Chengdu, China
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Exploring Chengdu

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China, is a modern city which is considered one of the most important hubs of the region. Due to its laid-back and easy-going atmosphere, as well as its strong traditional culture and respectable nightlife, Chengdu is considered one of the most liveable megacities in the Middle Kingdom.

One of the better known stories about the origins of the city tells of a governor of the Qin dynasty, Lin Bing, who was troubled with the yearly flooding of the Min River each spring. As a solution, he constructed a levy to redirect part of the water and drain the excess to the Chengdu plains. To this day, this engineering project is credited with having provided the agricultural wealth of the region, prompting many to call Chengdu the ‘Land of Abundance’.

Sights nearby

While much of Chengdu remains cloudy and gloomy for most of the year, many visitors still come to see the sights of this intriguing Sichuan capital. The real must-experience aspects of Chengdu lie in its unique activities, however. Here, you can participate in things which can only be done or are best done in the Sichuan capital.

- Pandas

This lovable but endangered species is native to this region of China. Currently, around 60 pandas are now cared for at the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, located an hour or so by car from the city centre. Tourists can easily visit the pandas here as parts of the research base have been set up as a zoo.

- Sichuan opera

Although Chengdu is a big, modern city, it is also the cultural capital of Sichuan province. Traditional culture is best experienced here by seeing the famous Sichuan opera, a dramatic performance featuring poetry, colourful costumes, dancing, singing, and the astounding face-changing performance, the technique of which is a closely guarded ancient secret.

- People's Park

The centre of life in Chengdu is People’s Park, located just west of Tianfu Square, the central point of the city. This is where Chengdu’s laid-back lifestyle comes to the fore, and a visit here definitely provides a peek into Chengdu life. Locals sit in the tea houses here sipping tea, playing

- mahjong, practicing calligraphy, singing, dancing, and just relaxing. For easy access to the central part of the city, visitors can stay at Shangri-la Hotel Chengdu or the Holiday Inn Express Chengdu Gulou.

- Sichuan Museum of Science and Technology

On a rainy day in Chengdu, a place worth visiting is the Sichuan Science and Technology Museum, the building of which lies immediately north of Tianfu Square. A small outlay gives access to interactive exhibits and displays on science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, and robotics.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

While the hotpot, also known as the steamboat or the steam pot, may not originally come from Chengdu, but rather from Chongqing, it is nevertheless in Chengdu where it is most popular. Culinary adventurers can visit a hotpot restaurant where a fiery cauldron of spices and the popular tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper is set up in front of them.

Chengdu’s old district is a popular tourist attraction as many of the streets and buildings here have been beautifully restored and refurbished. The Jinli Ancient Street is now filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels which all become especially lively at night. It is a good place to shop, too, if a bit touristy. The main shopping centres of the city, however, are Chunxi Road, which is lined with shopping malls, boutiques, and stores, and Songxian Qiao Antique Market, which has antiques, jewellery, porcelain, and novelty items such as communist propaganda.

Public transport

Chengdu is one of the main transport hubs of southwest China. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport receives flights from within China, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Europe, and Canada. Getting around the city is becoming easier thanks to the underground metro which is being constantly upgraded. Chengdu Metro system has two lines, with a further two under construction. A comprehensive bus network can be used to reach areas not covered by the metro.

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