Chengdu Map - Chengdu Travel GuideLocated in the west of China, Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province. Since it is situated in the fertile plains of Red Basin, Chengdu is endowed with an abundance of precious resources to develop agriculture.  With the history of more than 3000 years, it is understandable that Chengdu is the home to various historical, religious and cultural sites. Famous Sichuan food and traditional teahouses are worth including in your Chengdu trip.

Best Time to Travel to Chengdu

Chengdu is considered as ‘London of China’ due to its humid, foggy and drizzly weather. We advise that you visit Chengdu during spring and early of summer (March to June) or autumn (September to November). It is sultry and rainy during summer (June to August) with the average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Chengdu will experience the highest rainfall from July to August, so avoid this time.

Chengdu Travel Tips

  • Chengdu is the first country in Western China that offers free 72-hour transit visas. Check if your nationality is eligible for this policy and enjoy 3-day Chengdu trip.
  • Thanks to Chengdu’s integrated road and metro system, it is easy to take a train around this city. However, avoid traveling during rush hour when the metro is very crowded.
  • If you wish to go farther to the west, Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, one of the most bustling airports in the world, offers you domestic flights to Tibet.
  • Sichuan food is signature for its spicy and oily. If you do not like spicy food, ask for the ones without any chili. Drink a lot of water and eat fruits if you do not want to get any acne and pimple after Chengdu trip.

What to See in Chengdu

1. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding - Chengdu Travel Guide
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

The giant panda is the symbol of China that is loved by local people and foreign travelers, especially children. The chance for you to interact with this lovely creature is visiting Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. More than 80 pandas are preserved and taken care in this place. Not only can tourists watch pandas but they can also attend exhibitions in Giant Panda Museum, learn about the conservation process and take part in volunteering activities.

2. Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Museum

Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Museum - Chengdu Travel Guide
Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Museum

Recognized as the ‘City of Gastronomy’ by UNESCO, it is understandable that Chengdu has an exclusive museum which is dedicated to this regional heritage. Around 30 kilometers from Chengdu, this museum consists of four halls which offer travelers an insight on how Sichuan cuisines develop: Exhibition Hall, Raw Materials Hall, Interactive Hall, and Kitchen God Temple. In Exhibition Hall, many ancient cooking utensils which are made of stone, bamboo, wood and even bone are displayed. You can try to cook a traditional Sichuan dish yourself. Though you can find thousands of Sichuan cuisine recipes on the Internet, you will only have a chance to learn how to cook authentic Sichuan dishes from thoughtful instructors in this museum.

3. Jinli Old Street

Leisurely strolling around Jinli Old Street, the ancient Chengdu’s commercial street, is an integral part of your trip here. Rustic features of this area can be spotted in flagstone-paved lanes, wooden ancient house, vibrant red lanterns and colorful stores. Folk performances such as plays or puppet are held regularly at night. Visit a teahouse and see the stunning tea-pouring shows when a performer will skillfully pour boiling water from a very long spout. There are many places to entertain as well: bars, nightclubs, and coffee houses. You can find many restaurants and street vendors which sell authentic Sichuan cuisines.

4. Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha - Chengdu Travel Guide
Leshan Giant Buddha

180 kilometers from the center of Chengdu, Leshan Giant Buddha is the most-visited attraction in Mount Emei Scenic Area. A day trip to this place is worth around ¥100-150. Recognized as the UNESCO Heritage Site, the Giant Buddha is magnificent with 21 meters in height and 28 meters in width. This statue had been carved for 90 years during Tang dynasty. The construction was led by Hai Tong, a Chinese monk with a belief that this statue would calm the strong water currents of the river so that vessels could smoothly travel. If you are not into climbing, sitting on a boat and taking photographs are recommended when visiting Leshan Giant Buddha.

5. Chengdu People’s Park

This is an entertainment area of local Chengdu people. Sailing on an artificial lake, visiting a teahouse and enjoying art performance on Rockery Square are activities you can take part in. Tea House is the highlight of this park. Sitting in a rustic open-air teahouse, enjoying a fragrant cup of tea, and watching a tea-pouring show are the best way to retreat yourself after a long sightseeing day. Moreover, to the south of this park, there is a giant Orchid Garden with an area of more than 800 square meters. 28 species of orchid are displayed in this garden.

6. Wenshu Monastery

Wenshu Monastery - Chengdu Travel Guide
Wenshu Monastery

Built during Tang dynasty, Wenshu Monastery, or also known as Xinxiang Monastery is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Chengdu. This monastery is the home to numerous relics and more than 300 Buddha statues made of bronze, wood, stone and even jade. Part of Xuanzang’s skull is the most precious relic of this temple. Artworks of famous Chinese painters and calligraphists are also stored in this temple. Besides cultural relics, this temple is atmospheric with colorful gardens and solemn halls.

7. Kuanzhai Alley (Wide and Narrow Alley)

Originally built during Qing dynasty, nowadays this alleys consists of three parts: Kuan Alley (Wide Alley), Zhai Alley (Narrow Alley), and Jing Alley. It is the place for you to relax, visit traditional tea houses, sample local cuisines and buy souvenirs. Kuan Alley represents ancient folk style with traditional teahouses and inns. At night, you can enjoy street snacks and relish calligraphy demonstrations in this alley. Zhai Alley features Chengdu’s leisure lifestyle with many restaurants, cafes and leisure workshops. On the contrary, Jing Alley (Well Alley) is modern with Western bars and nightclub. The Wide and Narrow Alley is the inspiration for Kung Fu Panda movie, so don’t be surprised if streets and houses here look exactly like the movie.

8. Wuhou Temple

Wuhou is one of the most famous historic heroes in China. He is the military strategist for Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD). With an area of 37,000 square meters, this place is suitable for the ones who are into discovering Chengdu’s rich history. The most outstanding feature of this temple is the huge Triple-Success Stele written by Pei Du, the most brilliant calligraphist in ancient China.

What to Do in Chengdu

Play with adorable pandas

Chengdu offers you many exotic experiences beyond the metropolitan Beijing, Hong Kong or Shanghai. You cannot go wrong with this ‘Land of Abundance’.

Chengdu is the home to pandas – the symbol of China. Although you can see giant pandas in many zoos around the world, it will be more insightful to visit its native habitat. You can understand the process of panda breeding, history of panda evolution and activities to protect this endangered species. Chengdu has three panda bases where you can play with this lovely creature: Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base, Dujiangyan Panda Base, and Bifengxia Panda Base. Pandas usually give birth in August and September, so do not miss this time when you can see cute newly-born pandas.

Enjoy Sichuan cuisine

Ma Po Tofu - China Travel Guide
Ma Po Tofu

For the ones who are into gastronomy, Chengdu is the must-visit destination. It is the home to Sichuan cuisines which are characterized by colorful appearance, appealing aroma, and spicy and strong flavor. If you do not like chili and pepper, make sure that you specify what you want when ordering: not spicy at all, a little bit spicy or spicy. Soy milk, juice and tea will help you a lot to calm your tongue when sampling Sichuan foods. Some most popular Sichuan cuisines are Ma Po tofu, kung pao chicken (spicy diced chicken), Sichuan hot pot, Dandan noodles and Ganbian Sijidou (dry stir-fried green beans). You can also participate in a Sichuan cooking class at Chengdu Sichuan Cuisine Museum.

Relish Sichuan Opera

Sichuan Opera - Chengdu Travel Guide
Sichuan Opera

Sichuan Opera has a long history – it was born in the 1700s during Ming dynasty. This kind of art performance is well-preserved as the most ancient opera form in China. Dramas are reflected through local dialect, costumes and many kinds of entertainment such as singing, dancing, acrobatics, fire-spitting, and face changing. This characteristic differs Sichuan Opera from modern Western opera which only singing is involved.

Face changing is the most splendid part of Sichuan Opera. The performers wear colorful masks and change the masks instantaneously after the swipe of their fans. You will be amazed and feel like they skillfully change their masks in the blink of the eye.

What to Eat in Chengdu

Sampling Sichuan cuisines will be an unforgettable part of your Chengdu trip. Characterized as having strong flavors, Sichuan foods are seasoned with Sichuanese pepper, chili, ginger, and garlic. The humid weather drives Sichuan cooking methods to use a significant amount of heat and oil: stir-frying, steaming and fast -frying. Sichuanese cuisines are popular all around the world now; you can find many Sichuan restaurants in London, Paris and New York. However, if you want to taste the authentic Sichuan cuisines, let Paradise Travel suggest some recommendations for you.

1. Sichuan hot pot

Sichuan Hotpot - Chengdu Travel Guide
Sichuan Hotpot

This food is famous for its numbingly spicy broth which contains a lot of Sichuanese peppercorns and other Chinese herbs and spices. This kind of pepper was introduced to the Sichuanese from South America at the end of the 17th century and now it becomes the integral ingredient of Sichuan hot pot. Raw ingredients such as raw beef, pork, chicken, ducks, kidney, vegetables, tofu, and mushrooms will be steamed in the hotpot.

If you do not like spicy food, ask the waiters for clear broth. However, in some restaurants, the pots are divided into two parts so that you can try both spicy and non-spicy broth at the same time. If you want to challenge yourself a little bit, go for this option.

Some famous Sichuan hot pot restaurants in Chengdu

  • Shujiuxiang Hotpot: No.11-2 Nijiaqiao Road, Yulin District, Wuhou District
  • Huangcheng Laoma Hot Pot: 20 Qintai Road, Wuhou District
  • Jiangbei Laozao Hot Pot Restaurant: No.113-1, Wuhou Temple Avenue, Wuhou District
  • Bashu Mansion Hot Pot: No.75 Xinhong South Road, Chenghua District

2. Kung Pao Chicken (spicy diced chicken)

Kung Pao Chicken - China Travel Guide
Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a spicy stir-fied cubed chicken mixed with peanuts, vegetables and chili pepper. Though this dish can be found in many Chinese provinces, it is usually less spicy than its original serving. Westerners are in love with kung pao chicken since it is less spicy than other cuisines. This food is colorful with tongue-tingling sweet-and-sour sauce, golden peanuts and green onion. Peppercorns will be added to enhance the spicy flavor of this dish.

3. Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu - Chengdu Travel Guide
Ma Po Tofu

The most popular Sichuan food which can be named is Ma Po Tofu. This dish featured tofu cubes in spicy chili-and-bean sauce and ground beef or pork. You can choose to add chestnuts, onions or other vegetables for this food. Ma Po Tofu is tasty with milky tofu combined with the hot taste from Sichuan pepper. If you seek for something fresh and easy to digest, there is a vegetarian version as well.

4. Dandan noodles

Dandan noodles - Chengdu Travel Guide
Dandan noodles

Though Dandan noodle is considered a street food in China, you can find it in restaurants as well. This food is topped with vegetables and ground beef or pork, and enhanced with chili oil, peppercorns and green onion. It is served either with or without broth.

5. Ganbian Sijidou (dry stir-fried green beans)

Ganbian Sijidou - Chengdu Travel Guide
Ganbian Sijidou

It is a classic Sichuan vegetarian dish which is usually served with rice white. The cook stir-fries yard-long beans in deep fried oil until they shrink. This food is savory and crunchy as it is tossed with chili, peppercorns, garlic and green onion.

6. Zhong shui jiao (Dumplings with spicy sauce)

Zhong shui jiao - Chengdu Travel Guide
Zhong shui jiao

It is all about spicy sauce when it comes to Sichuan cuisines. Zhong shui jiao or Zhong’s Dumplings is the part of xiao chi (Sichuan little eats). The method of making this dumpling is the same as other kinds, filling a flour wrapper with minced meat and vegetable and rolling it in a half-moon shape. The secret is in the sauce – chili oil mixed with soy sauce.

7. Liang ban ji (Cold chicken with spicy sauce)

Liang ban ji - Chengdu Travel Guide
Liang ban ji

This food is thrilling with poached chicken bathed in a sauce made from vinegar, soy sauce, chili, and pepper. Sometimes the cook may add peanuts and sesame seeds to make it crunchier.

8. Hui guo rou (double-cooked pork)

Hui Guo Rou - Chengdu Travel Guide
Hui Guo Rou

The reason why this food has this name is that pork is first boiled, then sliced and stir-fried. It is served with vegetables such as cabbage and bell peppers with chili bean sauce.

Some famous restaurants in Chengdu

  • Chen Mapo: 8-10 Qinghua Street, Qingyang District
  • Lao Ma Tou: 29 Yulin Middle Road, Wuhou District
  • Zhuanzhuan Mo: Unit 7, Block 1, Keyuan Street, Wuhou District