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Chengdu is well-known for lovely giant pandas, and they are the No. 1 reason that people visit Chengdu. In Chengdu, you can not only see giant pandas and panda cubs; you can also take care of them as a panda keeper.
Chengdu is also famous for delicious Sichuan food like kung pao chicken and hotpot. You can experience cooking the most authentic Sichuan cuisine with a local chef.
Chengdu is a large but relaxed city, with many natural, cultural, and historical sights in and around it.
Home of the Giant Panda
Chengdu is a city of pandas. One of the reasons that Chengdu attracts many travelers is due to the lovely giant pandas. Pandas are used to decorate the city and you can find them in a variety of forms, such as panda hats, panda purses, panda shoes, panda buses, etc.
There are three giant panda bases in and around Chengdu City that we recommend you pay a visit to, or join in with the volunteer program to take care of the pandas.
Sichuan Cuisine and the Famous Sichuan Hot Pot
Sichuan cuisine is known for its strong flavors. Around the world, many restaurants serve dishes and call them Sichuan (Szechuan) cuisine. However, in Chengdu you’ll find that the flavors of Sichuan Cuisine are much stronger and well-developed. Don’t be surprised if there are more hot peppers in the dish than anything else, and you’ll know it has been cooked correctly if everything is floating in oil.
Mount Qingcheng is a famous Taoist mountain, one of the places where Taoism originated. The mountain became UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000, and featured in the Kung Fu Panda movies of 2011 and 2016.
- Chinese: 青城山 Qīngchéng Shān ‘Green City Wall Mountain(s)’
- Location: 70 km (40 mi) northwest of central Chengdu, just south of Dujiangyan’s panda base
- Tallest peak: 1,260 meters (4,130 ft)
- Area: 200 square kilometers (80 square miles)
- Highlights: Hiking, Taoist historical sites
The Qingcheng Range — The “Wall of Hills” Protecting Panda Valley
The Mount Qingcheng range towers above the Chengdu Plain, and the Min River flows down one of its slopes, creating a scenic area that covers 200 square kilometers.
The mountain range has 36 peaks, and its tallest peak is Laoxiao Ding, at an elevation of 1,260 meters above sea level. The peaks stand in a circle like an ancient wall protecting a city. Trees grow luxuriantly on the mountains, creating greenery all year round, and giving it the name Qingcheng Shan — ‘green city wall mountains’.
Mount Qingcheng has a beautiful peak near the city, and another notable peak sits behind it. These peaks are called “Front Mountain” and “Back Mountain”.
Front Mountain — Ancient Taoist and Buddhist Temples
Front Mountain has long been a major travel highlight in the Chengdu area because of its numerous ancient Taoist and Buddhist temples and historic sites. It was once a religious pilgrimage destination, and the scenery is beautiful.
Back Mountain — Magnificent Natural Scenery for Hikers
Fifteen kilometers behind Front Mountain is Back Mountain, which the government recently opened for hikers. A few temples and historical sites are there, but it is mainly a nature reserve with peaceful streams, quiet forests, and a grand peak.
The natural scenery is beautiful and magnificent, so Back Mountain is a good choice for recreational hiking. Five Dragon Gorge has dramatic vistas. Back Mountain is also a major tea growing area.
Access: Tourists can take buses or taxis from Front Mountain to Back Mountain. Hiking up the mountain takes about four hours, and hiking down takes about three hours.
Taoist Sites — Massive Temples
Mount Qingcheng is a famous Taoist mountain because it is one of the places where the Taoist religion originated. A Taoist teacher named Zhang came to the mountain and preached during the Eastern Han Dynasty period (25–220).
Since then, over the last two millennia, dozens of other temples were built on the mountain.
Tianshi Cave is one of the main attractions since it is where Zhang is said to have preached.
It is a good place to begin your tour, as from there you can see the dozens of other temples around, including Jianfugong Temple, Shangqinggong Temple, Zushi Temple, Yuanminggong Temple, Laojunge Temple, Yuqinggong Temple, and Chaoyang Cave.
The sunrise, the misty “sea of clouds”, and the Shengdeng are beautiful sights.
If you are walking up the mountain, Jianfugong Temple, which is under Zhangren Peak, is a major highlight and the starting point for a tour of the mountain.
The temple was first built during the Tang Dynasty, about the year 730 AD, and it has been repaired and rebuilt many times since. Now, only two temples and three courtyards exist. One of the temples has three different areas for Taoist teachers and gods.
Yuanyun Pavilion and a clear brook are in front of the temple. Behind it are scenic sights such as Chicheng Rock, Ruquan Spring, Shuixin Pavilion and Dressing Table.
There is also a famous couplet about the temple written during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) that has 394 Chinese characters.
The surrounding grey-green forest provides refreshing shade while walking in the area.
Shangqinggong Temple is one of the most famous Taoist temples, and it sits near the top of Mount Qingcheng. A structure was first built during the Jin Dynasty (265–420), while the existing temple was completed during the reign of the Tongzhi Emperor (1856–75) of the Qing Dynasty.
The main buildings are the gate, the main temple where Taishanglaojun is enshrined, a side hall, and the Yuhuang building. The main temple houses an image of Taishanglaojun, and treasured wood boards are carved with the full texts of the Taoist classic of The Virtue of the Tao and Huangdi Yinfujing.
Behind Shanqinggong Temple are steps that go up 100 meters to the top of Mount Qingcheng, where a covered observation platform allows visitors to see the sunrise and the clouds. If you are there at night, you can see the stars. The area is beautiful when it rains and when it snows in winter.
Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, is a historical city as well as a business center. It boasts a great number of natural and cultural heritage sites.
The city features one of the most important centers of Taoism, the oldest existing irrigation project in the world and a large habitat for giant pandas. It is also well-known for its appetizing delicacies and slow pace of life.
Chengdu enjoys mild and moist weather for the most part of the year, but the best time to visit city is in March, April, May, June, September, October and November.
Wangjiang Tower Park
The Wangjiang Tower Park is located at the southern bank of Jinjiang River, Chengdu. It was built in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties in commemoration of Xue Tao, the first woman poet of Tang Dynasty (618-907). Covering an area of 176.5 mu (11.77 hectares), the park features waters, pavilions, bridges and towers. It is especially known for its surrounding unique bamboo forest.
The Chongli Tower, or Wangjiang Tower, is the landmark of the park. Wangjiang Tower literally means “a tower that overlooks the river.” Built in 1889, the octagonal tower with four stories measures 39 meters in height and is made solely out of wood.
Other unique ancient architectural buildings in the park, including Yinshilou (Poem Chanting Tower), Wuyunxianguan (Five Fairy Clouds Hall), Quanxiangxie (Fragrance of Stream Pavilion), are also worth a visit.
The Wuhou Temple, also known as the Martial Marquis Memorial Temple, is located in Chendu’s Wuhou District. It was built in 223 in commemoration of Zhuge Liang, prime minister of the Shu State during the Three Kingdoms (220–280). In the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was merged with the Zhaolie Temple in commemoration of Liu Bei, the founding emperor of the Kingdom of Shu.
There are numerous historical relics such as the horizontal cribbed boards, couplets, inscribed tablets, penmanship, furnaces, Chinese tripods, etc. The Sanjue (Three-Best) horizontal inscribed board, Chu Shi Biao and the hall of Liu Bei are the most famous ones.
It is the only temple in China which sacrifices to both an emperor and a minister, as well as the largest museum displaying the relics of the Three Kingdoms.
Du Fu Thatched Cottage
The Du Fu Thatched Cottage is an idyllic park and museum situated in the western suburbs of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, adjacent to the picturesque Flower Rinsing Brook. The museum, in honor of famous Tang poet Du Fu (712-770), is considered a sacred spot of Chinese literature. Du Fu, one of the greatest Chinese poets, set up a straw-roofed house by the brook in 759, and lived there for about four years. In his thatched hut, he was inspired to compose more than 240 poems, including his best known ones such as “Thatched Hut Torn Apart by Autumn Wind” and “The Prime Minister of Shu.”
The original hut built by Du was destroyed and the major buildings we see today were constructed during the Ming Dynasty in 1500, and renovated in 1811 during the Qing Dynasty. They include the Thatched Cottage, Former Residence of Du Fu, Screen Wall, Front Gate, Grand Lobby, Memorial of the Poet-Historian, Firewood Gate and Gongbu Shrine. The museum is noted for its unsophisticated historical relics, elegant buildings and tranquil environment. It’s a tourist attraction for visitors from around the world to pay tribute to the poet Du Fu.
Luodai Ancient Town
Established in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220), Luodai is an ancient town situated in an eastern suburb of Chengdu, some 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) from the city’s downtown area. There are around 23,000 inhabitants now living in the town, of whom about 20,000 are Hakka people. Therefore, it is known as the largest gathering place for Hakka people in China’s southwestern region.
Most of the Hakka people in the Luodai Ancient Town are migrants who were forced into Sichuan Province from Guangdong, Jiangxi and Hubei provinces by Manchurian rulers during the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The whole township has been well-preserved, with over 1,000-year-old ancient streets and Ming- and Qing-style residences, buildings and stores. There are one 1,000-meter-long main street and seven alleys in the ancient town where visitors can take a walk and look around. The Guangdong Guildhall is the town’s landmark; the museum and the park are also worth visiting.
Jinsha Relics Museum
The Jinsha Relics are the relics of the Jinsha Villiage, Supo Town, northwestern Chengdu, dating back to the Shang (1600-1046 B.C.) and Zhou dynasties (1046-225B.C.). The place used to be the capital of the Ancient Shu Kingdom, a center of ancient civilization along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River during the 12th to 7th centuries B.C.
The 300,000-square-meters museum is used to preserve and display the Jinsha relics and other archaeological finds. A large number of ivory, gold and jade pieces are on show now. Retrieved in 2001, the relics are regarded “the most significant archaeological discovery of the 21st century in China.”
Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Dujiangyan is an irrigation infrastructure built by Governor Li Bing of the Qin State in 256 B.C., during China’s Warring States Period (476-221 B.C.). It is situated on the Min River in Sichuan Province, near its capital Chengdu.
Dujiangyan is the only existing ancient hydro-power project, featuring diversions without a dam, in the world. It is widely regarded as the “ancestor” of the world’s modern hydro-power culture, with a history dating back over 2,200 years. It also functions as a means to prevent floods and facilitate plain shipping. It is still in use today, irrigating over 5,300 square kilometers (530,000 hectares) of the region’s land.
Dujiangyan is known as one of the “three great hydraulic engineering projects of the Qin Dynasty.” The other two are the Zhengguo Canal in Shaanxi Province and the Lingqu Canal in Guangxi Province.
Dujiangyan is also one of China’s better-known touristic spots, with many historic sites surrounding the area.
Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding
The Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding is an organization engaged in protecting, breeding and researching wildlife, in particular pandas. It was founded in 1987, when six giant pandas were rescued from the wild.
At the base, which covers an area of 106 hectares, the captive population of giant pandas has thus far increased to 113, making it the largest group in the world.
Several other wild and/or endangered species, such as the red panda and golden monkey, also live and breed here.
Located to the southwest of Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, Mount Qingcheng can claim to have some strong roots for China’s Taoism. It is a famous historical mountain and one of the nation’s major scenic areas.
The mountain faces the Chengdu Plain, at the back sporting the Minjiang River, and stretches out over an area of 200 square kilometers (20,000 hectares). It has 36 peaks, eight large and 72 small caves. Its main peak, Laoxiao Peak, rises up to 1,260 meters. Many temples can be found across the area.
In 2000, UNESCO included Mount Qingcheng, together with the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, on its World Heritage List.
Tiantai Mountain Scenic Area
Located in Qionglai, the Tiantai Mountain is about 120 kilometers (74.56 miles) away from Chengdu. The scenic spot boasts the syncline hilly landform, a one of a kind in China. Measuring 1,812 meters in height, its main peak forms the perfect place to watch the sunrise and the sea of clouds. The seven waterfalls are the most famous attractions of the area, especially the Xiangshuitan Waterfall which makes a sheer drop of 40 meters. The Tiantai Mountain is a paradise for over 80 species of flowers, 360 types of trees and more than 50 of wild animal species.
Tiantai Mountain is a famous national scenic area situated in Tiantai County, Taizhou City, in eastern Zhejiang Province. It is known for its beautiful scenery and for being the cradle of the Tiantai Sect of Chinese Buddhism including the Japanese and Korean Tiantai Buddhist Sects and also for being the home of the South Sect of Taoism.
Tiantai Mountain has many individual attractions including its historical sites and its tranquil flora comprised of evergreen plants and a unique geography. Covering an area of about 187 square kilometers (72 square miles), the scenic area is divided into 13 parts including Guoqing Temple, Shiliang Waterfall, Longchuan Gorge, Chicheng Mountain, Qiongtai Valley, Huading Peak, Former residence of Ji Gong, Tianhu Scenic Area, etc. Each area has its own unique attractions. Guoqing Temple, Shiliang Waterfall, Huading Peak are among the most beautiful natural sights.
At the foot of Tiantai Mountain, Guoqing Temple was built in 598 in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) according to the last wish of ‘Wisdom’, an eminent monk. It is said that he founded the Chinese Tiantai Sect of Buddhism. Later its doctrines were spread abroad, mainly to Korea and Japan. These external cultures significantly influenced the development of Korean and Japanese Buddhist Sects. Guoqing Temple has been restored many times in later dynasties. The most recent general renovation was during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Guoqing Temple now is a grand and unique architectural complex consisting of more than 600 rooms and 14 halls. It is one of the best preserved large temples in China.
The Shiliang Waterfall in Tiantai Mountain Scenic Area is a masterpiece of nature. A stone beam spans two steep cliffs, known as Shiliang, meaning a Stone Bridge. It ranges from about 9 centimeters (7 inches) wide at the narrowest to about 48 centimeters (19 inches) at the widest point. The waterfall plummets about 30 meters (98 feet) into a deep pool with a thundering roar. The sight is magnificent. Considerable composure and surefootedness are required to walk across the beam.
In stark contrast to the Shiliang Waterfall, Huading Peak is the highest peak of Tiantai Mountain with the height of about 1,138 meters (3,733 feet). Because it is always nestled in clouds, it is famous for the view with clouds gathering. The top is the best place to view sunrise. From the top looking down, Huading and surrounding peaks look like a lotus bud with Huading Peak at the center. Only more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high, Tiantai Mountain basks in a comfortable climate among graceful surroundings that is a pleasant respite from city life.
Note: Tiantai Mountain is famous as a summer resort in Zhejiang Province. The best time to visit is from April to October, so one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Tiantai Mountain, yet still avoid summer heat.