Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province in China. It is also one of the most popular cities in West China. Chengdu is best known as the home of the giant panda which is considered to be Chinese national treasure because it is one of the rarest animals in the world.
Chengdu is a 2,400-year-old city which is one of the most visited cities in China. Located in the province of Sichuan, Chengdu is famous for its local delicacies, especially for the hot, spicy, and numbing cuisine.
The name of the city has not changed since its foundation, but Chengdu has two nicknames – Brocade City and City of Hibiscus.
It received the first nickname after being proclaimed the headquarters of the production monitoring office and was therefore called the “official brokering city”. It received the second nickname because the hibiscus was planted on the walls surrounding it.
Chengdu was named the 4th best city to live in China according to the Chinese Daily News. Below is the list of best things to do in Chengdu. Check it out.
1. See giant panda
Chengdu is best known as home to giant pandas. The best place to see them is at the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base of Chengdu (Giant Panda Base) where you can see more than 100 giant pandas who live there.
The giant panda is one of the rarest animals in the world and it is estimated that there are only 1,500 left in the world. 80 percent of them live in Sichuan. This center is one of the most visited tourist attractions since there are only a few places in the world where you can see pandas.
One interesting thing is that the creators of animation movie King Fu Panda visited Chengdu to learn more about this animal and the movie was inspired by this city.
There are a few places where you can watch the giant panda up close. Beside the Giant Panda Base within Chengdu, which is usually crowded, you can also visit another base in Dujiangyan.
Don’t forget to check out our trip to the Giant Panda Base in Chengdu:
2. See big Buddha statue in the Aidao Nunnery
Visiting this nunnery is definitely one of the most memorable things to do in Chengdu. Aidao Nunney is near the Wenshu Monastery but is far less crowded. When you enter here the first thing you will see is a great Buddha statue.
The thing that you should definitely try here is a lunch ceremony that starts at 11:40 AM every day. The food is vegetarian and a ticket for this lunch costs 5 CNY which is about 0.75 USD. Many people say that this is the best vegan meal in the whole of Chengdu.
3. Go to the Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) National Park
When you are in Chengdu don’t miss going to Huanglong National Park. Here you can see more than 3.400 natural multicolored spring water ponds. If you want to see water in all rainbow colors the time to visit is during September and October.
In this national park, you can also see the Buddhist Huanlong temple. Many tourists don’t miss to see Fuyuan bridge build on the Fujian river. Also must see here is the dragon ridge waterfalls.
Huanglong National Park is a must-visit. Check out our trip to Huanglong here:
4. See real Chinese ceramics and pottery in the Sichuan Museum
This is one of the best free experiences. All you need to get your free ticket is to show your passport. Here you can see more than 260,000 pieces of Chinese pottery, ceramics, art and other artifacts from all dynasties discovered in Sichuan.
The museum is divided into 14 exhibition halls. The recommendation is that you don’t miss the Tibetan Buddhist relics room and the Sichuan Ceramics room. Sichuan Museum is the largest comprehensive museum in southwestern China.
5. Go to the Shu Feng Ya Yun Sichuan Opera
Chengdu is the home of Sichuan opera which originates from 1700. If you like the good performance you need to go there. Here you can see various unique and breathtaking shows like Face Changing or the Hands Shadow Show.
During the Face changing show, the performers put on a spectacular show of changing their very decorative faceplates in the snap of a split second. These unique performances cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Besides seeing the pandas, this is something everyone should do while visiting Chengdu.
6. Enjoy in the tea and nature in the Huanhuaxi Park and Renmin Park
If you don’t like crowded places it is better to visit Huanhuaxi Park. But if not you can, go to Renmin Park which is located in the city center and is the first public park in Chengdu.
In Huanhuaxi, there are many beautiful fish ponds and you can go on a bird watching there. On the other side, Renmin Park is a tourist attraction. There are a lot of gardens, monuments, a big pond, and a beautiful teahouse.
You should really sit outside at the Hemming Tea House, order a tea and enjoy a peaceful time. Here you can see many locals, especially seniors doing many activities in the park, like dancing, singing in the choir or playing mahjong.
7. Visit Qingyang Palace
Qingyang Palace is a complex of temples, gardens, and pagodas. Although located in the city center, when you enter the Qingyang Palace, it becomes very quiet and peaceful. The complex is easily reached from the center of the city and it is surrounded by the Cultural Park.
Entrance fee is 10 CNY and you can’t take pictures inside any temple. To the right of Green Ram Temple is a teahouse and in the complex, you can find a great vegetarian restaurant.
The whole complex is not very large, but you can spend 1-2 hours walking there. Main Attractions here are the Front gate, Hunyuan hall, and the Eight-Diagram Pavillion which is a landmark of Taoist Temple.
8. Go to the Mount Qingcheng
Mount Qingcheng is considered as one of the birthplaces of Taoism and it is also one of the most important Taoist centers in China.
This mountain is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is divided into two parts, anterior and posterior part. Here you can visit the major temple Tianshi Cave where you can see a stone statue of Zhang Tianshi.
The legend says that Zhang is the founder of Taoism here. In the area, there are three more buildings the Sanhuang Palace, the Sanqing Palace and the Huangdi Temple where you can learn a lot about Chinas history.
This place is also near Chengdu and you can take a train or bus to come here. Better yet, take the high-speed rail and you can get there from Chengdu city in less than 30 minutes.
Mount Qingcheng is beautiful and full of mystery. The scenery, location, and background for the famous animation movie, Kung Fu Panda was taken here.
If you want to visit Mount Qingcheng, check out our day trip here:
9. Eat by the Anshun (Dongmen) Bridge
The Anshun Bridge crosses the Jin River and it is located in Chengdu. It is also one of the most popular restaurant locations in the city. The bridge can also be called “Nanqiao”, which means the South bridge in Chinese.
This bridge becomes best known because of Marco Polo who wrote about it, but the original version was destroyed by the floods id 80’s so today we can only see a replica of it.
You will have the best impression of the Anshun Bridge if you come in the night when it is fully covered in lights.
10. Learn more about Buddhism on Mount Emei
Mount Emei is located near Chengdu and it is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China and is the tallest one of the four. This mountain is the place where the first Buddhist temple was built in China.
Today, there are 76 monasteries near the mountain top. People who visit Mount Emei maybe will see Tibetan macaques who like to take food from tourists. You can also buy nuts from local merchants to feed the monkeys.
The peak of Mount Emei, Jinding, is one of the most famous tourist spots in Sichuan. The view is breathtaking and many locals and tourists come here to enjoy the sunrise at the mountain top. Do you know that Jinding means “golden summit”?
11. See Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha is a 233 ft tall statue from stone and it was build between 713. and 803. The Buddha was carved on Mount Lingyun and it was built at the confluence of three rivers Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River.
This is also the tallest Buddha statue in the world made from stone. Leshan Giant Buddha, same as Mount Emei is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
12. See exhibitions in Du Fu Thatched Cottage
Du Fu Thatched Cottage is actually park and museum dedicated to the poet Du Fu from Tang dynasty. It is located in west Chengdu and it is a Chinese National Heritage site. Du Fu Thatched Cottage is divided into several areas including Du Gongbu Memorial Hall, The thatched cottage of Du Fu and The Hall of Great Poets.
In Memorial Hall you can learn more about the life and work of Du Fu. In The thatched cottage of Du Fu, you can see where and how he lived. The Hall of Great Poets is an exhibition hall with a big mural painting of scenes from Du Fu’s poems “My Thatched Hut Wrecked by the Autumn Wind” and “A Song of War Chariots”. Also, you can see statues of twelve great Chinese poets here.
13. Walk across Jinli Ancient Street
In the Jinli Street, you can see a lot of live performances and enjoy cheap local food. Also, you can buy souvenirs here. Many people say that this street is in “old Chinese style” and when you walk through it you have the feeling like you are really in China.
Here you can find many craft stalls and gift shops, bars and restaurants but also traditional street food. In the night the lanterns create a beautiful atmosphere and you really shouldn’t miss this place if you are in Chengdu.
14. Know more about Chinese history in Sanxingdui
Sanxingdui is an archaeological site near Chengdu, originating from a Bronze Age. The discovery of this site has changed the history of Chinese civilization because a completely new kingdom Shu has been discovered here.
In Sanxingdui you can see some phases in the development of Chinese culture. And what is most interesting is that here you can see the beginnings of the cosmology.
15. Explore The Antique Art Market
The Antique Art Market is located near the Sichuan Museum, along Songxianqiao Street and it is not a popular tourist place. Here you can see tiny shops and street vendors that make art in front of you. In the market, you can find a lot of stone jewelry, hand-painted pottery, stone jewelry, etc.
16. Visit the world’s largest building
The world’s largest building is the New Century Global Centre. The building is 330 ft tall and its size is 18.000.000 sq ft. Other than the shops there are offices, conference rooms, hotels, cinema, skating ring, university complex and a whole village located in this building. New Century Global Center was officially opened in May 2013.
17. Shop in the Chunxi Road
Chunxi Road is a pedestrian street in Chengdu where you can shop in more than 700 stores, including large shopping malls. Here you can find supermarkets and modern cafes. The street is more than 1.1 km long and in the center of the street, you can see a small public square with a statue of President Sun Yat-sen.
18. Buy souvenirs in Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
These are a cultural hub on an ancient street where you can find souvenirs, local folk art, and Chinese dining specialties. Also in some restaurants, you can see live performances of Face Changing.
The Kuan Zhai Alley is almost similar to Jinli ancient street. There are plenty of local foods you can try and many shops where you can buy souvenirs.
19. Be a real tourist on Tianfu Square
Tianfu Square is located at the heart of Chengdu. It is always crowded because there are so many sights to visit here like museums, galleries, metro station and shops. You shouldn’t miss the underground shopping mall and the local specialties at the food court.
Also, the metro station is right under the square. If you look at the Arial view of Tianfu Square you can see a big Taiji Bagua image from the two water fountains.
20. Find your favorite flower in Chengdu Botanical Garden
Botanical Garden is a must see place if you love beautiful flowers and trees. The garden also has a museum, where you can see the history of Sichuan nature, here you can even see fossil plants.
If you like you can even rent a boat and row around on the small lake. Most beautiful place inside Chengdu Botanical Garden is The Orchid Garden.
However, if you make your visit here, make sure you plan it on the right season. Different season offers different flowers and themes.
21. Visit the Jiuzhaigou National Park
Like Huanglong National Park, the Jiuzhaigou Valley is another famous national park that most tourists will visit when they get to Sichuan.
Jiuzhaigou is often called the wonderlands on the earth due to its dreamlike natural sceneries. This valley is located about 450KM away from Chengdu, just nearby to the Huanglong National Park.
There are nine Tibetan villages here and is regarded as the holy mountain and watercourse by the local people. The lakes here are beautiful and colorful and they are known as “haizi” by the local, which means small seas in Chinese.
The Jiuzhaigou National Park is a must-visit. If you plan to visit Chengdu and check out the Sichuan province, try your best to stay longer and experience these interesting places.
Dujiangyan city is located nearby to Chengdu. You can take the high speed rail to get there in about 45 minutes. The main attraction of this place is non other than the Dujiangyan irrigation system.
This water irrigation system was built during ancient time and it is a project that still function and in used in today’s modern world.
You can spend an entire day here just to walk around the tourist hot spot. But if you have more time, you can spend 2 days here. One day to explore the Dujiangyan city, and another for the irrigation system.
Check out my trip to Dujiangyan here: