Chengdu Travel Guide
" Everything you need to know before traveling to Chengdu"
When it comes to Chengdu, the first thing that might come to your mind is Giant Pandas. These beautiful and cute animals are preserved in many bases in the city for visitors. Another specialty of Chengdu is the hot and spicy dishes in Sichuan Cuisine, which can be fantastic food spicy food lovers.
Chengdu is the city of leisure and entertainment in which, people experience slow peace of life. Here, people are not in hurry! they usually enjoy their life and you can see them chatting, reading, dancing. and drinking tea.
Interestingly, Chengdu is the birthplace of tea culture in China and you can find various high-quality teas and beautiful tea houses around the city.
Local Name 成都市 ( /ˌtʃɛŋˈduː/)
Population (2019) 16,330,000
Time Zone UTC+8 (China Standard)
Area Code 28
Why Visiting Chengdu?
When it comes to Chengdu, the main things that come to mind are giant pandas. These black and white animals live in bamboo forests in the mountains; however, there are four main bases in Chengdu in which, you can see and learn about these beautiful beings including Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Dujiangyan Giant Panda Base, Wolong Shenshuping Giant Panda Base, and Bifengxia Giant Panda Reserve. In mild weather, giant pandas are allowed to be outdoor in these bases playing, eating, climbing, and sleeping. You will definitely get stunned by these animals.
Foodies will have a great time in Chengdu as it’s one of the main hubs of Sichuan Cuisine, one of the most famous cooking styles in China. The cuisine is famous for its numbness and spiciness. If you are interested in spicy food, you should definitely go to Chengdu and try amazing dishes of Sichuan cuisine. Mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, and the hotpot are must-tries of Sichuan cuisine. barbecue, kebabs, stinky tofu, fried potatoes, dan dan noodles, pineapple rice, etc. are among the most famous snacks in Chengdu as well.
Sichuan opera is one of the best regional drama performances in China that originated in the Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD). The main characteristic of the play is face changing, which shows changes of inner feelings and thoughts.
Leshan Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha along with Mt.Emei is classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Mecca for Chinese Buddhists”. Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest stone Buddha sculpture in the world with 71 meters of height. The sculpture is carved into the cliffs and it took 90 years to be completed.
Mt. Emei is known as one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China in which, the huge statue of Samantabhadra is located. Many ancient Buddhist monasteries and amazing cultural relics are situated here. Besides the historical and religious value, you can enjoy the great scenery of here.
Shu embroidery is one of the best handcraft arts you can find in China with a fantastic and unique Sichuan style. In this art, figures and patterns are embroidered on the silk or fabrics made of silk thread.
Besides the cultural and historical attractions, you can enjoy the great natural landscapes and sceneries in Chengdu such as Qingcheng Mountain. You can also visit other natural attractions such as Jiuzhaigou, Huang Long, and Daocheng Yading with the help of great means of transportation from the downtown area.
What to See in Chengdu
- Pingle Ancient Town
- Qingyang Palace (Qing Yang Gong)
- Salt Museum
- Sichuan Cuisine Museum
- Sichuan Museum
- Sichuan Science and Technology Museum
- Stone Elephant Lake
- Thatched Cottage of Du Fu
- Tianfu Square
- Wangjiang Pavalion Park
- Wenshu Monastery
- Wide and Narrow Alley
- Wuhou Temple (Wu Hou Shrine Temple of Marquis)
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu has cold winters as well as hot and muggy summers; however, the climate of Chengdu is temperate on average. The city has a low altitude (500 m above the sea level) but in a vast continental zone (1,100 km). The precipitation amount is about 855 mm annually. The best time for visiting Chengdu, like almost all cities of China, is autumn.
Spring (April – May)
- Temperature: 17°C (62.6°F ) – 26°C (78.8°F)
- Features: mild (gradually becomes warm, sultry, and rainy)
- Recommendation: Make sure to visit the flower fair at the Bronze Goat Taoist Temple in spring
What to wear?
long-sleeved T-shirts, thin sweaters and coat are good choices for summer. Also, if you are going to visit the city at the end of spring, bring some summer clothes as it can get warm.
Summer (June - August)
- Temperature: Lower than 35 C (95F)
- Features: Hot, Humid, and Rainy
- Recommendation: Mount Qincheng, Four Maiden’s Mountain, and Jiulong Valley are great for escaping from the summer heat.
What to wear?
Like any other location in China, you should pack summer clothes; however, as you will face lots of rain in this season, it’s better to bring raincoats and an umbrella.
- Temperature: 9°C (48.2°F) – 25°C (77°F)
- Features: The best season for visiting Chengdu with pleasant weather
- Recommendation: Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong are great in autumn
What to wear?
Long-sleeved T-shirts, thin overcoats, and a thin sweater are great choices for you. For the late autumn, prepare to experience cold weather, so bring warm clothes.
Winter (November - March)
- Temperature: 2–10°C (36–49°F)
- Features: Not very cold but cloudy and moisty
- Recommendation: Make sure to try hot pot in cold days
What to wear?
Woolens, down jackets, and warm winter boots, as well as puffer jacket, are suitable for winter.
How Long To Stay?
The decision about the duration of your stay in Chengdu might depend on many factors such as your timeline, budget, and must-see destinations. However, a couple of days is the least time you need for visiting the Giant Pandas and major attractions such as Jinli Old Street and Leshan Giant Buddha as well as some of the museums. Also, you can arrange the time to see the Sichuan Opera.
However, if you had more time like a week, you can have a great time in the natural landscapes of the city such as Jiuzhaigou Valley as well.
Things to do in Chengdu
Visit Giant Pandas
Giant Pandas are the symbols of Chengdu. There are four bases in China with the aim of preserving pandas and studying them including Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Dujiangyan Giant Panda Base, Wolong Shenshuping Giant Panda Base, and Bifengxia Giant Panda Reserve.
Watch Sichuan Opera
Sichuan Opera is a must-see in Chengdu. In this performance, masks play the most effective role and the face-changing will be highly amazing for you.
Get Familiar With Leshan Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a monumental statue of Buddha carved in the cliff of Lingyun Mountain (in Chinese: língyún shān means “the mountain that rises in the clouds” ). The statue is located on the east bank of the Min River in the Mount Emei region, south of Sichuan Province, China. It’s the largest Buddha statue in the world.
Visit Wenshu Monastery
Wenshu Monastery, also known as Manjushri Monastery and Wenshu Temple, is one of Chengdu’s best-preserved Buddhist temples. It sits in the Qingyang District of Chengdu in Sichuan and home to the Buddhist Association of Sichuan Province and Chengdu City. Visiting this historical temple should not be missed by any visitor.
Dance in People’s Park
Every day in People’s Park of Chengdu, you can see many people, especially middle-aged and retired women dancing with their friends. You can also join and have a nice time dancing with them.
Try Sichuan Cuisine
If you love hot and spicy food, you should try Sichuan Cuisine; especially in Chengdu. Their dishes are famous for the use of spices, garlic, and most of all, the Sichuan Pepper that gives a numbing hot taste to the food. Since this special ingredient is local and well known in China, the best place to find it is in Chengdu.
Where to Stay in Chengdu
If you want to be near sightseeings and famous restaurants, the city center would be the best option for you. Also, as a first-time traveler, this district will be a good choice as well. Besides the historical and food places around the city center, here is the best place for navigation around the city. People’s park, Sichuan Science and Technology Museum, Kuan Alley, Zhai Alley, etc. are among the best tourist zones located in the city center. Here, a mixture of historical landmarks and commercial districts are available. Jinli Street, Wuhou Shrine Museum, Chengdu Scenic Area, Sanyi Temple, Temple of Marquis Art Museum are among the famous attractions near the Wuhou District.
Jinjiang is the best choice for luxury shopping and clubbing lovers. Also, some of the attractions of the city are located in the neighborhood of this district. Besides, if you are looking for 5-star hotels or luxury restaurants, Jinjiang will be the first choice. Chunxi Road, Jinhuaguan, Isetan Department Store, Champagne Square, Huamin Empire Plaza are among the attractions near this district.
Some of the most important cultural sites in Chengdu such as temples and monasteries are located in Qingyang district. Wenshu Yuan Monastery, Huanhuaxi Scenic Area, Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum, Jinsha Site Museum, and Qingyang Temple are among the attractions in and around the district.
How to Get to Chengdu
Chengdu has one of the most advanced transportation systems in China. For instance, one of the busiest airports in China is located in Chengdu. Also, five trunk railway lines meet in Chengdu. Besides, there are lots of expressways and coach stations, which facilitate intercity transportation.
Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) is located 16 km from city center in southwest of the city and known as the main aviation hub in center and western China with over 70 domestic and 20 international flights. The airport also offers some interprovincial destinations such as Dazhou, Xichang and Jiuzhaigou, etc. International flights from Shaunglin International Airports include Tokyo, Shanghai (Beijing)-Fukuoka, Osaka, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Katmandu, Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, Sydney, Melbourne (Australia), Frankfort, Delhi and (Beijing)-Paris, as well as regional flights to Hong Kong and Macau.
Chengdu has three main train stations. Chengdu Railway Station (North Railway station), East Railway Station, and South Railway Station.
Destinations from Chengdu Railway Station
- Hong Kong
Main Destinations from East Railway Station
- Leshan & Emeishan
- Hong Kong
- City Transportation
Main Destinations From West Railway Station
- Shuangliu Airport
General Bus Station (Wugui Bridge Bus Station), Xinnanmen Bus Station (Tourism Bus Center), Chadianzi Bus Station, Airport Bus Station, East Railway Station Bus Station, Beimen (North Gate) Bus Station, and Wukuaishi Bus Station are Long-Distance Bus Stations of the city.
Get Around In Chengdu
There are 7 metro lines in operation in Chengdu and there are some other lines under construction.
- Line 1: Sichuan Gymnasium – Wugensong
- Line 2: Xipu – Longquanyi
- Line 3: Military General Hospital – Taipingyuan
- Line 4: Xihe – Wansheng
- Line 5: Huagui Road – Huilong
- Line 6 (will be operated in late 2020): Wangcongci – Lanjiagou
- Line 7: Cuijiadian – Chengdu University of Technology
- Line 8 (will be operated in late 2020): Lianhua – Shilidian
- Line 9 (will be operated in late 2020): Huangtianba – Financial City East
- Line 10: Taipingyuan – Xinping
- Line 17 (will be operated in late 2020): Jinxing – Jitouqiao
- Line 18 (will be operated in late 2020): South Railway Station– Terminal 1 & 2 of Tianfu International Airport
Regular buses support almost all spots of the city. Most of the bus lines start at 6:30 and finish at 20:00 or 21:00. However, some of them start earlier at 5:45 and stop around 23:00. The ticket price for regular buses is CNY1 or CNY2 depending on the air conditioner of the bus. Using a Smart Transportation card is highly recommended as you can have a 10% or 50% discount. Also, if you take a bus from 05:00 to 07:00, you can have a trip free of charge with the Smart Card. Children under 1.3 m can use the bus freely.
There are 4 lines available for BRT as K1, K1A, K2, and K2A with longer stop distances comparing to the regular buses. All of these lines run along the Second Ring Road of the city. K1 and K1A along the inner side clockwise, while K2 and K2A along the outer side anticlockwise. In peak hours, the BRT runs every 1.5 minutes; however, it departs every 4-6 minutes in low seasons and every 4-6 minutes in regular days. K1 and K2 start at 06:00 and finish at 23:00. The fee is the same as regular lines and you can have a free ride before 07:00 by transportation card.
Only line 298 has 13 night departures from 22:00 to 5:30 every day. Railway Station, Hongxing Road, Chunxi Road, Yanshikou, South Renmin Road, Kehua Road, Century City New Convention, and Exhibition Center are the main stops of this nightline. Also, it won’t operate from the Chinese New Year eve to the night of January 6th in Chinese Lunar Calendar. The fee will be CNY3 and you can have a discount like regular buses.
Flights to Chengdu (CTU)
Chengdu Food & Drink
Chengdu is the home of Sichuan Cuisine; therefore, if you are a spicy-food lover, make sure to try these foods in this city.
Hotpot is a very famous dish in China, especially in Chengdu and Chongqing. The meat includes a big pot containing hot spicy oil and plates of small-sliced raw meats and vegetables. The half of the pots is filled with the spicy oil and the other is filled with a delicious broth if you are not interested in spicy foods.
Long Chao Shou
Long Chao Shou, known as “wonton soup” in the west, is a special soup consisting of dumplings in a light broth filled with fantastic ingredients such as pork and vegetables. The difference between Long Chao Shou and dumpling is that the dough in this food is thinner and it’s served as a soup.
Ma La Tang
Ma La Tang is a must-try when visiting Chengdu. The food is very spicy consisting of large bowls of spicy chili peppers and other spices floating in boiling water over a flame. The food is originated in Chongqing, but you can find this dish in high quality in Chengdu as well. You can decide about the amount of meats and vegetables; then, you can cook them in the pot.
Chen Mapo Toufu
Chen Mapo Toufu is the traditional dish of Han tribe in Sichuan, which served in Qing Dynasty for the first time in the north of Chengdu. The dish, like other Sichuan dishe, is hot and spicy. Chen Mapi Toufu is also fragrant and soft with fantastic Sichuan flavor.
Dan Dan Noodle
Dan Dan Noodle is a very famous snack in Sichaun with hundreds of years of history. The food is a roll consisting of flour noodles cooked, scoop on the end of pork from frying. These thin noodles are served with very tasty sauce Suxiang considered as a dessert banquet.
Bang Bang Chicken
Bang Bang Chicken is a very popular dish from Sichuan cuisine, which has strange taste. The dish is spicy, hot, sour, sweet, fresh, salty, and fragrant. Bang Bang Chicken is a special dish from Han tribe originated in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Shopping in Chengdu
The best shopping districts in Chengdu
Tai Koo Li
Tai Koo Li is an open shopping area compromising of modern and traditional Chinese style. Fashion clothes, jewelry, sports equipment, gifts, and food are among the goods you can find in this district. The prices seem to be relatively high; however, the atmosphere is good and it’s a good option if you don’t like crowds. The architecture of this district will be amazing for you.
Chunxi Road is one of the major shopping malls in Chengdu offering a wide range of shops and restaurants. Sun Yat-sen Square is located in the middle of the road in which, large-scale water curtain, coffee shops and teahouses are located.
Imperial Examination Lane
The Imperial Examination Lane is a busy lane with more than 40 fashion clothes. Fashion lovers can find many old and new brands offering luxury fashion goods for you.
Kuan Zhai Alley
Kuan Zhai Alley is the best place if you want to buy some souvenirs in Chengdu. Jade, Chinese figurines, jewelry, handicrafts, tea, wood souvenir, and panda-themed souvenirs are among the goods you can find in Kuan Zhai Alley.
New Century Global Center
New Century Global Center is one of the largest building in terms of floor area in the world. In this construction, you can find anything you are looking for; from clothes to souvenirs, jewelry, and accessories.
Jinli is a 350-meter street with a relaxing and ancient environment because of the old buildings located here from Ming and Qing dynasties. Here, you can find pinched clay figurines, sugar paintings, Sichuan snacks as well as leather shadow puppets, Caoyingba Café, chopsticks specialty stores, restaurants, bars, and pubs.
Located close to the Chunxi Road, Yanshikou area offers huge shopping malls as well as wholesale markets. These big shopping malls in Yanshikou usually provide discounts for buyers. Taihua Market is a famous wholesale market for ordinary clothes, which may not be suitable for you!
What to buy in Chengdu
Shu Brocade is one of the four famous Chinese Brocades and one of the most popular cultural heritages in China. The history of this handcraft dates back to ancient Sichuan. Shu Brocades is the best specialty of Chengdu.
Tea houses in Chengdu are famous in China. You can buy many different types of tea in Chengdu for your home and invite your friends to have a Chinese-style tea party!
Shu Embroidery is a fine needle art with fantastic colors and traditional painting. The design of these artworks includes flowers, birds, landscapes, fish, worms, and human figures found on pillowcases, wedding dress, embroidered slippers, scroll, mirror curtain, hats, shoes, skirts, quilt facing, etc.
Giant Panda Products
Chengdu is the home of Giant Pandas. You can buy Panda products such as key-ring trinkets, T-shirts, big stuffed toys, and beautiful embroidery in any shopping area and Giant Panda Bases in the city.
Chengdu Facial Makeup Masks
As mentioned, Sichuan Opera is a very famous regional performance in which, face changing is the amazing feature. The masks of the opera can be a fantastic souvenir for kids. Also, you can use these masks as a decoration element if you are interested in such objects.
You can find the best Lacquer Wares in Chengdu. These products are beautiful and you can use them to decorate your home, especially walls.
Placemats, vases, and many other bamboo products can be found in Chengdu at reasonable prices. These goods are decorative and they can make your home much more beautiful.
There are many shops, especially in souvenir gift shops with Tibetan styles. You can find these shops around the city, especially in Wuhou Temple offering highly-colorful bracelets and necklaces as well as earrings, pendants, etc.
Chengdu Travel Tips
- Visiting Chengdu in July and August is not recommended as the weather can be stuffy.
- Don’t accept initial prices offered by the shopkeepers and don’t forget bargaining.
- You should not expect to have usual English communications with locals, taxi drivers, etc.; therefore, it’s recommended to have a guide or learn some basic Chinese.
- Like other cities of China, you will encounter huge internet filtering by Chinese government, so make sure to have VPN on your laptop or smartphone.
Foreign Consulates in Chengdu
- Address: 2 Zongfu Road – 610016, Chengdu, China
- Phone: +86 28 66666060
- Fax: +86 28 66666103
- Address: Suit 812, Western Tower, No. 19, 4th Section, Renminnan road, Chengdu, China
- Phone: 86-28-85268316
- Fax: 86-28-85268315
- Address: 31-D First City Plaza, No 308, Shuncheng Street, Chengdu, Sichuan 610017, China
- Phone: + 86-28-86527222
- Fax: + 86-28-86527555
- Address: No. 4 Lingshiguan Road Chengdu, Sichuan, China 610041
- Phone: (8628) 8558-3992, 8558-9642
- Fax: (8628) 8558-3520
Exchanging money in Chengdu is available through different ways:
Banks are the best and the most reliable ways of exchanging money. You should call the banks, whixh have exchangiing services for more information:
- Bank of China: 95566
- China Construction Bank: 95533
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China: 95588
- Bank of Communications: 95559
- China Merchants Bank: 95555
- Agricultural Bank of China: 95599
You can exchange your money in the airport as well in terminal 1 and 2
- Travelex Currency Exchange in International Departure Hall
- ICE Currency Exchange in International and Domestic Arrival Hall
- Note: ATM is available in the Check-in Hall of Departure Hall.
- Bank of China in Domestic Departure Hall
- ICE Currency Exchange in check-in Hall
- Note: ATM is available in the north and south of Check-in Hall and Arrival Hall
Most of 4-star and 5-star hotels have currency exchange services.