We loved Chengdu! The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding draws the most visitors, but the heart of the Sichuan Province has plenty more to offer.
My reference for spicy food was born in Chengdu. A mandatory part of discovering the local cuisine is eating a traditional hot pot. Order a type of broth and a variety of dishes to cook in it. Either go all-in and order the spicy broth, or play your cards a little safer by ordering half spicy, half clear broth. Our struggle was real: ordering the right ingredients off the Chinese menu, eating the oily food with chopsticks and conquering our newly discovered level of hot.
Wenshu Yuan Monastery
The Buddhist Wenshu Temple consists of three complexes, tea houses and a classical Chinese garden. It’s possible to have a vegetarian meal with the monks in the canteen.
Grab a picnic and enjoy daily life in People’s Park, the place to be for locals to gather and enjoy spare time. Lucas participated in the dancing, which was appreciated by the local ladies. I found the karaoke to be particularly entertaining. The crowd cheers, sings and buys plastic flowers to encourage the singers.
Jinli night market
The outdoor market in Jinli Street is so beautiful! Once the sun is down, hundreds of lanterns light the marketplace and the traditionally-styled buildings. A very romantic and cozy atmosphere! Arrive hungry to indulge in street food.
Other draws are Tianfu Square, the symbol of Chengdu, which is flanked by skyscrapers and fancy boutiques. If you’re in for a little kitsch, stay there to watch the show of its musical fountain. Wide and Narrow Alley are really popular too: the alleys are packed with (expensive) shops, bars and restaurants. The architecture is typical, but not authentic Chinese. A bit too commercial for my taste, but nice to stroll around.
I know the appeal of pandas is huge, but I promise it’s worth to get to know the city beyond its furry black and white giants!