3 Days in Chengdu China

Sichuan will always be my favourite province of China, although this is partly due to its food, as Sichuan Cuisine (Szechuan cuisine) is easily one of the most exciting foods the world over. Where it’s a cuisine famous for “mala” flavours which share a rather extreme blend of numbing Sichuan peppercorns with red hot chillies. And my personal obsession once had us trace the origins of the iconic Sichuan Hot Pot to Chongqing China, which ironically is no longer part of Sichuan Province (now a separate provincial municipality). Otherwise, Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan Province, and also it is home to most major tourist spots in the province. So a Chengdu Tour makes the perfect match with some fantastic ‘Mala’ eating. And we share our recommended 3-day itinerary below.

Day 1: Mount Qingcheng

I’m starting further out from Chengdu, to get the bigger journeys out of the way, leaving more time for food exploration in the city. So Mount Qingcheng is the must-visit sight-seeing attraction outside of Chengdu, roughly 1 hour 30 minutes north-west of the city, and tours tend to be half-day tours for the front mountain and half-day tours for the rear mountain. Or both in a full-day. However the main front mountain is better for tourism with its historical and cultural sites (Jianfu Palace, Tianshi Celestial Cave, Shangqing Palace) where it is known as one of the birthplaces of Taoism in China. The rear mountain is otherwise rather scenic. And while both are no doubt worth exploring with time, nearby Dujiangyan, an ancient irrigation feat originally constructed around 256 BC, is also worth considering on this day, with its various historical sites as well.

Day 2: A Day with Pandas

The must-see attraction in Chengdu, and a big tick for the bucket list is the city’s famous Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, as visitors can literally hold a baby panda (Dujiangyan Panda Base). And it is pretty much the only place in the world where this is possible. Again this is a fair bit out from Chengdu city centre (roughly a 1-hour drive), so a Panda Tour is probably best, and if planning to hug some baby pandas expect it to be expensive (around $300). On the plus side, the money does go to the conservation of the adorable furry bears at Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. Then, to complete the day, I’d maybe call in at Renmin Park when back in the city of Chengdu. This is a nice scenic local park, seemingly miles away from the city, with ponds, trees, sculptures and tea houses.

Day 3: Chengdu Temple Tour

Back in the city this time, there are two important attractions not far from the popular tourist hotels around Chunxi Road. There are Qingyang Palace and Chengdu Wuhou Shrine. Starting with Qingyang Palace, this is one of the most prominent Taoist temples in the region with all sorts of cultural relics and exhibits on display. It is also just a nice compound to walk around and explore the local life. Next stop would then be Chengdu Wuhou Shrine, a temple dedicated to Marquis Wu, with other interesting historical sites like the mausoleum of the Emperor of Shuhan (Temple of Liu Bei). And while I have no idea who these people are, the compound and annexes are no doubt fascinating to explore. I would then finish the tour on Jinli ” Ancient” Street which is somewhat themed to the local “Three Kingdoms” culture, although it’s an easy place to find some spicy-numbing Sichuan eats. It’s also worth considering staying in this area as there are many heritage and boutique style guesthouses and hotels.

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