|— Sub-provincial city —|
|- Mandarin (Pinyin)||Chéngdū|
From top: Jin River and Anshun (peaceful and fluent) Bridge, Huaxi campus of Sichuan University, Jinli Street, and a Panda in Chengdu Research and Breeding Centre
Location of Chengdu City jurisdiction (yellow) within Sichuan
|Country||People's Republic of China|
|Settled||5th century BC|
|City seat||Qingyang District|
9 districts, 4 county-level cities, 6 counties
|- Type||Sub-provincial city|
|- CPC Party Chief||Li Chuncheng (李春城)|
|- Mayor||Ge Honglin (葛红林)|
|- Total||12,390 km2 (4,783.8 sq mi)|
|Elevation||500 m (1,640 ft)|
|- Density||887.9/km2 (2,299.6/sq mi)|
|- Major Nationalities||Han|
|Time zone||China Standard (UTC+8)|
|GDP (nominal) Total (2009)||¥ 450.26 billion (US$65.956 billion)|
|GDP (nominal) Per Capita (2009)||¥ 35,215 (US$5,159)|
|License Plate Prefix||川A|
Chengdu (Chinese: 成都; pinyin: Chéngdū; Wade-Giles: Ch'eng-tu), located in southwest People's Republic of China, is the capital of Sichuan province and a sub-provincial city. Chengdu is also one of the most important economic centers, transportation and communication hubs in Western China. According to the 2007 Public Appraisal for Best Chinese Cities for Investment, Chengdu was chosen as one of the top ten cities to invest in out of a total of 280 urban centers in China.
More than four thousand years ago, the prehistorical Bronze Age culture of Jinsha (Chinese: 金沙; pinyin: Jīnshā) established itself in this region. The fertile Chengdu Plain, on which Chengdu is located, is called Tianfuzhi guo (simplified Chinese: 天府之国; pinyin: Tiānfǔzhi Guó) in Chinese, which literally means "the country of heaven", or more often seen translated as "the Land of Abundance". It was recently named China's 4th-most livable city by China Daily.
In the early 4th century BC, the 9th Kaiming king of the ancient Shu moved his capital to the city's current location from today's nearby Pixian. He was said to have been inspired by the ancient story of King Tai of Zhou, Grandfather of King Wu of Zhou, moving his capital. History recorded King Tai of Zhou's move as "it took a year to become a town; it took three years to become a capital". Following this, the king of Shu named the new city as "Cheng Du", which means "become a capital" (In Chinese, the word "cheng" means "become", "du" means "capital"). There are, however, several versions of why the capital was moved to Chengdu, and more recent theories of the name's origin point to it as stemming from, or referring to, earlier non-Han inhabitants and/or their languages.
After the conquest of Shu by the State of Qin in 316 BC, a new city was founded by the Qin general Zhang Yi (who as a matter of fact had argued against the invasion). This can be seen as the beginning of the Chinese Chengdu. It was renamed Yìzhou (益州) during the Han Dynasty.
During the Tang Dynasty, both the "Poet God" Li Bаí (李白) and the "Poet Sage" Dù Fǔ (杜甫) spent some part of their lives in Chengdu. Du Fu constructed the celebrated "Caotáng" (thatched cottage or grass-hut) in the second year of his four-years stay (759-762). But today's Caotang, a rather sumptuous house in the traditional style, was only constructed in 1078 in memory of Du Fu. As early as the Tang dynasty more than 1,200 years ago, Chengdu became one of the foremost commercial cities in China, second to only Yangzhou.
Chengdu was also the birthplace of the first widely used paper money in the world (Northern Song Dynasty, around A.D. 960). The Qingyang Gong Taoist temple was built in Chengdu in the ninth century, meaning "Green Goat".
During the Second World War the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) government under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek fled to Sichuan Province to escape the invading Japanese forces. They brought with them businesspeople, workers and academics, who founded many of the industries and cultural institutions which continue to make Chengdu an important center.
In 1944 the American XX Bomber Command launched Operation Matterhorn, an ambitious plan to base B-29 Superfortresses at Chengdu and strategically bomb the Japanese Home Islands. Because the operation required a massive airlift of fuel and supplies over the Himalayas, it was not a significant military success, but it did earn Chengdu the distinction of launching the first serious retaliation against the Japanese homeland.
During the Chinese Civil War, Chengdu was the last city on the Chinese mainland to be held by the Kuomintang-controlled government. R.O.C. President Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo directed the defence of the city at Chengdu Central Military Academy until 1949, when the city fell into Communist hands. The People's Liberation Army took the city on December 10 and the remnants of the Nationalist Chinese government fled to Taiwan.
Today the industrial base is very broad, including light and heavy manufacturing, aluminum smelting and chemicals. The textile industry remains important, with cotton and wool milling added to the traditional manufacturing of silk brocade and satin.
Today it is the headquarters of the Chengdu Military Region.
On May 12, 2008, a 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck causing damage to the area, killing about 80,000 people and injuring 26,413 in the area as of May 12, 2008. 4,021 of the casualties and most of the property damage were from Dujiangyan and Pengzhou, two cities within the administration of Chengdu, the sub-provincial city. While 75 kilometers (48 miles) from the epicenter, Chengdu did not suffer any discernible damage..
Chengdu has a humid subtropical climate and is largely mild and humid. Chengdu is situated at the western edge of the Sichuan Basin and is therefore sheltered from northwest winds from Siberia in winter by the Qinling Mountains to the north; the short winter is milder than in the Lower Yangtze because of the sheltering effect of the Qinling. Snow is rare but there are a few periods of frost each winter. The summer is longer, but not as hot as in the "Three Furnaces" (三大火炉) cities of Wuhan, Nanjing, and Chongqing in the Lower Yangtze. The average daytime high in July and August is 29°C, with afternoon highs sometimes reaching 33°C or higher. The average low in January is 3°C, with lows sometimes dropping below freezing. Rainfall is common year-round but peaks in July and August.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
|Average high °C (°F)||9.3
|Average low °C (°F)||2.8
|Precipitation mm (inches)||7.9
|Source: 中国气象局 国家气象信息中心 2009-03-17|
Chengdu has one of the lowest sunshine totals in China (less sunshine annually than London), and most days are cloudy even if without rain. This is especially so in the winter months, when it is typically interminably grey and dreary. Spring (March-April) tends to be sunnier, warmer and drier than autumn (October-November).
|Chengdu City Proper||Chengdu Rural|
|■ Qingyang-qu||青羊区||■ Pengzhou-shi||彭州市|
|■ Jinjiang-qu||锦江区||■ Qionglai-shi||邛崃市|
|■ Jinniu-qu||金牛区||■ Chongzhou-shi||崇州市|
|■ Wuhou-qu||武侯区||■ Jintang-xian||金堂县|
|■ Chenghua-qu||成华区||■ Shuangliu-xian||双流县|
|Chengdu Suburban||■ Pi-xian||郫县|
|■ Longquanyi-qu||龙泉驿区||■ Dayi-xian||大邑县|
|■ Qingbaijiang-qu||青白江区||■ Pujiang-xian||蒲江县|
|■ Xindu-qu||新都区||■ Xinjin-xian||新津县|
|■ Wenjiang-qu||温江区||■ Dujiangyan-shi||都江堰市|
The name "Chengdu" has never changed since the city was founded, and the city has always been in the same location. The nicknames below are not formal names.
In the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-23 AD), brocade produced in Chengdu enjoyed great popularity among the royal and elite class in China. An emperor created the office of Jin Guan (锦官) to oversee brocade production in Chengdu. Since then, Chengdu has been called "Jin Guan Cheng" (锦官城) meaning Brocade Official's City, or in its short form, "Jin Cheng" (锦城) meaning Brocade city.
In the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907-960), Mengchang, the king of the Later Shu Kingdom, ordered the planting of hibiscus on the fortress wall surrounding the city. After this, Chengdu started being called the City of Hibiscus. Nowadays, the hibiscus is still the city flower of Chengdu, but the last city wall was torn down in the 1960s, along with the Royal Palace situated in the middle of the city, where the statue of Mao Zedong now stands.
The native language in Chengdu is Sichuanese (四川话), otherwise referred as Sichuan dialect. More precisely, "Chengdu Dialect" (成都话/成都方言) is widely used in lieu of "Sichuanese" due to the largely different accents of Sichuanese speakers residing elsewhere.
People from Chengdu (or Sichuan, in general) tend to eat spicy food. Local specialties include Grandma Chen's Tofu (Mapo doufu), Chengdu Hot pot, and Dan Dan Mien (literally meaning, "Noodles carried on a pole" (Dan Dan Noodles). All three dishes are spicy. Mapo Doufu and Dan Dan Mien contain Sichuan peppers (huājiāo; 花椒; literally "flower pepper") to give them additional flavor.
An article by the Los Angeles Times (2006) called Chengdu "China's party city" for its carefree lifestyle. Chengdu outnumbers Shanghai in the number of tea houses and bars despite having less than half the population. The inhabitants have a reputation in China for having a laid-back attitude and for knowing how to enjoy life.
The main industries in Chengdu - which include food, medicine, machinery and the information technology - are supported by numerous large-scale enterprises, such as Chengdu Sugar and Wine Co. Ltd., Chengdu Food Group, Sichuan Medicine Co. Ltd., Chengdu Automobile Co. Ltd. etc. Many high-tech enterprises from outside Chengdu are also beginning to settle down there.
Chengdu is becoming one of the favorite city for investment in western China. Among the World's 500 largest companies, 133 multinational enterprises have had subsidiaries or branch offices in Chengdu by October 2009. These MNEs include Intel, Sony, and Toyota that have assembly and manufacturing bases, as well as Motorola, Ericsson, and Microsoft that have R&D centers in Chengdu.
The National Development and Reform Commission has formally approved Chengdu's proposed establishment of a national bio-industry base there. The government of Chengdu has recently unveiled a plan to create a ¥90 billion bio pharmaceutical sector by 2012. China's aviation industries have begun construction of a high-tech industrial park in the city that will feature space and aviation technology. The local government plans to attract overseas and domestic companies for service outsourcing and become a well-known service outsourcing base in China and worldwide.
Chengdu has long been established as a national base for electronic and IT industry. Several key national electronic R&D institutes are located in Chengdu. Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone has attracted a variety of multinationals, at least 30 Fortune 500 companies and 12,000 domestic companies, including Intel, IBM, NOKIA, Motorola, SAP, Siemens, Canon, HP, Xerox, Microsoft, Tieto , NIIT and Wipro, as well as domestic powerhouses such as Lenovo.
Intel's Chengdu factory is its second in China, after its Shanghai factory, and the first such large-scale foreign investment in electronic industry in interior mainland China. Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, has invested US$525 million in two assembly and testing facilities in Chengdu. Following the footsteps of Intel, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), the world's third largest foundry, set up an assembly and testing plant in Chengdu. Intel's rival AMD is likewise set to open an R&D center in this city.
In November 2006, IBM signed an agreement with the Chengdu High-Tech Zone to establish a Global Delivery Center, its fourth in China after Dalian, Shanghai and Shenzhen, within the Chengdu Tianfu Software Park. Scheduled to be operational by February 2007, this new center will provide multi-lingual application development and maintenance services to clients globally in English, Japanese and Chinese, and to the IBM Global Procurement Center, recently located to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. On March 23, 2008, IBM announced at the "West China Excellent Enterprises CEO Forum" that the southwest working team of IBM's Global Business Services is now formally stationed in Chengdu. On May 28, 2008, Zhou Weikun, president of IBM China disclosed that IBM Chengdu would increase its staff number from the present 600 to nearly 1,000 by the end of the year.
Over the past few years, Chengdu's economy has flourished rapidly. Chengdu has been quick to become a major base for communication infrastructure, with one of China's nine top level postal centers and one of six national telecom exchanges.
In 2009, Chengdu hosted the World Cyber Games Grand Finals (11-15 November). It was the first time China hosted the world's largest computer and video game tournament.
Chengdu is now building itself to be the financial hub for Western China and has successfully attracted major international financial institutions, including Citigroup, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, ABN AMRO, BNP Paribas, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, etc.
Historically, Chengdu has marked its name in the history of financial innovation. The world’s first ever paper currency 'Jiao Zi' was seen in Chengdu in the year 1023, during the Song Dynasty of ancient China.
Now, Chengdu is not only the gateway of Western People's Republic of China for foreign financial institutions, but also a booming town for Chinese domestic financial firms. The Chinese monetary authority, People's Bank of China (China’s central bank), set its southwest China headquarters in Chengdu City. In addition, almost all domestic banks and securities brokerage firms located their regional headquarters or branches in Chengdu. At the same time, the local financial firms of Chengdu are strengthening their presences nationally, notably, West China Securities, GuoJin Securities and Chengdu Commercial Bank. Moreover, on top of banks and brokerage firms, the flourish of local economy lured more and more financial service firms to the city to capitalize on the economic growth. KPMG opened this first west China office in Chengdu City this October, and before the inauguration of KPMG Chengdu office, its rival, Ernst & Young, had already integrated Chengdu into its global operation for several years.
Located within the city limits is the Chengdu Aircraft Company which produces the recently declassified J-10 Vigorous Dragon combat aircraft as well as the JF-17 Thunder, in a joint collaborative effort with Pakistan Air Force. The company is one of the major manufacturers of Chinese Military aviation technology.
The Chengdu Statistics Bureau reports that the total investment in fixed assets in 2008 was 301.29 billion yuan (US$43.38 billion). Domestic investment was 180.52 billion yuan (US$26 billion), an increase of 23.5 percent from 2007. The total amount of foreign direct investment reached US$2.25 billion, an increase of 97.3 percent from 2007.
Chengdu's transportation network is well developed, and Chengdu serves as the starting point for many national highways, with major routes going from Sichuan-Shanxi, Sichuan-Tibet, and Sichuan-Yunnan.
For the year 2007, Chengdu announced the official launch of 37 significant projects, including the Chengdu-Jianyang Expressway in an attempt to accelerate the construction of the experimental district. This project is expected to solve the current transportation problem, which is proved to be the bottleneck in Jianyang's development. Development of major tunnels and the Longquan Lake scenic spot has also been planned to integrate Jianyang better into the Chengdu economic circle.
Several major road projects were also mentioned in the paper: a 15 km tunnel from Shuangliu Taiping to Jianyang Sancha Lake; alteration of the National Expressway 321, from Jiangyang to Longquanyi, totaling 26 kilometers. There will also be a road that connects Longquan Town to Longquan Lake - it will be connected to the Chengdu-Jianyang Expressway and hence shorten the journey by 10 kilometers. The authority has yet to decide whether drivers will have to pay tolls to access the road.
By the end of 2008, there are ten expressways, connecting the center of Chengdu to its suburbs. The expressways that will be open to the public by the end of December are the Chenglin Expressway, extensions of Guanghua Avenue, Shawan Line, and an expressway from Chengdu to Heilongtan.
Chengdu is served by the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport located 16 km southwest of downtown. It has been the busiest airport in Central and Western China and the 6th busiest airport nationwide, with a total of 17.25 million in terms of passenger traffic in 2008.
The Chengdu Airport has constructed a second runway, capable of landing Airbus 380, the largest commercial airplane to date. The second runway had a trial flight in October 2009 and is expected to be in use soon. Chengdu is the fourth city in China with double commercial runways, after Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. On May 26, 2009, Air China, the Chengdu Government and Sichuan Airport Group signed an agreement to improve the infrastructure of the airport and increase the number of international direct flights to and from Chengdu. The objective is to have a passenger traffic of 40 million by 2015, making Chengdu Airport the fourth international hub in China, after Beijing, Shanghai, and GuangZhou.. There is also a long-term plan to build a second airport in Jintang County with five runways. Upon completion, it will take less than 30 minutes to travel from Jintang to downtown Chengdu.
With four main railways, the BaoCheng railway (Boaji-Chengdu), the ChengYu railway (Chengdu-Chongqing), the ChengKun railway (Chengdu-Kunming) and the DaCheng railway (Chengdu-Dazhou) crossing it, Chengdu is the center of China's southwestern railway system. Chengdu is also the site of Chengdu Railway Bureau, which administrates the railway system of Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou and Yunnan.
Some new lines are under construction, such as the ChengGuan intercity railway (Chengdu-Dujiangyan), the ChengMianLe railway for passenger transport (Mianyang-Chengdu-Leshan), the ChengYu railway for passenger transport (Chengdu-Chongqing). Some other railways are also included in long term plan.
Chengdu now has four main train stations. Among them the North Marshalling Station is the largest marshalling station in China. Meanwhile, a new station for passenger transportation is to be built in a few years.
Located to the northwest of Chongqing, Chengdu has no direct access to the Yangtze River, or any other larger river. However, to ensure that Chengdu's goods have access to the river efficiently, the port cities of Yibin and Luzhou -- both of which are reachable from Chengdu within hours by expressways—on the Yangtze have commenced large-scale port infrastructure development. As materials and equipment for the rebuilding of northern Sichuan are sent in from the East Coast to Sichuan, these ports will see significant increases in throughput.
Chengdu is the center of higher education and scientific research in Southwest China.
Chengdu is the center of higher education and scientific research in Southwest China.
National universities include:
Important provincial universities include:
Note: Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.
The United States Consulate General at Chengdu opened on October 16, 1985. It was the first foreign consulate in west-central China since 1949. Currently eight countries have consulates in Chengdu. The Philippines will open a consulate in Chengdu soon. The United Kingdom also has a visa application center in Chengdu.
|United States Consulate General Chengdu||1986||Sichuan/Chongqing/Yunnan/Guizhou/Tibet|
|Germany Consulate General Chengdu||2003||Sichuan/Chongqing/Yunnan/Guizhou|
|South Korea Consulate General Chengdu||2004||Sichuan/Chongqing/Yunnan/Guizhou|
|Thailand Consulate General Chengdu||2004||Sichuan/Chongqing|
|France Consulate General Chengdu||2005||Sichuan/Chongqing/Yunnan/Guizhou|
|Singapore Consulate Chengdu||2006||Sichuan|
|Pakistan Consulate General Chengdu||2007||Sichuan/Chongqing/Yunnan/Guizhou/Tibet|
|Sri Lanka Consulate Chengdu||2009||Sichuan/Chongqing/Shaanxi/Yunnan/Guizhou|
In 1979, Chengdu signed a sister city agreement with Montpellier, France, the first pair of Sino-French sister cities. Later Chengdu signed sister city agreements with cities in ten countries, as well as signing a friendly region agreement with the Dalarna province in Sweden. Chengdu has had many friendly exchanges with the sister cities. Montpellier, for example, has a Chengdu Street and a Chengdu Plaza. The soccer team Chengdu Blades is owned by Sheffield United F.C.
|Daily highs (°C)||10||12||17||22||26||28||30||30||25||21||16||11|
|Nightly lows (°C)||3||5||8||13||17||20||22||22||19||14||9||4|
Chengdu is located on the edge of the fertile plains of the Red Basin in China's Sichuan Province. Due to its agricultural wealth, Chengdu is sometimes called the "Land of Milk and Honey". The Funan river bisects the city, although boat traffic, common until the 1960's, has all but vanished.
The greater city area is divided into five districts and 12 counties, altogether home to more than 9.2 million people. Chengdu has the reputation as a very "laid-back" city that emphasizes culture and relaxation and as a result of this and much green space is ranked one of the most livable mega-cities in China. It is credited with a good nightlife scene and contains many new western style buildings in the large city center.
Summer weather is hot and humid, as the city is surrounded by small mountains to the east and sits in the Red Basin. Furthermore, to the west lie the foothills of the mighty Tibetan Plateau and the fabulously scenic mountains of west Sichuan.
The city's most touted sites are the many temples and historical sites, however most are modern re-constructions of moderate interest and with extremely high entrance fees. Though Sichuan's other sites may be of greater interest, Chengdu is a nice city to fly into and stay a few days before exploring further into Sichuan.
The airport is located 20 km outside of Chengdu center. Chengdu airport is one of the main air hubs in China, ranked 5th in passenger volume. It has flights to most major cities in China and some international destinations including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Osaka, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It serves flights to smaller cities within Sichuan Province, including the popular tourist destination of Jiuzhaigou.
Taxi fare from the airport to the city center averages ¥45. There is no extra charge for luggage or additional passengers. Going from the city to the airport, add an additional ¥10 to cover the toll on the Airport Expressway. There is also bus 303, which will take you to the Air China airline office on Renmin Nanlu (2. Section) next to the entrance of the Minshan Hotel (there is no bus stop! just look for a bunch of taxis/pedicabs, since they are also waiting for the bus. You are right in the center of the city and it costs ¥10. The last bus leaves the airport around 1AM.
If you intend to take a taxi, be sure to turn LEFT when you exit the domestic arrival area toward the taxi stand and get in a marked, green-and-yellow or blue-and-yellow taxi. Turning right may lead you towards no-goods who are waiting to prey on foreign tourists with unmarked vehicles. Beware as these people sometimes sport official-looking ID, but is in reality fake. The fare offered will often exceed ¥100, and if you bargain with them, you may find yourself sitting in the cab for a while until agreeing to raise the price back up.
Frequent buses also leave for Chongqing, which is the beginning of many cruises down the Yangtze. These tours are available around town in Chengdu, and include transport to Chongqing, about three or four hours away. Train connections are available to Kunming in Yunnan, Chongqing and Xi'an..
There are three bus stations in Chengdu, and they serve different destinations.
Chádiànzi (茶店子汽车站), ☎ +86 28 8750 6610. edit
|Destination||Price (¥)||Departures (HH:MM)||Duration (HH:MM)||Lunch-Stop||Last Update (YYYY/MM)|
|Ruo Ergai||88||07:00 07:20||10:00||?||2005/06|
|Sōngpān (松潘县)||74||06:30 07:00 07:30||8:00 - 11:00 (due to Wenchuan's earthquake repair)||Yes||2009/11|
|Langzhong (阆中)||46||7-18:30 (Hourly)||4:00||No||2009/10|
Xīnnánmén (新南门汽车站), ☎ +86 28 8543 3609. edit
|Destination||Price (¥)||Departures (HH:MM)||Duration (HH:MM)||Lunch-Stop||Last Update (YYYY/MM)|
|Éméi Shān (峨嵋山)||35||07:00-19:00 (every 20 mins)||2:00-3:00||No||2006/11|
|Kāngdìng (康定)||103/115/125||08:00-14:00 (hourly)||7:00||Yes||2009/10|
|Ganzi (甘孜)||172||7:00||2 days||Yes||2009/10|
|Ya'an (雅安)||37/42||07:20-19:00 (every 35mins)||2:00||No||2009/10|
|Lèshān (乐山)||42||07:20-19:35 (every 20 mins)||2:00||No||2009/10|
|Destination||Price (¥)||Departures (HH:MM)||Duration (HH:MM)||Lunch-Stop||Last Update|
|Chongqing||130||trips all day, every hour||04:00||yes||2009/10|
Chengdu does not have a raised highway system or a subway system, and consequently rush hour traffic can be hellish. Plan your itinerary around not having to be on the road during these hours.
For up-to-date information on activities, places and attractions you should check out the CHENGDOO citylife magazine's listings. You will find copies in most bars, restaurants, cafes, hostels and hotels.
The following universities accept foreign students with the proper visa:
Supermarkets are located throughout the city, although the selection of imported foods is limited.
Sichuan being the most known Chinese food style within China, you will find no shortage of delicious Sichuan food in Chengdu. Most of the food is quite spicy, be sure to order non spicy (不要辣; búyàolà), little spicy (微辣; wēilà) food or very spicy (老辣; laola). If you are not accustomed to it yet, a bottle of soy milk or milk will work much better than water to quell the fire. If you are used to authentic Indian or Thai food, the level of spiciness in Sichuan food should be no problem at all. However, Sichuan food also makes heavy use of Sichuan pepper (花椒; huajiao), which looks like but is not a true peppercorn, and causes your mouth to become somewhat numb. Sichuan pepper is added in most spicy dishes. If you can eat spicy food but do not like Sichuan pepper, you need to order so (不要花椒; bu yao huajiao). However, Sichuan pepper (in addition to causing numbing) has an important citrusy taste that it adds to foods and authentic Sichuan tastes bank on the play between the flavours of both Sichuan pepper and chili peppers, and it is strongly recommend you at least try the authentic versions with the Sichuan pepper before deciding for yourself.
The spiciest food in Chengdu is hotpot (also called steampot), although the tradition originated in Chongqing, so it is not really Chengdu food. Sichuan hotpots are basically a big pot of soup and spices simmering in a hole in the middle of your table. Patrons choose from a large selection of meats, vegetables and other add-ins. Most popular include: lamb, mushrooms, beef, tofu, quail eggs, potatoes, kuail eggs and many many others (pork, green vegetables, fish balls, carrots, and even pig's brain!) You can choose spicy pot or non spicy pot. With spicy hot pots, unlike eastern hot pots, the soup is NOT for drinking; instead, fish out your cooked items with chopsticks (do not fish the liquid out with a spoon, it is too spicy even for locals to drink; the fished out vegetables will be spicy enough), dip them in the small bowl of oil provided to each person, and enjoy.
There are also a lot of weird local snack type of food, such as spicy dragon prawns (look like very small crayfish; 麻辣龙虾), spicy snails (香辣田螺), Chongqing duck neck (九九鸭脖子), Bangbang chicken (棒棒鸡), spicy rabbit meat (二姐兔丁). These ones are so delicious and you must try them. But you need to ask a local to take you to the right place. Quite often you will find that the small restaurants and shops offer the most delicious and cheapest food. If you want to find even cheaper food options, street venders are the way to go. Serving everything from barbeque (烧烤) to steamed breadrolls(馒头), they are a cheap and offer a great option for a quick bite to eat.
There are a number of stalls and hole in the wall type places all over town. Food here is dirt cheap, expect to pay no more than ¥8 for a meal, and the quality is good. Things to be on the lookout for are spicy bowls of breakfast noodles, (担担面; dandanmian), double cooked pork, and dozens of dishes coated in "mala" the Sichuan chili spice famous the world over.
Chengdu has a few local Western restaurants. Service is always friendly, although you should expect occasional mistakes, such as appetizers served at the same time as your meal. Chengdu is just starting to get accustomed to Western tastes.
Also, on the southern bank of Jinjiang there is a row of bars between Renmin South Road and Xin South Road. Beers will cost ¥10-¥20 per bottle, but buying bulk cans will save you a good bit of money with special deals. There will also be street vendors selling various snacks. This makes for a good night with the clubs Babi II, Ta & Ta, and Soho just around the bend.
The vast majority of Chengdu's mid-range hotels are not affiliated with a national or international brand and generally charge ¥300-700. The hotels in this category can generally put up the facade of the more luxurious hotels, but often suffer noticeably from deferred maintenance or haphazard customer service. Many are geared mostly towards Chinese and Asian tour groups. The hotels listed below are the best of the bunch with lobby staff who speak at least a basic level of English and usually offer a free Chinese breakfast.
Chengdu's luxury hotels provide world class service at very reasonable prices. Business and leisure travelers can expect, at a minimum, to find fluent English speaking staff, Western and Chinese restaurants, full conference facilities, business center, sauna and concierge service at all of these hotels. Room rates are US$115-200 per night for a standard or deluxe room. The Kempinski and the Jin Jiang Hotel are generally the lowest price within this category.
China's country code is 86. Chengdu's area code is 28. Coin-operated pay phones are located throughout Chengdu, and calling cards can be purchased from many vendors. Local landline phone numbers are eight digits long; cellular phone numbers in Sichuan are eleven digits long and start with 13 or 15.
Internet access can be found in most guesthouses and through cheap internet cafes all over town. Look out for the Pacman-character 吧 in the Chinese name for internet bar: 网吧.
Thieves are prevalent around certain areas of Chengdu. Be careful around the Yanshikou markets and especially around the North train station. There are also many thieves on crowded buses who use razors to cut open pockets and bags. Also watch your bag at all times when riding bicycles around the city, thieves like to run alongside bicycles at traffic lights and reach into bags.
Traffic can be hectic and motorists as well as cyclists have a complete disregard of pedestrians. Beware when crossing streets; even when the WALK sign is green, traffic taking a free right turn might try to run you over.
For such a big city, there's surprisingly little Western influence in Chengdu but certainly more than regional "rival" Chongqing. It's definitely not Beijing or Shanghai but this is changing fast with the arrival of more and more foreign students, teachers, and business people. This may be trying initially, as the level of English spoken is noticeably lower than other places, but it's also a blessing; carry a phrasebook and enjoy the authentic Chinese urban experience.
Chengdu is the gateway to Sichuan. Daytrips and trek can be organized to any major attraction is the province. The Giant Budda, Mount Qincheng, Stone Elephant Lake and Jian Chuan Museum can all be reached by regular bus or tour bus (ask your hotel for guidance). Families and those short of time might consider hiring a car with driver (¥300-900 per day, depending upon type of car and experience of driver, with cars booked at the luxury hotels the most expensive and highest quality).
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Chengdu (Pinyin Chéngdū)