Touring Chengdu & Visiting the Giant Pandas
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province, which is found in the South West of China. It is Sichuan’s key economic centre and indeed that of Western China. It’s China’s fourth most populated city and is a major airport hub, being in the busiest 40 in the world.
It has long been a major part of Chinese history with the Sanxingdui culture of the bronze age being established here. It is thought that it has been established as an area with a an unique ancient culture for over for thousand years. It was later to be the centre of the Shu culture during the Shang and Zhou dynasties.
Chengdu was a historical centre of South West China
The 9th king of the Shu state moved his capital from modern day Pixian to its present day location of Chengdu. This made Chengdu, which literally means “becoming the capital” the city in China that has remained in its present day location, with it’s present day name, for the longest (although it was also known as Yizhou). It was also the first place in the world to start using paper money in 960 AD and was the last place on mainland China to be occupied by the KMT.
These days it is a regular feature on most China tours, not least to come and experience some of the history mentioned earlier, but it’s not the history of Chengdu that most people come here for. Chengdu and Sichuan Province are home to one of the icons of China – The Giant Panda. The two best places for the general public to go and see giant Pandas lie in this area and people visit every year in their millions to have the chance to get up close to these animals.
Visiting the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was first opened in 1987 intending to be a world class research facility. It was opened with 6 giant pandas that had been rescued from the wild and by 2008 its population of captive pandas had risen to 83 with 124 panda births. This success has allowed the general public more and more opportunities to interact with these animals and they certainly seem to show no signs of losing their popularity anytime soon.
Other sites in the region include Leshan, Emeishan, Dujiangyan and Mount Qingcheng
Chengdu is also a good base from which to explore the rest of Sichuan Province which has much more to offer than Pandas alone. It is an area of great natural beauty with the sacred Buddhist mountain of Emei or Emeishan being one of the 4 sacred Buddhist mountains of China. Other sites include the spectacular Giant Buddha at Leshan, the ancient engineering marvel of Dujiangyan, scenic Mount Qingcheng as well as tours of Tea Plantations that thrive in this region.
The people of Chengdu and of Sichuan province are some of the most friendly and welcoming in China and are often mentioned by clients returning from their China tours as a highlight of their trips. The food in Sichuan is considered by many Chinese to be their favourite and the local dishes are served all over China. It is usually dry and spicy hot but with a balance between the heat of the chillies and the numbing of the local Sichuan pepper.
All in all Chengdu is a must on any tour of China.
Article originally posted by Phil Stanley and Headseast: 31st March 2015
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