Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
One of Chéngdū’s most popular attractions, this reserve, 18km north of the city centre, is the easiest way to glimpse Sìchuān’s famous residents outside of a zoo. The enclosures here are large and well maintained. Home to nearly 120 giant and 76 red pandas, the base focuses on getting these shy creatures to breed. March to May is the ‘falling in love period’ (wink wink). If you visit in autumn or winter, you may see tiny newborns in the nursery. Try to visit in the morning, when the pandas are most active. Feeding takes place around 9.30am, although you’ll see them eating in the late afternoon, too. They spend most of their afternoons sleeping, particularly during the height of midsummer, when they sometimes disappear into their (air-conditioned) living quarters.
Jīnshā Site Museum
In 2001 archaeologists made a historic discovery in Chéngdū’s western suburbs: they unearthed a major site containing ruins of the 3000-year-old Shu kingdom. This excellent, expansive museum includes the excavation site and beautiful displays of many of the uncovered objects, which were created between 1200 and 600 BC.
Like the discoveries farther outside the city at Sānxīngduī , the 6000 or so relics include both functional and decorative items, from pottery and tools to jade artefacts, stone carvings and ornate gold masks. A large number of elephant tusks were also unearthed here.
Take bus 901 from Xīnnánmén bus station, or metro line 2 to Yinpintianxia.
Traditional Chinese tea in Chengdu
Drinking tea is as central to life in Chengdu as its pungent Sichuan peppercorns or the city's other favourite pastime, mah-jong. Many people carry flasks, pre-filled with tea leaves, ready for hot water wherever they go. Others head to the city's many teahouses. A single street might be populated with five or six different teahouses; the same again can be found on the next. It's a density that persists whether you're in the heart of the city or in the suburbs.
Tea's popularity in Chengdu is not just down to its location in one of the biggest tea producing regions in China, but also because of its historically advantageous position.
Best teahouses in Chengdu
Specialises in seasonal, high quality teas for tasting and for retail. There is a set room hire rate (it doesn't matter how many of your there are), plus the cost of the tea. It's the place to go for serious tea appreciation with the use of traditional tea tasting and serving equipment. 209 Qingyang Dadao, Qingyang District; 青羊区青羊大道, 俗味茶号
There are four different tea houses in this former zoo, all operated by the park. Baihuayuan is the most picturesque, set in a pavilion under the shelter of trees. All four offer tea, mah-jong rental and lunch for ¥18 (US$2.90) per person, per day.
175 Xi Yiduan, Yihuan Lu, Qingyang District; 青羊区一环路西一段, 百花潭公园
Yuelai Tea House
To the left of Jinjiang Theatre's main building is Yuelai Tea House, where you can watch performances of Sichuan opera every Saturday night (except the first of the month). Prices start from ¥20 (US$3.25), which includes a two-hour performance and tea. You can also go at other times of the day, when teas start from ¥10 (US$1.60).
54 Huaxing Zhengjie, Jinjiang District; 锦江区华兴正街54号锦江剧场内, 悦来茶馆
Perhaps one of the most famous tea houses in Chengdu, Heming Teahouse is situated in the centre of People's Park. It has over 100 years of history and you can still get water poured from traditional long-spouted teapots for an additional fee. Teas start from ¥18 (US$2.90).
12 Shaocheng Road, Qingyang District; 青羊区少城路12号人民公园内, 鹤鸣茶社