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What to do and see in Chengdu
What to do and see in Chengdu

Located on the edge of the Red Basin in China's Sichuan Province is Chengdu, one of China's most captivating cities. Home to 14 million people, it is as large as any other Chinese city, but features all sorts of enjoyable sights and experiences that you won't find anywhere else in the nation.

Welcoming Chengdu
From giant pandas, to picturesque tea shops, to the surprisingly electric nightlife, Chengdu has many attractions that set it apart from the other cities on China's eastern seaboard. It is a more laid back city than Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, and any visitors who have spent time in China's big cities will likely find this a pleasant change – people smile more, work less and there is more of a communal atmosphere to the place.

This is reflected in the tastes, smells, sights and sounds of Chengdu. Tea houses are a common sight; Sichuan cuisine is rich, spicy and homely; there are all kinds of historical and cultural sites to explore; and the city is home to the world's leading giant panda breeding programme – it would be difficult to imagine these cuddly creatures in Beijing!

Chengdu's cuisine
Sichuan cuisine is one of the main reasons why Chengdu is popular with tourists. Featuring lots of chillies, sizzling dishes and ingredients that most Westerners won't have encountered, it is an unparalleled culinary experience.

If you want classic Sichuan, Chen Mapo Tofu (great for spicy tofu meals), Shu JiuXiang Hotpot Restaurant and Lixuan Chinese Restaurant are brilliant choices, offering fine and delicious meals that perfectly showcase both modern and classic Chinese cooking. Be sure to try traditional Sichuan hot pot, whereby raw ingredients are cooked at the table in a simmering metal pot of tasty stock.

Sichuan Hot Pot

The A Re Tibetan Restaurant is also a good choice for those wanting to try something tasty and different, while the Zaozishu Vegetarian Restaurant offers flavour-packed vegetarian cooking that will satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

With a large expat population, the city also features lots of Western restaurants, serving everything from pizza, to authentic and filling burgers.

If you are visiting Chengdu, these are just some of the great places you should choose to visit.

Wuhou Temple
Rebuilt in 1672, culture and architecture lovers will love Wuhou Temple, located in southern Chengdu. Featuring beautiful gardens, ancient sculptures and relics from respected Chinese cultural figures including Pei Du, Liu Gongquan and Zhuge Liang, the temple is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

Chunxi Road
One of Chengdu's main commercial areas, Chunxi Road is a must-visit for people looking for a little retail therapy. Here, visitors can find over 700 fashionable shops, street food sellers serving all sorts of delicious Chinese treats and a variety of arts and crafts stores – great for choosing a souvenir or a gift for someone back home.

Wide and Narrow Alley
Known in Chinese as Kuan Xiangzi (Wide Alley), Zhai Xiangzi (Narrow Alley) and Jing Xiangzi (Well Alley), this section of Chengdu is one of the oldest and best preserved districts. Dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the streets and the many courtyards connecting them feature tea shops, traditional street musicians and restaurants aplenty.

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
One of the world's most well-known endangered species, seeing giant pandas is something most tourists want to do, and there is no better place to do so than at China's best panda breeding centre. 10km from downtown Chengdu, at this research base, visitors can watch and learn about the beautiful creatures, but make sure you arrive early as the centre is very popular with both visitors and locals.

Giant Pandas

Sichuan Museum
If you would like to learn about the history of Chengdu and the Sichuan region, Sichuan Museum cannot be missed. With 14 exhibition halls housing collections that contain 260,000 items in total, there are all manner of ancient items, sculptures and paintings to view, some of which date back to 3,000 BCE. Contemporary collections can also be found here, making this not just one for history lovers.

Visiting Chengdu
For most travellers, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is the first stop for any trip to the city. Situated 20km from the city centre, the airport is one of China's largest, and is well-connected to domestic and international destinations. London, Paris, Melbourne, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Mumbai – if you can't fly direct, you will likely only need one transfer.

The number 1 express bus runs between the airport and the city centre, costing around ten Yuan, while the 2 bus can also be taken to a variety of city-centre locations, with the journey taking slightly longer. Taxis can be caught from outside of the domestic arrivals area at the official taxi rank – look out for the blue-yellow and green-yellow taxis. Trips will cost around 45 Yuan.

Chengdu can be visited by train from Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming and Xi'an, among many other domestic locations, at the city's North, East and South Stations. Buses can also be caught to a variety of nearby cities, although this form of transport is more useful for reaching nearby points of interest.

For a place to stay in the city, Kempinski Hotel Chengdu is a perfect choice. Outstanding service, 5-star facilities and a variety of exceptional restaurants and bars make this a great place from which to explore the city. Click here to contact the hotel regarding reservations or for more information.

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