Located on the edge of the plains of the Red Basin, Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. Regarded as one of the most important economic, transportation and communication centers in Western China, Chengdu is ranked as one of the most livable mega-cities in the country. Known for its agricultural wealth, Chengdu which has a population of over nine million is often referred to as the ‘land of milk and honey’ and is also the natural habitat of extremely cute giant pandas! The history of Chengdu can be traced back to over two millennium when the first emperor built his capital here and named the city. Through the years, the city has retained its original name and kept its position as the capital and as the significant center of politics, commerce and military of the Sichuan area.
This photo of Wolong Nature Reserve is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Wolong National Natural Reserve – Cute giant pandas. Those three words should be enough reason to drive three hours from Chengdu to the Wolong National Natural Reserve. Located in the east of Mt. Qionglai, it is home to the largest and best-known panda reserve in China. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains region. Housing over 150 highly endangered giant pandas, the Wolong National Natural Reserve gets over 100,000 visitors a year. Managed by the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, the Wolong Panda Reserve was founded in 1980 with assistance from World Wildlife Fund. Whilst learning more about this highly lovable creature and its living habits, visitors can also have photo opportunities with baby pandas. In addition, with an accompanying donation, visitors can also ‘adopt’ a panda by naming it! Although known primarily for the giant pandas, Wolong National Natural Reserve is also home to rare and endangered animals such as the red panda, golden monkey, white-lipped deer (Cervus albirostris), gnu (wildebeest) and precious plants like yew and beech.
This photo of Guanghan Sanxingdui Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Sanxingdui Museum – Situated near an archaeological site that dates to the Neolithic, Shang and Zhou periods, the Sanxingdui Museum was established for the sole purpose of showcasing the cultural relics unearthed from the Sanxingdui site. Sanxingdui refers to three earth mounds at the archaeological site, and legend has it that the Heavenly Emperor casted down three handfuls of earth which fell near the Jian River and became three earth mounds on Chengdu Plain. The three earth piles, described as three golden stars in a line, hence became known as Sanxingdui (three-star piles). The entire area stretches for about 12 square kilometers (about 4.6 square miles), which is the largest, oldest, and most connotational Shu cultural relic in Sichuan. Due to the scope, rarity, and wealth of the contents uncovered, the Chinese government declared Sanxingdui a National Key Cultural Relics Protected Unit in 1988. Sanxingdui holds important historical significant, in 1986, two large Shang-period sacrificial pits were unearthed with more than one thousand gold, bronze, and jade objects, shocking the entire country. The most important relevation perhaps was that the discovery proved that Sanxingdui was the capital of the ancient Shu Kingdom more than 3,000 years ago. Of all the objects excavated at Sanxingdui, the bronzes are considered the most precious, with their high degree of historical, artistic and scientific value. As part of the conservation and education effort, the Sanxingdui Museum was opened in October, 1997. The museum is divided into four sections, displaying more than 1000 pieces of cultural relics from Sanxingdui Relic and the two sacrificial pits of Shang Period, including gold plate, bronze ware, jade articles, pottery and ivory.
Ticket Hours: 8:30-17:00
Exhibition Hours: 8:30-18:00
Bronze Exhibition Hall: 8:30-18:30
This photo of Baoguang Temple of Chengdu is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Baoguang Temple – Founded during the Tang Dynasty, the Baoguang (Divine light) temple acquired its name from the emperor Xizong of Tang Dynasty (618-907) when he saw the light radiating from the temple one night. Located in Xindu County, the temple is 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from Chengdu and is a popular destination for travelers from China and abroad. Today, Baoguang temple is known for its storied history, splendid architecture, and majestic sculptures. Baoguang Temple consist of one tower, five halls and sixteen courtyards. The temple has a number of halls; Cangjinglou Hall is recognized as the biggest and one of the most outstanding halls of Baoguang Temple. Arhat Hall, another attraction of Baoguang Temple, covers an area of 1,600 square meters (17,223 square feet). The hall houses 577 kinds of sculptures by Li Guangxiu and his disciples and each statue in Arhat Hall has a unique posture and expression. In addition to the historic relics and sculptures, there are many national treasures including ‘Running Horses’, drawn by Xu Beihong, a famous Chinese artist. Other cultural relics preserved in the temple include Shelizi (Buddhist relics) of Baoguang Temple; bronze Ding (an ancient cooking vessel), and other precious paintings by well-known artists.
Opening Hours: 09:00 to 16:50
This photo of Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Xiongmao Jidi) is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center – This non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals is located just 10km away from downtown Chengdu. Founded in 1987, the facility started with six giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. By 2008, it had 124 panda births, and the captive panda population has grown to 83. In order for the pandas to have the best possible man-made environment for rearing and breeding, the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center has created and mimicked the pandas’ natural habitat as closely as possible. The center also has a fodder room, sleeping quarters, a medical station, research laboratories, and a training center. A great number of plants and as many as ten thousand clumps of bamboos and bushes have been cultivated for the giant pandas’ diet and habitat. The center is also planning to expand another 500 acres of land (simulating a natural environment) in order to prepare giant pandas who were bred in captivity for release into the wild. The center also features a Giant Panda Museum which was opened in 1993 to further scientific education and to improve public awareness of the protection of both wild creatures and their environment. This is the world’s only thematic museum for rare and endangered animal species. The museum houses all kinds of exhibits from examples of animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles to insects, fossils and models. The best time to visit the center is 09:00-10:00 in the morning when the pandas have their breakfast.
Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:00 every day.
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