Have a gander at a panda
HEN plotting a Chinese adventure it’s Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an that are the obvious citystay options. But Chengdu – the capital of Sichuan province that boasts a population of 14 million people – is a tourist mecca with pandas, an elegant teahouse culture, traditional neighbourhoods and lots of spicy food best enjoyed in the lively family-run restaurants that line the pedestrian avenues.
The destination, which will engage photographers and delight foodies, enjoys an easygoing reputation, with a stay in Chengdu providing a reprieve from the frenetic pace of China’s biggest cities.
This corner of China is famous for pandas, with more than 100,000 visitors calling at the Chengdu Panda Research Base (1375 Xiongmao Ave; panda.org.cn/english) every year, and locals suggest arriving early if you’re keen to see a little activity with the creatures eating in the morning before sleeping through the afternoon.
After stopping to see the stars of the show it’s time to explore a city, so start at Wenshu Temple (66 Wenshuyuan St) – the city’s largest Buddhist sanctuary dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Wisdom – before surveying the surrounding neighbourhood’s buzzing streets packed with local stores, traditional teahouses and snack stalls.
Discover artefacts from the Shu kingdom at the vast Jinsha Site Museum (2 Jinsha Site Road; jinshasitemuseum .com/en), see the Wang Jian Tomb (10 Yongling Rd), which is the only above-ground crypt excavated in China, and stroll through People’s Park, which is busy with activity on the weekend.
Jinli Street, 350m from Wuhu Temple (321 Wuhou Temple Rd), is a pedestrian precinct restored to look like a quaint dynasty-era enclave with lots of traditional architecture and stalls to sample Sichuan street food.
China’s city of Chengdu is a tourist haven filled with pandas, spicy hotpots and even the ancient art of handweaving, writes Sarah Nicholson.
The Ritz-Carlton Chengdu (269 Shuncheng Ave; ritzcarlton.com) opened in 2013, the Niccolo by Marco Polo (Hongxing Rd; marcopolo hotels.com/niccolo) is set to be unveiled at the end of this month, and whispers suggest the Fairmont Chengdu (Tianfu Ave; fairmont.com) will welcome its first guests later this year.
The Temple House (81 Bitieshi St; thetemplehouse hotel.com/en) – a sister property to Opposite House in Beijing and Hong Kong’s Upper House – is nearing completion, with guestrooms flanking a heritage Qing Dynasty structure near the city’s Daci Temple., while the Six Senses Qing Cheng Mountain (2 Dong Ruan Rd, Qingcheng Mountain Town; sixsenses.com) opens next month and the Banyan Tree Chongqing Beibei (101 Hot Spring Rd, Chengjiang; banyantree.com) is a new spa resort with every suite boasting a private hot-spring pool.