Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province of China, has become synonymous for giant pandas. The conservation center for these beautiful creatures has brought many visitors to Chengdu in recent years, but the city also has a wide array of other sights worth seeing. From a giant Buddha to temples to streets to stroll, you can make a pleasant week of staying in Chengdu. Here are the 15 best places to visit!
Only a short 10 kilometers outside of the downtown area, Chengdu Research Base provides a natural habitat for giant pandas. These giant pandas are beloved all over the world and are primarily concentrated in the Sichuan Province. This is a main attraction in the Chengdu area and one you won’t want to miss if you travel here. Visit to see the world being done to protect the wildlife in the area and more pandas than you may see at any other time in your life.
Mount Qincheng is a famous Taoist mountain in China. It is located southwest of the Dujiangyan Irrigation System of China. Climbing Mount Qingcheng provides visitors a number of unique sights along the way. From the Ciyun Tower to the Shangqing Palace to the Sanqing Hall, visitors will get a taste of Taoism and natural landforms. The climate, natural beauty, and architecture all come together to demonstrate true Chinese heritage.
Du Fu Thatched Cottage was the home of a famous poet named Du Fu during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Du Fu’s poems are considered to be national treasures and he composed more than 240 of them. When he departed from Chengdu, Thatched Cottage was abandoned for a number of years. It was renovated in both 1500 and 1811. These renovations have made it into the structure that it is today—a shrine to Chinese literature. This is a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a quiet space to reflect and learn about an elegant art form and one of China’s best poets.
As the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu, the Wenshu Yuan Monastery has become a spot for cultural relics. Visit this spot if you’re interested in seeing paintings and calligraphy from a variety of dynasties. Over 500 pieces are currently exhibited at this spot. You can see handwriting, paintings, and other pieces of artwork. There are also Buddha statues (over 300!) in various materials such as iron, stone, wood, jade, and bronze. A cultural centerpiece of Chengdu, the Wenshu Yuan Monastery isn’t a spot to miss.
This is a classic tourist spot in Chendu where you’ll find visitors wandering up and down this pedestrian street. Food vendors and gift shops line the alleys and Chinese lanterns illuminate the night sky when it gets dark. Due to its recent renovation, Jinli is larger than ever. One particular treat you’ll want to make sure you grab while you’re there is Sichuan snacks. There are a variety of snacks and finger foods to try, so don’t hesitate to choose something to your liking.
Along the same lines, if you like Jinli Pedastrian Street, you’ll like Kuanzhai Alley. This area consists of three historic paralleled alleys. They date back to the Qing dynasty. You’ll see ancient buildings and locals from Chengdu. You’ll also get to maximize on those Sichuan snacks during your visit or shop for Sichuan handicrafts. You’ll be able to visit this spot year-round and shops are open late, which makes it the perfect spot to go when you’re not sure what else to do.
The Wuhou Memorial Temple is dedicated to Shuge Liang who lived from 181 until 234 AD. He is a famous Chinese figure, serving as minister and military strategist for Emperor Liu Bei. The temple is the most famous and influential of the temples in Chengdu. The temple is simple but has a variety of interesting features evident to anyone who visits. It features 47 status of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang along with other officials in the Kingdom. The temple has stone tablets as well with well-known sayings and poems. Visit the spot to see true Chinese craftsmanship and a spot dedicated to a man who helped shaped China’s history.
The Jinsha Site Museum is another place in Chengdu where you can go to experience the early historical and cultural aspects of the city. The museum consists of a Relics Hall, Exhibition Hall, Sun and Immortal Bird Sculpture, Ebony Forest, Jade Rode, and more. It helps to tell the history of Chengdu which spans over 5,000 years. It is currently on UNESCO’s list of tentative World Heritage Sites. Anyone interested in archaeological sites and the Earth’s early history would enjoy a stop here immensely to see what China was like early on.
Go to see a Sichuan Opera show for a truly cultural experience while you’re in Chengdu. It is dubbed one of the truly “quintessential Sichuan experiences” and provides an interesting way for visitors to engage with this local form of entertainment. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy this show that’s introduced in both Mandarin and English. Spend an evening with your friends or family doing this in Chengdu and you certainly won’t regret it!
When they say, “giant Buddha,” they mean giant. This 71-meter statue is a huge Buddha carved out between a cliff face in red bed sandstone. The Leshan Giant Buddha has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 and it’s certainly worth a visit when you’re in Chengdu. Once you arrive, you can marvel at the masterpiece that this piece of art truly is. The construction for this statue began way back in 713. Its main purpose was to calm turbulent waters. The government has promised restoration work to the Leshan Giant Buddha in recent years due to degradation for a variety of issues—weathering, pollution, and tourists being the primary causes.
A towering green mass, Mount Emei is one of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China. It is the highest of the four of them at 3,099 meters. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Deciding when to go? Sunrise and sunset are both popular times. No need to hike it unless you’re incredibly ambitious. There is a bus and a cable car that takes visitors up to the Golden Summit—and if that name doesn’t entice you to go then really nothing will! Some have even called it an extraterrestrial experience. Get in touch with your nature-loving side and set out to get to the top when you visit Chengdu.
A nature reserve and a national park located in Chengdu, Jiuzhaigou Valley will help you see all that is good and natural in the world. It is yet another one of China’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a World Biosphere Reserve. The variety of ecosystems present allow biodiversity to thrive. If you need convincing to go, just Google search a few pictures of the turquoise lakes. The scenery is unmatched and it’s a shame not to make a stop while you’re in the area visiting.
Engineers will agree that the Three Gorges Dam is one impressive project. In fact, it’s the largest hydraulic project in the world. The reservoir totals a massive 600 km. If you’re interested in seeing the area, take a bus up to the attraction. There’s a platform that allows you an eyelevel view of the dam and a park where you can look up to it. While it may not sound as exciting as some of the other items on this list, only once you’re there will you realize the true marvel of looking at the forces of nature meeting something so powerfully created by humans.
Another spot in Chengdu built to memorialize a poet, Wangjiang Pavilion Park celebrates Xue Tao. It is a cultural site and a natural garden. In this spot, you’ll be able to learn about the incredible life of Xue Tao and how she persevered despite her personal situation. The lush atmosphere of the garden parallels her life and demonstrates how individuals can thrive despite their surroundings. The park is listed as a National Key Cultural Site, and it’s the perfect spot for a picnic or afternoon stroll while you’re visiting Chengdu.
A cultural site for those interested in seeing the tombs of a tyrant king. Yongling Museum and Mausoleum is a modest attraction but is overall well-done. The tomb is impressive, and the museum provides all the information you could possibly want. Take your time learning about the burial site and then take a stroll in Yongling Park. It’ll provide a different perspective than other sights you’ve seen in Chengdu.
Overall, Chengdu is an incredibly pleasant place to visit. From visiting the giant pandas to seeing a giant Buddha, you’ll be well stocked with opportunities to learn about the culture of the city as well as the historical context. This is a must hit spot when in the Sichuan Province.