Chengdu, The Land of Milk and Honey

Over the past decade, I’ve travelled multiple times to China visiting Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing, and so far Chengdu has been my favorite. Chengdu (成都), located in Sichuan Province (四川), sits in the Red Basin and is historically known for its agricultural wealth having constant access to water from the surrounding mountains. The city is sometimes referred as the “Land of Milk and Honey” and it holds true even as a traveler (Random plug). So many beautiful areas to see in the surrounding areas that a schedule can easily be packed for 1.5-2 weeks. 

Naturally, there is the busy-ness of a large city, but brims with a slower leisurely pace, offering a great alternative if Beijing or Shanghai end up feel too chaotic. Loads of tasty (spicy) food along with a its own local personality.

If I had to sum up the local area in one photo, this is it.


Chengdu airport is the 4th largest airport in passenger volume in China. Finding flights into and out of the city shouldn’t be difficult, especially flying from Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing.

The airport is a hub to access much smaller cities in the Sichuan province, particularly JiuZhaiGou (九寨溝), the quickest access to JiuZhaiGou, inscribed by UNESCO as a world heritage site and biosphere reserve. Chengdu airport is located 20 km outside the city of Chengdu with many buses going into and out of a city. An overview can be seen here. Taxi fares are reasonable (about $10 US), especially if you are traveling in a small group. Also a very sleep-able airport.

Places/Things to See

1.) Changing of the Faces  (變臉, Bian Lian) 

An ancient form of dramatic art that is usually shown in Sichuan opera. The troupe I attended performed at the Fu Rong Guo Cui 芙蓉國粹.

There are different ways of BianLian. If you know some of the subtitles, it’ll certainly make it more interesting!

Image courtesy of :

2.) Jin Li Ancient Street (錦里老街)

A traditional style street with plenty of things to eat, along with arts and crafts

JinLi 錦里老街

Decorated flower base.

3.) KuanZhai Alley (寬窄巷子)

Directly translated to mean “Wide Narrow Street”, and its just exactly that. If I had to compare it to somewhere in San Diego, it’d be like Old Town and North Park mixed together, but with history dating back hundreds of years. Interlaced with traditional-style food courts and modern media and art, it really is a symbol of traditional Chinese architecture with  modern art, without losing much of the feeling that you still stuck in the early 1900’s!

Wax art in KuanZhai Alley – purrrty cool!

Artsy, hipster area. Appearance of an old traditional style street interlaced with modern art. Like this photograph and stone wall making part of this piece 3-D.

Ear Cleaning? No problem!

4.) Dufu Thatched Cottage (杜甫草堂) 

A park dedicated to the late and famous poet, Dufu. The ambience is serene and peaceful. Hundreds of poems written by Dufu during the Tang Dynasty around 760 A.D.

Statue at DuFu Thatched Cottage

Trips from Chengdu

1.) Nine Village Valley – JiuZhaiGou 九寨溝 / MoNiGou

A UNESCO World Heritage Site. This deserve a completely separate post, but the scenery here is absolutely beautiful. Our visit in the spring had some snowfall.

JiuZhaiGou 九寨溝


2.) LeShan Buddha

A buddha statue built 1,300 years ago, taking 90 years to build. It sits at 71 meters (233 ft.) tall and is extraordinarily massive. There was so much stone carved displaced into the adjacent river that it tempered the currents, allowing boats to travel across.

Base of LeShan Buddha (乐山大佛). The stones behind me are the toes of the buddha.

3.) DuJianYan (都江堰)

An Irrigation system built in 256 B.C. is the oldest ecology engineering feat in the world. It functions with a dam and provides irrigation, water distribution, flood and sand discharge while providing for flood preventing and water transport. The man made path was carefully constructed to take advantage of the speed, direction, and turbulence of the water to also provide a natural filtration of sand that has to be cleaned and re-leveled every few years.  

I think any engineer will have an appreciation despite the bland appearance of the photos. This irrigation system is still being to funnel water into Chengdu today.

A Y split. The right goes to Chengdu while the left is overflow. The turbulence in the center of the Y is intended to slow the velocity of the water.

4.) EMei Shan (峩嵋山)

One of four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite the proliferate number of buddhist temples in China, this is in a place of its own.


 5.) QingCheng Mountain (青成山)

Birthplace of Taoism, also called the fifth fairland in China, where tens of Taoist temples have been preserved.

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6.) Other places (Map)

Map of surrounding areas to visit in the Chengdu area


Qual Eggs

Soup Balls 湯圓

And of course, Sichuan hotpot, courtesy of:

Any other trips you would suggest? Leave a comment below!


Trip: 4/2014




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