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The Best Things to See and Do in Chengdu

Chengdu is not a particularly attractive city on the surface, but it compensates with a busy, yet laid-back street life, remarkable culinary prowess, and rich 3,000-year-old history. Here are a list of the best things to see and do in Chengdu, China.

The Best Things to See and Do in Chengdu

Feed the Pandas at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Feed the Pandas at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, or Chengdu Panda Base, not only allows visitors to see these incredible creatures up up and personal in their natural habitat, but it also provides an in-depth look at one of the world’s most popular and laid-back animals.

The institution, which opened in 1987 with just six rescued giant pandas, has now expanded to 83 animals and saw 124 panda births. Tours also include a visit to the on-site museum, which features exhibits about these fickle bears’ reproductive issues. Pandas are often found napping, although they are most active during morning feeding times, so plan your visit appropriately.

Take a Day Trip to the Leshan Giant Buddha

Since 1996, the Leshan Giant Buddha, a massive stone statue of Maitreya, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This incredible effort was began by a Buddhist monk named Haitong in AD 713, standing 71 meters tall and carved directly from the surrounding rock. Following his death, the work was carried on by a number of other monks and painters until it was finally finished in AD 803.

Today, the image is the largest Buddha sculpture in the world, attracting pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. It’s also the source of the proverb “The Buddha is a mountain, and the mountain is a Buddha.”

Tour the Chengdu Wuhou Shrine

Tour the Chengdu Wuhou Shrine | The Best Things to See and Do in Chengdu

The magnificent Chengdu Wuhou Shrine, which dates back to AD 302, is one of Chengdu’s oldest temples. It was named after Zhuge Liang, a brilliant strategist and statesman who later became the Shu Han empire’s Chancellor from AD 221 to 263. Liang was made a prince in recognition of his contributions.

This massive temple structure, which was rebuilt in 1672, has a lot of intriguing characteristics. The most remarkable features are a spacious central chamber with a gilt clay image of Zhuge Liang; his son and grandson are represented by the two miniature figurines on either side of the prince.

See the Dujiangyan Irrigation System

The intriguing Dujiangyan Irrigation System, built around 250 BC in Guanxian on the upper reaches of the Minjiang River, is located near the town of Guanxian. It’s worth visiting as part of a day excursion to this gorgeous section of the country, even though it’s 55 kilometers northwest of Chengdu.

This incredible system includes a network of earth dams with parts branching out into streams and canals to irrigate areas and was built to avert catastrophic flooding. The system includes components with unusual names, such as the Fish’s Jaws, which serves as a watershed and dike; the Flying Sands (Feisha Yan) weir; and the Canal of the Precious Bottle (Baoping Kou).

The Minjiang hasn’t flooded in over 2,200 years as a result of this innovative arrangement, and the Chengdu Plain in central Sichuan has become one of China’s most fertile regions.

Hang out in a temple

Hang out in a temple | The Best Things to See and Do in Chengdu |
Take a side trip to mount Emei and its temples is one of the best things to see and do in Chengdu

Within the municipal borders of Chengdu, there are four excellent temples, many of which are still in use. The Wenshu Monastery (Wénsh yuàn, ) is a special favorite, having been built in the 700s.

The extensive grounds, which cover almost 60,000 square meters (645,835 square feet) and are accented with lovely gardens, more than 80 Buddha relics, and elegant structures, are still home to an active Buddhist monk community and are located in the city center. It’s also a popular hangout location for locals who enjoy drinking tea, playing cards, and passing the time in the gardens.

Go hiking

After you’ve had your fill of the city, a fast 45-minute train excursion to Qingcheng Mountain (Qngchéng shn, ) will provide you with some greenery and fresh air. Its reputation stems not only from the beauty of its 36 peaks, but also from Taoist legend, as the creator of Taoism, Zhao Daoling, believed the tranquil natural landscape of Qingcheng Mountain was the ideal setting for the development and success of Taoism.

Heading to the rear mountain entrance (Hu shn,) is the easiest way to avoid the throngs. You’ll discover a small restaurant at the summit where you may sample local greens, drink tea, and stare out over the beautiful peaks. You can also take a cable car back to the base if you’re exhausted.

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