Chengdu is rarely at the top of travellers’ minds when it comes to planning a trip to China. However, those who decide to travel there will not regret it. Beyond its teahouse culture, several coffee institutions, and night bars with local craft beers, the city is also the epicentre of Sichuan cuisine. After all, this is the heart of a region that’s known for dishes like mapo tofu, kungpao Chicken, and dandan noodles. So much so, that Chengu is recognised as UNESCO’s first-ever City of Gastronomy. There’s more than food to enjoy in the city though. In collaboration with Singapore Airlines, we’ve scoured the city for the best properties, restaurants, and activities that travellers can enjoy in Chengdu as much as the other cities. Here’s the definitive Chengdu travel guide.
Accommodations: The Temple House
The Temple House, located on the edge of Taikoo Li, is a hotel with a clever mix of both old and brand-new buildings. For instance, it has a century-old Qing dynasty courtyard and contemporary L-shaped blocks around the property which were conceptualised by Make Architects, the company responsible for the shopping mall at Shanghai’s Xujiahui district.
Address: 81 Bitieshi Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Accommodations: Niccolo Chengdu
Niccolo Chengdu is one of the latest five-star additions to the city’s luxury hotel scene. The luxury hotel is also just above the Chengdu metro line, making it a great jumping off point to explore the rest of the city with ease. Its rooms are decked in fashion-inspired interiors by leading designers and expansive windows offering panoramic views of Chengdu’s business district — International Finance Square.
Address: Tower 3, IFS, No.1, Section 3, Hongxing Road, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Accommodations: DIAOYUTAI BOUTIQUE HOTEL CHENGDU
This is Diaoyutai MGM’s first boutique hotel in Chengdu. It was designed by legendary French designer Bruno Moinard, who gave the property an artistic blend of history and modernity within its premises. There are two restored ancient courtyards with 45 guest rooms, all of which have furniture with contemporary Chinese touches.
Address: 38 – 39 Kuan Alley, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Accommodations: CHENGDU OLD CONGDE ALLEY
Chengdu Old Congde Alley is located only 900 metres away from the shopping paradise of Chunxi Road. In addition to its convenient location, residents will realise the property is also incredibly design-centric. It has traditional architecture from the 1920s along with a modern aesthetic wooden interior. A highly recommended option in this Chengdu travel guide.
Address: 1 Chongdeli, Tangpa Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Indulgence: JINLI ANCIENT STREET
Dubbed “The First Street of the Shu Kingdom”, Jinli Ancient Street is located in the east of Chengdu Wuhou Shrine. It is a 350 metre-long street and is home to a slew of traditional street food hawkers and famous snacks like buckwheat noodles, sandapao (glutinous rice balls lathered with brown sugar syrup), Zhangfei beef, and sesame cakes. You could spend as little as an hour here, or the greater part of an afternoon, but make sure you visit this entry in this Chengdu travel guide.
Directions: Take Bus 57, 82 or335,and get off at Wu Hou Ci (Wuhou Shrine) bus stop.
Address: 231 Wuhouci Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Indulgence: Honey and Malt
Honey and Malt earned its spot in this Chengdu travel guide for having some of the city’s best locally-brewed craft beers on tap. Nestled amongst high-end clothing boutiques on Tongzilin-dong Road, the bar has brews from Chengdu’s Harvest Brewery, Trip Smith from Guiyang, Master Gao from Nanjing, and NBeer from Beijing.
Opening Hours: 5pm to late
Address: 20 Tongzilin Dong Road, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Indulgence: CHEN MAPO TOFU – LUOMASHI BRANCH
Mapo tofu, since the late 1800s, has been one of the most recognisable Sichuan dishes in the world. To have a taste of this tongue numbing dish in Chengdu, Chen Mapo Tofu has to be the restaurant to do so. Its take on the dish is arguably one of the most emblematic, if not definitive. Located near Chunxi Road, the restaurant also serves other authentic Sichuan specialties such as dandan noodles and spicy diced chicken.
Opening Hours: Daily, 2.30pm to 9pm.
Address: 197 Xiyulong Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Activities: CHENGDU RESEARCH BASE OF PANDA BREEDING CENTRE
Pandas have long been one of China’s national treasures, and one of its tools for soft diplomacy. And these mammals are gathered in a park just 45 minutes by car from the city centre. The attraction educates tourists about the cute, furry animal, while serving another duty of maintaining panda’s numbers via research and breeding programs.
Directions: Take bus 198 or 198Ato Xiongmao Jidi (Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding) bus stop.
Opening hours: 7.30am to 6pm
Admission fee: Adult – 5 yuan , Child – 27 yuan (free for children under 1.3m)
Address: 1375 Xiongmao Avenue, Chenghua District, Chengdu
Activities: JIUZHAIGOU VALLEY
Located in the mountainous regions of southwest China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China. In addition to the nature reserve’s scenic beauty, it’s also home to nine Tibetan villages. Seven out of these villages are still populated by Tibetans today; tourists can get a rare glimpse into the Tibetan culture through their natives’ performances and museums around the area. To get here, travellers have two options: a 40-minute flight or a six-hour drive from Chengdu. Consider spending a few days there to make the travel worth it.
Directions from Chengdu city: By car (at least a 440km-drive); By bus (around 8-10 hours); By domestic flight (40 minutes)
Opening hours: 7am to 7pm (peak season); 8am to 6pm (off-peak season)
Admission fee: 220 yuan (peak season); 80 yuan (off-peak season)
Address: Jiuzhaigou County, China
Activities: DACI TEMPLE
Located next to Chunxi Road and Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li is the Daci Temple. With a history of about 1,600 years, the Buddhist landmark was first built in the Sui Dynasty in year 581. Today, it’s a cultural gem in Chengdu, attracting thousands of religious devotees and curious visitors with its impressive collection of Buddhist sculptures and traditional Chinese paintings.
Opening hours: 8am – 5.30pm
Admission fee: Free
Address: No.1 Dacisi Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Activities: SICHUAN CUISINE MUSEUM OF CHENGDU
This museum rounds out our Chengdu travel guide’s food recommendations. As mentioned, Chengdu is UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy. Hence, to fully experience the city is to have a taste of its authentic Sichuan cuisine. And this museum allows visitors to do just that — there’s a variety of books, recipes, and even, unique utensils that revolve around the famous tongue-numbing cuisine. The museum is also interactive in the sense those who are eager to try their hand at cooking can do so IN its Interactive Hall. Visitors can choose a recipe and gather ingredients before cooking the dish themselves there. Fret not, a professional chef is always on duty to help out.
Directions: Take metro line 2 to Xipu Station and walk across the street to take bus p22 to Gucheng bus stop. Then, walk west for 5 minutes to Sichuan Cuisine Museum.
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm
Admission fee: 58.5 yuan; 360 yuan including cooking
Address: No.1 Dacisi Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Activities: SICHUAN TAPESTRY WOVEN AND EMBROIDERED MUSEUM
Take a break from all the eating by visiting the museum of the Shu brocade. The Sichuan Tapestry Woven and Embroidered Museum highlights the beauty and intricacy behind the famous craft by providing insight into the unique fabric, both for its decorative and utilitarian uses. Be sure to check out a live demonstration of the process of weaving the brocade too; there will be two skilled artisans operating a looming machine at the center of the museum and churning out exquisite Shu Brocades live.
Directions: Take bus 170 and alight at caotang xiaoxue nan men bus stop.
Opening hours: 8am – 5.30pm (Winter season); 9am – 6pm (Summer season)
Admission fee: Free
Address: No.2 Caotang Eastern Road, Qingyang District, Chengdu