24 hours in Chengdu
Written by Brian Johnston Illustration by Patrick Hruby
Qatar Airways launches flights to Chengdu, China on September 3.
Chengdu is a fast-growing, vibrant metropolis and the commercial, administrative, and educational centre of southwest China, yet manages to retain historic temples, street markets, tranquil parks, and a laid-back lifestyle that make it one of China’s most liveable cities.
Today, although many old quarters have disappeared under skyscrapers, Chengdu remains dotted with venerable temples, pavilions, and wooden houses, and is also noted for its traditional teahouses where, as they’ve done for centuries, old folk hang their birdcages in the branches, sip green tea, and enjoy Sichuan opera and traditional comedy acts.
The new Chengdu Metro currently has two operational lines and connects its main railway stations with the city centre and several tourist sights.
Metered taxis and motorised rickshaws are cheap and plentiful. Have your destination written in Chinese, as few drivers speak English.
You can rent bicycles from US$2 per day from guesthouses. Pollution and traffic are a downside, the very flat landscape a plus.
A dense network means buses are a good way to get about, though navigating the routes is challenging without Chinese language skills.