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Don't go to Chengdu when you're young—is what rural Sichuanese parents advise children who might be corrupted by this modern, energetic city. But despite the warnings, Chengdu is what you want it to be: while some visitors seek out the pulsating nightlife, others are happy to while away the days strolling in the city's many parks or sipping tea and cracking sunflower seeds in one of its multitude of tea gardens.
The city is changing at a dizzying pace. Much of the Old City has been razed to make room for modern high-rises. But there is still much to see in terms of history and culture. Temples and memorials demonstrate Chengdu's position as the cosmopolitan capital of Western China. The city is also a great center for Sichuan cooking, which many believe is the best in China. The Sichuanese cuisine is famous for its spicy peppers and strong flavors. Chengdu has too many good restaurants to list, and the hole-in-the-wall around the corner may serve the tastiest Sichuan dishes you'll eat.
All roads into Southwest China lead through Chengdu. As the gateway to Tibet, this city is the place to secure the permits and supplies needed for your trip there. Journeys south to Yunnan or north to Xi'an pass through here as well. Lying in the middle of Sichuan Province, Chengdu is also a good base for excursions to the scenic spots dotting Sichuan.
Like many big cities in China, Chengdu is very polluted. Bring eyedrops, anti-bacterial wipes, and possibly even a face mask.
Chengdu at a Glance
- Du Fu's Thatched Cottage Museum (Du Fu Caotang)
- Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Daxiongmao Bowuguan)
- Qingyang Gong
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