Ask, and Chengdu, capital city of China's Western province Sichuan, will deliver like no other city in China.
Famed for being home to the adorable Giant Panda, and fiery cuisine, Chengdu literally buzzes with the very best of new world amenities, and yet old world culture and traditions remain fused together with the laid back life style of its inhabitants. Many of whom continue to enjoy spending quality time in riverside teahouses discussing daily events, playing mahjong or simply basking in the age-old teahouse culture.
Visitors to this western Chinese mega city very easily experience the mixing of ancient Qing & Ming dynasty structures with the most modern and amongst other architectural delights, world’s largest shopping mall. They marvel how ancient "Three Kingdoms" history comfortably shares a stage with international shows being held at state of the art Theaters, Conference & Exhibition Centers. Some may choose to spend a day playing golf at one of Chengdu's world class facilities, and their evening enjoying the colourful Chengdu spectacle known as Sichuan Opera.
Yes, a great many come to gaze upon the world loved pandas, others to enjoy Chengdu's world renown cuisine. Whilst exquisite gardens, temples, shrines, and Giant Buddhas make journying to Chengdu a life time trip for many others.The astounding natural beauty of Chengdu's mountainous or lakeview scenic spots continues to attract nature lovers, photographers, and those simply in search of something magical, with many returning year after year to places unvisted on previous trips. The more energetic may seek-out, and stride head-up along ancient gorge or mountain paths. Paths surrounded by forest greenery where (Emi Shan) they are certain to wonder across, and even choose to spend the night in a fully functioning mountain temple, arising the next day to get up-close and personal with the mountain's wild monkey population.
Conference, and exhibition attendees might take time-out to relax, and enjoy a round of golf played on masterfully designed, and equally challenging world class venues. Night time will certainlty see most, if not all, sampling the 2011 UNESCO recognized Chengdu cuisine with "Hot Pot" being a distinct and firery crowd pleaser. International food and drink varieties from Europe, America, Thailand, and Australia will tempt many others through the doors of visitor, and expat favorite bars and resaurants.
Whatever your reason for ComingToChengdu, we promise you will not go away disapointed !
Of the many words used by visitors to describe Chengdu's wide and narrow lanes known as Kuanzhai, we think wonderful is amongst the best. Wonderful, describes the remodeled Hutongs, or courtyard houses of the district which are most typically indentified with Beijing. Wonderful correctly describes the architectural styles that have been most faithfully maintained, with beautiful doors, roof-lines, gardens, and the structural elements utilized by craftsmen of a time long gone by.
Wonderful equally well describes the collection of chic boutiques, eateries, souvenir, and craft shops interlaced with bars, restaurants, hotels, and more than a fair share of red lanterns, and street performers.
Kuan, Zhai, and Jing lanes come together as Kuanzhai Alley, resulting in a not to be missed, easy to get to Chengdu City attraction. Kuanxiangzi Street being perhaps the most likey spot to be dropped off by taxi. Upon arrival you will find a large map displaying the area lay-out. Generally speaking, visitors entering from here usually stroll northwards along Kuan Alley, reach the end, and return southwards along Zhai, and then back north along Jing to exit. "Jing lane" was once known as "Well Lane" due to the old well sistuated at the western end of the alley. "Zhai" still refers to lane's narrowness, and "Kuan" means fat or wide.The noncomformists zigzag between all three main lanes by way of the many interconnecting alleys, hoping not to get too confused, but having a great time exploring this amazing place.
By day or by night, the lanes of Kuan will keep everyone busy, whether it's studying the amazing photographs, and original art framing many of the sidewalks to offer viewers images of past, and present Kuanzhai. For you, it maybe enjoying the flavours of a local speciality Dan Dan noodles, or fine dining at one of the many courtyard restaurants, or enjoying a coffee, or something a little stronger, at one of the sylized establishements with out-door seating. Still others will be intrigued by the professional "ear-cleaners" plying their trade amongst the laneways. Others come to choose from a large selection of Sichuan (Shu) embroidery available at specialty stores dotted amongst those offering high-end fasions. Many simply come to learn about, walk down, photograph, and or simply admire the historical lanes of Kuanzhai.
Jinli Ancient Street
Jinli Ancient Street is actually an "ancient street", which history faithfully reports to have been established well before the "Three Kingdoms Period", a distant period going back as far as 200 B.C. In those ancient times, this very typical Chinese commericial street was a bustling center for cloth sales, in particular the ancient, and beautifully decorative Chinese textile translated as Shu Brocade, or in Chinese "Shu3 Jin3" (蜀锦).
Now, since the street's revitilization of 2004, Jinli Ancient Street, or just Jinli Street, has been lovingly, and masterfully renovated into a trendy recreational area that includes a 550 meter long walking and shopping street fashioned with the very recogniable traditional architecture of China. It's a place to relax and have fun, a place where, in-case you may have forgotten, you are in "the real China" sharing time and space with the laid-back locals of Chengdu, and visitors from around the globe. Here, amongst the lanes and criss-crossing passage-ways that connect the two main thoroughfares you will find everything from ancient Sichuan style brocades, embroidery, and other regional cloth arts, as is best in-keeping with the long history and tradition of this magnificent and colourful street.
Though there's an abundance of other traditional Chinese hand crafts and souvenirs, including porcelain, paintings, and hand crafted folk arts the street of today is perhaps best known for the modern variants and reproductions of the traditional Chinese crafts, but look and you will find Jinli Street does in-fact have a decent selection of actual antique shops.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood, just East of the Wuhou Memorial Temple (Wuhou Shrine), you won't have to worry about being hungry or tired when you stop by. There are plenty of restaurants, tea-houses and cafes on Jinli Street as well as hotels should you plan to make this your last stop of the day. You will also find plenty of local entertainment on this bustling walking street as you sample from a wide variety of Chengdu snack vendors and walk by various theatrical stages, bars, and specialty shops.
If you are coming by taxi or just want to practice your Chinese, tell them you are looking for "jin li gu jie" (锦里古街) and if you get your tones right you just might find yourself at the famous Jinli Ancient Street!
Otherwise just download our Chengdu App and you will have access to a portable map and other tools to help you get around Chengdu.