Chengdu is a quieter town, known for its Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. With a laid-back vibe and fabulous food to match, Chengdu is a wonderful detour on your journey around China.
Temples, animals and a host of day trip opportunities, Chengdu offers a range of activities for those interested in Chinese culture. It is also a short high-speed train journey away from Chonquing, the start of many Yangtze River cruises, making it ideal for tourists and backpackers. Further afield, you can travel to see the Wild Cats of the Tibetan Plateau within the Sichuan province or visit the harrowing and abandoned Beichuan Earthquake Memorial.
Hostel/Budget rates – ¥26 – ¥50 for dorm beds with private rooms starting at ¥60.
Midrange Hotel rates – ¥100 – ¥300
Luxury Hotel rates – ¥400+
Transport – Bus fares cost ¥2 whilst the train costs between ¥2 – ¥6. Taxis start at ¥8 but it maybe worth hiring a driver from your hotel to get a good deal.
Average cost of food – Street and market foods cost between ¥5 – ¥10 with inexpensive restaurants costing around ¥15 – ¥30. Mid-range restaurants will set your back around ¥100 – ¥150 for 2 people whilst western restaurants will cost ¥200+
Where to stay
Hostel/Budget – A highly rated choice is the Chengdu Mix Hostel Backpackers, recommended in the Lonely Planet China as the top choice in Chengdu. With dorms starting at ¥41 and private rooms starting at ¥56, Sam’s Guesthouse is a beautiful choice for authentic Chinese living. A family run guesthouse, we loved our driver who spoke very little English but tried his best to explain as much as he could. The beds were slightly firm but the traditional Chinese garden was delightful and the staff couldn’t do more for us. Private ensuite rooms start at ¥73.
Midrange – Chengdu Panda Apartments offer spacious apartments in the heart of Chengdu. At just ¥243 a night, this is a great choice for couples.
Top End – Sun Gold Apartments offer luxury apartments with air-conditioning, TV, kitchen and hot tub. These are spacious rooms with great views of the growing city, apartment prices start at ¥445. High-end Hotel Fraser Suites Chengdu is a perfect choice for those that love the comfort of a hotel, with breakfast included and prices starting at ¥717.
How to get there
Fly – You can fly directly to Chengdu Shuangliu International airport from most major Chinese cities within 2 hours, with some direct flights from cities around the world. On arrival, the airport shuttle buses cover four routes reaching all areas of the city whilst a taxi will cost ¥70 – ¥90. Most guesthouses (such as ours) offer airport pick-up services.
Bus – The main bus station for tourists is Xinnanmen with buses taking you to and from a wide range of towns and small cities.
Train – Chengdu North Train station is the main station for tourists, with the new East Train Station with minimal trains. A popular train for tourists is the sleeper train to Kunming or the 2 hour speed train to Chongqing to board a Yangtze river cruise.
Bus fares around the city cost ¥2 whilst the train costs between ¥2 – ¥6, with a new line taking you direct to the Giant Panda Breading Research base. Taxis start at ¥8 but it maybe worth hiring a driver from your hotel to get a good deal. We were able to hire a driver to take us to the Giant Panda base then on to see the Leshan Buddha (3 hours away). We were driven around from 9am to 8pm costing us ¥700.