Welcome to Chengdu
Chengdu, a Chinese city famed for pandas and parties, lacks in natural features and is plagued by grey clouds for most of the year. But it remains perennially popular for its wealth of cultural attractions, chief among them, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, credited with more than 100 panda births since it opened in 1987. Spend the day volunteering and caring for the endangered animals there or at Dujiangyan Panda Base (55 kilometers or 34 miles from town), or combine the conservation center with a visit to the Leshan Giant Buddha, a UNESCO World Heritage site and world’s largest stone Buddha statue, on a day-tour. Sightseeing tours of Chengdu’s city center orient travelers with visits to Renmin Park (People’s Park), Kuanzhai Alley, and the ancient Wenshu Temple, or head to Mount Qingcheng, shrouded by dense bamboo forests, and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, built in 256 BC. With more time, visitors can check out Mount Emei (Emeishan, 170 kilometers or 105 miles from Chengdu), the highest of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains, the ancient town of Huanglongxi (a 35-minute drive away), replete with Ming and Qing-era architecture, and Chengdu Culture Park, where they can watch a Sichuan Opera among bonsai displays and historic temples.