A visit to China wouldn’t be the same without Chengdu. It’s the capital city of southwestern China’s Sichuan Province and famous for being home to China’s cuddly giant panda bears. Throughout the years Chengdu has grown its own reputation for being the cultural epicenter of West China. The city is nestled in the west of Sichuan Basin and in the center of Chengdu Plain, covering a total area of 12.3 thousand square kilometers (4,749 square miles) with a population of over 16 million.
Chengdu is an old city with a history stretching back over 2000 years. It was recognized as a National Historical and Cultural City in May 2016, the highest level of administrative classification for cities. As early as during the Han Dynasty, Chengdu ranked as one of China’s six major cities, having become the political, economic, and cultural hub of the Shu Kingdom. In Northern Song Dynasty, the earliest paper note in the world was issued in Chengdu.
Despite Chengdu’s flat lands it has become a popular tourist destination. It has a lot of history and culture. The development of the silk industry in China resulted in increased demand for finished silken products such as brocade. The brocade of Chengdu became known as Shu Brocade, which continues until today and is prized among many silk connoisseurs. Sichuan Opera and Sichuan Opera Face are two representative cultural forms in Chengdu. Sichuan Opera began from Qing Dynasty, as important as Peking Opera; it was enlisted into National Intangible Cultural Heritages as well. The famous poets Li Bai, Du Fu both lived in Chengdu during some of their most prolific periods.
The food is just as inviting as its history. You’ll find Sichuan Cuisine is seen as one of the top Eight Cuisines in China. The distinct feature is spicy. Chengdu people love to eat spicy food. The unique hotspots come from Sichuan. Some famous Chengdu snacks include Sichuan Noodles with Peppery Sauce, Mapo Tofu, Sliced Beef and Ox Tongue in Chilli Sauce, Bonbon Chicken and more.
Chengdu itself doesn’t offer many traditional historic or cultural sights to the tourists. But there are still places to go like the Broad and Narrow Alley, Jinli Street, Temple of Marquis Wu, Qingyang Taoist Temple, Wenshu Monastery, and Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Chengdu is also at the center of a number of nearby regional tourist attractions like Mount Qingcheng, Dujiang Weir, and Xiling Snow Mountain to just to name a few.
If you’re going to tour China, you’ll want to make sure you book a tour in Chengdu.
THINGS TO DO IN CHENGDU
Huanglong National Scenic Reserve
Also known as “World Wonder” and “Fairyland on Earth,” Huanglong National Scenic Reserve features beautiful colorful lakes, snow mountains, breathtaking valleys and virgin forests. Charming and at times picture perfect, tourists both home and abroad effortlessly fall in love with this slice of paradise with every visit.
Chengdu Breeding and Research Center
The Giant Panda is a cultural icon and if you have yet had the pleasure of meeting one up close, making a first impression on panda homeland is a must. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has created the natural habitat, offering the best possible environment for rearing, while offering an up close and personal experience.
Dujiangyan Irrigation Project
Dujiangyan is arguably the most tourist city of Chengdu. It features UNESCO World Heritage site, Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, a wonder of ancient China. It is not only the oldest irrigation system but also is the only surviving no-dam system in the world. It was constructed by a local official and the local people of Sichuang Province at that time.
Le Shan Giant Buddha
Standing at 71-meters (233 ft) tall and built between 713 and 803, the Le Shan Giant Buddha is the largest stone Buddha in the world and is one of the most famous places of interest in Sichuan Province. Sculptures were finished 90 years later by the ancient people in Tang Dynasty. Stunning and unforgettable, the sculpture faces Mount Emei with the rivers running below his feet.
It was known as “Mount Zhangren” in the past and is one of the holy mountains of Taoism in China. The main peak is called Laoxiaoding and it stands 1260 meters above the sea level. Since the entire area is filled with evergreen, the people changed its name and called it, “Mount Qingcheng.”
Jiuzhaigou National Park
There is no doubt that Jiuzhai Valley is a dreamland on the earth. Its rare beauty features a blend of blue lakes, waterfalls, lush forests and the folk customs of the Tibetan and Qiang cultures. If you love the artisan backdrops and silhouettes of nature, you will most definitely feel and notice Mother Nature’s artistry here.
Broad and Narrow Alley
A tour of Chengdu will not be complete without paying a visit to the broad and narrow alley. It refers to the two famous lanes in Chengdu – Kuan Alley (wide lane) and Zhai Ally ( narrow Lane). Both have been around since the Qing Dynasty and it’s a microcosm of the city’s history while also emblematic of the local people and life.
At the southwestern countryside of Chengdu city lays the Qingyang Temple. It’s one of the largest Taoist temples in China, accompanied with many other great historical sites, such as Wuhou Temple and the Thatched Cottage of Du Fu. It was one of the first 21 Taoist Temples allowed to reopen by the government in 1983.
Du Fu Thatched Cottage
Du Fu is regarded as the “King of Poem” in Chinese poet history. The Thatched Cottage of Du Fu is the former residence of the poet located near the Huanhua River in the western suburb of Chengdu. It was announced as a state protected cultural heritage unit in 1961 and an ideal place for people who love poetry.
Heralded as being the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu, the Wenshu Monastery is situated on Wenshu Yuan Street in the north of Chengdu city. The Wenshu Monastery is divided into five temples, featuring long corridors linked to one another with over 500 paintings and pieces of calligraphy from the Song and Tang dynasties.
The cultural relics preserved in Sanxingdui Museum were mostly found in the Three-Star Piles site. If you are interested in the ancient Shu culture, this is a box worth shading. It’s a phenomenal archeological discovery and has altered the people’s understanding of ancient culture — an earth shaking experience indeed.
Mount Emei is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains of China dating back for more than 2000 years. Since Buddhism has arrived in China, it has been an important space for refuge, containing over one hundred temples and monasteries. Catch the sunrise, watch the clouds and witness the Buddha’s halo with the sunset at the top of the mountain, a truly awe-inspiring sight to behold.
CHENGDU PHOTO GALLERY
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