What’s Doing in Chengdu

By Karin Sun on 20 June 2014
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Also known as the City of Hibiscus, Chengdu is both a modern industrial center and a carefully preserved relic of ancient times. History surrounds the visitor in this city, where the ancient Southern Silk Road began. Stop and enjoy a cup of tea with locals, keeping in mind that you are in the birthplace of the tea trade.

Standing as the capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China, Chengdu is the only major city in the country that has never officially changed its name. This western Chinese metropolis is home to 250 Fortune 500 companies, and is the main location where Apple manufactures its iPads. Despite being a major commercial center and gateway to the West, however, Chengdu is also a city that has taken pains to preserve its unique cultural and natural heritage.

Chengdu first came into existence in the fourth century B.C., when King Kaiming IX decided to move the capital city of the ancient state of Shu from its then location at nearby Pixian. The new capital flourished under the reign of successive dynasties and, centuries later, the city was the locus of the Railway Protection Movement, which played a major role in the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 that established the modern Republic of China. The city became an important military base in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the site of a major earthquake in 2008 that caused over 69,000 fatalities.


Chengdu’s rich past is reflected in its numerous ancient temples, historical sites, and parks. Throughout the years, the city has also successfully preserved many beloved cultural traditions such as mahjong and Sichuan opera, as well as the area’s indigenous population of giant pandas. Pandas are such an intrinsic part of the local culture that Chengdu residents are said to be living “the panda life,” a less stressful lifestyle than found in other Chinese cities. In addition to its renowned panda sanctuaries, the city also regularly features pandas in its public spaces, media, and popular culture.

These aspects of Chengdu characterize the city along with its mouth-watering local delicacies, perpetually downcast skies, and the Sichuan language, a dialect of Mandarin spoken by the city’s residents. As you stroll through the streets of Chengdu, take the time to enjoy its many modern attractions as well as its unique historical and cultural relics.

Click here to continue to Page 2What to Do, Where to Shop, and What to Eat

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