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Expect to soak in the both history and beauty at Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage. Du Fu, who lived from 712-770 AD during the Tang Dynasty, is one of China’s most famous poets!
Du Fu left home at the age of 20, and later he became a court official at the Tang Dynasty capital of Chang'an (near Xi'an). Du Fu's civil service duties did not last long however, as he forced to flee during the An Lushan Rebellion.
Du Fu experienced many difficulties during his life. He lived during turbulent times, and experienced war, separation from his family, cold, and hunger. These are all reflected in his writing. It was in Chengdu, in his small and simple hut, that Du Fu was inspired to write more than 200 poems. These poems are regarded today as masterpieces of realist poetry.
The Du Fu thatched cottage memorial is located in a 24 acre (97,000 square meter) park by the side of a stream called the Huanhua in Chengdu’s western suburbs. The memorial originated as a temple dedicated to Du Fu that was built about a thousand years ago during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
In the center of the park sits what is suspected to be the remains of Du Fu’s original cottage. The park also contains various other ancient structures, surrounded by a large, beautiful garden.
The site is shaped roughly like an oval, with plenty of winding paths and beautiful gardens to get lost in!
The first buildings you’ll encounter are the Exhibition Room and the Hall of Odes. These contain photos and signatures of visiting celebrities, including Mao Zedong, and the works of other famous poets. (As a side note, you’ll enjoy the poems better if you bring a Chinese tour guide or friend to translate for you! Unfortunately, they have not been translated into English.)
Head back out and past the Cultural and Creative Hall (i.e. souvenirs and books for sale) to the Flowery Path.
Anywhere you see Chinese tourists pausing for a picture is a good place for you to take one too!
There are multiple exits off the path, but take one of the entrances on your right towards the Thatched Cottage Scenic Area.
Meander past pools and koi fish towards the back.
As you look ahead, you’ll see Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage. It’s a beautiful structure, restored to look like you’ve stepped back in time into the 700s.
Once you’ve enjoyed the cottage, you may wish to pause for a few minutes to sip some Chinese tea and enjoy the sunshine. You’ll find a small building with tea for sale at 98 RMB for two people, or for 50 RMB per “jin” (about 1.1 lb) if you prefer to take it home to make yourself.
Or skip the tea, and enjoy the shade of a nearby pagoda.
You may also want to pause for a few minutes to enjoy the Orchid Garden, or ask a Chinese friend to help you read the Du Fu Poem Steles. (Our expert tour guides come in handy to get the most out of historic sites like Du Fu's Thatched Cottage.)
When you’ve finished looking around, you can head back to the main path and curve around towards the Pagoda of the Buddhas. This pagoda has been rebuilt on top of the foundations of the Pagoda of Buddhas in the Thatched Cottage Temple, which date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). You can see the ancient stone plinths through glass covers on the floor. On the upper levels, you can see old pieces of pottery and roofing, as well as look out over the park.
When you’ve finished up at the Pagoda of the Buddhas, the path will take you back to the South Gate.
While three hours is recommended, if you have more time and enjoy the quiet away from the city, you could easily spend longer here! From statues, to poems, to bamboo groves, to winding brooks and small bridges — the Du Fu Thatched Cottage park is like a breath of fresh air. Additionally, there are plenty of auxiliary buildings not even listed on the map.
While in Chengdu, you may also consider visiting these historic sites:
Or if you're looking for more great parks, check out some of the top parks of Chengdu.
If you want to join your footsteps to millennia of men and women walking the streets of Chengdu, consider the following popular tours for inspiration: