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How to Spend Your Layover in Chengdu

How to Spend Your Layover in Chengdu

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Mar. 6, 2023

Stuck on a layover at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU)? Don't worry, we've got you covered.

Whether you have a 3-, 6-, 9-, or 12-hour layover in Chengdu, here's a list of things you can do to pass the time. Make the most of your layover with our guide to experiencing Chengdu in practically no time at all.

Whether You Need a Visa or Not

If you are transiting through Chengdu, you don't need a visa as long as your layover does not exceed 144 hours.

Please see our 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy page for details.

Contact us for updated travel information

Top Things to Do During a Layover in Chengdu

Jinli Ancient StreetJinli Ancient Street

If your layover is less than 5 hours, you are not recommended to leave the airport as it takes about 1½ hours to get from the airport to the city center and back.

Chengdu's airport has free Wi-Fi, restaurants, and duty-free shops so you will be fully entertained.

If You Have 6 Hours...

Six hours is enough time to get a real taste of Chengdu. Jinli Ancient Street is the best option, where you can have a relaxing walk and find various local snacks and all kinds of trinkets for sale.

If You Have 9 Hours...

The Giant Pandas

You might know that Chengdu is home to giant pandas. If it is your first time visiting Chengdu, you shouldn't miss the chance to see the adorable giant pandas.

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is the most accessible panda base from the airport. It takes about 1 hour to get there by taxi.

Scheduling a private panda tour is a great option to maximize your time. This will ensure that you spend your time enjoying the cute pandas rather than wasting time trying to navigate your way there.

Insider tips: We recommend you go early in the morning (no later than 8:30 am) when the pandas are most active. The main panda activity is seen during the feeding session at about 9 am. If you're there between late August and December, you will have the chance to see tiny newborns.

3-day Chengdu tour

If You Have 12 Hours...

In 12 hours in Chengdu, you have plenty of options of things to do. Depending on your preferences, whether you see pandas, enjoy authentic culture, art, or food, there are countless ways for you to discover the city.

For an in-depth experience with pandas: Should you wish for a more involved and intimate panda experience, we highly recommend joining the Panda Keeper Program at the Dujiangyan Panda Base if your time permits.

For local culture: If you want to experience Chengdu like a local, you can visit People's Park, which is a melting pot of Chengdu's local culture. You can see lots of local activities, sip a cup of tea in a local tea house and stop by the Matchmaking Corner. 

Chengdu foodChengdu hot pot

For local food: If you are a foodie, rather than just tasting a hot pot, an in-depth food tour with an escorted visit to a local market and a cooking class with a local family will be an eye-opener.

For local art: If you are interested in local art, don't miss the chance to see a Sichuan opera performance. Face-changing, acrobatics, and slapstick comedy all abound.

See the ultimate 13 things to do in Chengdu

Hotel Options for Your Layover

If you need to catch an early flight, many hotels are available in or around the airport. If you want to experience the nightlife in Chengdu, a hotel in the downtown area would be a good option.

See Where to Stay in Chengdu for detailed information. 

Here are some hotels we have carefully selected for our customers, for your reference:

  • Tibet Hotel Chengdu (4-star): central location, 10-minute walk from the shopping mall
  • Sofitel Chengdu Taihe (5-star): next to the Jin River, 15-minute walk from the commercial center
  • The Temple House (boutique): tucked away on an ancient temple site, with a blend of traditional and modern designs

Contact us for updated travel information

The Airport to the Downtown Area

Transfer from chengdu airport to downtownContact us for a private transfer from Chengdu airport to the downtown.

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) southwest of downtown Chengdu. Transport from the airport to downtown Chengdu is extremely convenient.

By metro: There is no direct metro line linking the airport and the city center. You need to take Line 10 and change to lines 3 and then 1, and get off at either Tianfu Square (天府广场) or Luoma Market (骡马市).

By airport bus or taxi: Airport bus 1 can take you directly to the city center at a cost of 10 yuan. A taxi should cost between 60 and 70 yuan, taking about half an hour. Be advised that the roads can get heavily congested during rush hours.

We highly recommend booking a transfer service in advance to save time and energy. Contact us for details.   

Our Popular Chengdu Layover Tours

3-day Chengdu tour

It consumes a lot of your time and energy when you travel independently in Chengdu. To maximize your stopover time, a private tour is an advisable option. 

Here are our popular layover tours: 

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