The ancient East meets contemporary China in Chengdu. You could relax in a teahouse and savour the centuries-old tea drinking tradition, said to have begun in the Sichuan region. Or visit the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre and witness a remarkable conservation programme first hand. Of course, no trip would be complete without sampling the distinctive cuisine – just watch out for the peppers, which are particularly piquant.
A vibrant city known for its pagodas, pandas and fiery peppercorns.
Things to do
Book a private trip to the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Centre – a few miles outside the city – and learn about efforts to conserve this endangered species. The sight of these creatures nibbling bamboo is unforgettable and, if you’re lucky, you may be invited to peek inside the nursery where baby pandas are being raised.
If you like your food sizzling, Sichuan province is the place to eat. Be sure to visit a restaurant serving ‘hotpots’. These ‘cook-your-own’ cauldrons have chilli peppers bobbing in soup or consommé. Dip in a selection of glass noodles, meats and vegetables and enjoy.
For a glimpse of ancient Chengdu, stroll along Jinli Old Street. Admire a hotchpotch of teahouses and pop inside to buy a blend of tea leaves. Browse local crafts and elegant calligraphy in tiny shops. Or wander the stall-lined streets and you’ll see paper-cut figurines for sale.
Sichuan cuisine isn’t for the faint-hearted. Order a two-part ‘hotpot’, which has a milder broth on one side, to counterbalance the fiery chilli flavours.
Top Tip from SLH