Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, an area of west central China noted for its mild climate and fiery food, as well as for being the home of China’s rare and endangered pandas. Chengdu’s great moment in history passed more than 2,000 years ago: in the 4th century BC it was capital of the Kingdom of Zhou.
Chengdu Zoo (Chengdu Dongwuyuan)
The main attraction of this rather miserable zoo is its collection of pandas, there being 12 on display. They, at least, have more space and greenery than the other 200 species of animals here, including rare golden-haired monkeys. Beside the giant panda enclosure is one for lesser red pandas, which seem more active than their cousins.
Monastery of Divine Light (Baoguang Si)
There has been a Buddhist monastery on this site for 1,900 years; earlier buildings were destroyed by war, and the present monastery was rebuilt in 1671. Its Tang Pagoda has 13 storeys, is 30m high, and has a pronounced lean. Other marvels are 500 representations of the Buddha, and the carved-stone Thousand Buddha Tablet which dates from ad 450.
Mount Emei (Emeishan)
Chengdu is one of the bases from which to climb and explore this famed mountain some 140km southwest of the city.
People’s Park (Renmin Gongyuan)
The relaxed ambience and excellent tea served at the lakeside People’s Teahouse (Renmin Chaguan) is one of the highlights of this city centre park. Chengdu is a relatively open and walkable city, but the park is still a welcome escape from traffic and crowds.
River Viewing Pavilion Park (Wangjiang Lou)
Part of the Brocade Riverside Park, the pavilion is dedicated to the Tang-dynasty poet, Xue Tao, who was fond of bamboo, which she regarded a symbol of modesty and self control. In her honour, the park hosts a renowned collection of more than 100 bamboo varieties from around the world. Sichuan University campus.
Sichuan Provincial Museum (Sichuan Sheng Bowuguan)
The museum’s exhibits cover the life and times of Sichuan, from murals and frescoes taken from ancient tombs, to mementoes recalling the progress of Mao Zedong’s Long March through the province. Ming-dynasty calligraphy and painting is a speciality, and there are some spectacular bronze objects, including a tree with money hidden in the branches.
Temple of Marquis Wu (Wuhou Ci)
Also known as the Wuhou Temple, this is a wondrously vibrant place, with black-clad monks doing the honours for the Marquis, whose real name was Zhu Geliang, an important statesman of the third-century Three Kingdoms period.