Chengdu is known for being the home of China's most famous creatures, the cute giant pandas.
Regarded as one of China's most livable cities, there is something for everyone in this thriving capital of Sichuan province. Here are some things you should know before you go...
1. Chengdu's home of the Giant Panda.
Chengdu is most famous for being the home of China's magnificent giant pandas.
Tourists both locally and internationally flock to the panda centers of Chengdu to view these unique creatures in their natural habitat.
There are four panda bases around Chengdu. If you want to see pandas only, Chengdu Panda Base near the city is right for you. If you want to join a panda volunteer program, Dujiangyan, Wolong and Bifengxiacan be your options.
Find details on the Top 4 Places to See Pandas.
2. The food is known for its spice!
If you ask anyone in China where to find the spiciest food, they will tell you in Sichuan.
Chengdu is famous for its spicy hot pot and many other mouth tingling dishes. This is because of the world famous Sichuan peppercorn that is grown in the region.
The spice gives a numbing feeling to all the dishes it is used in, which is a great favorite with the Chinese palate. It may take some getting used to at first, but the spicy food of Chengdu is a regional cuisine not to be missed.
3. Chengdu is one of the most leisurely cities in the world.
Chengdu is a city known for leisure and entertainment, and its people live a slow pace of life. It is the perfect place for elderly people to live easily.
In Chengdu, you will seldom see people who are in a hurry. You will mostly see people chatting, playing mahjong, and drinking tea.
Mahjong is one of the most important daily necessities for Chengdu’s locals. In summer, mahjong tables often stretch for hundreds of meters along the riverbank.
People's Park is the best place to experience the laid-back lifestyle in Chengdu.
Follow a local guide to experience Chengdu's unique laid-back culture.
4. Sichuan opera is a classical Chinese art form.
Chengdu is an excellent place to witness a performance of a traditional Sichuan Opera. Sichuan Opera is categorized by its circus-like elements.
Regular features in Sichuan Opera include acrobatics, fire spitting, and illusionists. The magical face changing in Sichuan opera is a celebrated tradition and part of one of oldest regional opera cultures.
This unique performance is practiced almost exclusively in Sichuan and the best masters of the art can be seen in Chengdu.
5. Ancient sites tell of China's religious and engineering developments.
Many of the ancient sites around Chengdu reflect the influence of Buddhism, as well as the agricultural history of the region.
Giant statues of the Buddha, such as the one in Leshan, show the enduring presence of Buddhism on the area.
Likewise, the structure and ancient sites of the city such as Dujiangyan Irrigation Project, Jinsha Ruins reflect its history as an important seat of culture and agriculture.
6. Chengdu is the birthplace of the Chinese tea culture.
China's tea culture originated in Chengdu. The earliest tea trade was in Chengdu, dating back more than 3,000 years.
Chengdu has more teahouses than any other city in the world. It is said that people in Chengdu can drink the equivalent of up to seven Hangzhou West Lakes (6.38square kilometers) of tea every year.
Follow our local guide to discover the relaxing teahouse culture by learning tea etiquette.
7. Chengdu locals speak a different dialect of Mandarin.
In many parts of China, the language being spoken differs from the standard set in Beijing.
Provincial dialects are often difficult to understand and differentiate between, even for native speakers.
In the Sichuan province this dialect is known as Sichuanese.
Learning to pronounce key phrases in this specific dialect will help you to navigate your travels with ease. While many locals may also speak and understand the standard Beijing dialect, it is helpful to learn a bit of the local style. With a little practice, you will be able to impress all that you meet with your local accent
8. Chengdu has the biggest building in the world!
The New Century Global Center is about twice the size of both the previous mall record holder in Dubai and the biggest mall in Guangdong called the New South China Mall. It is designed to be a self-contained town.
It's 99 meters (325 feet), 18 floors high, and a colossal 1.5 million square meters (16 million square feet) in area. Built in 2013, it contains a water park, IMAX theater, and 2 hotels with 1,000 rooms, as well as many, many shops.
9. You should visit in fall for the best experience.
Visiting Chengdu in the summer is a popular trip for local Chinese tourists, which often means sites will be crowded as well as hot. The temperatures in Chengdu often resemble the spice of its food - sweltering!
Visiting in the fall ensures you avoid the sweltering summers, gloomy winters, and the rainy season from spring to summer. Fall provides cool temperatures and easier transportation for visitors looking to see the most Chengdu has to offer. (Just avoid the National Day and Mid-Autumn holidays.)
September to November offers the peak in optimal weather for visitors looking to explore in comfort. Learn more about the weather and climate of Chengdu before planning your own experience.
10. Chengdu's name hasn't changed for over 2,000 years.
Chengdu is an ancient city with a history of more than 3,100 years. The name hasn't changed for more than 2,000 years, which is a wonder in the history of Chinese cities.
Beijing had different names in different dynasties -perhaps more than 20 names.
Our Popular Chengdu Tours
Let China Highlights plan a unique Chengdu experience for you today. Choose from one of our pre-designed trips, which feature the best Chengdu has to offer. Or try out a custom tour designed specifically with you in mind.
Here are some Chengdu itineraries for your reference (all of them can be customized):