Things to do in Chengdu

No.1: Visit Giant Pandas

Located just 6 miles (10 km) away from downtown, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has been created and imitated the natural habitat of giant pandas in order that they might have the best possible environment for rearing and breeding.

The base cares also for other rare and endangered wild animals with an area of 560 mus (92 acres), 96% of which is verdure. Giant pandas, lesser pandas, black-necked cranes, white storks as well as over 20 species of rare animals are fed and bred there. Verdant bamboo, bright flowers, fresh air, a natural hill scene and a beautiful artificial view are merged ingeniously at the base.

The necessary facilities have been completed and include a fodder room, sleeping quarters and a medical station. Additionally there is a museum together with research laboratories and a training center. Read more

No.2: Watch Magical Face Changing

As a local opera popular in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces, Sichuan opera is an important part of Chengdu culture. Sichuan Opera (Chuan Ju) originated at the end of the Ming (1368-1644) and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). With immigrants flooding into Sichuan, different dramas were brought in to blend with the local dialect, customs, folk music and dances. Gradually, brisk humorous Sichuan Opera, reflecting Sichuan culture, came into being.

Face changing is the highlight of Sichuan Opera. It is said that ancient people painted their faces to drive away wild animals. Sichuan Opera absorbs this ancient skill and perfects it into an art. Read more

 

No. 3: Relish Sichuan Cuisine

As one of the eight major Chinese cuisines, Sichuan cuisine has a history of as long as two thousand years, and occupies an important position in the Chinese history of culinary art. The modern Sichuan cuisine with its hot flavored dishes, however, was just introduced into China and became recognized worldwide in the last century.

Nowadays, the hot and spicy Sichuan cuisine has become internationally popular for being distinctively flavorful. There are many regional sub-styles of Sichuan cuisine, four best known among which are Chongqing style, Chengdu style, Zigong style, and Buddhist vegetarian style. The balance between the dishes' color, smell, flavor, shape and nutrition are very carefully maintained so that its dishes not only look nice and taste yummy, but are also nutritious. Read More

 

No.4: Visit Historic Sites

Wuhou Temple (Memorial Temple of Marquis Wu) was built in the 6th century in memory of the Emperor Liu Bei and the Prime Minister Zhuge Liang of the Shu Kingdom, in the Three Kingdoms Period (220 - 280).

Zhuge Liang was the personification of noble character and intelligence. Memorial architectures erected in many places after his death include a famous one in Chendu.

Located in the south suburb of Chengdu, the temple covers 37,000 square meters (398,277 square feet). The date of its establishment is unclear, only that it was built next to the temple of Liu Bei, the emperor of Shu. It was combined with the Temple of Liu Bei at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty; consequently, the entrance plaque reads 'Zhaolie Temple of Han Dynasty' (Zhaolie is the posthumous title of Liu Bei). The current temple was rebuilt in 1672. Surrounded by old cypresses and classical red walls, it evokes nostalgia.

 

No.5: Visit Leshan Giant Buddha

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya (a Bodhisattva usually represented as a very stout monk with a broad smile on his face and with his naked breast and paunch exposed to view) in sitting posture. The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, at the confluence of three rivers, namely, Min River, Qingyi River, and Dadu River. The statue makes itself the most renowned scenic spot in that city. In December, 1996, the location of the Buddha was included by UNESCO on the list of the World Heritage sites. Begun in the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty, and finished in the year 803, the statue took people more than 90 years to carve. During these years, thousands of workers had expended their efforts and wisdom on the project. As the biggest carved stone Buddha in the world, the Giant Buddha is featured in poetry, song and story.

Facing the river, the Buddha has symmetrical posture and looks which have been beautifully captured in its solemn stillness. It is 71 meters (about 233 feet) high, and has 8.3-meter-long (about 27 feet) fingers. The 9-meter-wide (about 30 feet) instep is big enough for one hundred people to sit on and the 24-meter-wide (about 79 feet) shoulder is large enough to be a basketball playground.


Applying for Visas

Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the expiry date of your visa and you’ll need at least one entire blank page in your passport for the visa. You may be required to show proof of hotel reservations and onward travel from China, as well as a bank statement showing you have $100 in your account for every day you plan to spend in China.

A standard 30-day single-entry visa can be issued from most Chinese embassies abroad in three to five working days. Express visas cost twice the usual fee. In some countries (eg the UK and the US) the visa service has been outsourced from the Chinese embassy to a Chinese Visa Application Service Centre, which levies an extra administration fee. In the case of the UK, a single-entry visa costs £30, but the standard administration charge levied by the centre is a further £36.
A standard 30-day visa is activated on the date you enter China, and must be used within three months of the date of issue. 60-day and 90-day tourist visas are reasonably easy to obtain in your home country but difficult elsewhere. To stay longer, you can extend your visa in China at least once, sometimes twice.
Visa applications require a completed application form (available at the embassy or downloaded from its website) and at least one photo (normally 51mm x 51mm). You normally pay for your visa when you collect it. A visa mailed to you will take up to three weeks. In the US and Canada, mailed visa applications have to go via a visa agent, at extra cost. In the US, many people use the China Visa Service Center, which offers prompt service. The procedure takes around 10 to 14 days.
Hong Kong is a good place to pick up a China visa. However, at the time of writing only Hong Kong residents were able to obtain them direct from the Visa Office of the People’s Republic of China. Single-entry visas processed here cost HK$200, double-entry visas HK$300, while six-month/one-year multiple-entry visas are HK$500. But China Travel Service (CTS) and many travel agencies in Hong Kong can get you a visa in two to three working days. Expect to pay HK$650 for a single-entry visa and HK$750 for a double-entry. Both American and UK passport holders must pay considerably more for their visas.
Be aware that political events can suddenly make visas more difficult to procure or renew.

Passports
Chinese law requires foreign visitors to carry their passport with them at all times; it is the most basic travel document and all hotels (and internet cafes) will insist on seeing it. You also need it to buy train tickets or to get into some tourist sights, particularly those which are free.
It’s a good idea to bring an ID card with your photo in case you lose your passport. Even better, make photocopies, or take digital photos of your passport – your embassy may need these before issuing a new one. You should also report the loss to the local Public Security Bureau (PSB).