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Planning Your Trip

Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province, has a history dating back to fourth century B.C. In recent years, it has also grown to become the region’s economic and financial capital, thereby turning into a multicultural metropolis with rich history, amazing regional food, high-tech innovation and, of course, the pandas that the city is known for.

Li Xuan - artful detail multiple lamps
Li Xuan - artful detail multiple lamps
What to Pack

Compared to other major cities in China, Chengdu sits at a slightly higher elevation. The mountainous regions surrounding the city — like Mount Emei, which you might want to hike — are obviously much higher. Bring along some medication for altitude sickness, just in case.

Exploring the City
  • From the Giant Panda Reserve Center to attractions like the Shrine of Marquis Wu, built to honor the prime minister of the Shu Kingdom, there is much to see and do. Be prepared for everything the city has to offer by packing versatile basics.

  • Always carry an umbrella. In this subtropical climate, rain is often sudden and unpredictable.

  • Opt for comfort over style when choosing your shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so pack flat sandals or sneakers.

  • Keep in mind that winters in Chengdu can get cold. It also sees little sunshine this time of year. Bring extra layers, boots and a waterproof down jacket if traveling during this season.
Business Travel
  • With its substantial population of entrepreneurs who come here to found creative and high-tech startups, Chengdu is a hotbed of innovation. But it’s still a traditional place, and therefore decidedly more formal.

  • Men should pack suits in dark colors, with neutral ties and leather shoes.

  • Women should also wear tailored pantsuits or dress suits. In the case of the latter, keep skirts knee-length. Skip the high heels for demure low-heeled, closed-toe shoes.

  • Make sure you have a plentiful supply of business cards — you’ll want to network with the many young moguls and financiers who do business here.
Cultural Considerations
  • From relics of the Shu Dynasty to Buddhist and Taoist landmarks, Chengdu’s 4,000-year history makes for a colorful, educational trip. The picturesque landscapes you’ll see in what is known as the “Country of Heaven” are an added bonus.

  • A historical travel guide on Chengdu will help you better understand the city and give you the basic knowledge of its folklore and customs.

  • Be aware that Sichuan food is hot and spicy. Consider bringing a water bottle with you on culinary excursions.

  • For temple visits in summer, pack an extra shawl or sweater to cover up and show respect.
Sign that reads ?Kuan Zhai Alley? with a house and trees in the background
Sign that reads ?Kuan Zhai Alley? with a house and trees in the background
What to Reserve

While pandas are Chengdu’s main draw, the southwestern Chinese city has plenty more reasons for a visit, with its delicious, hot food, beautiful scenery and cultural offerings you can’t find anywhere else. Here’s what to book.

A thatched-roof structure on a stone platform overlooked by trees
A thatched-roof structure on a stone platform overlooked by trees

The capital of China’s Sichuan Province is a bucket-list destination for adventurous foodies, famed for its palate-numbing peppers and bold, fiery cuisine. In 2010, UNESCO named Chengdu a City of Gastronomy (Paris and Rome aren’t even on that list). In ancient times, Chengdu was known as the Land of Heaven, and today it’s a booming metropolis and tech hub. While the city may be lined with skyscrapers, if you get beneath the surface, you can find charming teahouses, buzzing markets and elderly locals playing mahjong in the park. Any trip to Chengdu should include a visit to the panda research center. The beloved bears are an even bigger draw than the city’s food.