplace of Taoism, or explore the stunning scenery of Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong National Park, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Best Things to do in Chengdu
Built in honor of Zhuge Liang, a famous strategist and statesman of the Three Kingdoms period, the Wuhou Shrine is a historical site that features beautiful gardens, statues, and ancient buildings. It also houses a museum that exhibits relics and artifacts from the Three Kingdoms era.
Jinli Ancient Street
Jinli Ancient Street is a bustling pedestrian street that showcases traditional Sichuan-style architecture. It is a great place to experience Chengdu’s local culture, taste delicious street food, shop for traditional crafts, and enjoy traditional performances.
Du Fu Thatched Cottage
This tranquil site is dedicated to the famous Tang Dynasty poet, Du Fu. It consists of a traditional Chinese garden and several restored thatched cottages that resemble the living environment of Du Fu. Visitors can explore the exhibits, admire the poetic inscriptions, and immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Located just outside the city, this research base is a popular attraction where visitors can observe giant pandas in a natural habitat. The facility is dedicated to the conservation and breeding of these endangered animals. It offers a unique opportunity to get up close to pandas, learn about their conservation efforts, and even participate in volunteer programs.
Tianfu Square is a large public square and a significant landmark. It is dominated by a towering statue of Chairman Mao Zedong and surrounded by modern buildings, including government offices and luxury hotels. The square is often the venue for public events and celebrations.
Qingyang Palace (Green Ram Temple)
Qingyang Palace is one of the oldest and largest Taoist temples in the city. The temple complex consists of several halls, gardens, and courtyards. It is a serene place to explore Taoist culture, witness traditional rituals, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Also known as the Dongmen Bridge, Anshun Bridge is a historical landmark that crosses the Jin River. It is one of the oldest and best-preserved stone arch bridges in Chengdu, dating back to the Qing Dynasty. The bridge offers scenic views of the river and is a popular spot for photography.
Sichuan Opera showcases vibrant costumes, face-changing performances, traditional music, and unique theatrical techniques, offering a captivating and immersive cultural experience. Performances can be enjoyed at various venues in Chengdu, including Shufeng Yayun Teahouse, Jinli Ancient Street, Chengdu Culture Park, and selected theaters along Chunxi Road Pedestrian Street.
Where to eat
Chengdu is famous for its delicious cuisine, particularly Sichuan cuisine known for its bold flavors and fiery spices.
- Jinli Ancient Street: Besides being a historic street, Jinli Ancient Street is also known for its vibrant food scene. You can find a variety of street food stalls and small restaurants offering Sichuan specialties like spicy hot pot, Mapo tofu, Sichuan noodles, and skewered meats. It’s a great place to try different local snacks and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere.
- Kuanzhai Xiangzi (Wide and Narrow Alleys): This area is a popular tourist spot with restored traditional architecture and a wide range of food options. From upscale Sichuan restaurants to small local eateries, Kuanzhai Xiangzi offers a diverse selection of dishes, including local street food, Sichuan hot pot, and mouth-numbing dishes seasoned with Sichuan peppercorns.
- Yulin Chuanchuan Xiang: Located near the Sichuan University, Yulin Chuanchuan Xiang is a famous street lined with restaurants specializing in chuanchuan, a popular Sichuan-style hot pot skewer. You can choose from a wide variety of ingredients such as vegetables, meats, and seafood on skewers and cook them in a spicy or non-spicy broth.
- Huangcheng Laoma: Huangcheng Laoma is a well-known restaurant chain, serving authentic Sichuan cuisine. It is particularly famous for its delicious boiled fish dishes, spicy chicken, and crispy pork. The restaurant offers a lively atmosphere and a wide range of Sichuan specialties to satisfy your taste buds.
- Chunxi Road: Chunxi Road is a bustling shopping street with numerous restaurants and food courts. You can find a mix of local Sichuan cuisine, international cuisine, and popular chain restaurants. The Chunxi Road area also has several popular dessert shops, tea houses, and cafes where you can relax and enjoy a sweet treat or a cup of tea.
Where to stay
Chengdu offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences.
- Luxury Hotels: If you’re looking for upscale and luxurious accommodations, the city has several renowned international hotel chains. Some popular options include The Ritz-Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, and St. Regis. These hotels offer elegant rooms, top-notch amenities, and excellent service.
- Boutique Hotels: Chengdu is also home to a variety of stylish and boutique hotels that offer a unique and personalized experience. The Temple House, Diaoyutai Boutique Hotel, and The Temple House are some highly recommended boutique hotels known for their distinctive designs, cozy ambiance, and attentive service.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Chengdu has numerous mid-range hotels that offer comfortable rooms and convenient amenities at a more affordable price point. Hotels like Chengdu Marriott Hotel Financial Centre, Fraser Suites, and Niccolo Chengdu provide a good balance of comfort and value for money.
- Budget Hotels and Guesthouses: For budget-conscious travelers, there are plenty of affordable options available. Hostels, guesthouses, and budget hotels like Mix Hostel, Lazybones Hostel, and Chengdu Lazybones Lounge Hostel offer clean and comfortable accommodations at reasonable prices. These establishments often provide dormitory-style rooms or private rooms with shared facilities.
- Serviced Apartments: If you prefer a more independent and long-term stay, serviced apartments can be a great option. These apartments provide fully furnished units with kitchen facilities and additional services such as housekeeping and laundry. Popular serviced apartment providers in Chengdu include Ascott Raffles and Somerset Riverview.
- Airbnb: Chengdu also has a growing number of Airbnb listings, offering a variety of accommodations ranging from private rooms to entire apartments or houses. This can be a good option if you prefer a more home-like environment and the opportunity to interact with local hosts.
How to get to Chengdu
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is one of the busiest airports in China, with flights connecting to major cities domestically and internationally. Many international airlines offer direct flights to Chengdu from cities such as Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, London, and more. Domestically, there are frequent flights from major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Xi’an. From the airport, you can take a taxi or use public transportation to reach your destination in Chengdu.
If you prefer a more independent mode of transportation, you can consider driving to Chengdu. The city is connected to China’s national highway system, making it accessible by road. However, keep in mind that driving in China may require familiarity with local traffic rules, and it’s advisable to have a valid Chinese driver’s license or an International Driving Permit.
Chengdu has a well-developed long-distance bus network, making it accessible by road from nearby cities and provinces. Many cities in Sichuan Province, as well as neighboring provinces like Yunnan, Guizhou, and Shaanxi, have bus services to Chengdu. The city has several bus stations, including Xinnanmen Bus Station, Chadianzi Bus Station, and Chengdu East Bus Station, from where you can catch buses to different destinations.
Chengdu is well-connected to China’s extensive railway network. The city has three major railway stations: Chengdu Railway Station, Chengdu East Railway Station, and the South Railway Station. These stations serve high-speed trains and regular trains connecting Chengdu to various cities across China. Depending on your location, you can choose the most convenient railway station and book your train tickets in advance.
Enjoy our discounts in Chengdu
What is the best time to visit Chengdu?
The best time to visit Chengdu is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) for pleasant weather, blooming flowers, and vibrant foliage.
How many days should I spend in Chengdu?
To explore the main attractions in Chengdu and immerse in its culture and cuisine, it is recommended to spend around 3 to 4 days in the city.
What are the top attractions in Chengdu?
Some of the top attractions in Chengdu include the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Jinli Ancient Street, Wuhou Shrine, Du Fu Thatched Cottage, Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Qingcheng, and the Sichuan Opera. These attractions showcase the city’s history, culture, natural beauty, and iconic pandas.
How to get to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding?
To reach the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, you can take Metro Line 3 to Xiongmao Avenue Station (熊猫大道站), then take a taxi or a local bus to the research base. Buses 198, 198A, and 198B from Chengdu Zoo Bus Station also go there.
How to visit Jiuzhaigou Valley from Chengdu?
To visit Jiuzhaigou Valley from Chengdu, you can either take a direct flight from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou Huanglong Airport or take a long-distance bus from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou. Flight is the quickest option, while the bus is more budget-friendly but takes longer.
Can I visit the Leshan Giant Buddha as a day trip from Chengdu?
Yes, you can visit the Leshan Giant Buddha as a day trip from Chengdu. The Leshan Giant Buddha is located approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Chengdu, and it takes about 2-3 hours by road to reach there. Many tour operators offer organized day trips from Chengdu to the Leshan Giant Buddha, allowing you to explore the site, climb the mountain, and marvel at the impressive Buddha statue in a single day.
Where are the best places to see Sichuan opera in Chengdu?
Some of the best places to see Sichuan opera in Chengdu include Shufeng Yayun Teahouse, Jinli Ancient Street, Chengdu Culture Park, and some theaters along Chunxi Road Pedestrian Street. These venues offer traditional settings and regular performances showcasing the art of Sichuan opera.
Are there any special events or festivals in Chengdu?
Yes, Chengdu hosts several special events and festivals throughout the year. Some notable ones include the Chengdu International Panda Lantern Festival, Chengdu Hotpot Cultural Festival, Chengdu Flower Festival, Chengdu Dragon Boat Festival, and Chengdu International Music Festival. These events celebrate the city’s culture, traditions, cuisine, and natural beauty.
Best experiences in Chengdu
This place has everything a visitor needs to have a great experience. Its natural beauty draws visitors from around the world- along with its numerous important sites and cultural heritage. As far as things to do in the place go, there are plenty of activities available for visitors.
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