Chengdu (成都) is the provincial capital and largest city of Sichuan Province.  Due to its agricultural wealth, Chengdu is sometimes called the “Land of Milk and Honey”. The Funan river bisects the city, although boat traffic, common until the 1960’s, has all but vanished.  Chengdu has the reputation as a very “laid-back” city that emphasizes culture and relaxation and as a result of this and much green space is ranked one of the most liveable mega-cities in China. It is credited with a good nightlife scene and contains many new western style buildings in the large city centre.

The history of the city can be traced back 2,400 when the first emperor built his capital here and named the city. Through thousands of years its original name has been kept and its position as the capital and as the significant center of politics, commerce and military of the Sichuan area (once called Shu) has remained unchanged. Since the Han (206B.C.-220) and Tang (618-907) Dynasties when its handicraft industry flourished, the place has been famous for its brocades and embroideries. The city was also the place where the bronze culture, an indispensable part of ancient Chinese culture, originated; the place where the Southern Silk Road started; and the place where the earliest paper currency, Jiaozi, was first printed.

Sightseeing

  • Chengdu Panda Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, (taxi from downtown ~ RMB 40-50. This is the biggest facility of this kind in the world. It is home to some 60 giant pandas, but also has some red pandas and a colony of black-necked cranes. The pandas are basically on display for tourists but views are much closer than is possible at most Western zoos. The best time to visit is in the morning (early, once it opens at 7:30AM is best), when pandas are most active and crowds are light. Pandas sleep during the hottest time of the day. Feeding time is around 8:00-9:30 (depending on the time of year). It is recommended to arrive as early as you can to avoid the hordes of school and tour groups that arrive every morning and more importantly because panda are fed between 8h and 10h and most are starting a 6h nap between 10h to 11h. As of August 2016. holding a panda is no longer an option. Admission ~ RMB 58
  • Chengdu Zoo (成都动物园), (In the north of the city near the Panda Research Base). Offers all the typical animals that one might expect in a zoo (elephant, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, as well as panda bears). While the zoo itself is large and spread out, some of the cages are woefully small and the facility seems understaffed. Admission ~ RMB 20.
  • Kuanzhaixiangzi (宽窄巷子). Very nice place with lots of (expensive) tea houses, restaurants and local snacks. Great for relaxing. Streets date from late Qing-dynasty style but are rebuilt recently. Free government wifi in this place.
  • Tianfu Square (天府广场), (In the center of Chengdu). This square, overlooked by an enormous Chairman Mao statue in the center of the city, has been spruced up. Every evening at dusk, as well as at noontime, an elaborate water show, synchronized to music, bursts out from the square’s fountains. Below the square is the hub of Chengdu’s subway system.
  • Sichuan Science and Technology Museum (四川科技馆), This huge four-storey museum is filled with interactive exhibits about science, aerodynamics, space, mathematics, robotics and physics. Quite dated and cheeky. Descriptions in both English and Chinese. Closed on Mondays. Most of the exhibits have broken down or have fallen apart. There’s nothing scientific or technological about it that represents the real and new China, more so a 70s cold war relic. On the first floor is a gyroscopic flight simulator where you are strapped in and spun upside down and in all directions. Great thrill ride for ~ RMB 5 and a secret highlight of Chengdu. Admission to Museum is free.
  • Jinli Ancient Street (锦里古街). This neighborhood is part of the old city of Chengdu; it features hotels and small stores in old-fashioned style. Antiques are sold in a variety of different stores. It is very popular among both tourists and locals, especially at night, with many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Don’t forget to take your camera.
  • Sichuan Opera (四川歌剧院). It is more like a burlesque cabaret than an actual opera, sometimes including magicians, traditional musicians, shadow plays, comedy (spoken in Chinese though), and dancers besides the traditional pieces. Most famous for quick face-changing and fire spitting performed by dancers clad in colourful traditional costumes. You will follow the story sitting at your table. Note that there are many teahouses in the city that offer the show every night.
  • Wuhouci Temple (武侯祠), (near Jinli street, south-west of Tian fu square). This temple is built for commemorating Zhuge Liang(诸葛亮), he is minister of Shu (蜀) in Three Kingdoms Period. He is famous through the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. There are dozens of dust covered statues of obscure historical figures behind glass and not much else. The gardens are attractive, but not extensive. It is next to Jinli Ancient Street. Admission ~ RMB 60.
  • Jinsha Archaeological Site (金沙遗址), recently discovered site featuring various tools and art pieces from around 3,000 years ago. The amount of unearthed