Chengdu - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Chengdu


Located in the fertile plains of the Sichuan Province's Red Basin, Chengdu acts like such a small town that it can be easy to forget it's one of China's largest cities. With nicknames like 'Heavenly State', 'City of Hibiscus' and 'Land of Milk and Honey', it is no wonder that Chengdu is also ranked as one of its most liveable places.

Still a hidden gem for many tourists in China, Chengdu lacks the famous historical sites that draw crowds to tourist magnets Beijing, Changhai and Xi'an. This doesn't mean that the city lacks historical importance though, as it was the site of origin for the Bronze culture, the Southern Silk Road, and printed the first paper currency. Chengdu is full of history, and visitors can visit attractions like the Wenshu Monastery, Wuhou Memorial Temple, Tomb of Wang Jian, Green Ram Temple, and the Thatched Cottage of the ancient poet Du Fu.

Chengdu is an important culinary destination in China, and visitors can attend traditional Chinese tea ceremonies at many teahouses, including Wenshu Monastery and Guanghe Chalou. The food in Chengdu is some of the best in the region, offering fiery Sichuan dishes like hotpots, Chongqing duck neck, and spicy dragon prawns from roadside carts or stylish restaurants.

The top attraction in Chengdu, however, is located in the lush valleys surrounding the town. The Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center is the world's only centre of its kind, and offers one-of-a-kind opportunities to see pandas and their cubs.

Chengdu makes a great base for exploring the Sichuan Province, and is within easy distance of the Giant Buddha of Leshan, Mount Qingcheng, and the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area. It is also a convenient stopover on travels to Tibet, as there are daily flights to Lhasa.

Information & Facts

The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.

The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities.

Local time is GMT +8.

The largest centre of its kind, the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center is part zoo, part lab, and part habitat. The centre is focused on increasing the population of giant pandas in captivity so that more may be released into the wild; with this in mind, the Chengdu centre is the best place on earth to see ridiculously cute panda cubs. The park is also a home to many red pandas and other endangered Chinese animals, though the famous giant pandas are the main attraction. The Giant Panda Museum has interactive exhibits designed to teach visitors about the fascinating creatures, and the work of the centre. It takes about two hours to walk the grounds, or visitors can ride in a tour cart.

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