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Chengdu Sightseeing Guide - Visit notable attractions and landmarks

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Seemingly overshadowed for years by bigger, brasher economic centers like Beijing and Shanghai, Chengdu seems to have shrugged its shoulders like a wise old master who has seen so many young pretenders come and go, and just gotten on with the job of building an oasis in the west.

Though the attractive local combination of prosperity and relaxation exuded by all those teahouses continues, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of flashy modern office buildings and shopping developments.

Still, a rich and unique combination of traditions and cultures continues to permeate much of the city's life, and the history and heritage that gave rise to today's Chengdu can be explored throughout the city as well as the local region.

Chengdu's rivers

The story of its rivers is, and continues to be, an integral part of the life of Chengdu. Chengdu's famous brocade fabric was made possible by the clean, clear waters of these rivers. Furthermore, it was the taming of the rivers, and network to which they connected, that turned the region into a famous land of plenty. Fu Nan River is actually two rivers. Fu River courses around the north of the city and heads south. Nan River, also known as Jin Jiang River, flows to the east. The two meet at He Jiang Pavilion, which crosses Fu River near Shui Jing Street in Jinjiang district.

Brocade

Chengdu is a gateway to the southern Silk Road and the birthplace of Chinese silk, its most famous contribution ultimately being an exotic and extremely expensive range of hundreds of handmade silk fabric designs known as Shu brocade. However, trading in these handmade silks, which eventually extended throughout China and westward to the outer reaches of the Middle East through South Asia, peaked just over 1,000 years ago. It gradually diminished, eventually being replaced with cheaper factory-made textiles and though Chengdu remains an important center of textile production, only one factory still produces Shu brocade.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus has been synonymous with Chengdu ever since the ruler Meng Chang ordered hibiscus trees to be planted along the city's walls over 1,000 years ago. Municipal employees are still today tasked with tending to the plants and every fall, the city is awash with the sight and smell of the city's richly-colored official flower.

Teahouses

Teahouses are an integral part of life in Sichuan and Chengdu in particular. China is famous around the world for the cultivation, the celebration and the consumption of tea, and Chengdu sits at the top of the teahouse pile, so to speak. The people of Chengdu relax at teahouses, do business at teahouses, discuss the news at teahouses and argue at teahouses. Chengdu is alive in its teahouses, which also offer unique opportunities for peoples of different backgrounds and classes to mix. So grab a chair and a porcelain cup.

Du Fu Thatched Cottage

The famous Chinese poet Du Fu lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). For several years, Du Fu lived in a thatched cottage in western Chengdu. While here, he wrote more than 240 poems that are considered national treasures. After Du Fu left, the cottage fell into disrepair and eventually disappeared. The existing, recreated structure sits in an expansive park that houses a number of other tourist attractions such as a bamboo garden, pavilions and bridges. Enjoy copies of Du Fu poems, period relics, historic structures and cultural immersion. A tour lasts three or four hours.

Panda Breeding and Research Center

The endangered giant panda today lives in a few mountain ranges, mostly in sanctuaries in the province of Sichuan. The Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center opened in 1987 and today is home to over 80 giant pandas. The center is just 16 kilometers from downtown Chengdu.

Qingyang Palace

Qingyang Palace (also known as Green Ram Temple), on the bank of Jinjiang River in west Chengdu, is one of China's most famous Taoist temples. Though it was built during the Tang Dynasty, most remaining parts of the temple are restorations from much later in the Qing Dynasty. The most notable of these is the Eight Trigrams Pavilion, whose design reflects the belief that ‘the sky is round and the earth is square'. The temple complex offers historic buildings, important Taoist relics and of course, a teahouse where locals eat, drink tea and relax with games of mah-jong. A few hours kicking back here Chengdu-style could make an unusual and refreshing change for many tourists.

Wangjiang Tower Park

Wangjiang (‘overlooking a river from a distance') Tower Park sits on the southern side of Jinjiang River. The park was built as a memorial to a great female Chinese poet — Xue Tao — who lived during the Tang Dynasty. The main attraction is the 42-yard high, four-storied Wangjiang Tower, but the park includes a memorial to Xue Tao, a Xue Tao well, pavilions, and a big forest of 150 different kinds of bamboo that grew out of the plants various people left as memorials. 

Wenshu Monastery

Originally built during the Tang Dynasty and rebuilt in 1691, Wenshu Monastery is one of the busiest Buddhist centers in China and is the home of the Buddhist Association of Sichuan Province. A key Buddhist destination for centuries, large numbers of tourists and devotees arrive every day by coach. The site features many cultural and religious relics, hundreds of Buddha statues in different materials, a picturesque garden, a vegetarian restaurant, and a teahouse. 

Wuhou Temple

The Wuhou (‘martial marquis') Temple sits to the south of Jinjiang River, in Wuhou district. The temple was built to commemorate the memory of Zhuge Liang, a famous Shu-state military strategist and statesman from the Three Kingdoms period. The vast temple was built next to the temple of Liu Bei, the emperor of Shu, and the two were later combined as one complex featuring the temples plus pavilions, statues and relics. 

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