Chengdu 成都 Travel Guide
With a population topping 13 million and growing (the fifth most populous city in China) Chengdu is the capital of mountainous Sichuan province and the place to come to to see Giant Pandas. The city does have charm beyond Pandas though, the people are friendly and the food excellent making Chengdu and easy place to spend a few days. It is also a natural base for exploring more of Sichuan including nearby Leshan and Emeishan as well as the further afield to Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou.
Best Months to Visit Chengdu
Best Reason to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu has many things going for it but let’s face it, if you’re going to come here there is a good chance you are here to see the iconic animal of China – The Giant Panda. This is the place where you go if you are a fan of these docile looking animals that were clearly near the front of the queue when they were handing out cuteness! The Panda Research and Breeding Centre here are the experts in this animal and have had more success in attempting to increase the numbers of this animal that has long been threatened with extinction.
There is more to this place than pandas though and for fans of spicy food this is a utopian paradise! Couple this with friendly people and some great sights out of the city such as the Leshan Giant Buddha, the Dujiangyan Irrigation and the sacred Buddhist mountain Emeishan, you can stay here for a few days.
Top Attractions in Chengdu
Without a doubt it’s the Research Centre for Giant Pandas that keeps the crowds coming to Chengdu in numbers. It is a wonderfully run place that covers a fair sized area and is dedicated to learning more about these amazing animals and helping to increase their numbers with the most successful panda breeding programs in the world.
You can spend half a day here and see both the Giant pandas and their lesser known cousins the red pandas up close or alternatively, for those with a desire to know more the centre runs a full day volunteering program. Get your overalls on and get to know a lot more about the daily habits of the pandas and what the centre is doing to try and improve their chances of survival.
Weather Averages for Chengdu
Our Top Chengdu Travel Tip
Chengdu is a great place to stop on the way to a Yangtze cruise without adding much to the costs of your trip. Chongqing, start place for the cruises, is not the nicest city to stay in but is only a two hour journey by bullet train from Chengdu. Stop off for a night in Chengdu, see the pandas in the morning and be on your Yangtze cruise by the evening.
If you do have a bit more time to spend in the area double up a trip to the Giant Buddha with an overnight stay on Emeishan the sacred Buddhist mountain but do keep your eyes peeled for the monkeys – they can be very cheeky monkeys!
Try Ma Po Tofu here in it’s hometown. Forget about the tofu dishes you might get back home and any image it might have – this is a totally different experience and one that is well worth it!
Hand Picked Chengdu Hotels
The Buddhazen is the place to stay. We’d heartily recommend the place almost as much as all our past clients do who stay there – even if you usually prefer the usual 5 star chain. It’s in the perfect location in undoubtedly the nicest and most characterful part of Chengdu to stay in.
If you want a slightly higher end and a more private experience try the Old Chengdu Club just round the corner from the Buddhazen but in private grounds with a slightly more intimate feel to it. The final option for those on more of a budget would be the Holiday Inn Gulou – practical downtown location but lacking the same character as the above two options.
By Phil Stanley & Headseast – TCTC Destination Expert.