Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province which is located in western China, bordering with Tibet. It’s location actually makes it a great place to get started from, or base yourself in, if you are planning to visit Tibet or the southwest region of China including such places as Leshan or Mt. Emei.
Chengdu is also home to the Giant Panda Bear Research Centre, but more about that in a coming post.
The city has a population of about 11 million but strangely it doesn’t feel crowded, actually, it almost has a relaxed feel. Apparently, Chengdu is rated as one of the country’s most livable cities.
Touring around the city you can see vast contrasts between ultra-modern areas, such as the shopping district surrounding the center of town at Tianfu Square, through to old dilapidated hi-rises, right out rural areas with dirt roads on outskirts of the city.
In between all that is a mass of construction, it’s hard to go too far without seeing cranes at work on new development. The new developments seem somewhat plain with bland architecture that’s seemingly going to date quickly, interestingly many of the developments are themed after western countries and have a mix of residential and retail.
Chengdu also features many temples, which I’ll cover in coming posts, along with parks that line the rivers running through the city. Just walking along the river is an experience as its dotted with old traditional style Chinese architecture and some beautiful bridges.
In most of the parks, there are tea houses filled with people just relaxing, talking (don’t ask me what about), playing cards or the local game Mahjong and of course drinking tea. These people are pretty laid back and as I’ll find out, they love drinking tea!
My impression of Chengdu is that I really like the place, the people are friendly, good spirited and many are quite kind. The food is fantastic and cheap. Chengdu really does have a big country town type feel…
For more stories and info see all the posts about Chengdu China.
The Top Ten Must-See Attractions in Chengdu
1. Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Xiongmao Jidi)
Recommended Visiting Hours: 3 ~ 4 hours
Open Hours: 07:30 ~ 18:00
Address: 1375 Panda Road, Northern Suburb, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, P.R. China
2. Mount Qingcheng
Recommended Visiting Time: Half day for Front Mountain, Half day for Rear Mountain
Opening Hours: March 2nd ~ November 30th: 8:00 to 17:00 /December 1st ~ March 1st: 8:00 to 18:00
Tickets: Front Qingcheng Mountain: ¥90; Rear Qingcheng Mountain: ¥20; Ten-Thousand Buddha Cave: ¥5; Crystal Cave: ¥10
Address: Qingcheng Mountain Town, Chengdu 611844, China
3. Wenshu Yuan Monastery
Recommended Visiting Hours: 2 hours
Open Hours: 09:00 ~ 17:00
Address: No.66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610017, China
4. Du Fu Cottage
Recommended Visiting Time: 3 hours
Opening Hours: 8:00—18:30 from May to October, 8:00—18:00 from November to next April.
Tickets: 60 RMB/person
Address: No.37 Qinghua Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu city, Sichuan province
5. Kuanzhai Ancient Street of Qing Dynasty
Recommended Visiting Time: 2-3 hours
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 City.
6. Jinli Pedestrian Street
Recommended Visiting Hours: 2 ~ 3 hours
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 610041, China
7. Jinsha Site Museum
Recommended Visiting Time: 2-3 hours
Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00
Tickets: RMB 80/person; sales time: 8:00-17:30
Address: No.2, Jinsha Site Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu.
8. Qingyang Palace (Green Ram Temple)
Recommended Visiting Time: 1~2 hours
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00Tickets: 10 RMB/person
Address: West Section 2 of the First Ring road, Qingyang District, Chengdu, China
9. Wuhou Memorial Temple
Recommended Visiting Time: 2~3 hours
Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00Tickets: 60 RMB/person
Address: No.231 Wuhou Temple Street, Chengdu city, Sichuan province
10. Chengdu Renmin Park
Recommended Visiting Time: 1 ~ 2 hours
Opening Hours: All day
Tickets: Free when there are no activities; ¥12/person when there is flower show; ¥8 for the major festivals.
Address: No.12 Shaocheng Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610015, China
Chengdu Tourism Map
Chengdu Map with my top picks for hotels
Map includes the top ten attractions, plus, my picks for the top places to stay based on user reviews and location.
Transport in Chengdu
Chengdu has a major international airport being the Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) which is located 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the city center. Getting to and from the airport is easy via Line 10 of the Metro system or via buses which are available at Gate 4 and Gate 5 of terminal 2.
Chengdu has four railway stations being North Railway station, East Railway Station, West Railway Station and South Railway Station. North and East are the main stations, and from there you can take High Speed Rail and other services to an endless number of destinations across China.
Long Distance Bus
If the train is not your thing, or it’s booked out, the city has several intercity and provincial bus services. Stations include General Bus Station (Wugui Bridge Bus Station), Xinnanmen Bus Station (Tourism Bus Center), Chadianzi Bus Station, Airport Bus Station, East Railway Station Bus Station, Beimen (North Gate) Bus Station, and Wukuaishi Bus Station.
The Chengdu Sightseeing Bus is a super convenient way to get around the main attractions. You can catch it outside any of the major tourist spots. Local buses are fixed fare and you either drop coins/notes in the slot as you get on or use a card. You can determine which bus to take via Baidu Maps http://ditu.baidu.com
Metro (subway) and 2018 Chengdu Metro Map
Chengdu has a well-developed metro system including 6 lines with more on the way. They also have an easy to use English site here: http://www.chengdurail.com/index_en.html
Top Ten Things to Eat in Chengdu
Of course, Sichuan hot pot tops the list of things to try, and you’ll find no shortage of places to do just that. Here’s the alternate top ten.
1. Mapo tofu (Mapo doufu 麻婆豆腐)
2. Kungpao chicken (Gongbao jiding 宫保鸡丁)
3. Dry-fried string beans (Ganbian sijidou 干煸四季豆)
4. Sichuan Dumplings in Chili Oil (Hong You Chao Shou 红油抄手)
5. Dandan noodles (Dandan mian 担担面)
6. ‘Sweet water’ noodles (Tianshui mian 甜水面)
7. Brown sugar rice triangle (Hongtang zongzi 红糖粽子)
8. Silk candy (Bositang 波丝糖)
9. Spicy silk tofu (Mala douhua 麻辣豆花)
10. Red bean and egg pastry (Danhuangsu 蛋黄酥)
Top places to head to for streets eats and restaurants include Jinli Street, Kuan and Zhai Alley, Wenshuyuan block, Shaxixian Food Street, Yangxixian Food Street and Chunxi Road.
Useful resources for planning a Chengdu trip
Go Chengdoo – the cool website features loads of info on whats happening in the city, plus forums, news and more. They also have a printed monthly magazine Chengdoo Citylife.
Chengdutime.com – features news, bus train and plane info, forums and more.
Chengdu at chinatravelguide.com – site provides useful primer with maps, transport info, and key attractions.