China Travel Guide
Chengdu Travel Guide & Tours Information
Chengdu located in southwest People's Republic of China, is the capital of Sichuan province and a sub-provincial city. Chengdu is also one of the most important economic centers, transportation and communication hubs in Southwestern China. According to the 2007 Public Appraisal for Best Chinese Cities for Investment, Chengdu was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in out of a total of 280 urban centers in China.
More than four thousand years ago, the prehistorical Bronze Age culture of Jinsha established itself in this region. The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is called Tianfuzhi guo in Chinese, which literally means "the country of heaven", or more often seen translated as "the Land of Abundance". It was recently named China's 4th-most livable city by China Daily.
Chengdu is located on the edge of the fertile plains of the Red Basin in China's Sichuan Province. Due to its agricultural wealth, Chengdu is sometimes called the "Land of Milk and Honey". The Funan river bisects the city, although boat traffic, common until the 1960's, has all but vanished.
The greater city area is divided into five districts and 12 counties, altogether home to more than 9.2 million people. Chengdu has the reputation as a very "laid-back" city that emphasizes culture and relaxation and as a result of this and much green space is ranked one of the most livable mega-cities in China. It is credited with a good nightlife scene and contains many new western style buildings in the large city center.
Summer weather is hot and humid, as the city is surrounded by small mountains to the east and sits in the Red Basin. Furthermore, to the west lie the foothills of the mighty Tibetan Plateau and the fabulously scenic mountains of west Sichuan.
The city's most touted sites are the many temples and historical sites, however most are modern re-constructions of moderate interest and with extremely high entrance fees. Though Sichuan's other sites may be of greater interest, Chengdu is a nice city to fly into and stay a few days before exploring further into Sichuan.
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The airport is located 20 km outside of Chengdu center. Chengdu airport is one of the main air hubs in China, ranked 5th in passenger volume. It has flights to most major cities in China and some international destinations including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Osaka, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It serves flights to smaller cities within Sichuan Province, including the popular tourist destination of Jiuzhaigou.
Taxi fare from the airport to the city center averages ¥45. There is no extra charge for luggage or additional passengers. Going from the city to the airport, add an additional ¥10 to cover the toll on the Airport Expressway. There is also bus 303, which will take you to the Air China airline office on Renmin Nanlu (2. Section) next to the entrance of the Minshan Hotel (there is no bus stop! just look for a bunch of taxis/pedicabs, since they are also waiting for the bus. You are right in the center of the city and it costs ¥10. The last bus leaves the airport around 1AM.
If you intend to take a taxi, be sure to turn LEFT when you exit the domestic arrival area toward the taxi stand and get in a marked, green-and-yellow or blue-and-yellow taxi. Turning right may lead you towards no-goods who are waiting to prey on foreign tourists with unmarked vehicles. Beware as these people sometimes sport official-looking ID, but is in reality fake. The fare offered will often exceed ¥100, and if you bargain with them, you may find yourself sitting in the cab for a while until agreeing to raise the price back up.
Frequent buses also leave for Chongqing, which is the beginning of many cruises down the Yangtze. These tours are available around town in Chengdu, and include transport to Chongqing, about three or four hours away. Train connections are available to Kunming in Yunnan, Chongqing and Xi'an..
There are three bus stations in Chengdu, and they serve different destinations.
- Chádiànzi, ☎ +86 28 8750 6610.
- Xīnnánmén, ☎ +86 28 8543 3609.
Chengdu does not have a raised highway system or a subway system, and consequently rush hour traffic can be hellish. Plan your itinerary around not having to be on the road during these hours.
- Chengdu has an extensive system of city buses plying the streets. At each bus stop, there is a list of the bus lines coming through on this road, and on some city maps the whole network is displayed. However, the bus lines and maps only use Chinese characters, and even if the bus announces the station, it will usually only be in Chinese. Tickets are ¥1 for common and ¥2 for air-conditioned buses. After 10PM, tickets are ¥2 for common and ¥3 for air-conditioned buses.
- Taxis are equipped with meters, which should be used, although they can be difficult to find. A free taxi will display an illuminated sign with Chinese characters in its dashboard. Taxi fare is ¥5 on flagfall for the older taxis ¥7 for the new ones, and and increase at ¥1.4 per km (for the first 7 kilometres - after that, it's ¥2.1 per km). At night, the fare is ¥7 on flag fall and increase at ¥1.6 per km. The meter records fares in increments of ¥1. Try to have small change on hand for taxi rides. Taxis can be extremely difficult to find, particularly during rush hour or when it is raining.
- There are still some motorized bicycle-propelled pedicabs called san lun che which can take you moderate distances. Fix a price (¥4-10) in advance. The passengers ride behind the driver. The ride is fun, but san lun che are being phased out and are forbidden cross or ride on certain streets, and may be gone altogether soon. Originally, all of these pedicabs were powered by a 2-stroke engine; lately, most have been replaced by electric ones.
- Most guest houses have bicycles for hire. Check for technical problems before starting out unless you want to be held responsible for it later. If you leave your bicycle, do so in one of the designated "bicycle parks", where it will be guarded over for a small fee. If you can not find such a place, be sure to lock it securely against some structure.
- A subway system is under construction. The first line is slated to open in 2010. It will start at Tianfu Square and extend southward down Renmin South Road. The second line is also under construction and will travel to the East (roughly along Jing Dong Road). It is hoped to be complete in 2015.
- Tianfu Square. This square, overlooked by an enormous Chairman Mao statue in the center of the city, has been spruced up. Every evening at dusk, as well as at noontime, an elaborate water show, synchronized to music, bursts out from the square's fountains. Below the square will be shopping and the future hub of Chengdu's subway system.
- Sichuan Science and Technology Museum, (Take a taxi or bus to Tianfu Square and walk to the large building directly behind the Chairman Mao statue). This huge four-storey museum is filled with interactive exhibits about science, aerodynamics, space, mathematics, robotics and physics. Children will love the interactive displays and indoor playground on the 4th floor. Adults will appreciate the descriptions in both English and Chinese. Everyone will love the crowd-pleasers like the robotic orchestra and walk-through maps of Sichuan's waterways. During weekdays this museum can either be overrun by local school groups or be so deserted it's almost creepy. Closed on Mondays. Overall, quite good value for money, especially on a rainy day. ¥30 per adult, free for children.
- Chengdu Zoo, (In the north of the city near the Panda Research Base). Offers all the typical animals that one might expect in a zoo (elephant, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, as well as panda bears). While the zoo itself is large and spread out, some of the cages are woefully small and the facility seems understaffed. Might be good for a family to visit. The zoo has vendors selling Chinese snacks as well as some carnival type rides. ¥12 per adult.
- Sichuan University Museum, Wangjiang Road (About a 15 minute ride from Xinnanmen bus station or a 40 minute walk), ☎ +86 028 85412313. 9AM-5PM. Excellent display of local artifacts and is worth while way of spending an hour or two. The museum is one of the better in China and there are four floors of well lite, air conditioned displays with decent English translations. Starting in the basement, enter the first room where dozens of stone carvings dating from the Han dynasty to the Tang are on display. The room next door has a moderately interesting display on the museum's history and numerous examples of ancient bronzes and stone age artifacts. The first floor is mostly artifacts from the Ming and Qing dynasty, including furniture, silk clothing, and an interesting display of leather puppets. The second floor has the perhaps the most engaging display: artifacts and daily use items from ethnic minority groups in China's southwest, including Tibetans, Miao, Yi, Qiang, Jianpo and Naxi. The third floor has a decent display of calligraphy scrolls, paintings, and ceramics. The museum is currently closed after the city changed the location of several universities. Plans are pending for a new museum to be built. ¥30 (students ¥10).
- Sichuan Opera. Most guest houses and travel agencies offer to arrange visits to these traditional shows. It is more like a burlesque cabaret than an actual opera, sometimes including magicians, traditional musicians, shadow plays, comedy (spoken in Chinese though), and dancers besides the traditional pieces. Of course the most famous is never omitted: quick face-changing and fire spitting performed by dancers clad in colourful traditional costumes. You will follow the story sitting at your table, sipping on your constantly refilled tea cup and nibbling some salted snacks. Note that there are many teahouses in the city that offer the show every night. Try the local favorite at Shu Feng Ya Yun teahouse located in Chengdu Culture Park (文化公园) on Qintai Road (it is beside Qingyang Temple). You will be seated on a covered open ground (cooled by fan; no A/C), which is actually the center of the traditional teahouse building. You might have to book in advance or just ask the concierge of your hotel to book it for you. ¥150 for back rows; ¥220 for front rows.
- Jinli Ancient Street. This neighborhood is part of the old city of Chengdu; it features hotels and small stores in old-fashioned style. Antiques are sold in a variety of different stores. It is very popular among both tourists and locals, especially at night, with many bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. You will find a lot of famous local snack food over there, prices ¥1-10. Restaurants and bars in Jin Li are more expensive than outside. There are also antique hotels in there. Some consider Jin Li is to be tourist trap, which is partly true. However, this 'new old street' offers regional and fairly affordable street food specialties as well and can be combined with a visit to the Wuhouci Temple (entry fee 60 yuan, unless you are the holder of a Panda Card). Don't forget to take your camera.
- Jinsha Excavation Site. Recently discovered site featuring various tools and art pieces from around 3,000 years ago. The amount of unearthed items is just massive. They include pottery, blades, jade items, building foundations and various golden art pieces. There are two main buildings: the hall constructed over the centre of the excavation site and the modern exhibition hall with various artifacts on display. Entry: a rather steep 80 yuan (adults).
- Wenshu Temple, 15 Wenshuyuan Street, (Off Renmin Zhong Road). This Tang Dynasty Buddhist temple is the most impressive, and perhaps also the most used, temple in Chengdu. It is dedicated to the Buddhist representation of Wisdom, Wenshu Pusa (Manjusri Bodhisatva), and contains more than 450 Buddha statues and other precious relics. In addition to the halls and gardens, the temple also has a charming tea house that offers an insightful window of Chengdu life as it is frequented by locals who engage in games of chess, reading, knitting and just chatting with family and friends. The temple also has a delightful vegetarian restaurant with seats offering views over the gardens. Entry fee is a steal at only 5 yuan.
- Qingyang Temple, 9 Xierduan, Ring Road One. This Taoist temple is the oldest and biggest of its kind in the area, located in the west of downtown. A large and still-active temple that takes into consideration Taoist philosophy in its construction, and with both a park next door and a number of relaxed courtyards inside. While it has a long history, the buildings are modern, cheaply-made concrete constructions, and it quite frequently shows. The statues inside are also cheap modern constructions of no real interest. A teahouse and a vegetarian restaurant can be found within the temple complex. ¥10.
- Happy Valley. Great amusement park with roller coasters and water park.
- Floraland, (Expect an expensive taxi ride out to the suburbs, or take one of the buses that will guide you to the park). The park includes a moderate selection of rides (water, relaxing and thrill), and various recreation activities. Weekends can get packed, so try to go during a weekday. ¥60.
- Panda Research Base, (By taxi it is about ¥30 from downtown Chengdu. By bus you catch a northbound bus 1 (¥1 or ¥2 depending on type of bus) and stay with it until the local bus-terminal (Zhaojuesi), leave the local bus-terminal through the exit leading to the long distance-terminal (LDT) but do not enter the latter, instead wait for the suburban public bus 532 or 107 to come by and stop at the left corner of the LDT. Alternatively, you can go in the local bus-terminal and take bus 198, which begins inside the local bus-terminal, for another ¥1 it will take you to the center within 20 minutes, get off when you see a big white panda statue in the middle of the street), ☎ +86 28 83510033. This is the biggest facility of this kind in the world. Due to habitat destruction and other reasons, the giant panda is maybe the most famous endangered animal. It is home to some 60 giant pandas, but also has some red pandas and a colony of black-necked cranes. Views of the pandas from much closer than is possible at many Western zoos. Also a small museum and a cinema screening related documentaries. A restaurant and souvenir-stalls top off the tourist installations. The best time to visit is in the morning, when pandas are most active. It is possible to take your picture while holding a red panda for ¥50; occasionally during the morning you can take a pictures alongside a giant panda for a fee of ¥1100. Knowledgeable English-speaking tour guides can be hired at the office by the base entrance. The cost for a guide for a small group is ¥100. Entrance is ¥60, or if you get the panda card (shengmao card), which was designed to restore tourism in ''Sichuan'' after the earthquake, for ¥1 you get in for free here and a number of other sites until 31 December 2009. However, this promotion officially ended on the 15th October, so you may have to search around town to find a place with cards left.
For up-to-date information on activities, places and attractions you should check out the CHENGDOO citylife magazine's listings. You will find copies in most bars, restaurants, cafes, hostels and hotels.
- Chunxi Road. Take an afternoon or evening to walk down this shopping street, located in the center of the city. Makes for a good change of pace. Various clothing stores, bookstores, restaurants, arcades, and cinemas. Good place to find something to eat; including a hotpot buffet, Japanese restaurants, Western food, and much more. However, the major disadvantage with this area is that each brand has many stores in this location (similar to other parts of China). For instance, Nike, Adidas, and Li-Ning, each have about 4-5 stores in Chunxi Road alone which reduces the variety of things to buy. If you are looking for stores in the same vein as Louis Vuitton and Ermenegildo Zegna, these stores are located outside of the Chunxi Road area and near the Tianfu Square district.
- KTV, various locations. Spend an evening singing with friends, enjoy popcorn, beer and other refreshments. Songs available in English, Chinese, and more.
- Foot and body Massage. Chengdu is famous for its relaxed and laid back lifestyle. Foot and body massage is very popular in Chengdu with a lot of varieties. Generally, these places cater to groups of people who come in together, relax in a private room, perhaps eating fruit, pig ear, or sipping tea, while receiving a fully-clothed massage or foot washing. Prices are very reasonable, often well under ¥80 per person. Some places offer ¥25 per hour for a very nice foot massage, including washing, soaking and massaging feet, free hot/cold drink (tea, coke or juice), fresh fruit. A great way to relax with friends.
- Read a Book. The Chengdu Bookworm (see listing in the Eat Section) has a membership-based lending library of English language books, as well as travel guides for sale. Peter's Tex Mex, as well as some of the other restaurants that cater to foreigners, have book exchanges.
- Play Weiqi (the game of Go). As a symbol of Chinese culture from ancient China ,Weiqi is One of the world’s great strategy games ,A few simple rules lead to limitless possibilities .With a huge popularity in the city,Weiqi City is one of Chengdu 's nicknames.Chengdu Weiqi Classroom is the only place where foreigners can study this game with english speaking help.
- Cosmetics and Hair. Local woman love to get their nails and hair done at the mall. You can get your nails done beautifully (filed, buffered, polished and hand painted with beautiful patent) between ¥10-20 at most shopping centre. There are quite a few very popular ones located on the ground floor of Beijing Hualian in Yanshikou. You can also get your hair temporarily straighten or curled at ¥10-15. They do very nice style and it will last until you wash your hair.
The following universities accept foreign students with the proper visa:
- Sichuan University
- Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
- Sichuan Normal University
- Southwest University for Nationalities
- Those interested in ongoing, private classes in the Chinese language can hire a experienced teacher for ¥40-¥85 per hour. Ask for a referral at one of the universities, or from another student. Textbooks for learning Chinese are available at many local bookshops.
- Antiquities Market, (Close to the Green Ram Taoist Temple in the western city, from the temple walk straight west, it is on your right hand side after you crossed the bridge over the channel). Big market with communist relics, old porcelain dishes, jewellery, calligraphy equipment and also some Tibetan stuff. Great bargains can be found here if you are into antiques, jewellery, and gifts.
- Pandas. All sorts of plush pandas, and other panda trinkets, are sold at the gate of the panda base, as well as ones of a slightly higher quality at the shop inside the panda base itself. Supermarkets are located throughout the city, although the selection of imported foods is limited.
- Sabrina's Country Store, 54 Kehua North Road (Across from the western gate of Sichuan University and near Linshiguan Road), ☎ 8524 2987. If you must buy American food, and do not mind a 50% premium over US prices, this has friendly service and all imported products.
Sichuan being the most known Chinese food style within China, you will find no shortage of delicious Sichuan food in Chengdu. Most of the food is quite spicy, be sure to order non spicy, little spicy food or very spicy. If you are not accustomed to it yet, a bottle of soy milk or milk will work much better than water to quell the fire. If you are used to authentic Indian or Thai food, the level of spiciness in Sichuan food should be no problem at all. However, Sichuan food also makes heavy use of Sichuan pepper, which looks like but is not a true peppercorn, and causes your mouth to become somewhat numb. Sichuan pepper is added in most spicy dishes. If you can eat spicy food but do not like Sichuan pepper, you need to order so. However, Sichuan pepper (in addition to causing numbing) has an important citrusy taste that it adds to foods and authentic Sichuan tastes bank on the play between the flavours of both Sichuan pepper and chili peppers, and it is strongly recommend you at least try the authentic versions with the Sichuan pepper before deciding for yourself.
The spiciest food in Chengdu is hotpot (also called steampot), although the tradition originated in Chongqing, so it is not really Chengdu food. Sichuan hotpots are basically a big pot of soup and spices simmering in a hole in the middle of your table. Patrons choose from a large selection of meats, vegetables and other add-ins. Most popular include: lamb, mushrooms, beef, tofu, quail eggs, potatoes, kuail eggs and many many others (pork, green vegetables, fish balls, carrots, and even pig's brain!) You can choose spicy pot or non spicy pot. With spicy hot pots, unlike eastern hot pots, the soup is NOT for drinking; instead, fish out your cooked items with chopsticks (do not fish the liquid out with a spoon, it is too spicy even for locals to drink; the fished out vegetables will be spicy enough), dip them in the small bowl of oil provided to each person, and enjoy.
There are also a lot of weird local snack type of food, such as spicy dragon prawns, spicy snails, Chongqing duck neck, Bangbang chicken, spicy rabbit meat. These ones are so delicious and you must try them. But you need to ask a local to take you to the right place. Quite often you will find that the small restaurants and shops offer the most delicious and cheapest food. If you want to find even cheaper food options, street venders are the way to go. Serving everything from barbeque to steamed breadrolls, they are a cheap and offer a great option for a quick bite to eat.
There are a number of stalls and hole in the wall type places all over town. Food here is dirt cheap, expect to pay no more than ¥8 for a meal, and the quality is good. Things to be on the lookout for are spicy bowls of breakfast noodles, double cooked pork, and dozens of dishes coated in "mala" the Sichuan chili spice famous the world over.
- Yulinchuanchuanxiang, Various locations throughout the city. Cheap and fast hotpot variety. This is a help-yourself style meal, go to a backroom and choose your own kabobs. Stick the kabobs into a hotpot soup, and have them boil. Pull them out and enjoy. Large kabobs are ¥1, and small ones are ¥0.1 each. Expect to be full for less than ¥25. There are both spicy and non-spicy variations. There is a large selection of meats, vegetables, and other add-ins. Beer is available in large bottles and sweet soymilk (Dounai) is also served.
- Lanzhou Lamian, Located everywhere. A bowl of noodles starts for about ¥4, and reach a maximum of ¥7. Varieties include egg, lamb and beef. Other dishes are reasonable in price as well. Breads for 1 kuai a piece, and Mutton Kabobs go for 1 kuai per stick. Da Pan Ji is a great choice if eating with a group. Usually offered in small or large sizes, a small size will cost about ¥40 and feed 3 or 4 people. A large order might cost about ¥60. This dish includes chicken, potatoes, onions and other vegetables in a moderately spicy sauce. Can eat with bread or noodles to make a great meal.
- Steamed buns. Sold for breakfast or lunch from street vendors throughout the city. Yacai bao is a local Sichuan special variety you are unlikely to find elsewhere and typically contains some mixture of Yacai, a type of preserved vegetable, and potentially some meat. Other typical fillings include beef, red bean paste, mushrooms, green vegetables or pork. Three buns cost around ¥1 or larger buns cost ¥1 each as well. A container of soy milk is about the same price.
- Wenshu Temple Vegetarian Restaurant, 15 Wenshu Street, ☎ ''+8 28'' 693-870. In the grounds of a monastery and run by monks. Offers a huge selection of traditional vegetarian dishes, including some containing imitated meat.
- Hokkaido Japanese Restaurant, Various locations throughout the city (Locations include Chunxi Road , Yulin South Road, outside of Sichuan University (Near Cafe Paname), and more). Authentic Japanese food. Serves curry, tonkatsu, unagi-don, fried rices, sushi, ramen noodles, and various other selections. Serves Chinese and Japanese beers, as well as a selection of plum wine and sake. Meals range from ¥20 upwards, expect a plate of sushi to be quite a bit more expensive, but sides are generally decent priced.
- Chen Mapo, 208 Shuanglin Road,Supposedly opened by the Mapo herself in 1862. The place to eat Mapo Doufu, it does not get any more authentic than this. Spicy food eaters will love this, those who do not like spicy food should probably skip it altogether.
Veranda Bridge Restaurant. This restaurant is actually a historic bridge over Fulan River. Sichuan food. Very good reputation within Chengdu. Expect to pay at least US$10 per person for food, drinks additional.
- Huang Cheng Lao Ma, (On 3rd section of south part of the 2nd Ring Road), ☎ +86 28 85139999, Elaborate restaurant featuring hot pot followed by live entertainment, including Sichuan face-changing. Don't miss the diorama scene of ancient Chengdu built into the restaurant lobby's floor. A separate section on the ground floor of the restaurant also features a pan-Asian buffet with contemporary entertainment. Child care is available on premises. Prices are in the range of RMB100 per person for dinner and one drink.
Chengdu has a few local Western restaurants. Service is always friendly, although you should expect occasional mistakes, such as appetizers served at the same time as your meal. Chengdu is just starting to get accustomed to Western tastes.
- Chengdu Bookworm, 28 Renmin South Road, Has something for everyone. It is an English language lending library, a Western restaurant, a bar, as well as an occasional venue for local singing and musical talent. Expats might want to join the membership library or take kids to the children's morning story hours. Evenings, you might find a travel author reading from and signing books, poetry reading, or singing. Great place for to connect with others, catch up on some reading, or just relax.
- Grandma's Kitchen. Western restaurant with four locations around Chengdu, including one next door to Peter's on Zhong Hua Yuan.
- Peter's Tex-Mex, ☎ +86 28 85180903. Actually an American restaurant with some Mexican dishes. Peter's has good food. The Zhong Hua Yuan location also has homemade ice cream, the best ice cream you will find in Chengdu. If you are coming from out of town, the Zhong Hua Yuan location is right in a major expat area with lots of other restaurants and shopping surrounding it. Prices range from ¥12 to more than ¥150 for a meal.
- Zoe's Barbeque & Restaurant, 30 Section 4 Renmin South Road, ☎ +86 28 85593345, Western BBQ and more, the best pork ribs in Chengdu. Good food with friendly service, plus wireless access.
- Paul and Dave's Oasis, (Directly opposite the Travel Hotel and main bus station (other side of river)). A place for volunteers, ex-pats, and all manner of foreigners, a place where you can go and just chill. Though he does serve Chinese food, you're better off going elsewhere for this, it is however a place where you can sit and lose yourself for a day or so. Usually ocupied by the local foreigners, usually playing Western music.
- All of the hotels in the "Splurge" category have Western restaurants or buffets. Call ahead for more information.
- Club 88, 99 Shaoling Road, Wuhou District. Currently Chengdu's hottest club. Awesome lighting and music, dancing in the walkways and people just trying to get seen. Expect crowds of people, packed tables, and action going on through the night well past the other clubs closing times. Get there early to get a table or come (very) late to wind down the night when everything else dies.
- Babi II, (Walking distance from Shangri-la Hotel). Club.
- Babi, Shaolin Road (Right next to Club 88). Club.
- Cafe Paname, 143 Kehua North Road (Nearby Sichuan University). A bar with a younger crowd and laidback environment Expect an occasional DJ event which will make the bar a little more lively on Fridays and Holidays. ¥10 Suntory beer on tap is a perk.
- Highfly Cafe, 18 Linjiang Road, ☎ +86 28 85442820. Relaxed place with a tiny outside sitting area. They serve beers and Western food including pizza and breakfast. There is one computer for free Internet access and a small book exchange (2 for 1).
- Feeling4Seasons Cafe, Orient Times Mall 2F, Xiadongda Street (Near Dongmen Bridge), ☎ +86 28 66208848, Good Italian coffee: espresso, cappuccino, especially latte. Also pasta and pizza. They also provide Internet service: wireless access for your laptop, loan of a wireless card if you don't have one, use of a PC if required. You can also burn CDs. It is also one famous China blog freelancer's cafe bar; he published a book named "Ten Years, Flying with one Dream".
- Shamrock Pub, 15, 4th Section, Renmin South Road (Located near Linshiguan Road and the US Consulate), ☎ +86 28 85236158. This Irish pub in is currently the hub of Chengdu's small expatriate community (of approximately 3,000). Friendly pub atmosphere and live music some evenings. In addition to drinks the pub serves dishes including pizza, meat pies, sausage rolls, steaks, burgers, currys and a range of other snacks. The pub is also an active sponsor of several nonprofit organizations, including holding events for moon bear rescue and for the disabled. Copies of the informative Chengdoo book are available at the Shamrock.
- High Connections Coffee House, Fu A-20 6 Shuangqing South Road, Qingyang District (On the west side of Chengdu near Metro and the Southwest Financial University), ☎ +86 28 87325855. Provides a relaxing, comfortable, environment with soft lighting and easy-listening music. They have non-smoking and smoking sections. Bring your computer and hook up to the wireless Internet. Their coffee (both Espresso and good old fashioned drip American style) and muffins are an excellent way to begin a day. They also have large conference rooms available for meetings.
- Also, on the southern bank of Jinjiang there is a row of bars between Renmin South Road and Xin South Road. Beers will cost ¥10-¥20 per bottle, but buying bulk cans will save you a good bit of money with special deals. There will also be street vendors selling various snacks. This makes for a good night with the clubs Babi II, Ta & Ta, and Soho just around the bend.
- 8trees Wine Bar & Restaurant, 9 Pingan Alley, ☎ +86 28 86699060. Located in a century old Roman Catholic church, and offers the most unique romantic dinning experience. Recommended signature dishes are the tantalizing mouthwatering North American beef, marinated with fresh herbs and spices; the lamb main simmered with exotic spices. On the lighter side, there is the conscious side dish which is very popular with weight-watching regulars who complement their meals with the rich creamy soups offered in the menu. A must see for the church underground wine cellar.
- Little Bar (New), 87 Fangqin Street, Yulin Shangwugang, 1F. Rock bar. The bigger shows are on Friday and Saturday and the bands start playing at 8PM and finish at 10PM. ¥25 entrance fee. A bit hard to find so best to get a cab to take you if you are not familiar with the area. Not to be confused with Little Bar (Old), the sister bar on Yulin West Road.
Chengdu is the gateway to Sichuan. Daytrips and trek can be organized to any major attraction is the province. The Giant Budda, Mount Qincheng, Stone Elephant Lake and Jian Chuan Museum can all be reached by regular bus or tour bus (ask your hotel for guidance). Families and those short of time might consider hiring a car with driver (¥300-900 per day, depending upon type of car and experience of driver, with cars booked at the luxury hotels the most expensive and highest quality).
- The ancient town of Anren, about 45 km to the south.
- The Giant Buddha in Leshan is probably the most popular nearby destination. A day trip to this ancient man-made wonder should be about ¥100-150. Two day tours are available which combine the Buddha with a visit to the nearby Buddhist holy mountain Emei Shan.
- Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan irrigation system Dujiangyan_Irrigation_System are easy day trips about 40km from Chengdu and make for a fascinating visit. You can do both sites in one long day, or better yet, plan to spend a day at each. Qingcheng is a beautiful mountain with an extensive and well kept network of steps and pathways; it includes many pagodas, a small lake, and a chair-lift for those who don't want to walk. Qingcheng is an important site in the Taoist religion. Dujiangyan has a fascinating history and a marvelous swinging pedestrian bridge. Both trips involve lots of walking. The entrance fees for both sites are not cheap. The mountain is ¥90. The cable car up is ¥35 one way or ¥60 round trip. There is a boat one needs to take to cross a natural pond for ¥5. The irrigation system costs an additional ¥90 to enter.
- Stone Elephant Lake Ecological Resort is a fantastic park with acres upon acres of live tulips and tiger lily flowers as well as nature walks and boat rides, and stone carved animals. The best time to go is during the Tulip Festival in early Spring and when the Tiger Lillies bloom in late summer, however, various flowers are usually in bloom from March through August and the nature walks are open year round. Bring your camera. Also bring a picnic lunch or eat in one of the several Chinese restaurants and noodle shops there. The park is about an hour and 15 minutes drive of pure highway driving south of Chengdu. Arrange a car to take you there or ask about bus service. Admission is ¥50.
- Jian Chuan Museum Cluster Industrialist Fan Jian Chuan built this campus of museums to explain the history of 20th Century China. This is the first privately owned museum in Sichuan (privately operated museums in China have only been permitted since the year 2001). The Museum campus contains four buildings about World War II in China - one explaining the Communist Party role, one the Kuomington, one about the American volunteer group "Flying Tigers", and one about Sichuan volunteers. There is also a the modestly named "New China Porcelian Museum", which actually tells the story of the Cultural Revolution through porcelians of that era. A museum that more directly addresses that era is under construction. You will also see buildings explaining the practice of foot-binding and one about prisoners of war. Nearby, you can also walk through a landlord's manor. Make a day trip out of it; the Museum is in the nearby county of Dayi about an hour's drive from Chengdu. Admission is ¥60. Get around the museum cluster by walking or rent a bicycle built for two; a tea-house is located on site.
- Bi Feng Xia Bi Feng Xia is a large ecological park in the mountains about a two and a half hour drive from Chengdu. It centers around a huge gorge with waterfalls. One can hike down into the gorge on well marked paths and take an elevator back up. The park also has special panda habitats, as well as a more traditional "zoo". The main reason to go here is for the walks and hikes into the gorge. The zoo, although filled with animals such as tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, and even a drive-through section, has woefully inadequate and sometimes smelly enclosures. (The enormous bird aviary is one exception). Admission is about ¥80, with additional charges for bus rides between different sections of the park. There is an expensive hotel and basic restaurants on site. Direct buses to the park (via Ya'an) leave from Xinnanmen station every 30mins.
- Huang Long Xi is worth a day trip. Buses start from Xinnanmen station and take two hours. The little town features a lot of original dwellings and old temples.
- Luodai is an ancient village inhabited by the Hakkas minority. Buses start form and take about an hour.
- Sanxingdui - This is an ancient Chinese city where archaeologists discovered remarkable artifacts that radiocarbon dated circa 12th-11th centuries BCE, and Sanxingdui (Three star mound) is the name given to this previously unknown Bronze Age culture. The Sanxingdui archaeological museum is located about 40 kilometers northeast of Chengdu in Sichuan Province and 10 kilometers east of the city of Guanghan. From Zhaojue Temple Bus Station catch a bus to Guanghan (¥14) and from there use public bus No. 6 to reach the museum (¥2). Entrance is ¥82 (¥42 for students). 0838-5651550.
- Further afield, you can also trek out to the Tibetan areas of Sichuan. Buses leave everyday for Moxi and other towns. These long bus trips from Xinnanmen-bus station (it's about seven hours to Moxi, and the heating systems on buses in the winter are painfully inadequate) pass through incredibly steep mountain valleys wandering through the Gongga Mountain range. This all terminates at the Hailuogo Glacier, a massive park nearly nine hours from Chengdu. A good two or three day trip.
- The Jiuzhaigou Valley to the north of Chengdu is famous for its stunning nature and the cyan water terasses.
- Siguniang Scenic Park. Located to the northwest of Chengdu, these mountains are sometimes called "China Alps" but are also known as the "four girls" or "four maidens". Prior to the May 12 2008 earthquake, buses could be caught between 6:30AM and 12:00 from Chadianzi tourism bus station (6-9 hours). As a result of the quake there is now a single bus at 6:40AM that takes up to 12 hours. Catch the bus to Xiaojin and let the driver know your destination is Rilong village.