About Chengdu

In this article we will discover 11 of the best things to do in Chengdu (including some wonderful free things to do in Chengdu).

Chengdu is the capital of China’s Sichuan Province. It is famous for it’s spicy cuisine and hot pot incorporating lots of chillies.

The city is also famous as the home of the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding. The centre has succesfully managed to save the panda from the brink of extinction.

Chengdu is also the gateway to beautiful Western Sichuan and the Tibetan Autonomous regions (a Tibetan area of the Chinese mainland that requires no special permits to visit).

Where is Chungdu?

Chengdu Map

Chengdu is located in China’s southwest Sichuan Province.

Top Things to do in Chengdu in 2021

1. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

Chengdu Panda Base
Chengdu Panda Base

Chengdu’s most famous residents are its giant pandas at the research base for panda breeding. This is no Chinese zoo and the animals are very well looked after. The base has succesfully helped bring the giant panda back from the brink of extinction.

This beautiful 92-acre site is also home to an array of other rare end endangered animals such as the red panda.

In pre-covid times it was possible to hold a baby panda, but thankfully this has been stopped. It’s enough just to watch these cute creatures at play in semi-natural surroundings.

  • Opening Hours: 07:30 to 18:00
  • Entrance Fee: ¥60 ($9.20)
  • Time Needed to Visit: two to three hours
  • Address: 1375 Xiongmao Avenue, Chenghua Disstrict
  • Buses: 87, 198, 198A or 655
  • Nearest Metro: Panda Avenue (line 7)

Read my full guide to the Chengdu Panda Base here.

2. Eat Hot Pot

Chengdu Hot Pot
Chengdu Hot Pot

No trip to Chengdu is complete with out sampling the local speciality; hot pot (there is also a non-spicy version for those who can’t take the heat)!

Hot pot consists of a large bubling pot of hot oil and chillies. Raw meat and vegetables are then brought in on plates and you add these to the boiling liquid to cook. In most restuarants the pot is divided into two; one with chillies and one without.

Hot pot restuarants abound, so you can dive into one that takes your fancy. Below is a selection of the best ones.

Long sen Yuan Hot Pot

Bashu Dazhaimen Hot Pot

Jincheng Impression Hot Pot Restaurant

3. Watch a Sichuan Opera

Chengdu Opera
A Charachter from the Sichuan Opera – One of the best things to do in Chengdu

Chengdu is famous for its opera performances. The actors change their faces to reflect the different moods of the charachters.

Shufeng Yayun Theatre

Jinjiang Theatre

Sichuan Theatre

4. Wuhou Temple

This temple was built in 1672, but the site has been a Buddhist place of worship since at least 280AD. The temple is dedictaed to the Marquis Wu; an ancient politician and astronomer. The complex includes many smaller temples and tombs.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 20:00 May – Oct, 08:00 to 18:30 Nov – Apr
  • Entrance Fee: ¥50 ($7.6)
  • Time Needed to Visit: one to two hours
  • Address: 231 Wuhouyou Street, Wuhou District
  • Buses: 1, 57, 82, 334, 335 or 1126
  • Nearest Metro: Gaoshengqiao (line 3)

5. Jinsha Site Museum

Jinsha Museum, Chengdu
“Sun and Immortal Bird” at Jinsha Site Museum

Jinsha Site museum charts the history of Sichuan Province and is located on a nine-acre archaeological site. The site was discovered in 2001 and is now home to a vast selection of exhibits, including the most gold found at any archaeological site in China.

The ticket also includes entrance to an ecological garden.

  • Opening Hours: 08:00 to 20:00 Mar – Oct, 08:00 – 18:30 Nov – Feb. Closed Mondays
  • Entrance Fee: ¥80 ($12.00)
  • Time Needed to Visit: two to three hours
  • Address: 2 Jinsha Yizhi Road, Jin Sha Shan Quang, Qinyang Qu,
  • Buses: 163 or 209
  • Nearest Metro: Jinsha Site Museum, exit C (line 7)

6. LeShan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan Giant Buddha

This 71 metre (233ft) tall giant Buddha dates back to 803AD. The Leshan Buddha is located in Leshan city, 145km southwest of Chengdu, but is easily reachable by high-speed train in just 46 minutes.

  • Opening Hours: 09:00 to 17:00
  • Entrance Fee: ¥80 ($12.00)
  • Time Needed to Visit: half a day
  • Address: 2345 Lingyun Road, Shizhong Qu, Leshan, Sichuan
  • How to get to Leshan

Take the train from Chengdu to Leshan Railway Station and change to bus 3. Train ticket is ¥54 ($8).

Top Free Things to do in Chengdu

7. Chengdu Old Town (Kuanzhaihangxi)


Kuanzhaihangxi is Chengdu’s old town and consists of three parallel alleys; Wide Alley (Kuan Xiangzi), Narrow Alley (Zhai Xiangzi) and Well Alley (jing Xiangzi.

The alleys date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) and is the city’s cultural hub. Here you can find cobbled streets, traditional tea rooms, craft shops, street food, restaurants and cafe’s.

  • Opening Hours: 24 hours
  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Time Needed to Visit: one to two hours
  • Address: Kuanzhai Alley, Commercial Street, Qinyang District
  • Nearest metro: Wide and Narrow Alley Station (line 4)

8. Chengdu People’s Park

Chengdu People's Park
Chengdu People’s Park

This beautiful, large park has a large boating lake, streams, pavilions and tea houses. A nice escape from the hectic pace of the city.

  • Opening Hours: 06:30 – 22:00
  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Time Needed to Visit: around one hour
  • Address: 12 Shaocheng Road, Qinyang District
  • Nearest Metro: People’s Park, exit B (line 2)

9. Wenshu Monastery

Travel in China
Wenshu Monastery

Built during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), Wenshu Monastery is the best preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu. The temple is home to over 500 cultural relics including paintings and caligraphy.

  • Opening Hours: 08:30 – 17:30
  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Time Needed to Visit: around one hour
  • Address: 66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qinyang District
  • Buses: 66 16, 52 or 55
  • Nearest Metro: Wen Shu Yuan (line 1)

10. Tianfu Square

Tianfu Square
Area around Tianfu Square

The largest city square in southwest China, Tianfu is located in the centre of Chengdu and surrounded by skyscrapers. The “square” is actually in the shape of a circle with a large sculpture in the centre depicting the “Golden sun Bird”.

Tianfu Square is in the heart of Chengdu’s shopping district and has many shopping malls, cafe and restuarants nearby.

  • Opening Hours: 24 hours
  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Time Needed to Visit: under one hour
  • Address: Renmin South Road, Qinyang District
  • Nearest Metro: Tianfu Square (lines 1 and 2)

11. Dujiangyan Zhongshu Bookstore

This brand- new bookstore (opened October 2020) must be seen to be believed. The cathedral-like Dujiangyan Zhongshu Bookstore houses 80,000 titles over two floors. A series of winding staircases lead to the higher shelves.

  • Opening Hours:
  • Entrance Fee: free
  • Time Needed to Visit: under one hour
  • Address:
  • Nearest Metro:

Getting to the city from Chengdu Shuangliu Airport

The airport is approximitely 20km away making it easy to reach the city. A taxi should cost around ¥80 ($12.00).

There are five shuttle bus lines from Terminal 2 to the city between 06:00 and 20:00.

The airport (terminals 1 and 2) is linked to the Chengdu Metro via line 10. Change to line 3 for the city.

Getting to Chengdu from the rest of China

Getting around Chengdu

Things to do in Chengdu
Things to do in Chengdu

Chengdu is a large city, but has a convenient metro system which services most of the main attractions.

Taxis are ubiquitous and make a cheap and easy way to get around.

Local buses, although cheap at only ¥1 or ¥2 are best avoided for non-Mandarin speakers or unless you know the exact route. The timetables are not in English and buses tend to get very crowded.

Another great way to get around is by making use of the shared bikes. You will need the Alipay or Wechat apps for this and be able to (or have a friend that) speaks Mandarin.

Best Time to Visit Chengdu

Chengdu remains temperate year-round, making it the perfect destination at any time of the year. Spring is a particularly great time to visit, especially if you plan on exploring wild and beautiful Western Sichuan.

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Steve Rohan

About this author: Steve Rohan has lived in China for six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, ancient capital of Luoyang and tropical paradise that is Sanya.

After teaching English for a number of years, he now blogs full time for this site and adventure travel blog thetripgoeson.com.