Remarkable and unique, Chengdu is the relaxed and cheery capital of Sichuan Province and the gateway to China’s western hinterlands. Surrounded by dramatic mountains, bamboo forests and fertile valleys, the city is famous for incredible cuisine, the welcoming local people and China’s most adorable citizens, the Giant Pandas.
Here’s how to spend the perfect 48 hours…
Morning: You’ll need an early start to catch Chengdu’s best-loved residents at their hungriest and most active. Head out to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to see these adorable animals in an environment similar to their natural habitat, where they will munch through up to 20 kilos of bamboo a day. Visit in autumn or winter and you may see tiny newborns in the nursery. Next, head over to see their mischievous cousins, the Red Pandas, clambering amongst tree branches and bushes.
Pit stop: Stroll down Jinli Street, a pedestrianised road in the old city lined with antique shops, bars and cafes. Stop at one of the snack stalls to sample skewers of spicy chicken, duck or vegetables.
Afternoon: Drinking tea is central to life in China and nowhere is this more evident than in Chengdu. The locals take it seriously and there is a well-established tea-drinking etiquette. Stop in a tea house to sample Longjing Tea and then stroll through Du Fu Cottage grounds, home to the famous 8th century poet.
Morning: Travel to Leshan (about 1.45 hour drive from Chengdu) to visit the Grand Buddha. Located in a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is the world’s largest stone-carved Buddhist statue. The Buddha is over 71m tall and wide enough for more than 100 people to sit between its feet.
Afternoon: Visit Huanglongxi on your way back to the city. The town has a history dating back over 1,700 years and has retained the charms of the Qing dynasty, with cobbled streets, temples and wooden buildings along its curving alleys.
After Dark: Visit Shu Jiu Xiang to sample Chengdu’s most famous and delicious dish – the Sichuan Hot Pot, accompanied by dumplings and mapo doufu (chili-tofu). Later venture to the Sichuan Opera and be amazed by the face-changing art of Bian Lian.
Wendy Wu Tours offer a variety of tours that visit Chengdu. Refer to our website for more information.