Chengdu - the Land of Abundance

sichuan.jpg - 13888 Bytes Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province with a history of over 2000 years. Chengdu's name meaning 'Became a Capital' in Chinese comes from Chengdu's history as an ancient capital city. Chengdu is best known for its temples, pandas, tea and spicy food. Favored by superior natural conditions and rich natural resources, the city is known for its great abundance of products and many scenic and historic spots. Chengdu is also one of the cleanest Chinese cities and serves as the main gateway to Tibet and other major tourist attractions in Sichuan.
Chengdu City Ratings
** The following ratings are based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.
History(8)     Art(7)    Local Culture/Unique Tour(7)
Nature/Scenic(5)    Food/Shopping(8)   Night Life(4)
Religion(8)     Adventure/Sports(4)    Reasonable Cost(5)
Recommended Days of Stay: 2 Chengdu City Map

Quick Facts
Population - 2 million
When to go
Tourist Season - October to February;
Coldest Month - January and February, with temperature as low as -3C;
Hottest Months - July, with temperature as high as 38C;
Annual Precipitation - 1000 millimeters
Getting In and Out
By Air - Chengdu is a little over 2 hours by air from Beijing. There are also flights connecting Chengdu with other major Asian cities;
By Train - Chengdu is around 22 hours from Kunming by train and 17 hours from Xi'an;
By Bus - Chengdu can be reached in 4 hours by express bus from Chongqing.

History


With a history of over 2000 years, Chengdu had its greatest glory as the capital of the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 221-263). Even now Sichuan Province is still referred to by the name of Shu. From the Han Dynasty, Chengdu became well known for its production of silk brocade and was called the 'Brocade City'. Chengdu was one of the most splendid cities in China with grand city walls, which were pulled down in 1949 when the Communists took it over.

Temple of Marquis Wu (Wuhou Ci) * *
With an area of 3.7 hectares, the Temple of Marquis Wu is situated on the southern suburbs of Chengdu. It was built in memory of military heroes of the Three Kingdoms period. It encloses a hall dedicated to Liu Bei with statues of Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu. The Zhuge Liang Hall was dedicated to Zhuge Liang, one of the most famous strategists, who was the Prime Minister of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period. The stories of these heroes can be found in the classic novel The Tale of Three Kingdoms.

Chairman Mao Badge Museum and Research Facilities * * *
Located at 23 Wu Fu Street in an old neighborhood in Chengdu, Chairman Mao Badge Museum and Research Facility is a museum converted from an aging house. The owner Wang An Ting displays here his great collection of Mao memorabilia. The 60-year old Wang used to be a factory worker. Throughout the years he has collected anything with Mao's picture you could possibly image: Mao posters, plates, ceramic busts, buttons, mirrors, wash basins, etc.

During the Cultural Revolution, people were required to wear buttons with Mao's picture on them and keep Mao's quotes in their pockets. To show their loyalty, every family had a great number of household items with Mao's picture painted. Today some of these Mao memorabilia are worth a fortune.


Du Fu's Thatched Roof Cottage * *
Du Fu (712-770) was a famous Tang poet who lived in Chengdu for a brief period of time, during which he wrote over 200 poems. The cottage shrine was built in the Song Dynasty 3 centuries after Du Fu's arrival at Chengdu. If you are interested in Chinese poetry, you definitely should pay pilgrimage to this one of the greatest poets in China. However, don't expect to see anything in the cottage that belonged to Du Fu.

Art
Guanyin Temple * * *
Located 32 km from Chengdu, the Guanyin Temple contains original murals and painted clay scriptures. This off-the-beaten path temple is home for 10 nuns and offers a pleasant surprise for art-lovers.

Local Culture/Unique Tour
Sanxingdui Museum * * * *
Sanxingdui Museum is one of the most exciting new museums in China. Built on the 3000 year old, 12sq meter site of the Shu culture, the museum houses interesting relics unique to the Chengdu area. The museum is located 38 km from downtown Chengdu. The beautifully designed museum is worth a visit.

Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base * * * * *
Located 7 miles northeast of city center, Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base is a research base with the goal of breeding pandas in captivity. So far around 30 pandas have been successfully born here in captivity. Unlike those in the zoos, the pandas at the Breeding and Research Base are often let out to roam across 80 acres of hills, forests and bamboo grooves. Early morning is the best time to visit the base when the pandas are awake and active. If you are lucky, you can find yourself a few feet away from a giant panda, sitting there and looking at you.

Dujiangyan Irrigation System * * * *
Located on the upper reaches of Minjiang River west of Guanxian county, Dujiangyan is one of the world's first irrigation systems. It was built between 306-251 AD by the local people under the guidance of Li Bing, then leader of Shu Prefecture in the kingdom of Qin and his son. The project enabled the western Sichuan Plain to become 'land of abundance'. Its scale and sophistication are a tribute to the scientific genius of ancient China.

Nature/Scenic
Jiuzhaigou * * * * *
50 km from Chengdu and 2,000 meters above sea level, this natural preserve comprises of 60,000 hectares of primitive forest with species earlier thought to be extinct. The road of Jiuzhaigou, although far from being well-maintained, does pass through some of the most stunning landscapes in China. The name of Jiuzhaigou came from the nine Tibetan settlements. Therefore, you can expect to see Tibetan and Qing minorities in the area.

The natural beauty of Jiuzhaigou is breathtaking. Exotic animals are running about besides crystalline lakes; Endless forests cover the snow-capped mountains; Carpets of flowers spread right under the waterfalls.

The best time to visit is September through early October.

Food/ Shopping
Famous Local Food
Spicy Sichuan Cuisine, Smoked Duck with Tea Fragrance, Dan Dan noodles, Lai Tang Yuan Dumplings, Long Chao Dumplings

Famous Local Restaurant
Mapo Doufu Restaurant

Antique Shopping
Sichuan Antique Store, Antique Market at Chao Tang Bei Road

Shopping for Unique Local Products
Chengdu Bamboo Weaving Factory, Number Two Shu Embroidery Factory

Night Life
Bars
Huigui (Reunion) Bar, Hei Ma Yi Pi Jiu Guan (Black Ant)

Religion
Divine Light Monastery (Baoguangsi) * * *
Founded in the Han Dynasty about 2000 years ago, the Divine Light Monastery houses a fine collection of Buddhist treasures. It is located 18 km north of Chengdu at Xindu. Among the most impressive items in the Monastery are the Buddhist scriptures written on palm leaves. The beautiful Sheli Pagoda in the monastery is the Chengdu version of a leaning tower with a history of 1000 years old.

Green City (Qingcheng) Mountain * * * *
Located 90 km form Chengdu, Qingcheng Mountain is acclaimed as 'the most secluded place on earth'. The mountain is densely covered with green woods and the skyline of its peaks resembles that of city walls; hence the name. Nestled among the lofty ancient trees are 108 monasteries, temples and pavilions. The beautiful Green City Mountain rises up to 1600 meters. Known as one of the birth places of Taoism, the Green City Mountain houses many cultural relics, some of which date back 2000 years.

Leshan Buddha * * * *
Leshan is about 168 km southwest of Chengdu, reachable by bus. Situated at the confluence of Minjiang River, Qingyi River and Dadu River, on the western slope of Lingyan Mountain east of Leshan city, the sitting giant Buddha is carved into a cliff overlooking the rivers. As the popular saying goes: "The mountain is a Buddha, the Buddha is a mountain." Standing 71 meters tall the Leshan Buddha is the biggest stone Buddha in the world. Its ear-hole can accommodate two men standing abreast. Carving started in 713 and was completed in 803. The Buddha was built to prevent accidents on the rivers, which were frequent at a time. A boat tour along the river presents the best view of the Buddha as well as that of the Guardians.
 
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