Xiling Mountain (Xilǐng Xuěshān, 西岭雪山)—also referred to as "Xiling Snow Mountain," "Xiling Snow-Capped Mountain" or just "Xiling Xueshan"—is a pleasant get-away just about two hours by car from downtown Chengdu. In spring, summer and fall, it offers hikers alpine wildflowers, waterfalls and colorful autumn foliage. By mid-November, the upper slopes see substantial snowfall, and aided by snow machines are ski-able until around February. The ski area—not quite a "resort" in an Alps or Rockies sense of the..
Of the many famous China's classical poets, Du Fu (712-70 AD) is up there with Tang Dynasty master Li Bai as the best known and one of the most well loved. After travels around eastern China and his home province of Henan, Du Fu arrived in the conflict-torn Tang capital of Chang'an (today's Xi'an) where he worked to establish himself as a civil servant at the behest of the Tang emperor. But the emperor was much too busy clashing with the forces of rebellious general An Lushan. And so Du Fu's official career never was. The An Lushan..
Replicas of Qing Dynasty mansions line Jinli Old Street (Jǐnlǐ Gǔjiē, 锦里古街) selling local souvenirs as well as tea, books, musical instruments and caricatures. While several large restaurants can be found here, the real charm lies in the small snack alley between Wuhou Temple and Jinli. Here the overpowering odor of stinky tofu is softened by sweet caramel, spicy beef, rice cakes, noodles and sesame buns—made to order amidst the din of hawkers and touts shouting their products. Locals fill the street nightly—especially on..
The Jinsha archaeological site is one of the most important finds of the last 30 years and yielded extraordinary jade, gold and ivory figurines closely linked with the Sanxingdui site. The Jinsha Museum (Jīnshā Bówùgun, 金沙博物馆) houses artifacts pulled from pits on the west side of Chengdu. As seen in the many ceremonial artifacts found on site, most notably the Golden Phoenix which is now on display in the museum, the society traded with other cultures as far away as Southeast Asia and had a very sophisticated religion. The..
Chengdu's oldest and largest temple is the Wenshu Monastery (Wénshū Yuàn, 文殊院). The temple that stands today is a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) reconstruction of a Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) temple from centuries earlier. Dedicated to the incarnation of Wenshu, you'll see his image associated with a lion throughout the grounds—these are representations of his symbolic animal. The soaring, red-walled halls are beautiful examples of classic architecture with their inverted eaves and sky-high ceilings. The space buzzes with..
The large, serene River View Pavilion Park (Wàngjiānglóu Gōngyuán, 望江楼公园) overlooks the Jin River. Dedicated to Xue Tao, a famous female Tang Dynasty poet known to have an affinity for bamboo, the park features some 150 varieties of the plant. The elaborately decorated pavilion that gives the park its name is the focal point, however. The 39 m (128 ft), four-story structure dates back to 1889, and is sometimes referred to as the Chongli Pavilion (Chónglì Gé, 崇丽阁) by the locals. The park is dotted..
People's Park (Rénmín Gōngyuán, 人民公园) is the most popular park in Sichuan's capital city and is host to a colorful mix of Chengdu residents who are always out enjoying themselves in the open air. The park is not only an enjoyable place to relax and mingle; it also has great historical significance. It was the site of the 1911 protests against the Qing government's policy of handing over railway construction to foreigners. These Chengdu protests and strikes set off a chain reaction that helped topple the Qing dynasty...
The oldest Taoist temple in Chengdu, Qingyang Temple (Qīngyáng Gōng, 青羊宫) is also one of the most famous in the country. One of the first Taoist temples allowed to reopen by the government in 1983, Qingyang Temple was originally built during the Zhou Dynasty (1040-221BC). It was later expanded after the Taoists gave the Tang Emperor refuge during the Huangchao Rebellion. It consists of six courtyards which open out onto each other, culminating in a sculpture of two goats. These represent one of the earthly..
The main shrine to Sichuan's ancient Shu Kingdom and the heroes that made it legendary during the Three Kingdoms period, Wuhou Temple (Wǔhóu Cí, 武侯祠) was first built to house Shu Emperor Liu Bei's remains in 221. During the Ming Dynasty, Liu Bei's subjects' remains were also housed here, most notably those of Zhuge Liang (Zhūgě Liàng, 诸葛亮). Zhuge Liang (181–234 AD) lived during the Three Kingdoms period, when China's Han Dynasty was torn between competing kingdoms, and a fictionalized version of the strategist..
For many, the image of a panda is intrinsically linked with that of China. The Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (Chéngdū Dà Xióngmāo Fányù Yánjiū Jīdì, 成都大熊猫繁育研究基地) is hard at work keeping that image alive, by doing all they can to keep the outrageously cute species reproducing. 10 km (6 mi) from downtown Chengdu, the base is the best way to see and learn about these gentle and endangered creatures. Almost 100 pandas live there, with some red pandas sharing accomdations with the more famous..
The Leshan Giant Buddha (Lèshān Dàfó, 乐山大佛) is situated at the confluence of the Min (Mín Jiāng, 岷江) and Dadu Rivers (Dàdù Hé, 大渡河) and was originally built to protect and watch over passing ships in the night. Haitong, a Chinese monk, began work on the project in 713 and it was not completed until 90 years later. Despite this monk's dedication (he gauged out his own eyes to secure funding) he did not live to see the statue completed. Haitong's work was continued by the monks Zangchou..
The Giant Sleeping Buddha (Jùxíng Shui Fó, 巨型睡佛) of Leshan is an optical feature that requires a re-focuse of both your eyeballs and your third eye. While everyone's attention is on the Leshan Giant Buddha, the one carved out of the cliffside, the Great Sleeping Buddha made up of the very mountains and rivers goes on blissfully snoozing. This spiritual/topographical wonder is formed by three mountains: Wuyou Shan (Wūyóu Shān, 乌尤山), Lingyun Shan (Língyún Shān, 凌云山) and Guicheng Shan (Guīchéng..