Chengdu is the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan Province. It covers 4,749 square miles and is populated by over 11 million people – but most importantly its the home of some of cutest giant pandas in the world! Chengdu is a bustling place, as a main access route to Tibet, there is always something going on and the great transport links means travel is particularly convenient. It boasts notoriously delicious food specialities – especially the Kung Pao Chicken (Spicy chicken with peanuts) and the Chengdu Hotpot. But if you fancy something a bit more familiar there are dozens of KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s restaurants in the city, so you’ll never be that far from home!
It is an area which possess a rich cultural heritage, with a history that can be traced back 2,400 years when the emperor built his capital here. It is famous for its brocades and embroideries due to its handicraft industries. The bronze culture also originated from this area and where the earliest paper currency was used! Sichuan is also a Heavenly State because of its abundance of natural resources, particularly water, with two branches of Yangtze in close proximity ensuring that the land is incredibly fertile.
Things to do
Visit the Giant Pandas – There is a breeding and research centre (Xiongmao Jidi) which offers a unique experience and beats any zoo! They offer guided tours which come highly recommended.
Watch a Live Performance – Chengdu is a great place to watch performances of traditional Sichuan Opera. At the Shufeung Sichuan Opera House prices start from 150 yuan and are dependent on the time of year you go, add a little more and you can have a massage and get your ears cleaned! There is an English language introduction to each of the acts and although the main production is spoken in Sichuan dialect, the operas are still greatly entertaining.
Visit the Leshan Giant Buddha – Situated at the confluence of three rivers, it is a particularly scenic spot. The Buddha has been labelled by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and it took over 90 years to be carved into the stone – if this isn’t enough reason to go I don’t know what is.
The transportation network in Chengdu is very developed. It has one of China’s busiest airports, it is the intersection point of five trunk railway lines, and it is connected with thousands of miles of expressways and has dozens of coach stations sending passengers to various destinations. Within the city area, there are subways, city buses, taxis and many other transport conveniences for passengers to choose from. As the largest railway hub in southwest China, travelling by train is particularly convenient, Chengdu hosts three railway stations for passenger transport, Main Railway Station, namely North Railway station, East Railway Station, and South Railway Station.
Chunxi Road is the most representative, historic, and busy commercial pedestrian street of the city. It is the favourite shopping area of many foreign tourists and local white-collar workers. Chunxi’s shopping centres will provide you with everything you need and much more, established over 70 years ago it offers department stores, boutiques, and traditional as well as modern cafes depending on what you’re looking for. By combining the unique street food and shopping experience together, you can really experience Chengdu’s relaxed lifestyle. Other good places to shop in are Imperial Examination Lane, the prime location for fashionable clothes, Chengdu Sino-Ocean Tai Koo Li, an open leisure shopping area, and Yanshikou, which can meet different visitors’ needs with its big shopping malls and wholesale markets.
If you’re worried about the nightlife, don’t be! Chengdu boasts a wide variety of pubs and clubs on streets such as Renmin South Road and Yangshi Street. There are clubs, pubs, discos, ballrooms, karaoke bars and bowling alleys to spend your evenings in. If your looking for a bit of familiarity than the best western-style bars to visit include Shamrock, undisputedly one of the most established in Chengdu, featuring pool tables, a Western menu and occasional live band. The Beer Nest and The Bookworm are also worthy venues to visit, and if your up for a really big night, then the Jialebi Area is the place to be, as it hosts Jellyfish, one of the most famous clubs in Chengdu, which will usually be busy most nights throughout the week with the weekend being the busiest.