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How to Plan a Chengdu Trip (Tips for a Perfect Tour)

Still wonder how you can make the best use of your time and enjoy a leisurely Chengdu tour?

Read on to get some inspiration.

Top Things to Do

Giant PandasThe lovely giant pandas

Don't know what to do in Chengdu apart from seeing giant pandas?

Be sure to spend some time experiencing its laid-back pace and diverse cultural scenes as well as its food. Here are some things that you just can't miss on your trip.

1. Visit Giant Pandas and Join a Panda Keeper Program

There are four giant panda bases in and around Chengdu. Which one should you go to?

If you just want to see some giant pandas, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a good option.

If you would like to get up close and personal with pandas, Dujiangyan Panda Base provides a one-day panda volunteer program to take care of pandas. You will experience activities that include making panda cakes, feeding pandas, and cleaning their houses.

If you are a big panda fan, Wolong and Bifengxia panda bases will impress you with more in-depth experience. See details on the Top 4 Places to See Giant Pandas in China.

If your main reason for visiting Chengdu is the pandas, see how to plan a panda tour.

2. Take Side Trips to the Leshan Giant Buddha

The Giant BuddhaThe Giant Buddha

If your time permits, don't forget to take some side trips to the Leshan Giant Buddha, which are about 2 hours away by car and 1.5 hours by high-speed train and then by bus from Chengdu.

The Leshan Giant Buddha is the world's tallest and largest Buddha, which is almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

Your experience will be much better if you travel with a local guide in a private car. You can save time on transportation and queuing for tickets.  

3. Wander Around the Ancient Streets

Jinli Ancient StreetJinli Ancient Street

After a day's sightseeing, it is nice to have a leisurely walk around an ancient street in Chengdu. Jinli AncientStreet and Kuanzhai Alley are the best places to go to. Both of them show an appreciation for ancient times and the small alleys are filled with shops and eateries.

They are similar but not the same. We recommended you go to Kuanzhai Alley in the daytime and to Jinli Ancient Street at night because the lanterns in the evening are very beautiful.

4. Take in the Natural Scenery in Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong

JiuzhaigouJiuzhaigou

If you are a nature lover, you should not miss Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong. It takes about an hour to fly there from Chengdu. Spend two days appreciating the picturesque natural scenery with clear alpine lakes, overlapping waterfalls, colorful forests, snowcapped mountains, Tibetan customs, and blue ice.

5. Visit Temples and Museums

If you want to step back in time and gain an insight into Chengdu's culture, you can visit: Wenshu Monastery, Wuhou Memorial Temple, Jinsha Site Museum, and Sichuan Cuisine Museum. 

Get more ideas from the Top 13 Things to Do in Chengdu.

How Long to Stay For

Unlike the big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, Chengdu has a laid-back pace so you can enjoy it at a slow pace.

You can choose to have a short tour (2–3 days) to cover a panda base and the city highlights or enjoy an in-depth tour (5–7 days) to visit nearby attractions as well.

2–3 Days: City Center and Giant Panda Base

Join in a panda keeper program in DujiangyanOur guests enjoyed their day to ioin in a panda keeper program in Dujiangyan.

If you are taking a long China trip and want to stop in Chengdu for a couple of days, you are recommended to visit Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Jinli AncientStreet, and some museums in the city center.

Also, explore the nightlife of Chengdu and watch a Sichuan opera show, or enjoy some leisurely time in a teahouse.

Here is a sample itinerary for your reference:

  • Day 1: City highlights: Jinsha Site Museum, Wenshu Monastery, Jinli Ancient Street
  • Day 2: Panda Keeper Program at Dujiangyan Panda Base

Click to see the detailed itinerary and price.

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

the Giant BuddhaOur guests are taking photos with the Giant Buddha.

If you only visit Chengdu and want to spend a week there, besides the city center trip, you can go further afield to see the Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Emei, and even travel an extra mile to Jiuzhai Valley, which is like a fairyland with its charming natural scenery.

Here is a sample tour for your reference:

  • Day 1: City highlights: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Jinli Ancient Street
  • Day 2: The Leshan Giant Buddha
  • Day 3: Mount Emei
  • Day 4: Fly from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong sightseeing
  • Day 5: Jiuzhaigou
  • Day 6: Departure from Jiuzhaigou

Click to see the detailed itinerary and photos.

If you meet the requirements of the visa-free transit policy, you may stay in Chengdu for 6 days without a visa. See details about the144-hour visa-free policy.

Looking for a More Authentic Experience?

Take care of red pandas.Our guests are feeding red pandas.

Unlike other travel agencies, who only sell fixed Chengdu tour itineraries, we create unique experiences. Our tours are typically private and tailor-made to your travel style. Let’s create your Chengdu tour.

To enrich your experience in Chengdu, we have created some unique and authentic experiences, which come from our deep understanding of the city and aim to show you the real Chengdu.

Here are some of them:

  • Have a secret nighttime date with pandas and take care of red pandas. 
  • Discover the relaxing tea house culture by learning tea etiquette.
  • Visit a local farmer market and try to cook Sichuan dish in a local family. 
  • Visit an off the beaten track town and make a clay Buddha with local artisans.

Just let us know your interests and requirements, and we will design a tour that’s suitable for you.

Best Times to Go

JiuzhaigouJiuzhaigou in autumn

Best times: March–June and September–November, when the weather is sunny and mild, crowds are manageable. 

Winters (December to February) are quite cold in Chengdu. However, the low travel season is regarded as a good time to visit if you prefer a quieter experience. It's also nice to go skiing on Xiling Snow Mountain. 

The busiest times in Chengdu are during the Chinese summer holiday (July and August) and the first weeks of May and October— expect crowds and the demand for accommodation to increase during these periods. Book in advance. 

It is difficult, or impossible, to avoid the crowds during these peak periods if you don’t have help from a local travel expert who knows the times/routes that have fewer people. Otherwise, a frustrating experience, such as having to wait for 2 hours but only seeing giant pandas for 10 seconds, is quite likely to happen.

How to Get There and Get Around

Get to Chengdu

International and interregional flights include those from/to Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, the US, the UK, Australia, and so on.

If you're already in China, the city is well-connected by flights and high-speed trains, and you can conveniently get there from Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing, among other cities.

Get Around

If you want to explore the giant panda bases from the city center, you will need to rent a car. The best way is to book a private tour with a private car and a guide. 

If you are traveling to nearby cities in Sichuan, you can consider traveling by high-speed train or flight. It takes about 1hour to reach the Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei by high-speed train and 1hour to reach Jiuzhaigou by air.

Where to Stay: the 4 Main Areas

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

Kuanzhai AlleyThe Wide and Narrow Alleys

In Chunxi Road: There are famous old shops and snack shops around this area. Located in the city center, there is plenty of choice for hotels. However, it can be noisy and the prices are relatively higher than in other places.

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

Near Jinli Ancient Street: This area is full of delicious food and you will enjoy staying there. It's relatively quiet and you can wander to Jinli Ancient Street for a walk in the evening.

Near Wenshu Monastery: If you are looking to escape the noise of the city and to enjoy some of the truly old culture of Chengdu, this area should be right for you.

If you travel with us, our traveler experts will give you suggestions on where is the best hotel according to your requirements.

What to Eat in Chengdu

hot pot2Chengdu hot pot

When thinking about food in Chengdu, one dish probably comes to mind: hot pot. This isn't just any hot pot—in Chengdu, going out for a hot pot is an entire social event centered on sharing food and enjoying good conversation with friends.

Whether or not you can eat spicy food, you should not miss it because it represents the city's vibrant community.

You really can't leave Chengdu without partaking in the local specialties. That includes dandan noodles, mapo tofu, and Kung Pao chicken.

Jinli AncientStreet and Kuanzhai Alley are always a hit and, while you're there, be sure to stop by one of their great food stalls or restaurants.

Teahouses are also popular in the city and you'll find quite a few to relax in for the afternoon.

For an in-depth experience, follow our local guide to step into an experienced chef's kitchen and learn to cook real Sichuan cuisine.

Discover Chengdu with Us

Enjoy a chengdu panda tour with us.Enjoy a private Chengdu panda tour with us.

The best way to visit Chengdu is not by traveling from attraction A to B but to go deeper to explore the lifestyle there. A private tour with a professional local guide allows you to explore it at your own pace and uncover the real Chengdu.

If you want to enjoy a hassle-free and in-depth tour in Chengdu, just tell us your interests and requirements, and leave the rest to us.

Here are some sample itineraries for inspiration: