Most major cities around the globe only have a faint thread of history dating back earlier than the year zero. Chengdu is not one of those cities – in around 300 BC it bluntly formed its border quite literally with a wall being built around the settlement. Since its birth, Chengdu has prospered, growing from a beautiful, nature-filled oasis, to the busy bustle we know it as today. In its time, the city has found wealth in paper, tea, and silk production – life couldn’t be more oriental in Chengdu. While modern Chengdu might not be very highly rated today in comparison to other cities in China, it is nonetheless fascinating once you dig under the surface. Popular Attractions
Remember when we said things are very oriental in Chengdu? We didn’t even mention the pandas! Chengdu’s Giant Panda Breeding and Research Center is just to the north of Chengdu, and here visitors can learn all about this fascinating animal at the Giant Panda Museum. In and around Chengdu you will find numerous phenomenal natural sites that will effortlessly make you fall in love with China. Mount Qingcheng is a mountain full of adventure just a couple of hours from Chengdu by bus. Here you’ll find many Taoist temples and sites, as well as a blanket of green trees and buckets of fresh air. For something a little closer to the center of town, head to Wangjiang Tower Park, a beautiful green space with bridges, towers, and waters, surrounded by a bamboo forest. For some authentic Chinese culture, head to Wuhou Temple, which is sure to impress you with its historical relics. For an interesting day trip, head out to Luodai Ancient Town, a settlement said to have been founded over 2,000 years ago just 20km from the center of Chengdu. This is the ideal spot to soak up some local culture and take in rather stunning streets. Food
Chengdu cuisine is notoriously spicy, so expect there to be chillies in just about anything you order here. Typical Chinese cuisine can be found just about anywhere, but you must try a Chengdu hotpot during your visit – vegetables and meat cooked in a big bowl full of sauce. Wontons, noodles, and many traditional dishes containing tofu are also available, as is Western food if you’re craving it. Transport
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is the fourth busiest airport in China, so as you might imagine there are a number of connections from across the globe you can make to and from this city. Most of these connections run from Asia and some spots in Europe, but you should be able to find direct flights from San Francisco, too. If you’re struggling with prices, consider changing somewhere like Beijing or another busy Asian airport. Tips for Travelers
You might expect a lot of chaos in a city as big as Chengdu (it’s home to around 14 million people), but this metropolis is actually known for its laid-back nature, and it is among the most liveable cities in China. Chengdu is relatively well connected when it comes to public transport. The metro system is still relatively new, so your first stop for getting just about anywhere will be the network of buses. The language in Chengdu most commonly spoken is a local dialect, which is similar to Mandarin but with a thicker accent. You may have some communication problems here, but nothing that a few hand signals won’t solve. Fun Facts
China was the first country in the world to use paper money, and it was in Chengdu that it was first circulated. A French traveler who arrived in Chengdu in the 19th century declared it Oriental Paris, because of the natural beauty found in this region. Chengdu is sometimes referred to as ‘The Land of Milk and Honey’, because of its agricultural prosperity.