The Best Things To Do In Chengdu
A charming city with sedate tea houses, panda sanctuaries and religious centers, Chengdu provides an excellent opportunity to experience Sichuan culture up close and bask in a tranquil, convivial atmosphere. The city is actually the capital of China’s Sichuan province with its closest neighbors being Ya’an to the southwest, Meishan to the south and Deyang which lies to the north. It is one location which has it all, from exciting festivals, historic centers and a world-famous opera. All these and so much more mean you will be able to thoroughly enjoy your visit to one of main centers of Chinese culture.
Visitors to Chengdu will be pleased with the plethora of options available for reaching the city. Tourists from Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau and Shanghai will be able to arrive at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport following a three-hour flight while Xi’an on the other hand, is merely 90 minutes away. The airport itself is located 20 km from the city center and taxis and buses are readily available at the airport to ferry visitors there safely. During your visit, you will be able to immerse yourself in Sichuan tea culture and even try out your Mahjong skills, thanks to the ready availability of upscale tea houses in the city. You will also be able to experience the joys of time travel thanks to the iconic Jinli Ancient Street whose buildings all feature the architectural designs of bygone eras giving it a delightful charm and making it a firm favorite with visitors and locals alike.
A visit to the city’s Giant Panda Breeding Research Base will enable you to observe its furry residents snacking placidly on freshly harvested bamboo. Chengdu Zoo is also another great option for viewing Sichuan’s wildlife in a relaxed setting. Once you have been able to view the region’s special fauna, you will also be able to admire the beautiful flora of the region thanks to Chengdu Botanical Garden which is renowned for the beauty of its flower gardens.
HERE ARE OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CHENGDU…
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Just ten-kilometres north of Chengdu, lies a fascinating day at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Here you will be able to explore the natural lush environment that the giant pandas love, and with expert researchers, you will be able to get up-close and personal with these iconic animals, to learn about their lives and habits. As well as the Giant Pandas, there are also peacocks, swans, and red pandas to admire. This is truly a visit that will stay forever in your heart.
Renmin Park (People’s Park)
Come down to the centre of the city and join the locals at Renmin Park (People’s Park). This large public park is fascinating for the diversity of activities that people enjoy here, from just playing cards, to Tai Chi, and even bursting into song! Stroll around the lake and the landscaped gardens – including a bonsai garden – and stop at one of the tea houses for a break. This is a perfect place to stop and soak up the culture, and watch as people go about their day.
Leshan Giant Buddha
Take a day trip from Chengdu and marvel at the magnificent Leshan Giant Buddha, carved in stone and reaching 71-metres high. The statue is the tallest stone Buddha sculpture in the world, and took 90 years to complete, starting in the year 713. There are several options to get a view of its majestic frame; there is a lookout platform, or for a different perspective – from the three rivers that intersect at its base – take a boat ride!
Mount Emei (Emeishan)
Towering 3,117 metres above the ground, take the cable car to the peak of Mount Emei (Emeishan), and explore the magnificent temples, relax in the pristine gardens, and take in the amazing views from the top. You can choose to trek up the mountain – following in the footsteps of the monks – but it is wise to take a stick, as the monkeys which inhabit the trail can be persistent and frustrating. And if you need more time, spread the journey over two days, staying overnight in a traditional monastery!
Dujiangyan Panda Base
Take a tour to the Dujiangyan Panda Base for a magical day out. Sit back and relax on the one and a half hour drive, and then explore the park which is focussed on the conservation of these marvellous animals. You won’t just see the giant pandas either; you will also have the opportunity to admire the red pandas too, as they eat and play together.
Jinli Ancient Street
For a living display of ancient Chinese history, it is hard to beat a visit to the fascinating, Jinli Ancient Street. Since 220 BC this street has been a vibrant commercial hub of the city, and in the early 2000’s a major restoration was undertaken to bring this 380-metre street back to its ancient glory. With original architecture and many vendors in traditional dress, explore the narrow laneway, imagine the hustle and bustle of the street – as it would have been many centuries ago – and relax as you watch the world go by.
Take a trip 60-kilometres from Chengdu, and visit one of the birthplaces of Taoism, Mount Qingcheng. A favourite place for trekking, the 1290-metre high mountain is a great way for the reasonably fit to explore, taking you past several beautiful temples along the way. If you choose to take a ferry and the cable car, you will still see the lush scenery and waterfalls, leaving a 20 minute walk to the peak to see the Laojun Pavilion and of course, the majestic views!
Shufeng Yayun Teahouse
Located in the Chengdu Culture Park, a great night out is to enjoy an evening show at the Shufeng Yayun Teahouse. The show runs for 90-minutes and is a non-stop kaleidoscope of local artists showing their skills, giving a glimpse of the ancient and modern culture, with singing, dancing, and a puppet show to fascinate crowds of all ages!
Chengdu Culture Park
Just next to the Qingyang Palace, the Chengdu Cultural Park is a celebration of local culture, and a favourite place for locals to meet. Each evening there is a show of singers and dancers, and the park regularly has festivals, such as the Lantern Festival and the Flower Festival. During the day, it’s a great place to just relax and watch the locals enjoying themselves, playing cards or mah-jong!
When touring the Leshan Giant Buddha, make sure you include a visit to the nearby Lingyun Temple, with its fascinating statues and magnificent views. Admire the monuments at the entrance, discover the spectacular gardens inside, and explore the stepped series of courtyards surrounded by traditional halls!
Experience ancient Taoist culture with a visit to the Qingyang Palace. Dating back to the year 618 – and largely rebuilt in the 1600’s – make sure you seek out the two fascinating sculptures; one clearly a goat, but the other a blend of all twelve animals that are included in the Chinese Zodiac. Try to work out which animal is where! You will be surrounded by traditional halls and pavilions, so take the time to appreciate the amazing display of Taoist artefacts in front of you, which takes you through the history of this ancient and majestic temple.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Chengdu to visit the magnificent Wenshu Temple, one of the oldest and most well-preserved working Buddhist Temples in China. It’s a fascinating place to explore, with its eleven-story pavilion, and gardens full of sculptures and carvings to study and admire. Once you have finished exploring, relax in the teahouse, where you can soak up the history and enjoy the local culture.
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