Welcome to Chengdu, the relaxed and easy-going capital of the Sichuan province, China. The metropolis found itself on the travel map thanks to its famous giant pandas, but its appeal extends far beyond that (thank god! as we don’t like to engage in any animal related activities around here).
For starters, the city of Chengdu is one of China’s capitals of food, the fact confirmed by its designation as the UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Furthermore, charming parks, with Renmin Park among others, and fine museums make the capital of Sichuan an ideal destination for families and fans of art, history, and science. Also, there are many great places you can visit on a day trip from the metropolis. There are a lot of things to do in Chengdu, and the following activities are among the highlights.
Drink tea in Renmin Park
Renmin (People’s) Park is a large verdant oasis in the downtown area of the city of Chengdu. The sprawling park covers over 100,000 m2 and features landscaped gardens, walkways, bodies of water and tea houses, which epitomize the laid-back rhythm of the metropolis. Renmin Park is a popular leisure area where locals and travelers come to walk, read books, play games, dance and more. Young visitors have fun at a children’s playground, equipped with a variety of entertaining facilities (slides, merry-go-round and such).
One of the most pleasant activities in Renmin Park is drinking tea in one of the park’s tea houses. You will find them in beautiful settings overlooking a lake or a stream, for example. “Land of Ease” is how people call Chengdu, and tea houses are the very best places where you can see why. Besides enjoying the superb taste of your tea and admiring the beautiful environment, you may benefit from performances which tend to take place on occasion.
Walking along 350-meter long Jinshui (Gold Water) Stream is a scenic experience. Quiet waters flowing over a cobblestone bed, edged by tall willow, peach, and other trees, will fill your heart and spirit with calm and joy. The path leads you to the artificial lake, with an island in its center and the water full of goldfish. Just before you find the lake, take some time to admire Rockery Square and its 12-meter (40-feet) high and 43-meter (140-feet) wide rock waterfall. Make sure to rent a boat and marvel at the surrounding scenery.
Orchid and Potted Landscape gardens are other highlights of People’s Park. Orchid Garden Chengdu displays 28 varieties of orchids. Potted Landscape Garden exhibits bonsai trees, water plants such as water lilies and lotuses, and a variety of trees, including ginkgoes and elms. During your Chengdu tour, you are likely to attend exhibitions and flower festivals in Renmin Park throughout the year.
Have delicious Sichuan cuisine and street food
Chengdu, Sichuan, is one of the gastronomy hotspots in China. You may have already eaten Chinese food. Yet unless you did so in China, you have probably eaten a localized version, appealing to local tastes in the destination. More often than not, Chinese specialties prepared in Panda City are more flavorful and spicy than versions of theirs.
Chengdu Hotpot is one of the favorite specialties in the city, consisting of small pieces of meat and vegetables. The dish is spicy and hot, but the cooks are usually willing to make it less hot if requested. A broth usually accompanies Chengdu Hotpot for the benefit of guests who don’t eat spicy food.
You may know Long Chao Shou as Wonton Soup, and there is a strong possibility that this dish isn’t much different in Chengdu than in the West, unlike most others. Long Chao Shou is a sort of a dumpling with crust thinner than you are probably used to, filled with vegetables and pork meat and served in a soup. Depending on your preferences, the soup may be more or less spicy.
Guokui (Guo Kui) is a street food commonly seen at stalls all over Chengdu, Sichuan. The ingredients of the dish are dough and flavorful paste made of ground meat. Liang Fen is a noodle jelly served in a hot sauce and is especially popular as a summer snack. However, you can’t come to complete the Chengdu tour without having Sweet Water Noodles. Thick and sweet, they are among the most iconic street food snacks in Panda City. One of the must-try desserts in the capital of Sichuan is Hongtang Ciba. The golden-crust delicacy is fried sticky rice dipped in sugar sauce, delicious but not greasy.
For the best bites in the city, make sure to check out Jinli, Wenshuyuan, Shaxixian and Yangxixian streets, and Funan New District.
Go hiking on Qingcheng Mountain
Qingcheng Mountain is an excellent place for a day trip from Chengdu. Consisting of Front and Rear mountains surrounded by many peaks, Qingcheng is one of the most peaceful and historic places near the city. The best option for getting there is taking a train from the Sichuan capital to the mount. Afterward, take bus 101a to get to Front Mountain or minibus if you head to Rear Mountain. Book a train ticket in advance.
Front Mountain is a cultural and historical place of Mountain Qingcheng. Jianfu Palace is the first attraction you will find upon starting your hike. Originated in the 8th century AD during the rule of the Tang Dynasty, it houses the third longest couplet in China. The palace features traditional architecture in a lush environment and an appealing interior illuminated by red lanterns.
As you hike further, you will come by palaces, temples and other attractions. One of them, encircled by mountains from three sides, is Tianshi Cave, the place where Taoism came into existence. There, you can see the statue of Zhang Tianshi, the founder of Taoism. Another highlight is a ginkgo tree that is, according to a legend, planted by Zhang.
Shangqing Palace is the third highlight of Mountain Qingcheng. Set in a verdant environment along the trail leading to the top, the palace safeguards various items originated throughout the antiquity. If you like to take photos, check out the nearby “Sun-view Pavilion” viewpoint, which offers extraordinary photo opportunities. Take the stairs behind the Palace of Shangqing and admire the stunning scenery and traveling clouds beneath you from there.
Rear Mountain abounds with gems of nature, such as waterfalls and caves amid dense forests. You can take your time and hike along the route to explore the pristine beauty of Rear Mountain. To save time and benefit of great views, take a cable car.
Useful info about Chengdu, China
The capital of the Sichuan province abounds with points of interest you should discover during your Chengdu tour.
Buddhist attractions, such as Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei, and historic places like Jinsha ruins and Wuhou Temple are just a few among them. Getting around in Chengdu is convenient on foot, by bike, and by bus for covering longer distances. The tourist map of the city, with the descriptions of public transport routes, should serve you well.