Most of us associate Chengdu with the Giant Panda (and cute cubs too!) and spicy food. But did you know that Chengdu has been ranked as one of the most-recommended cities to live in, in China?
Chengdu might not be as famous a travel destination as Beijing, but it has a lot to offer for attractions, culture and near-by nature-escapes. Take a look at the list we’ve made for you:
Within the city
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
We know we said Chengdu has more than just pandas, but of course we cannot ignore them!
Note that there is more than 1 location to see the Giant Panda, but only this center has the panda cubs. It is also the closest to the city center. We strongly suggest you get there early in the morning as the Giant Panda will usually go to sleep after breakfast.
A bit touristy, but still worth a visit, Jinli street is a historical, cultural, old street packed with local vendors selling snacks and souvenir shops. It’s not a long street, so it can be a nice option for strolling around.
Du Fu Cottage
A beautiful example of a traditional Chinese-Sichuanese court-yard house that is well preserved. Du Fu was a famous poet during the Tang dynasty and his work is still appreciated today.
Maybe the only place in China where you can still find a large stature of Mao decorating the main city-square. Plus, it is a nice area to walk around for architecture, museums and art-galleries. In night time, you can find some clubs and bars there too.
Chengdu New Century Global Center
As the largest building in the world (by square-meters), the “center” is a must visit even just for exploring it’s main “attractions” like the in-doors’ beach and ice-skating arena.
Where locals enjoy tea-drinking, Taichi and singing, but also where you can get a Royal Ear Massage – a traditional, local expertise. Oh, and the marriage market takes place there too, every weekend.
Wenshu monastery and temple
The most famous Buddhist temple in Chengdu, and located near-by a local market which is also worth checking out. Wenshu is an active monastery too.
Our Tip: You can also visit the Wuhou temple, which is larger, yet less known to tourists.
All of the above attractions can be visited within 1-1.5 days, if traveling with a guide. If you are planning on traveling on your own, plan for a minimum 3 days to really enjoy everything.
National Parks and other “Green” Attractions near Chengdu
Dujiang Yan Irrigation system
The name might not be that appealing, but the area is beautiful and worth the trip if you want to change the urban landscape with some green sceneries. This is a UNESCO heritage site and offers a nice walk along the river and a visit to a local temple.
Our Tip: Panda volunteering is done at the center in this area. Click the Read more at the end of the page to find out more
Also known as “little Emei Shan”, this site can be combined with a visit to Dujiangyan on a day trip. There is a hiking trail on the mountain where you will find the ancient Jianfu palace (dated back to the Tang dynasty era) and beautiful scenery. Tianshi cave is one of the main attractions on the mountain where you will find dozens of Daoist statues.
Our Tip: You can also spend the night here.
A well known attraction, located about 3 hours’ drive from Chengdu city. You can hike near-by the statue and walk down along it, from head to tows, to experience its size, or take a boat and watch it from the river to appreciate a full view.
Our Tip: You can combine Leshan Buddha with a visit to the Panda Breeding Center on the same day.
Emei Shan (Mount Emei)
Emeishan is one of the 4 sacred Buddhist mountainsin China and a UNESCO world heritage site as well. On the mountain, you will find several temples, and some beautiful view-points of the “sea of clouds”.
Note! A trip to the mountain will take a whole day and the hike is not simple; There are many stairs to take, even after you enjoyed the cable car; there will be a lot of walking too. If possible, try to spend the night in the area to make things easier for yourself.
Bipeng Gou Valley
About 2.5-3 hours’ drive from Chengdu, Bipenggou is a beautiful natural reserve that is a worthy substitute to Jiuzhaigou. Since the land falls in 2018, Jiuzhaigou hasn’t fully recovered and visiting the park got more complicated. Huanglong is open for visitors, but you still need to either take a flight there (currently only form Chengdu) or a 10 hours bus drive.
There are other destinations in Sichuan, going west into the Tibetan-Plato, that will take you to remote areas with small villages and beautiful landscapes. These will require a longer traveling time, but worth exploring, if you want a different taste of China.
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