City Guide: Chengdu
Chengdu is known for the Giant Panda Research Base… and spicy food. Yet, there’s much more to see in the capital of the province Sichaun. In this extensive City Guide, I’ll show what you should see when visiting Chengdu!
Chinese cities are not particularly known for boasting an incredible amount of sights. When visiting Chengdu, you shouldn’t expect the beauty of Paris or uniqueness of Venice, but I think that the city is still worth visiting. The main reason, obviously, is the really nice Giant Panda Base, but there are several other reasons that make visiting Chengdu worthwhile. However, let’s start with the most important!
The Giant Panda Research Base Chengdu
I don’t think that there is anybody out there who doesn’t like pandas, but even if, visiting the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu is a must.
When you are visiting in the morning, the lines aren’t bad and you can enter just minutes after opening of the gates, plus the pandas are awake (they are rather sleepy in general).
The panda base is really big and you’ll most likely walk around for five to ten kilometers to see all areas, but it’s totally worth it as you’ll see various pandas in various different environments.
One of the highlights is definitely when you see the pandas eating, what they actually do most of the time they are not sleeping.
Personally, I really loved seeing the baby pandas, they are just incredibly cute!
While most of the pandas here are the huge ‘Giant Pandas’, there are also some red pandas, which look a bit like a fox to me.
All in all, the Chengdu Giant Panda Base should be on your must visit list as it’s just an incredibly amazing place to visit!
Du Fu Thatched Cottage & Huanhuaxi Park Chengdu
Another area of Chengdu I really enjoyed visiting is the Huanhuaxi Park, which is located in the West of the city center. It’s a large park with a really nice lake.
There is also some sort of an artificial river called Huanhua Brook. It’s nicely done and a cool place to walk around for a while.
The highlight around here is the Du Fu Thatched Cottage so, which you have to pay a small entrance fee for, but it’s well worth it.
Not only are you in a nice park with several interesting plants and little lakes, but there are also various historic buildings, which have a distinctive charm.
There is even a local tea house, which is quite an experience in itself.
I’d say that you can easily spend two or three hours here, exploring the various different buildings and areas.
If you want to see the historic Chengdu, this is where you should go to.
Old Town & Kuan and Zhai Alley Chengdu
The ‘old town’ of Chengdu isn’t particularly great, but there are a few nice streets worth noting. First, there’s the Qintai Road, which has some traditionally inspired Chinese buildings.
Way more famous are the Kuan and Zhai Alley, which basically translates into narrow and wide alley. Not that the latter would be wide by any stretch of imagination, but in comparison it is.
These two roads are quite charming, especially when it’s getting dark.
However, you should be aware that it gets really crowded here and there are shops everywhere, so you’ll smell food, spices, etc.
I think it’s a cool experience, but also streneous, so don’t stay here for too long. Best I can tell, there’s not really much else to see in the Old Town of Chengdu, but the narrow alley in particular is well worth visiting.
Peoples Park & Tianfu Square Chengdu
When visiting Chengdu, you should definitely visit the Peoples Park, which is one of the biggest and most famous parks in the city.
There are a few really nice areas, some with little rivers, other with little forests.
In addition, there are a couple of different monuments, which are worth checking out.
From here, it’s also not very far to the Tianfu Square, which is the main square of Chengdu.
Here, you can find the modernist Chengdu Museum, which is one of the main sights in Chengdu.
In addition, there are a few more museums here, including the Sichuan Science and Technology Museum.
The square itself is quite big and comes with some fancy monuments of sorts, but isn’t really beautiful per se, in my opinion.
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting part of town to visit and also one of the main metro exchange stations, so hopping in and out here doesn’t take much time.
Taikoo Li and Wenshu Monastery Chengdu
Another area of Chengdu I really liked was the Wenshu district. The main attraction obviously is the Wenshu Monastery, which has a real historic charm.
It’s not only that there are various different historic buildings, but you can also find a really nice park with little lakes etc.
The monastery also isn’t the only interesting part of this area as you can also find interesting streets here. Getting here from the metro makes you walk through Jinsi Street, which I thought was nice.
Then Wenshuyuan Road comes with some historic buildings and lots of shops, too.
From here, you can take a car or the metro to get to an area, which I think is a really cool development. I’m speaking of Taikoo Li.
While a shopping center might not sound any exciting, the interesting thing about this one in Chengdu is that it’s combined with the architecture of a historic temple.
You can visit the old temple in the middle of the shopping center without feeling disturbed by the people shopping around.
Then the shops and buildings are built in a historic way and thus make up for a really nice shopping atmosphere, which you won’t find in other Chinese shopping centers.
While no must-visit, I thought that this was a particular sight of Chengdu.
Overall impressions of Chengdu
To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Chengdu if it wasn’t for the pandas. There are really beautiful places in the area, like two or three hours from Chengdu, but the city itself has limited sights. However, visiting the sights I’ve presented in this city guide is a nice experience for a day or two and definitely a good combination with visiting the Panda Base and I’d definitely recommend doing so.
Do you have any questions about Chengdu? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!