Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China, is famous for the giant pandas. Located in the center of Chengdu Plain, it is extremely productive because of the construction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation project in 256 B.C., so it is also named the Heavenly State.
Chengdu was rated as the most relaxed city in China, the pace of life here is very slow, and you never see somebody in hurry. There are many parks that are full of teahouses. In these teahouses, you can see people of different ages enjoying their tea, chatting, and playing Majiang. You can have a good experience in the People’s Park, one of the most famous parks in Chengdu.
After the visit, you can stroll in the Kuanzhai Xiangzi, an old alley renovated by the Chengdu City to preserve the local culture. In Jinli ancient street, you can order a famous Sichuan hotpot in a charming restaurant, while witnessing a performance of a traditional Sichuan Opera.
Area: 14,335 km²
Altitude: 500 m
Annual average temperature: 16.4 degrees
Geography: In the center of the Sichuan Province and southwest of China
Population: 20,937,757 (2021)
Nationalities: Han majority.
Economies: Agriculture, Industry, Science and technology, tourism, finance, etc.
How to Go to Chengdu?
Chengdu is the center of transportation in southwest China. The Chengdu railway station is one of the six biggest in China, so you can go to all the big cities by train. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport was one of the 30 busiest airports in the world. With the rapid development of the economy, Chengdu built a second airport, Tianfu International airport, and it becomes the third-largest airport hub in China, after Beijing and Shanghai.
When To Visit Chengdu?
The best periods are from March to June and September to November because it’s cooler and less rainy. Chengdu has a subtropical monsoon climate, and the rainfall is concentrated in July and August when it’s very hot and humid. In winter, it is a bit cold with little rain and snow.
What to Visit in Chengdu?
1. Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base 成都熊猫基地
If you do have not enough time to go to Dujiangyan or Wolong for a visit to the Giant Panda, Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is your best choice. Located in the center of Chengdu, this base serves as a zoo. You can see not only the Giant Panda but also the red pandas. If you like, you can pay some money to feed and hug the cute pandas. But you are suggested to visit early in the morning because the Giant Panda will sleep after eating.
Open Hours: 07:30 ~ 18:00
Tickets: 55 RMB/person
Address: 1375 Panda Avenue, Northern Suburb, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
2. The People’s Park 人民公园
There are many parks in Chengdu, but the People’s Park is the most famous and interesting one. Every morning you can see many local people gather to dance, sing and do Taichi, while the others play the Majiang or enjoy their tea. When you stroll in the park, you can see some people walking around, with something metallic in their hands: a thin metal device with a forked tip that looks and sounds like a tuning fork and is used to clean the ears. This is an experience fantastic.
Opening Hours: 6:00-22:30 (summer); 6:30-22:00 (winter)
Tickets: Free when there are no flower shows/special festivals.
Address: No.12 Shaocheng Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610015, China
3. Wenshu Monastery 文殊院
Initially built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Wenshu Monastery is the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu. Many local people come here every day to worship and burn incense, and others like to have a walk because there is a beautiful garden. Although the temple is in the downtown area, it is very quiet inside. Having a cup of tea and listening to Buddhist music here can make you forget your troubles and stress.
Open Hours: 08:00 ~ 17:00
Address: No.66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
4. Jinli Street 锦里
Jinli is a street that existed long ago and has been renovated. It becomes now a famous snack street. Spicy or sweet, crispy or soft, you will always find your favorite here. In general, the local snacks in Jinli Ancient Street are rather authentic, and the prices for them are very fair. Before you visit Jinli Ancient Street, make sure you have an empty stomach.
Open Hours: Some snack stores will close around 22:00, and some drinking bars will open all night
Address: No.231 Wuhouci Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
5. Kuanzhai Alley 宽窄巷子
Kuanzhai Alley, also known as “Wide and Narrow Alley”, consists of three historic paralleled alleys from the Qing dynasty. Covering the ancient-style buildings, it offers delicious Sichuan snacks and exquisite Sichuan handicrafts. This old area is one of the most attractive places in Chengdu for people from the whole world.
Opening Hours: 24 hours, most shops (bars excluded) close at 22:00-23:00
Address: East of Tongren Road, west of Changshun Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu, Sichuan
6. Qingyang Palace 青羊宫
Qingyang Palace is a Taoist temple by Jinjiang River in the Chengdu City. Known as the largest Taoist temple in southwest China, it has the most integrated collection to research Taoism: Dao Zang Ji Yao.
In front of the Hall of Sanqing, there are two bronze sheep, which are the treasures of this temple. On the left is a single horn sheep and on the right a double horn sheep. The single-horned sheep contains the characteristics of the Chinese zodiac, including rat ears, ox body, tiger claws, rabbit back, dragon horns, snake tail, horse mouth, goat beard, monkey head, corns, dog belly, and pig’s buttocks.
Despite a location in the busy center, Qingyang Palace makes an unexpectedly quiet and peaceful temple for a glimpse of Taoism.
Opening Hours: 9:00-18:00
Tickets: 10 RMB/person
Address: No.9 West Section of the First Ring road, Qingyang Distract, Chengdu, Sichuan
7. Jinsha Museum 金沙博物馆
In 2011, China found the Jinsha Site Ruins in Chengdu, and this discovery is considered the first important archaeological discovery in the early 21st century in China and is listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Tentative List. On these ruins, they built the Jinsha Museum in 2007, which shows the historical culture of the ancient Shu Kingdom about 2900-3200 years ago, including the gold sunbird, smiling gold mask, and the kneeling stone figures, etc.
Opening Hours: Monday, 8:00-18:30 (Nov.-Apr.), 8:00-20:00 (May-Oct.) Close on Monday.
Tickets: 70 RMB/person
Address: No. 2, Jinsha Site Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Chengdu is the heaven of the gastronome. A foreigner said he would eat all the gourmet food in China in one year, but three years later he was still in Sichuan. Among the four major Chinese cuisines, Sichuan cuisine is the most popular: You can find Sichuan restaurants in every corner of China.
Sichuan Hot pot 四川火锅
For a traveler in Chengdu, Sichuan Hotpot is a must to discover. It’s not hard to find a hot pot in Chengdu. It might be more difficult to find a restaurant that DOESN’T serve Sichuan hot pot.
It is always a very good idea to have a hot pot when it is cold: the people sit around the table, in the middle of which places a giant vat of boiling broth. Everyone would pick and choose what they want, and drop food into the pots of bubbling broth. After you dunk the cooked food into different kinds of sauces, from peanut sauce to sesame sauce, and of course, more Sichuan pepper.
Gongbao Chicken 宫保鸡丁
Gongbao Chicken is a classic dish of Sichuan Cuisine, and it’s made of chopped chicken, vegetables, chilies peppers, and peanuts. Although this dish is found throughout China, these variations are less spicy than the Sichuan serving.
The Sichuan Dumpling四川龙抄手
Dumplings are wildly popular the world over. In China, dumplings steamed or fried have become an iconic image of the country and its food culture. But in Sichuan, the dumpling is called Chaoshou.
Chaoshou is made with square skins based on flour, filled with pork and ginger. Once boiled, put them in a bowl with chicken soup, chili oil, spice, and toasted garlic. So don’t miss your chance to have some Chaoshou during your trip to Chengdu.
Dan Dan Noodles 成都担担面
Dan Dan Noodles are one of the most famous Sichuan street foods. The freshly boiled thin noodles are served in a savory, spicy sauce topped with crispy pork and peanut flakes. Simply stir everything together with a pair of chopsticks to coat the noodles with a bit of everything and slurp! The numbing, smoky, spicy sauce will shock your taste buds, leaving you craving for more.
Pockmarked grandma’s Tofu: 麻婆豆腐
Ma Po means an old woman whose face is pockmarked. According to a cookbook, this woman had a restaurant in Chengdu, and her signature dish is Mapo tofu. This dish consists of tofu set in a spicy sauce, typically a thin, oily, and bright red suspension. The most important ingredients are fermented broad beans and chili paste, and fermented black beans. Although Mapo tofu originated in Sichuan province, it is now popular throughout all of China.
Fuqi feipian (Husband and Wife Lung Slices): 夫妻肺片
Once in Chengdu, many Muslim vendors sold beef slices served cold in the city’s streets. Because of its low cost, the dish was popular among the poor people. A married couple in Chengdu became famous for making beef slices, their beef slices had a distinct taste from the other beef slice vendors, and they had succeeded in their business. Then people named their beef slices Husband and Wife Lung Slices.
This dish is made of some thin slices of beef and beef offal in a vinaigrette-like sauce of chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, vinegar, and sugar. It can be served hot or as a cold appetizer.
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