Emei Shan – An intro to Mount Emei, Sichuan China

Emei Shan – An intro to Mount Emei, Sichuan China

Mt. Emei or Emei Shan (Shan meaning mountain) is located in Leshan City of Sichuan Province. It’s one of China’s Sacred Mountains featuring Buddhist temples and amazing scenery. In 1996 it was given World Heritage status by UNESCO.

Standing at over 3000 meters the mountain features four scenic regions being: Baoguo Temple, Wannian Temple, Qingyin Pavilion and Golden Summit. Golden Summit lies at the mountain’s peak.

Being my first visit to the mountain I went with a tour group, unfortunately, it was a really rushed tour. This is easily a place you could spend some time soaking up the natural wonders and the amazing temples. And a place I hope to visit again and spend more time.

Useful Info

Ticket Price and Opening Hours

Items: High Season (Jan.15 – Dec.14) Low Season (Dec.15 – Jan.14)
Entrance Fee: CNY 185 CNY 110
Baoguo Temple: CNY 8
Fuhu Temple: CNY 10
Wannian Temple: CNY 10
Opening Hours: 6:00 – 18:30 7:00 – 17:50

 

Transport Update

There is now a fast train from Chengdu which also passes through Leshan and terminates at Mt Emei (Emeishan Station).

Take a train from Chengdu East Railway Station or Chengdu South Railway Station to Emeishan Station, and then change to bus 5A or 8. There are around 8 trains daily and it takes around 60 min to 75 min.

 

Useful websites for planning a trip to Emei Shan
Mt Emei at travelchinaguide.com – overview with opening times, transport guides, maps and ticket prices.
Emei Shan National Park at wikitravel.org –  overview of where to stay, what to eat and see, and buses.
Emei Shan at tochinaandbeyond.com – independent travelers guide
Detailed Emei Shan Tourist Map at chinatouristmaps.com – very useful map to quickly get your bearings of the location of temples and sight-seeing spots on the mountain.

 

Mt.Emei Map with nearby hotels/accommodation

 

Tourist Map for the mountain

 

 

Leshan and the Giant Buddha

Leshan and the Giant Buddha

Leshan is a city located about two hours drive from Chengdu in Sichuan Province China. The star attraction of the city is the amazing Giant Buddha that’s been carved out from the rock face siding the river. It’s actually where three rivers meet being the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers.

It was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996 and the Giant Buddha, in sitting position, measures in at 71 meters tall and 28 meters wide.

This was part of the tour that went from Chengdu to Leshan and onto Mt Emei. I felt a little sad that having to play follow the leader, I didn’t spend anytime exploring the city. Something for next time!

More resources for planning a trip to Leshan
Leshan at wikitravel.org – features transport guides and travel tips.
Leshan City at 51766.com – follow the links on the left of the page for info on transport, buses, weather and more.

Leshan Map with nearby hotels
Leshan is about 20km from Emei and about 180km from Chengdu.

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The Traffic Hotel Chengdu

The Traffic Hotel Chengdu

The Traffic Hotel is located south of central Chengdu alongside the Nanhe River. Right next door to the hotel is the Xinnanmen Bus Station (Tourism Passenger Transport Centre) which is the Chengdu’s main bus station with services to many long distance destinations like Emei, Leshan, Jiuzhaigou and many more places in Sichuan Province.

The Traffic Hotel/Inn (previously the Communications Hotel?) sits somewhere between being a hotel and a backpackers hostel. Some rooms feature shower and toilet and other rooms just have a toilet. Common use showers are available on each floor. The rooms are basic but clean.

What makes this hotel great is three things, the caring service from the staff at the front desk with one senior staff member speaking great English providing me with endless assistance in booking tours and flights, secondly the wonderful food from the hotels restaurant, and thirdly the ability to easily book tours whether heading to Tibet, Emei Shan, Leshan or just to local Chengdu attractions. 

The hotel also has a laundry room and a secure area for leaving your extra luggage while out on tour. A major downside is a non-existent wi-fi, although on the second floor there where some cables at a central desk where you could plug in your laptop.

At the front of the hotel is a bar and a Thai restaurant, but the bar never seemed to really get going, and the service at the Thai Restaurant was that bad I walked out…but, looking back, I wasn’t having the best day that day, perhaps I was a little rash!

The restaurants own hotel is a great place to eat, the staff was friendly and considerate towards my inability to speak Mandarin. And the food was great value. Pictured below are a sizzling beef stir-fry and pork dumplings:

 

View their latest rates and discounts: Traffic Inn, Chengdu

 

Also see my Intro to Chengdu, inc the top attractions and places to stay

 

Traffic Hotel address in Chinese

 

Traffic Hotel Map

The Shudu Mansion Hotel Chengdu

The Shudu Mansion Hotel Chengdu

Booking over the phone with Ctrip
I hadn’t sighted the hotel prior to booking but at the time there wasn’t much choice as there was a major conference on in town and accommodation was hard to find. That’s where Ctrip, the China-based travel booking service, saved the day once again.

You can book accommodation, flights and more travel services with Ctrip either via the Internet or via phone. As I found out later they do have an English booking service over the phone too, but in this case, my kind new friend Ran had done the hard work and saved the day by arranging a place to stay.

The Ctrip service is quite reassuring too, after booking over the phone you’ll then get a series of text messages to your mobile confirming the booking and providing hotel address, price and room type confirmation and a contact number you can call if you need someone who speaks Chinese to give the hotel address to a taxi driver etc.

I’ve now used Ctrip many times and the rates have always been better than booking direct, how that works I’m not sure but I’ll take it.

The Shudu Mansion Hotel in Chengdu
When it was new I could imagine this would have been a very classy hotel but the place is starting to show its age although still presentable. By Chinese standards, it’s kept extremely clean.

When I checked in it was quite busy so its hard to place judgment on the staff, and I think only a couple may speak some English.

The hotel is in a great location, close to the major shopping area and very central. There are plenty of eateries nearby including many of the big name western fast food outlets. The hotel also has its own revolving restaurant which provides a wonderful view over central Chengdu. I didn’t try dinner but their breakfast, included in the room rate, was a Chinese/western buffet and very enjoyable.

The room was large, the bed was comfortable (albeit hard like all Chinese beds), and it was clean. The bathroom was clean with shower and western toilet.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Internet to work and was too tired to be worried about it. The TV worked fine but I couldn’t find any English stations at the time.

I only stayed here one night as that was the only night they had available, but I would be happy to stay again.

View the latest specials and room rates at Shudu Mansion Hotel Chengdu

Also see my Intro to Chengdu, inc the top attractions and places to stay

Map

 

Angels on a Plane – Thank you Ran and Yan

I am 100% sure that I would not be getting around China so easily if it wasn’t for the kindness of Chinese people!

The flight from LiJiang to Chengdu was delayed and while staring out in the distance of the waiting room hallway a pretty voice beside me pipes up and says hello…in english..i reply with a hello and before too long I find out that I’m sitting beside two students who are keen to try out their english skills!

So, being Australian, I teach them ‘G’day’, ‘fair dinkum’, and ‘crikey’! And I also picked up a few handy chinese phrases!

Our little chat helped fill in the time while the flight was delayed for about an hour which was much more fun than staring into the waiting room hallway…

When the flight landed in Chengdu I met the girls again on the way out of the airport terminal which was kinda handy as I was hoping for a little local info where to catch an airport transfer bus into the city. They were heading that way too so we all jumped on the bus which was way cheaper than getting  a taxi.

I still hadn’t booked any accommodation at this stage and it was starting to get late, lucky for me Ran and Yan were keen to help out! Apparently they thought I was brave for travelling in a foreign country on my own without being able to speak the language, no…actually… I’m just stupid…

We walked around together and found one nearby hotel that looked reasonable from the outside called my city hotel I think but reception made it clear that they don’t take foreigners. So, why did they bother with the english name? Apparently there is still a lot of hotels like this in China, for a number of reasons including they just don’t have english speaking staff or they cater only domestic residents for the sake of their clients who may not wish to mix with foreigners which is probably the China of old.

Ran and Yan got on  the phone and made a call to ctrip, ctrip is a major accommodation booking service in China, and after about 10 minutes with what sounded like some tough negotiation (I couldn’t understand a word!) a hotel was booked. The girls went way out of their way and took me to the hotel, helped me check in which I am pretty glad they did as I dont think anyone on the desk at this hour spoke english…

After that the girls went on their way, I thanked them, but I really do owe them a big thanks. I can maybe imagine that this was a slightly uncomfortable position for them to be in, imagine it, two young girls checking in a foreign guy to a hotel….

They really went out of their way and it again confirms to me that kindness and compassion is something that is ingrained into genuine Chinese people…

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Taking center stage on the city of Chengdu’s attraction list is the ‘Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’. Its the largest and most successful breeding center being home to many pandas both young and old. Pandas are bred at the large park and along with being a popular tourist attraction, it also functions research and breeding center.

Pandas are bred at the center, raised and many are then re-introduced into the wild. Along with the quite famous Giant Panda there are also Red Pandas and apparently the park also has tigers and monkeys, but I’m not sure where the last two where hiding, I didn’t spot them.

The trick to this place is getting there early, for two reasons, first reason is to beat the crowds, and I’m talking about crowds on a China scale, tour buses pour into this place. Second reason is to see the pandas being fed as per the photo below:

This group of four where the only ones I saw that came out of there shelters and apparently these are quite young. The older bigger bears just laze around in their shelters and can be hard to catch out and about. Feeding time for the young cubs is definitely the best time as this is when they are most active, otherwise you could be a little disappointed just seeing pandas sleeping inside a concrete cave.

The center is quite large and can take some time to walk around all the different enclosures. The pandas enclosures have quite large open outdoor play areas replicating their natural environment. In the park there is also a large lake featuring some noisy and inquisitive ducks and geese.

I booked a taxi for the trip there and back, as I was told that the public bus option can be a little confusing. The taxi took me out to the centre, waited two hours and then brought me back to the Tibet Hotel Chengdu where I was staying. All up it cost around 200rmb (yuan) for the taxi and 60rmb for entry, which is a total of about $40 aud.

Also at the Panda Bear Research Base is a museum which has some interesting artifacts and some even more interesting stories depicted in several peices of art, such as the one below (note the angry warrior panda!)

Address: 1375 Xiongmao Avenue, Chenghua, Chengdu

Official website of the Panda Research Base panda.org.cn/english/

Chengdu Panda Base Map Location map also features nearby hotels

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The Ten Best Sights and Attractions in Chengdu + Map

The Ten Best Sights and Attractions in Chengdu + Map

Chengdu, unfortunately, doesn’t make it on to many peoples list of places to visit while in China unless they are visiting Tibet or maybe going to see the Giant Buddha. That’s a bit of a shame as it is a really nice city, with friendly people and a somewhat relaxed environment compared to many other major Chinese cities.

Chengdu has plenty to offer including shopping, sightseeing, and wonderful food along with its major drawcard being the Panda bears. It’s a place worth hanging around for at least a few of days, or more if you like.

Here is a brief intro to my three favorite places in Chengdu followed by a list of the top ten attractions with addresses and open times.

Giant Panda Breeding Research Base

It’s a must visit, as they really aren’t that many chances in China where you can see so many and get so close. I’ll cover my visit there in a dedicated post Panda bears

 

Wenshu Monastery

Wenshu Monastery is a famous Buddhist temple and is one of the four major temples of Zen Buddhism. Previously known as Xin Xiang temple it was built during the time of the Sui Dynasty around the years 605-617AD. It features a large pagoda, plenty of walkways and many temples. It’s an active monastery too, with many monks in training. Don’t miss the tunnel that goes underground to another temple with a giant golden Buddha.

Entry cost was 5 yuan. You can wander around this place in an hour or so, but it’s a nice place to sit back and relax, and the friendly monks serving tea in the courtyard are all too happy to have you sit down for even longer, even if you cant understand each other!

 

The Wuhou Shrine

Built-in 223 AD this shrine covers a vast area including various temples and gardens. The shrine was built in honor of Zhuge Liang who was a military strategist and leader during the Three Kingdoms Period. You may also find yourself spending time here drinking tea with temple minders! It’s also the largest museum in China for artifacts from the Three Kingdom period. Entry was 60 yuan.

The River Viewing Park (or Wangjiangluo Park)

Standing alongside the Brocade River this park covers over 2.5 hectares. The park features many beautiful pavilions and it’s quite popular with photographers and those looking to relax. Next to the park is a large bamboo garden with tea houses providing drinks to hundreds of Chinese just sitting, relaxing and many playing the game Mahjong.

 

Attractions addresses and details

Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Xiongmao Jidi)
Recommended Visiting Hours: 3 ~ 4 hours
Open Hours: 07:30 ~ 18:00
Tickets: 58 RMB
Address: 1375 Panda Road, Northern Suburb, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, P.R. China

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 RMB; Rear Qingcheng Mountain: 20 RMB; Ten-Thousand Buddha Cave: 5 RMB; Crystal Cave: 10 RMB
Address: Qingcheng Mountain Town, Chengdu 611844, China

Wenshu Yuan Monastery
Recommended Visiting Hours: 2 hours
Open Hours: 09:00 ~ 17:00
Tickets: 5 RMB
Address: No.66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610017, China

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

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
Tickets: Free
Address: East of Tongren Road, west of Changshun Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu City.

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
Tickets: Free
Address: No.231 Wuhouci Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu 610041, China

Jinsha Site Museum
Recommended Visiting Time: 2-3 hours
Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00
Tickets: RMB 80
Address: No.2, Jinsha Site Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu.

Qingyang Palace (Green Ram Temple)
Recommended Visiting Time: 1~2 hours
Opening Hours: 9:00-17:00
Tickets: 10 RMB
Address: West Section 2 of the First Ring road, Qingyang District, Chengdu, China

Wuhou Memorial Temple
Recommended Visiting Time: 2~3 hours
Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00
Tickets: 60 RMB
Address: No.231 Wuhou Temple Street, Chengdu city, Sichuan province

Chengdu Renmin Park
Recommended Visiting Time: 1 ~ 2 hours
Opening Hours: All day
Tickets: Free when there are no activities; 12 RMB when there is flower show; 8 RMB for the major festivals.
Address: No.12 Shaocheng Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610015, China

 

Where’s my pick of the best place to stay in Chengdu? The Chengdu Tibet Hotel

For transport maps and the top foods to try, see my Essential Intro to Chengdu

 

Chengdu Attraction Map

 

Chengdu Tourist Map

 

 

 

 

Shopping in Chengdu

Shopping in Chengdu

Chengdu of Sichuan Province won’t leave shoppers empty-handed, as the center of Chengdu offers plenty of options, whether you are shopping for brand name clothing, no name clothing, electronics or local products.

The place to start is Chunxi Road which features modern department stores, boutique shops, supermarket and loads of eateries.There is also plenty of western brand eateries to be found including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, KFC along with western brand name fashions like Gucci, Lacoste, Polo etc. Surrounding Chunxi Road there must be four blocks or more of modern department style stores!

A little way north of the town center is He Hua Chi Wholesale Market (pictured below) where you be blown away by shop after shop after shop selling clothing and textiles.

Inside the He Hua Chi Wholesale Market (pictured below) you can find many floors and with hallways featuring shop after shop selling shirts, jackets, suits, for both men and women. 

Outside the He Hua Chi Wholesale Market (pictured below) can be chaotic but well worth a wander, and you can wander for miles! There are even more markets and stalls all over the place and in the streets surrounding, selling shoes, shirts, fashion accessories, bags and the like.  Note to fully discover this place could take days, it goes on for block after block..!

Computer City Chengdu – Shu Ma Guang Chang is located on Renmin Nanlu & the South 1st Ring Road, and here you can find the Shu Ma department store which has 6 floors of electronics! Each floor has a theme, so one floor is cameras, one floor is laptops etc etc. Interestingly the top floor has used and recycled IT goods.

Pictured below is inside one of the massive department stores selling electronics, with so many people in the one place selling the same item you’ll find prices to be competitive, but there’s still room for haggling! And you don’t have far to go to compare prices and deals!

Cell Phone Street, or mobile phone street if you like, is located on Tidu St where you can find a whole street packed with mobile phone retailers, there’s plenty of people selling off the footpath too. Research your prices and bargain hard, some shops here know a foreigner when they see one!

See my picks for the top places to stay in Chengdu

Chengdu Shopping Map – Click the icons for details..

The Famous Sichuan Hot Pot

The Famous Sichuan Hot Pot

After a relaxing massage at Jiafu Fudao, Rebecca took me a great place to enjoy one of Sichuan’s famous dishes, the Hot Pot. While Hot Pots are available in most places across China, apparently the Chengdu Sichuan version is something unique!

Extremely unique for me as I’d never had one before! Recessed into the table you dine at is a large pot, underneath which is a burner. The pot is filled with, ummm, I don’t really know, and for a westerner in China its best not to know…but it’s like a spicy boiling broth.

Tray after tray of unique looking vegetables and meats are brought out which are placed into the boiling broth, and not long after that you dive your chopsticks in and grab out the spicy treats! And it’s spicy, not like an Indian curry that will make you sweat, this actually makes your mouth feel numb!

 

I recognised some of the vegetables that went into the hot pot but not much else! There were some long stem mushrooms, shallots plus more and the real treats were cows stomach and some other animals offals! It’s a must try dinner if you are in Chengdu, I loved it!

Thank you, Rebecca!

When in Chengdu try a Jiafu Fudao Massage

When in Chengdu try a Jiafu Fudao Massage

Fortunately for me a had a friend in Chengdu, Rebecca,  who just happened to be a manager at the Chengdu branch of Jiafu Fudao. Whats Jiafu Fudao? A very classy place for starters!

It’s a spa retreat, my guess catering for executive market, offering a vast array of massage and therapeutic services. Many of the services are unique to Jiafu Fudao and are based in traditional age-old Chinese therapies.

I was lucky to sample over an hour of these specialised ancient Chinese therapies from one of the places leading technicians. This wasn’tany ‘lay on the table and get slapped around’ type deal, it was a unique combination of massage, a working of pressure points, aromatic therapy and an amazing foot massage. Unfortunately I didn’t grab the english translation for the names of these unique procedures, but Im assured you can only experience them here! 

I have never experienced a massage technician that has such an extraordinary knowledge of the body’s pressure points and also the amazing ability to tell me my life story, and my current ailements from the soul of my feet!

The building is quite large with many private rooms catering for individuals and for large groups (pictured above), it’s quite luxuriously furnished, also featuring a bar and there’s a chef on had that can prepare some unique and interesting asian treats.

Long after being in Chengdu and travelling much of China I am still yet experience a massage as unique, nor someone with the depth of knowledge of the human body that the wonderful technician had…

If you’re in Chengdu, be sure to check it out! Many staff there also speak english. 

The Tibet Hotel Chengdu

The Tibet Hotel Chengdu

When I came to Chengdu it really was a blessing to find this place. Let alone being my first time in Chengdu, it was my first time in China too. So I was really keen to find somewhere safe, friendly and hopefully with someone who speaks English to help this dumb foreigner!

When I made it there and walked up towards the door for the first time the concierge lept forward from inside swinging the doors open and greeting me with a big ‘hello, sir’, which was kinda comforting, as I walked through the door I thought, wow, this place is pretty neat. The lobby floor looks like polished marble, the timber work is exquisite and there is a massive piece of what looks like hand-sewn artwork behind the reception desk.

As I am walking to the reception desk looking at the four female staff, all immaculately dressed in airline stewardess standard outfits, I wondered, was this really $49 a night? I had to adjust to the different rates and the value that can be found.

I’m greeted by another welcoming ‘hello’ by not one, but two of the reception staff who as it turns out to have almost conversational English skills, and I explained that I had checked the place out via HotelClub and that maybe my booking hadn’t come through as I was having some Internet issues but your offering a room for $49 US right?

After some discussion between the staff, some work on the calculator and then some more discussion they came back and matched the price. I paid a deposit and was shown up to the room.

The room is not huge but its designed for 1 person featuring only a single bed, a relaxing chair, desk, TV and small fridge. The bathroom is a good size with shower and basin. The hotel must be relatively new, at least everything so far seems in as new condition and it’s very clean.

The room also has broadband internet included and on the TV I found at least two English speaking stations!

I was pretty worn out at this time so, to bed I went. Oh yeah, the Chinese like their beds to be like a plank of wood with a sheet over the top, after a while it’s actually not so bad…

The next day it was off to breakfast which was included, and it was a full buffet featuring an impressive mix of Chinese dishes and western food. This was served up in their ‘coffee bar’, which strangely doesn’t have coffee on the menu. It also features an amazing piece of art as per the photo below.

The coffee shop serves western food 24hrs a day and the hotel also features four other restaurants, a bar in the lobby and a Tibetan tea house.

Bored, well, the hotel also has a bowling alley, a KTV club/bar (like karaoke), a spa/sauna and beauty salon. Being out and about on the sightseeing trails I didn’t get to fully explore all of these options but I’m thinking you could easily spend several days here and not need to walk outside the front doors!

As you can guess by the name, the hotel has a Tibetan theme and there is also an impressive little art gallery in the hotel featuring various artworks from Tibet.

The concierge speaks some English, actually, one speaks quite good English and is incredibly helpful with arranging taxis, tours or just helping with directions.  

Finding the Tibet Hotel Chengdu

It took me hours to find this hotel, mostly due to my disorganisation (as per earlier posts) but also perhaps due to the English translations of street names. Renmin Road, as it turns out is a major arterial which runs through the city from north to south.

Unlike me, if you book in advance I’m sure they will arrange a car to pick you up at the airport!

For their latest rates and deals see Tibet Hotel Chengdu.

Tibet Hotel Chengdu address in Chinese:  

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for Chengdu accommodation it’s hard to go past the Tibet Hotel,  for me it was a five-star experience with a 2-star price tag. Downside: Its a little north of the center of the city so you’ll be getting a taxi most of the time. Although the excellent Wenshu Temple is within walking distance and it’s not far from Hehuachi Market.

I really loved this place, it was just what I needed, somewhere safe and comfortable where I could get orientated. The added luxury and great price was all a welcome bonus!

Tibet Hotel Chengdu Map Location

Essential Intro: Chengdu of Sichuan Province [Top Sights, Food,Transport, & Map]

Essential Intro: Chengdu of Sichuan Province [Top Sights, Food,Transport, & Map]

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
Tickets: ¥58/person
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
Tickets: ¥5/person
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
Tickets: Free
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
Tickets: Free
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

Flights
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.

Trains
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.

City Bus
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.

My First Day In China – In the City of Chengdu

My First Day In China – In the City of Chengdu

After a suprisingly good nights sleep at the hotel, that saved me from a night on the streets of Chengdu, I woke to see a beautiful haze, a lovely light grey in color impenertable by the sun, my first morning in China. At first I thought smog, but actually its just a haze for whatever reason becuase the air seems quite ok here.

I began the challenging task of trying to ask the helpful girl at hotel reception to organise a taxi….due to my non-existant mandarin skills it was some time later and we were still going around in circles about booking a taxing and where this taxi might take me…

I can only imagine her frustration at thinking what on earth is this guy doing, coming to china with no language skills, no plan and no idea….hehe

The taxi thing was going nowhere so I asked with hand gestures as to the direction of the city and headed off in to the yonder.

As I got a little way down the road the gravity of the task ahead started to hit me. I didnt understand any of the road signs, I didnt have a map, I didnt have a working mobile phone and on a scrap of paper I had the address of a hotel that I hadnt even made a resevation at yet….at least I thought I did.

The area i was walking through looked like most of it was under development, some grimmy old hi rise dewellings and offices, to the right there was a lot of cleared land with construction work going on in every direction. Lots of construction work…I must be on the outskirts of town.

It was early in the morning and people where lining up at bus stops and the traffic was starting to grow. Walking along the road looking towards one of the bus stops I noticed lots of guys hanging around in cars, sometimes even parked up on the footpath..it was pretty easy to work their game out, they where touting for fares! Private taxis if you like…the real taxis, green and yellow in color, where scooting up and down the road all with passengers.

Along with the people with cars touting for fares there where also a few people on mopeds offering lifts to those waiting for a bus. As I walked through the crowd of people, and started to realise by the long staring glances that, um, not many foreigners must get around these parts…Actually, now I think about it, I was the only one on the plane, none at the airport, none so far…hmmmmm.

As I crossed the road there where push bike pedi-cabs everywhere, so, there where private cars, mopeds and now pedi-cabs all circling the bus stop like vultures over a dead carcass…it was a bus stop in the middle of what seemed like nowhere…

As I walked past another couple of these private taxi cars I hear a ‘helloooooo’, yes with real extension on the ‘oooo’ bit. I quickly gave a hello back and then he started pointing at his car and talking in chinese. ‘English’ I asked inquisitively, he waived his hand to express no english.

I pulled out a peice of paper and wrote down ‘ATM – Bank of China’, i needed cash as i had only got out enough last night to pay for the hotel…not sure what i was thinking there…anyway, I pointed at the note and the guy was all to keen to have a look at it. A long look. I said ‘bank of china’ and pointed down the road towards the city, he chuckled and pointed down a street to the right, and said ‘bank’..off I went.

A little way down the road and after many long, glaring inquisitive stares from the locals, I found a Bank of China branch.  ATM’s in China are not really any different to the ones here except that it’s in chinese, luckily they have numbers on the keypad that you and I can understand and you simply select ‘english’ on the display screen. The ATM even talks you through the process.

Cash in hand, I thought its time to get a taxi, couldnt see any green and yellow cars buzzing around here so I walked back to the road I came from. I looked for my bit of paper with the hotel details on it…uh oh…uuurrrggghhh. Unable to find that I pulled out the lonely planet guide (hmmm, why didnt I do that earlier!) and found the name of a major shopping in the city. It was at least something to point at.

After a few more stares, and another ‘hellooo’ from a store owner standing out the front I got back to the street I was at before and managed to hail a cab, hailing a taxi it seems it a universal standard process of standing on the edge of the road and waiving your hand in the air, execpt in China you need to fight your way past the vulture like pedi-cabs and private taxis…From what I’m told you are somewhat safe in Chinas taxis, they are heavily regulated by the government, say no more!

Holding out the map and pointing towards this spot I was soon on my way and 15 minutes or so later we pulled up in what I guess was downtown Chengdu, modern multi level shopping complexes everywhere and a people, cars, buses, and you name it, heading in every direction.

I jumped out of the cab and thought, I really have no idea…I’m looking around and by the stares and glances i’m getting. Im thinking they dont get too many westeners here! Which is confirmed by the fact that I still havent seen any. What to do. Ive lost the address for the hotel, I still dont have a map, and its not like I can just start asking people for help, they wont understand a word!

Nothing like having an entry strategy….hmmmm, the internet would be real handy right now, I’ll google my way out of this! Picking up my bag and turning around it was hard for me to believe what I just saw…Starbucks. Im not really a fan of Starbucks coffee, but today I am. I walked in and saw a dual language menu and as I approached the counter I get ‘hello, what would you like’. The staff all spoke english, the place was a mirror of any Starbucks you would see anywhere else and of course, free wi-fi. Saved by the global reach of American entrepreneurship…

I stayed there for about an hour, enjoying the comfy chair, coffee and free internet. It was a real comforting place to be, like sitting in a western embassy of some kind…I got the address of the hotel and guess it was some way away, so off I headed to get another cab..

This time I was not to be so lucky, the first cab I manged to hail wouldnt let me in, waiving his hands in crossways manner, hmmm, perhaps some foreigner upset him once before. So I moved on and kept trying.

Having walked around for a while now I still havent seen a foreigner, not one. Re-confirmed by the long curious stares. And this is no backwater, this is a huge city and I’m walking around the central district wich is packed with glitzy modern stores including many major western brands. Occassionaly I would get a ‘hellooo’ particurlary from pairs of girls who would be walking down the street holding hands, after saying hello in a curious manner they would then start giggling and quickly scuttle off.

One guy in a business suit stopped and said hello, we had a breif couple of words about the sprawling mass of modern shops we could see from the overpass we were walking over before he continued on his way.

Back to cab hunting, the next cab was a little more freindly and I showed him the address, fortunately he could speak a little english and but he couldn’t understand the english version of the address I had written down. Appologising he hinted he had to keep moving.

I tried a couple more cabs with no luck and decided to just walk in the direction of the hotel, why not, I get to see some of Chengdu. After discovering that the street names on the Chengdu map in the lonely planet book dont match the names on the street signs I choose to ignore it and just head north. It was a huge walk and with a little help from the local police who can speak some english and are suprisingly keen to help out, I got there.

I started from the other hotel at 8am and made it to the Tibet Hotel in Chengdu after 3pm. I was glad to be there…

I think I got a lesson, China is not the easiest place to be so disfunctionly disorganised….