Memos from Asia

Chengdu Travel Guide–Insider Tips, Tricks, and Places to Visit!

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Chengdu is the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan, with a population of 16.33 million!

Chengdu stretches 14,378 kilometers squared, and is fairly well-known for being a calmer city. It also has many ancient sites around it that can tell you about the historical, religious, and engineering developments made by Chengdu. The tallest building in the world is located there – The New Century Global Center is about twice the size of both the previous record holders. There are also a lot of wildlife viewing facilities for the famous fluffy giant pandas!

But what you might not have known was that Chengdu is one of the three most populous cities in Western China, next to Chongqing and Xi’an. That the city has some of the spiciest food in China. That Chinese tea culture originated in Chengdu!

In this article, we will explore all of these places and tell you special insider tips and tricks for the best vacation in Chengdu, China.

Giant Panda viewing centers

Chengdu is most well-known for being the home of the giant pandas, which you can see in their natural habitat. There are four panda bases around Chengdu, the most famous one being Chengdu Panda Base near the city. Chengdu Panda Base is completely ethical, and the base is mostly dedicated to the research of pandas to help them survive, since the giant panda is an endangered species.

Located 10km (6 miles) away from downtown Chengdu, the Chengdu Panda Base recreates and imitates the wild habitat of giant pandas, so that the pandas have the best possible environment. The giant pandas are not only a Chinese national treasure but are also beloved by people all over the world. They are found only in the Chinese provinces Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gans. There are only 1,864 pandas remaining in the entire world, and 70% of all giant pandas reside in the province of Sichuan. Therefore, when visitors from home and abroad come to Chengdu, Sichuan, one of their main objectives will be to see this lovely animal for themselves.

If you plan on going to Chengdu, going to see these beautiful creatures is something you can’t miss out on!

The New Century Global Center

Aerial view of Chengdu new century global center building

The New Century Global Center is currently the biggest building, not in Chengdu, not in China, but in the entire world! This amazing feat of engineering and architecture is located in Chengdu, and it is certainly a huge building. It has 1.76 million m² of floor space, is a hundred meters tall, and has 18 floors total. It was developed by billionaire Deng Hong’s Entertainment and Travel Group in 2010.

Most of the New Century Global Center is devoted to shopping – nearly 400,000 square meters of it is shops! (4,300,000 sq ft!) It also has offices, conference rooms, a university complex, a replica Mediterranean village, a 14-screen IMAX movie theatre. In the center of the building, there is a water park (“Paradise Island Water Park”), containing a 5,000 m2 (54,000 sq ft) artificial beach, where a giant 150 by 40 m (490 by 130 ft) screen forms the horizon to offer sunrises and sunsets. At night, a stage extends out over the pool for concerts. A stand has been built overlooking the pool with a food court and entrance underneath at the floor level. The new five-star luxury Intercontinental Hotel will feature 1,009 rooms – a huge amount considering that the average hotel has around three hundred rooms.

If you’re going to Chengdu, visiting the New Century Global Center is a great idea. The entirety of the mall is filled with amazing atmosphere and technologies, all indoors so you won’t have to worry about the weather! When you go back home, you can also tell your friends that you went to the biggest building in the world!

Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha

If you want to learn about some of Chengdu’s past, the Leshan Giant Buddha is the place to go. The Leshan Giant Buddha is a 71-meter tall stone statue of Maitreya, carved from a cliff of Cretaceous red bed sandstone.

It was started in 713 in the Tang dynasty by a Buddhist monk by the name of Hai Tong. He had hoped that the statue would calm the currents of the rivers next to it, and therefore allow safer travel for shipping vessels. When he died, the work was continued by a number of other monks and artists until it was eventually completed in 803. Even though the statue is extremely old, right now the Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest and tallest sculpture of Buddha not just in China, but in the entire world. In fact, it is the tallest pre-modern statue of anything in the entire world. The Leshan Giant Buddha attracts many tourists from all over the world, because not only is it an incredible feat, it is also a symbol of the past and how much power Buddhism had over the area.

After the project was done, the river was actually calmed. Was this a blessing from the Buddha? Apparently, when they were carving out the statue from the cliff, a lot of stone had to be deposited into the nearby river. This actually shifted the currents of the river and did indeed make the river safer to travel.

Some Final Tips

Anshun Bridge

Lastly, here are some final tips to conclude your trip to Chengdu.

If you plan on eating in restaurants at Chengdu, be prepared for some extremely spicy dishes! The local Sichuan peppercorn is grown in Chengdu, and it is responsible for creating some of the spiciest foods in China.

If you’re not the biggest fan of spice, you can check out Chengdu’s teahouses. The culture of Chinese tea actually originated from Chengdu – the earliest tea trade dates way back, to around 3,000 years ago. It is said that the people of Chengdu can drink up to the equivalent of seven Hangzhou West Lakes of tea every year!

Thank you for reading and have an amazing vacation!

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