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Things to Do in Chengdu | Not Just Seeing Pandas and Eating Hot Pot

Chengdu, a charming city located in Southwest China, is home to giant pandas, a paradise for eating hot pots, and the cultural center of Southwest China. Below, we have given you a list of things to do in Chengdu from seeing pandas to exploring the local laid-back lifestyle.

Don’t be astonished by its long history, rich culture, and mouthwatering food. Here are a few ways for you to get a taste of what Chengdu has to offer.

See Adorable Pandas

Whether you are young or old, happy or sad, serious or easygoing, you can’t stop laughing when you see the cute giant pandas in Chengdu. Pandas are regarded as China’s national icon and are popular because of their round bodies and cute looks.

It’s hard to accept that giant pandas are endangered. To protect their health, we hope you can understand the importance of keeping your distance from them and will refuse to join in with panda activities, such as a volunteer program or taking photos with them.

cute panda

You should get up early to avoid the crowds and enjoy the time of day that pandas are at their liveliest. Many people are envious of their lazy lifestyle, which involves eating and sleeping all the time. After lunchtime, they start sleeping; therefore, you have to go to the panda base early unless you don’t mind watching them sleep.

Where can you see giant pandas in Chengdu? There are several panda bases around Chengdu. Check this guide and pick your preferred one to visit:

Eat, Eat, Eat

Chengdu is a “delicious” city where you can find tasty foods easily. No wonder it was deemed as a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2010 and is one of the most popular food cities in China. In fact, it’s where many dishes you have already heard of come from, such as mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, hot pot, and poached spicy slices of pork. So amazing is the food in Chengdu that you can’t help but eat, eat, eat.

Most Chengdu dishes are spicy but you can ask for chili not to be added (bu yao la; 不要辣) if you don’t like it. The most famous snack places in Chengdu are Wuhou Temple, Jinli Ancient Street, and Kuanzhai Alley. It’s a great idea to taste all kinds of Chengdu dishes there and they’re available at reasonable prices.

If you are interested in discovering more about Chengdu food or Sichuan cuisine, you can go to Sichuan Cuisine Museum where you can take part in a cooking class and learn more about the food culture.

eating hot pot

Enjoy the Local Laid-Back Lifestyle

There is a famous saying about Chengdu that “Young men don’t go into Sichuan, and old men can’t leave Sichuan”, which means Chengdu is a wonderful place and local people enjoy their lives very much. Young people will lose their ambitions if they are living in Chengdu and enjoy the slow pace of life while elderly people cherish their lives very much and never want to leave there. Drinking tea, playing mahjong, and doing exercises are common pastimes to see in Chengdu. It’s rare to see people doing anything in a hurry because they always stick to the slow rhythm of life that they are used to.

Renmin Park is a popular place for locals. You will be curious when you see their activities and may even want to join in, such as drinking a cup of tea, having your ears cleaned, and dancing.

The most interesting corner in Renmin Park must be the “marriage market”. This is a place where private information about single people is listed, such as salaries, photos, jobs, ages, and hobbies, and then they wait for suitable partners to agree to marriage. Chinese parents enjoy doing this kind of thing for their children although their daughters/sons don’t necessarily want to be matched with partners in this unseemly way.

Ear-wax cleaning in Chengdu
Ear-wax cleaning in Chengdu

Watch a Magical Face Changing / Sichuan Opera Performance

Sichuan opera is one of the classic Chinese opera dramas while magical “face changing” is popular in Chengdu. The dramatic art of face changing is not only a kind of acrobatics but is also a way to show different characters’ moods in Sichuan opera.

Sichuan opera gives you the chance to experience the strong local cultural atmosphere in Chengdu. The most popular theater in Chengdu is Shu Feng Ya Yun and you can watch the opera there without having any issues with the language barrier as there are English subtitles.

With prices ranging from 200 to 400 yuan, you can buy different types of tickets to enjoy Sichuan opera. Bear in mind that you should try to get there early to make sure you don’t miss any highlights.

sichuan opera

Learn about the Chinese Buddhist Culture at Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area

About 2½ hours’ drive from Chengdu’s city center, the Leshan Giant Buddha is a famous landmark. The huge stone-carved Buddha highlights the Buddhist culture. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Leshan Giant Buddha’s history can be dated back to the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), and you will marvel at the site of this large Buddha carved out of a cliff. It stands at 71 meters high and is 24 meters wide.

Taking a boat and pausing at the Buddha’s feet is the best way to visit it and avoid the crowds. Every weekend and during holidays, you will be stuck on the visiting bridge for 2 to 3 hours — this is uncomfortable and frustrating.

leshan giant buddha

Spend a Memorable Time in Chengdu

Don’t miss seeing giant pandas in Chengdu, which is their hometown. Be sure to taste a hot pot and tasty Chengdu snacks as you don’t want to waste the chance to discover Chengdu’s foodie culture. The most interesting experience in Chengdu is exploring the local lifestyle, which is so different from other Chinese cities. Try to watch a Sichuan opera performance — this is a fun experience for travelers.

If you also have time when you’re in Chengdu, go to Leshan and learn more about the Buddhist culture and see the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world. Chengdu is a ‘delicious’ and fun city, which is filled with a cultural atmosphere. Local people enjoy their lives and love their city very much. Chengdu will give you warm and unforgettable memories of China.

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