Sichuan Province's

CHENGDU

Global Mark : 11.62

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
3 2 4 3 2 4 2 3

2

11.11

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
21 76%  (16) 43%  (9) 62%  (13) 2 to 18 12.14


Description :
A fairly developed city with a lot of shops, some interesting parks, temple, pandas and tickets to Tibet !

Comments : Chengdu is basically a transition point but, as a Chinese city, this is a fairly  interesting and relaxing one well worth a short stay.

What to do : Cycle the town / Feel the dynamism of the streets / Get up early to see the pandas /  Get the latest infos about Tibet / Prepare a Yangzi river trip / Taste Sichuan food, arguably the best of China / Shop /

What you may not like : Not finding what you are looking for  / Getting lost in the confusing streets/ The spices of the food / The lazy pandas / The confusing bus stations /

Where to get infos ? A lot of travel agencies provide information adapted to the products they sale. It would therefore not hurt to double check. 

How long ? Chendu has got a few sight on its own and those requires 1 or 2 days. Day trips around could also lengthen the stay.


Where to stay ?

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !  >> Hostels

  • Lynn's or Sam's backpackers guesthouse (665 0961, fax 777 2956, email : xlynn@hotmail.com ), Office on the 2/F of the Blue Sky Hotel of China Southwest Airlines on Renmin Lu, Restaurant Lynn's Cooking on Shanxijie St (on the left side, before Rongcheng Hotel) / Internet (2Y per 10mn), laundry, travel agency, bicycles (5Y per day, to come),... 

Not really a guesthouse in itself but some very interesting deals negotiated by Rong Lynn, a dynamic and friendly Chinese girl with a keen sense of business and travelers' needs. Deals so far includes very nice Dble with bath for 70 or 90 depending on the hotel as well as dorm bed for 25 (3) or 20 (4) with bath. Those deals are less than half the regular (ridiculous) prices.

Go there for the excellent quality/price for Chengdu, the good location near the city center, to get reliable infos, for good internet connections. / What you may not like : the "backdoor" negotiations which means you can not deal directly with the hotels, the nice but a bit old & dark rooms, the relative noise from the street, the noise from the next door rooms thanks to the bad isolation, having to deal with Sam, clearly not as nice nor helpful...

  • Chengdu College of Traditional Medicine (774 0072), near Ximen bus Station / Also part of the Sam's Guesthouse connections / Dorm 20 (3) or 50 (2) with bath / Sgl 85 / Dbl 70 to 100 / HW 20 to 23 / Bike 10Y per day / Go there for the convenience if you come or leave from Ximen, the relative quietness of the campus / What you may not like : not being in the town center, not getting the best value for your money if you take a Sgl or Dble room / Important : this place was reported closed. Any confirmation ?

  • Traffic Hotel (555 1017, fax 558 2777), next to Xinnamen Bus Station / Dorm 40 (3) without bath / Dble with bath 200 / Good toilet & shower / HW 24 hours / Go there for the convenience next to the main bus station, the nostalgia when this was The place for backpackers, the nice lobby where you can meet other travelers, the proximity of a lot of travel agencies and  restaurants, the relative quietness (but this is a dorm), the good bikes,... / What you may not like : the now expensive  prices, considering the competition  

Lynn’s Backpacker Guesthouse guangda luxingshe

Rongsheng Hotel

rongsheng fandian

Chengdu College of Traditional Medicine

chengdu zhongyiyao daxue

Traffic Hotel

jiaotong fandian


Backpacker's Tips : Michaela, NZ (Oct 04)
« 'Sims Cozy Guesthouse' -definitly my absolute favourite guesthouse ive been to in China so far. Cheap (15Y Upper dorm bed), relaxed atmosphere, yummy food - GOOD western and chinese available, cheap beer, very clean, heaps of info for traveling - basicly everything you need in a guesthouse.. This time next year it will probably constantly be fully booked... www.gogosc.com »

Backpacker's Tips : Mikaela & Charlie, Australia (Oct 04)
« Having stayed a Holly's and the International Youth Hostel near Holly's we definately think that Taffic Hotel is the best option. It has really nice clean dorm rooms with four beds for 30 yuan/per/person. Fresh towels everyday, kettle, T.V., really nice, new communial western toilets and hot showers on the 3rd floor and a new washing machine (10 yuan if someone catches you) and plenty of drying space on the balconies. Also its location is far better then Holly's.
Internet: Cheap internet (3 yuan per hour) can be found upstairs in the bus station next to the Taffic hotel and the western bar out the front of the traffic hotel burns digital photos onto disc for 10 yuan.
»

Backpacker's Tips : Jude, UK, living in China (Oct 04)
« By Chinese standards Chengdu is a laid back city which has a nice atmosphere. Sams guesthouse is a good place to stay, but Sam isn't always very helpful or friendly! The panda excursion was good value, but the Leshan visited organised through Sams was overpriced.
The Highfly cafe is excellent - has recently moved to a location by the river. It's a chilled out place with a good menu and trendy surroundings. The staff are very friendly. Nice, relaxing place to chill out!
Paul's Oasis is now Dave's Oasis, but still a cool place to hang out and meet other laowai should you wish to. Great pizzas! Dave is very hospitable and friendly. While you are there, look out for another guy called Dave - very tall, blonde hair - he will drive you wherever you want to go in his pedicab for a small fee. He knows some good teahouses, and can take you to Chengdu's only remaining old streets. If you are lucky he wil throw in a cup of actually quite palatable baijiu too!
»

Backpacker's Tips :   David Bowen, Wales (May 04)
« Check out Hollys Hostel run by Sams sister. 8 bed dorm 15rmb, 4 bed dorm (2 double rooms together) 25rmb with fan 30 rmb with AC. Double rooms from 60 I dont know address but ask at Sam (dorm 40rmb) who will be happy to direct you. 100m from holly's is the IYHA Dove hostel it is imaculate with a great rooftop garden, self catering facilities, BBQ etc It is very quiet and not on the travellers map yet (8 bed dorm 25rmb - 15 with negotiation)
Visa extensions take three working days.
Bus to Leshan 37.5rmb 2.5 hours.
Train/bus/flight info availible from Holly's.
Dont take the panba tour (100rmb with entry) - take bus no 1 to the end of the run and then take a rickshaw for 10Y
If you want to go to Leshan consider taking the bus offered by Holly and Sam (100RMB) It will drop off outside PSB if required otherwise at the north gate of Dafoe. Return can be taken at anytime.
»

Backpacker's Tips :  Girl from Singapore (Dec 03)
« Rongcheng Fandian (Sam's guesthouse): Dorms (3 beds) are now at 40 yuan per night instead of 25 yuan.»

Backpacker's Tips :  Quang-Tuan Luong (Dec 02)
« I stayed at Sam's guesthouse, which was fine, although the dorms were somewhat crowded. Sam charged only a small fee to buy a plane ticket for the next day. They also offered an opera tour with a guide/interpret, which included a backstage visit, as well as a tour to the Panda research center. The morning tour is the best, since it is the time when you can see them being fed. »

Backpacker's Tips :  Gregg Butenski (May 00)
« A little known option for cheap accomodation can be found at Sichuan University. Foreigner travellers can stay in the foreign students residence hall. For Y70 you get a carpeted double (2 twins) with some furniture including one of those mini refrigerators that most of us haven't seen since freshman year. Bathrooms are cleaned everyday and the showers are excellent. An added bonus is free use of a washing machine for doing
laundry.
»


How to leave ?
For some train lines (to Beijing, Xi'an or Kunming), it is recommended to reserve as long in advance as possible. If you take an early bus out of Chengdu (to Songpan for example), buying your ticket through a travel agency might also include a free ride from your hotel to the bus station (this service might be worth the usual 10 Y commission fee).

Internet ?  The good news : plenty of places with internet facilities, usually for 10Y per hour. The bad news : at the time of writing, getting good internet connection in Chengdu was no easy job. However, this can only improve. China Telecom was not connected at the time of writing. Some places to check : Carol's by the River, near Traffic Hotel /Paul's Oasis, across the river from Traffic Hotel / Highfly Cafe, 3 computers in a quiet room, 658 Renmin Nanlu / Lynn's Cooking, 2Y per 10mn

What to see/visit ?

  • Giant Panda Breeding Research Base : (4), Y10, 8 to 18

Quite a few people give a good rate for Chengdu because of the pandas only. The 12 pandas are the most active in the morning from 8 to 10:30. There is also a very interesting natural museum open from 9:30-11:30 and 13:30-15:30. 

Three ways to go there :
- Take a tour : Y40 to 50 incl. entrance (2 peoples min) 
-
Ride your bicycle for 1 to 1h30 on a quite congested and polluted road.  
- Take bus No 1 up to Bei Erhuan Lu, then Bus no 9 up to before Panda Avenue, then a motor-tricycle (Y5). This should put the cost of the return trip to around 15Y

  • Wenshu Monastery : (4), Y1, 6 to 18, Bus 5 or 16

  • Du Fu Cottage : (3), Y5 park, (1) Y25 museum (exp)

  • Wenhua Park & Qingyang Palace : (4), Y1

  • Renmin Park : (5), Y2

  • Wuhou Temple : Y5 part or Y30 (all attractions)


Backpacker's Tips : Blaise Fiedler, France (July 05)
« Qingcheng Shan: I highly recommend this walk in a beautiful area covered with temples. Of course it's full of Chinese but with careful planning you'll
avoid most of them! You first need a good map - you can either get one for Y1 at the shop by the entrance - it's good but all in Chinese. You can write the translations on it yourself with the master map at the entrance. Or you can get a bilingual map for Y2 at the ticket office but it does not show the path under the chairlife making you believe you'll have to pay extra to get up. finally there are lots of carved maps everywhere in the park free to look at - buteven on these there is no walking path under the chairlift.To find the famous walking path under the chairlife, as you crossed the ridiculous pond where they ask you for another 5y and reach the chairlift building head to your right - you'll see the path starting just on the side of the building... It will take you 5-6 hours to walk from the gate to Siwang Guan, Yuqing, Yuanming, Summit and reach Taoist Master cave for a good night's sleep in the park. you can have a nice tea at Yuanming but it's morescenic at the top. The park is completely empty after 4pm. My favorite strech of walking is between the summit and the Taoist Master Cave. Sleeping is great atthe Taoist Master Cave - prices have increased: theyare now Y50 per person in a double room ro Y40 per person in a quad room.

Sichuan-Tibet Highway: Going from Sichuan to Yunnan on this road is a great adventure - if you're ready for the butt breaking bus journeys. Dress warmly in all seasons: you'll also be freezing, even in the summer. With roads at over 4,700 meters it is never warm.
The highlight of this road is the small village of Tagong - such a beautiful Tibetan atmosphere! While there you must stay at JaZhiMa, a private tibetan home with a traditional style Tibetan dorm and an energetic and famioly-helpful women (called JaZhiMa). It will cost you 20Y / bed and she can arrange dinner for you as well for 10y. Tel: 836-2866056. The family will also arrange horse rides - I had a great time on a day trip - much much more fun than in Songpan as I could finally galop a bit with the horses / the guides are relaxed provided they see you know what you're doing (or you can pretend).

Xiangcheng: Another stop on the highway is Xiangcheng. Here you'll find one of the nicest GH in china - well, the owner will probably find you first at the bus stop. It's called Banu Tibetan GH and is just 50m from the bus stop/. In case the owner is not there just walk up the steps from the bus station, go through 2 small doors and you'll see a too-good-to-believe huge white Tibetan house on your left. That's the place where you'll be staying :) Tel: 0836-5826835 Mobile:13881867155. The only downside are the toilets outside. Y18/bed. While in xiangcheng do not miss the monastery - up the
hill it will cost you Y10to get in but for that money you can walk everywhere in the monastery, including on the roof! The artwork, especially the paintings are among the best in China.
» 

Backpacker's Tips :  Girl from Singapore (Dec 03)
« Internet facilities are everywhere (called "Wang Ba") at 1.5 yuan per hour, 1 yuan after 8 pm. 
Food: Chen Ma Po Dou Fu is a must try, so is Cheng Du Xiao Chi Cheng, where you can order a set of some 30 kinds of 'xiao chi' (literally: small eats) for only 25 yuan. Basically, any small eatery or restaurant in Chengdu will be pretty clean and decent, considering the importance the people there attach to food. Try the Sichuan hotpot if you will, and cry (as my friends and I did).
Transport: Chengdu is developing at a mad pace, as with everywhere else in China, so any maps and bus guides are bound to be outdated after a while. There's a new bus route covering all major attractions, including the Giant PandaResearch Base (can't remember the number, but it's easy to ask around) for 2 yuan per ride.
Places to visit in Chengdu and near Chengdu:
Wang Jiang Lou: Don't ever go there! It's an utter waste of time, it's just a sort of cheap nightmarish fun fair with lots of kids running about.
Wu Hou Ci and Du Fu Cao Tang are worth a visit if you are already conversant with Chinese history and poetry. If not, it would be better to engage a guide for 40 yuan at least for a group of 5.
Du Jiang Yan: A two thousand year old irrigation system that would require a guide to explain its workings. Unfortunately, there seems to be no English guides available. Within the Du Jiang Yan park are several temples that are pretty interesting. Note that many of the arhats/luohans and other statues within the temples are recently made despite the temples being at least three hundred years old each. This is due to mass destruction of cultural and religious objects during the Cultural Revolution, but you won't hear any guide mentioning that. Entrance fee 60 yuan. To get there, you can take a bus from Xinnamen Bus station and take another bus (about 10 min) there (ask around, the roads are rebuilt and torn down pretty fast, so it's safer to ask the locals
»

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Sept 01)
« The Woolong Panda Reserve is, in theory, another spot for pandas. In practice there may be only 50 pandas left in the wild and your chance of spotting one is therefore limited. However, it remains an interesting adventure and the scenery is great. Panda Inn is the place to stay, the closest to the Panda Research Center. From this base (at 1000m), you could go up the mountain pass at 4000m. You need to be in good shape and well equipped ! »


Itineraries :
From Chengdu coming from Yunnan, you have two options : heading North toward the minorities area of Sichuan and Gansu or heading east with a Yangzi River "cruise" via Chongqing.


Bus Schedules :

From Xinnamen Bus Station

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Dazu 50 ordi 4.5 14 1 na
Leshan 19/33 ordi /luxe 3.5 7 to 17 ++ 20mn
Emeishan 19/31 ordi/luxe 4 7 to 16:30 ++ 30mn
Kangding 100 sleep 17 6/16 2 na

From Wuguiqiao Bus Station (bus no 58 or 801 from Mao)

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Chongqing 65 to 120 O/L 4 to 6 6:40 to 19 ++ 30mn

From Ximen Bus Station (Bus 43 from square)

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Songpan 65 big 10 7 1 na
Nanping 85 big 12 7 1 na

Backpacker's Tips :  Girl from Singapore (Dec 03)
« There's no more Ximen bus station. The buses have been shifted to ChaDianZi bus station.»

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Sept 00)
« Foreigners' price for a bus ticket to Songpan is 76 (at least it was for us), if you're lucky enough to get on the new bus, the trip only takes 7-8 hrs. »$

Trains  << Click there

Going to Tibet ?

In theory, a one way plane ticket to Lhassa cost 1200Y. In practice, you still need to book a tour with a travel agency. This should cost from around 1,800Y for one way to 3,300Y for a return trip. Shop around. 

The other option (except for the closed routes that a few intrepid travelers are still trying to use) is to take a bus from Xining or Goldmud. But it is not cheap either and much more adventurous. See the Xining section for more details. 

In theory, anybody can go to Lhassa. In practice, some people might be refused access for no obvious reason.  Tibet might also be closed again if the political situation become unstable and you hear rumors about that happening all the time... 


Backpacker's Tips :  Quique (Sept 05)
« Yading Natural Reserve (Sichuan): Strange this natural reserve is not in this guide. Really recommended. I joined a group of Chinese and we rent a jeep to go from Daoghang (half way between Shangri-la and Litang) to Yading. There we trek for a couple of days through this beautiful natural reserve with 3 tibetan sacred peaks of 6000 metres high. Prices: to rent the jeep was about 70 each return (after some bargaining), entrance to the park is 120 but with student card is 60 and nearly anything with a picture works as a student card, sleeping in tents for 50.  » 


The trip to Chongqing :
Train / Night / Y85 / 11 hrs

A convenient night's train ride to save on the cost of accommodation and on the physical fatigue of a normal bus trip.

The trip to Songpan :  Big Bus / SSSS / Left / Y65 / 11 hrs

We arrived at the station 20mn before departure. The bus was quite empty but all the seats had already been reserved. Eventually some Chinese people decided that it would be more comfortable to travel in the back of the bus that next to Laowai and gave us their seats. This was very kind of them but it would have been even nicer if they could have avoided smoking all the way. The trip would also have been more pleasant without the 3 hours stops to eat, wait for passenger or discharge the roof. And while we are dreaming, the driver could also have reduced the volume of the radio... If the above become reality in the future and considering that the road is now quite comfortable to travel in, it would be possible to also nicely dream at the scenery.

See also trip from Leshan to Chengdu...