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How to Plan a Chengdu Tour

How to Plan a Chengdu Tour

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Jul. 20, 2023

Chengdu is a city of leisure. Its surrounding landscape is mostly flat and known as "the land flowing with milk and honey". There are so many places to visit in Chengdu: giant panda bases, the giant Buddha, the old streets... How can you make the best use of your time and enjoy a leisurely Chengdu tour? Read on to get some inspiration.

Best Time to Go

  • Best times: March–June and September–November
  • Hottest/wettest time: July and August is the peak of the monsoon season in Chengdu. Also, it's the summer holiday for Chinese students, so the popular attractions will be more crowded.
  • Winter time: December to February is quite cold in Chengdu, and not so pleasant for travel. However, it's nice for skiing on Xiling Snow Mountain or Bipenggou, and cheaper.
  • Crowded public holiday times: Avoid traveling during the first weeks of May and October.
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Giant pandas See giant pandas in Chengdu.

See Giant Pandas

There are three giant panda bases in and around Chengdu, and China Highlights recommends that you visit Dujiangyan Panda Base, as you can not only see the lovely giant pandas but also interact with them. Or you can visit Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center, if you just want to see the giant pandas.

If you plan to visit wild panda habitat, Wolong Panda Center is a good option. It is considered to be "the real hometown of wild pandas". It is less crowded because of its longer distance from Chengdu (around 3 hours by car).

If your main reason for coming to Chengdu is the pandas, see how to plan a panda tour and recommended panda tours.

Recommended tours:

Leshan Giant Buddha — Almost as Tall as the Statue of Liberty

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a huge statue carved out of the side of a mountain. It's about 71 meters (236 feet) high and 24 meters (79 feet) wide. It has a history of more than 1,000 years. It's the world's tallest and largest Buddha.

3-day Chengdu tour

Transportation: Take a bullet train from Chengdu to Leshan (1 h 10 min), and then take a 20-minute taxi ride to Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area. For a hassle-free tour that's flexible and comfortable, we more recommend our private transfers, which take about 2 hours. Send us a free inquiry for details.

Recommended Summer Destination — Mount Emei

Mount Emei

Mount Emei is one of the most popular summer destinations in China for its cooler weather and beautiful natural scenery. Also, it's well-known in China for its Buddhist culture. There is a golden Buddha on the top with a total height of 48 meters (157 feet). It's also a good place to see autumn leaves.

Transportation: From Leshan, it takes another 1 hour by car to reach Mount Emei.

Recommended tours:

Contact us for a private tour of Leshan and Mount Emei.

Recommended Winter Destination — Xiling Snow Mountain and Bipenggou


Xiling Snow Mountain, 2 hours by car from Chengdu, is the highest mountain in Chengdu. Its habitats are well-protected and you can see many wild animals, such as monkeys. You can enjoy hot springs at the foot of the mountain in winter, and ski at Xiling Snow Mountain Ski Resort (mainly for beginners). There's also a toboggan run, hot-air ballooning, and many winter sports.

Tips: Being one of the best resorts and the nearest big ski resort to Chengdu, Xiling Ski Resort has become more and more crowded during peak times like weekends and public holidays. Waiting in a queue for 1–2 hours in peak times is common. If you don't mind taking a 3-hour car ride from Chengdu, we recommend Bipenggou Ski Resort (mainly for beginners) for less crowding and its wonderful hot spring.

Recommended tours:

Eat Delicious Food

Sichuan hotpotSpicy Chengdu hotpot

Chengdu has many delicious foods, such as Sichuan hot pot, dumplings, wheat noodles, and clear noodles. Although most dishes are very spicy and oily, they are definitely highlights of Chengdu. There are many famous and authentic restaurants in the city center. If you are coming to Chengdu, don't forget to put the authentic local food on your menu.

Recommended tours:

Chengdu Has 3-Day Visa-Free Transit!

Chengdu is visa-free for visitors who hold a confirmed airline ticket and valid visa to a third country or region. As Chengdu has many direct international flights, you can get a connecting flight through Chengdu to explore "the panda's hometown".

Convenient International/Domestic Transportation to Chengdu

By Airplane


International and inter-regional flights include those from/to Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and so on.

There are also direct flights from/to major cities in China, including popular cities like Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Zhangjiajie, and so on.

Airport shuttle bus: The airport is 20 kilometers from the city center, which is around 35 minutes' drive. The shuttle bus fare is 8–10 yuan, and it leaves every 15 minutes.

By Train

There are trains running between Chengdu and the major cities of China, such as Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Kunming, Guangzhou, and Chongqing. Contact us for train travel to Chengdu.

By Taxi/Subway

Located about 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Chengdu city center on the Second Ring Road, a taxi takes about 15 minutes, depending on traffic. You can also take the subway from the train station to Tianfu Square (city center).

Where to Stay — from Inns to 5-Star Hotels


Chengdu is a provincial capital and a popular tourist city, so it is well endowed with a variety of hotels ranging from inns to 5-star hotels.

In Chunxi Road: There are famous old shops and delicious snack shops around this area. Located in the city center, it can be quite noisy to stay there, and the price is relatively higher than other places.

Near the Wide and Narrow Alleys: This is a must-visit place in Chengdu, which mostly has boutique hotels. The nightlife is colorful.

Near Wuhou Temple (Jinli area): This area is full of delicious food and you will enjoy staying there. It's relatively quiet, and you can wander to Sichuan University for a walk in the evening.

Recommended Chengdu Tour Arrangements

2–3 Days Arrangement: City Center and Giant Panda Base

Giant pandas

If you are taking a long tour of China and want to stop at Chengdu for a couple of days, you are recommended to visit the Panda Breeding and Research Center, Jinli Old Street, and Leshan Giant Buddha. Also, explore the nightlife of Chengdu and watch a Sichuan opera show, or enjoy some leisurely time in a teahouse.

4-Day Arrangement for Panda Lovers: Go Deeper to See Wild Giant Pandas

If you are a panda lover, don't hesitate to go to Wolong National Nature Reserve, a habitat for giant pandas. You are recommended to take part in the giant panda keeper program, to get closer to giant pandas.

5–7 Days Arrangement: Go Further to See Historical Sites and Natural Scenery


If you only visit Chengdu and want to spend a week there, besides the city center trip, you can go deeper and further to see the Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Emei, and even travel an extra mile to Jiuzhaigou Valley, Daocheng Yading, Hailougou, or Bipenggou. They are fairylands with charming natural scenery.

If you have more days for this tour, we suggest extending your trip from Chengdu to Shangri-la in Yunnan or journeying deeper into less-explored areas around Chengdu.

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