Why Is This Place so Great?
Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province of China and was awarded the title of UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy in 2011 for inventing dozens of cooking methods, flavor types, and creating more than 6,000 local dishes. Also known for its teahouses, nightlife, and research in protecting giant pandas, it is no wonder Chengdu has been a growing tourist destination year-on-year.
Where Should I Stay?
For Luxury Choose: The Ritz-Carlton Chengdu
The Ritz Carlton Chengdu is located in the city’s main square, providing guests with a plethora of shops and restaurants within walking distance.
Entry level rooms start from 538 square feet, and all come with walk-in closets, TOTO branded intelligent toilets, as well as separate bathtubs and showers. Splurge for a Club Room or Suite to receive 3 pieces of garment pressing, food, and beverages in the lounge, and limousine services (amongst other amenities) complimentary of the hotel.
The hotel is also home to some of the best restaurants in Chengdu. Dine at Spices for their vibrant buffet options offering Italian, Japanese, Southeast Asian, and Chinese cuisine – equipped with live cooking stations.
Visit Li Xuan for some gourmet Sichuan cuisine, or dine at the Ritz Carlton’s Dining Room for some Mediterranean cuisine.
For Lifestyle Choose: Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain
Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain is a grand resort containing 113 villas and suites. It may be located an hour away from the city center, but it is in close proximity to the Wolong Panda Base as well as just minutes drive away from both entrances of the Qing Cheng Mountain trails.
This hotel tries its best to reduce its carbon footprint by creating its own purified water in the house and bottling it in re-usable glass bottles for guest consumption. Furthermore, the food used in their restaurants is sourced from the local community as well as their own organic garden.
Airport transfers are also available to and from the hotel by Tesla electric cars. On a wellness perspective, the hotel offers tai chi and yoga classes, state of the art gym facilities, pool, as well as an award-winning spa using all natural ingredients (some treatments even use Chinese Medicine!).
The resort space is huge, in addition to the outlets mentioned above, the grounds also four dining establishments, a bar, and a tea house. There is no doubt that guests will engage in their “six senses” here.
For Boutique Choose: The Temple House
The Temple House Hotel combines the old with the new, literally. The hotel’s main entrance is located in a restored Qing dynasty building, while its 100 guest rooms and 42 serviced appointments are located within newly built glass towers.
All guest rooms are equipped with some of the finest technology, including Bose portable speakers, interactive TVs with streaming capabilities for both Androids and IOS users, motorized curtains, and hidden USB ports.
The rooms are equipped with tons of free amenities too, including all the snacks and drinks one could consume from the mini bar!
In terms of dining options, the hotel offers three establishments: a French bistro, an Italian inspired restaurant, as well as a Teahouse serving Chinese vegan dishes and various tea.
What Should I Do?
Luxury: Spend a Day Volunteering at one of Chengdu’s Panda Centers
Make your visit to one of three Panda Bases in Chengdu even more memorable by taking a day to volunteer alongside professional panda keepers at a breeding center. You will have the opportunity to feed pandas, make some “panda cakes” for the bears to eat, and have a private tour of the facilities. That being said, not all of this trip is glamorous! Volunteers should be prepared to do some cleaning as well. Those on this excursion also have the option to take a professional photo with a panda, but be advised that this comes at an extra hefty cost of 1,800 RMB (approximately 263 USD) where all proceeds go back to funding the facility.
Addresses of the facilities:
- Wolong Panda Base: 303 Provincial Rd, Wenchuan Xian, Aba Zangzuqiangzuzizhizhou, Sichuan Sheng, China
- Dujiangyan Panda Base: Shiqiao Village, Qingchengshan County, Dujiangyan Prefecture, Sichuan Sheng, China
- Bifengxia Giant Panda Base: Bifeng Gorges Scenic Resort, Yucheng District, Ya’an 625000, China
Lifestyle: Visit Taoist Temples
Bask in Gorgeous Scenery at Mount Qingcheng
There are two parts of Mount Qingcheng that can be explored. The front-side of the mountain consists of a 3 to 4-hour hike (with cable car it’ll take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours) to see numerous different Taoist temples. As one of the most famous Taoist mountains in the country, visitors will see the difference in how people worshipped the religion through the Han, Sui, Tang, and Qing dynasties.
If you’re looking for that postcard-worthy picture (or if you’ve seen many Taoist temples before), we recommend visiting the back-side of the mountain. On this portion of the 6 to 7-hour hike (with cable cars it’ll take approximately 3-4 hours), visitors will be able to visit an ancient village filled with teahouses and then proceed to a much more quiet and scenic hike filled with waterfalls, rivers, and bridges. At the end of the uphill hike, trekkers will be rewarded with gorgeous views of the area since this mountain peak is 2000 meters higher than that of the front-side mountain.
Both of these trails have cable cars options, as well as boat rides across lakes, at an extra cost if you prefer to have a less strenuous and timely hike. Unfortunately, these trails do not connect to one another so, choose your routes wisely!
Boutique: Learn to Play Mahjong
Mahjong is a tile-based game that was created during the Qing dynasty. Much like chess, this four-player game requires strategy, which means game sessions can take hours or even days to complete for the avid player. Although this traditional hobby has dwindled in popularity in the majority of Chinese cities, it can still be seen playing regularly in Chengdu. Nowadays, there are even tours created to teach foreigners this famous pastime within some of the best teahouses in Chengdu.
Already know how to play?
Then stop by a mahjong parlor at Kuanzhai Alley (a must see destination filled with street food and shops) where establishments galore!
Where Should I Eat?
Luxury: Yu Zhi Lan
Photo of the restaurant. Courtesy of Yu Zhi Lan
Behind an unmarked solid wooden door is a small restaurant called Yu Zhi Lan holding only 3 private rooms and 18 seats in total. At this restaurant, patrons will have the option to dine on multi-course degustation menus (up to 25 courses). Each of these dishes is masterfully refined versions of local Sichuan cuisine using some of the world’s most high quality and exorbitant ingredients (including truffles and birds nest).
Address: No. 24 Changfa Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu, China
Lifestyle: Qin Shan Zhai Health Estates Restaurant
Qin Shan Zhai Health Estates serves an alternative hot pot option using Chinese medicinal herbs in all of their recipes making it all the tastier. The menu is in both Chinese and English and describes the medicinal benefits of each dish. If you have any food intolerances, allergies, or dietary requirements (vegan options are available!) they will try their best to cater to them as well. The staff here speak pretty good English as well, so communicating with them shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Address: 247 Wuhouci Street, Wuhouci, Wuhou Qu, Chengdu Shi, Sichuan Sheng, China, 610041
Boutique: Xiao Tian Dou Hua (小谭豆花 )
Photo of the Restaurant’s Dou Hua Cao Zi Mian (Tofu with Noodles). Courtesy of Cathy Danh’s Flikr Page
While there are so many great local eateries in Chengdu, we chose Xiao Tian Dou Hua for its vast menu, which is mostly (if not all) hits. With a name that translates to “Little Tian’s Bean Curd Flower”, you know that the tofu dishes are must eat here! We recommend ordering the Chili Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles, Tofu with Noodles, Dumplings, and “Cold Drunken” Sweet Tofu for dessert. Employees at this establishment won’t be able to converse in English, but they do have photos of all their dishes behind the counter where patrons order.
Address: Section 12, 86 Xi Dajie, Chengdu, China