Places to see in Sichuan Province:
These are the attractions listed in most guidebooks for Chengdu and Sichuan – the ones that people will travel halfway around the world to see. Because information about them is readily available elsewhere, the descriptions below are brief.
1. Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
No. 26 Xiongmao Ave., 10km north of downtown Chengdu
Hours: 8am-6pm: feeding time – 9:30am
Comments: One of the “must-see” attractions, but an hour here is plenty to see everything. Go as early as possible before the crowds get too out of hand. It is a long but pleasant walk between the panda enclosures. The adult pandas don’t move much; you can file through the nursery to watch masked nurses feed the baby pandas from bottles. The red panda enclosure is much more lively. Want to have your picture taken holding a panda? It’s possible, but very pricey. Just outside the park is a pleasant lake where you can sit outside, drink tea, and watch the carp and black swans. http://www.panda.org.cn/english/
2. Leshan Giant Buddha
Leshan – 160km south of Chengdu
Hours: May-Sept 7:30-7:30, Oct-Apr 8-6
Admission: 80 RMB
The 8th century, 233-foot high Giant Buddha was carved in the cliff overlooking the confluence of the Minjiang, Dadu and Qingyi rivers just outside of the city of Leshan. It is a Unesco World Heritage site, along with neighboring Emei Mountain. Beyond the park entrance are steps leading to the top of the cliff, level with the Buddha’s head. A trail leads down to the Buddha’s toes; it’s a good perspective for appreciating the immensity of the Buddha, but not great for photos. The Buddha may also be seen by boat without entering the park – a good alternative if you dislike steps or if the crowds are too great. The grounds are nicely landscaped, and also include the Wuyou Temple, which is a good representative of a working temple. Don’t miss the larger than life size statues ofthe 18 arhats – wise men, some of them scratching their backs or cleaning their ears. If the crowds aren’t too bad (go early, and not on public holidays), the Buddha and most of the park can be seen in under two hours.
The adjacent Buddha land (separate entrance ticket) contains copies of famous Buddhas from all over the world in well-landscaped surroundings. It has a separate front entrance (less walking), or else it can be reached from the back of the Giant Buddha Park. From the back, we climbed a great number of steps without much to see, but then passed into a cave with large Buddhas carved into its red stone walls. This leads to the back of a temple altar, with a long sweep of steps leading to a circular plaza below – lots of great photo ops. The central staircase is very steep, but there are side paths up and down that are easier walking. Together these two parks make a good day trip – or they can be combined with an overnight for a next-day visit to Emei Mountain.
3. Emei Mountain (Emei Shan)
Leshan City – 143km south of Chengdu
Admission: 150RMB entrance; Jinding Cable Car: Opening Hours: 05:30 – 18:00; RMB
65 (upper)/ RMB 55 (lower); Wannian Cable Car: Opening Hours: 06:40 – 18:00; RMB
65 (upper)/ RMB 45 (lower); there are also small admission fees to the temples
This sacred Buddhist mountain has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site on the basis of its temples and its spectacular scenery. The most famous part is the Golden Summit, which on clear days offers far-reaching views. Although this site is “do-able” in a day from Chengdu, it is a long and pricey trip to the summit, and it is a shame to have to hurry. Dress warmly – the summit is always cold. There are also many trails to explore on the mountainside. The more popular areas can be reached by cable car, with plenty of places to buy food and drink along the way. Most of the paths are paved, so steep paths turn into steps – thousands of them.
4. Dujiangyan Irrigation Works
Dujiangyan City – 60 km northwest of Chengdu
These ancient irrigation works, which divert the Min River into irrigation canals, transformed the Sichuan plain from a place of periodic flooding and drought into the “land of plenty.” They were designed and implemented in the 3rd century B.C. by engineer/governor Li Bing, and they are still in use today. The long entrance walk has statues and beautifully-manicured landscape. The round trip path takes you on both sides of the river, and has explanatory signs in English. Depending upon where you live in Chengdu, allow about two hours to get there, and 1 ½ – 2 hours to see the park.
5. Jiuzhai Valley National Park
This world heritage site is 440 km north of Chengdu in the Min Shan Mountain range, on the edge of the Tibetan Himalayan Plateau. There are many daily flights there from Chengdu, and there is a wide range of accommodations near the park entrance.Admission: 220 RMB peak season (April 1- November 15) / 80 RMB off Peak Hours: May 1 – November 15 – 7:00am to 6:30pm, November 16 – April 30 – 7:00am to 6:00pm Jiuzhai Valley is known for its spectacular landscape, with many waterfalls and lakes and karst formations, as well as many species of wildlife. There are also nine traditional Tibetan villages within the valley.
Places to See in Chengdu – West
6. DuFu’s Thatched Cottage
38 Qinghua Lu (just east of the western part of the 2nd Ring Road)
Dufu, a famous poet from the 8th century, wrote 250 poems during the four years he lived in a small cottage west of Chengdu. This is Chengdu’s premier tourist site, and it is worth seeing no matter how you feel about poetry, simply to experience Chinese landscaping at its best. There are several small museums to view – one on the life of Dufu, plus a recreation of the original cottage. There are many garden areas with statues and charming gates, plus a viewing tour. Go on a nice day, and plan to spend several hours exploring the park, or spend a relaxing afternoon with friends. The south entrance shares parking with Huanhuaxi Park, and has some interesting sculptures of poets.
7. Huanhuaxi Park (just south of Dufu cottage)
This park is just south of Dufu cottage, and is a clean, scenic place to walk and explore. It has several tea gardens. In one area you can buy food to feed the doves. We saw one young boy trying to hug a dove, and other people posing with doves on their arms. A great place to walk around and relax in. On National holidays, the park is crowded.
8. Sichuan Provincial Museum
251 Huanhua Lu [entrance on Qinghua Lu, a short ways east of Dufu Cottage]
No admission. English-speaking guides are available for a fee.
The Sichuan Provincial Museum reopened in 2009 in this grandiose exhibition hall. The displays are well-lit, artistic, and have bilingual signage. There are separate halls for ceramics, stone carvings, minority clothing, and other artifacts discovered in Sichuan. A thorough viewing can take several hours.
9. Brocade Museum
Huanhua Lu, across the street and to the south of the Sichuan Provincial Museum
No admission. ½ hour is plenty unless you want to do some serious shopping.
This museum is essentially a show room for Sichuan textiles – brocade and embroidery made up into clothing or as high-end art objects – all with a price. In the center of the main showroom are three large handlooms for weaving brocade. There will often be a pair of weavers at one of the looms – one of them throwing the shuttle, and the other one six feet above, grabbing strings which lift selected warp threads to form the brocade pattern. These are masters of a disappearing art; almost all the brocade manufactured in Chengdu is now made by machine. The showroom is good for giving you an idea of the goods available in Chengdu; I have been told that the prices there, given the quality, are fairly reasonable.
10. Songxianqiao Antiquities Market
This market is on the northeast corner of Huanhua Lu and Qinghua Lu, cattycorner to the Sichuan Provincial Museum. The permanent buildings house mainly high-end art stores,with a variety of ceramics, stoneware, carved wood, furniture, etc. The second level hasa lot of artist studios; you can find traditional style Chinese paintings at reasonable prices,as well as Western style paintings. Along the river are a couple of aisles of open-air stallsselling books, Mao paraphernalia, Pashmina shawls, coins, jewelry, Tibetan goods, and a host of antiques of various ages and authenticities. Be prepared to bargain; the first price cited may be over three times more than the final one.
11. Jinsha Site Museum
Location: 2 Jinsha Yizhi Rd. (Qingyang Ave.), tel. 028 8730 3522
Hours: 8am-5:00pm: (allow 2-4 hours for a complete tour)
Admission: 80 RMB
This ancient settlement was discovered in 2001 during real estate construction. It has since been turned into a world class museum and park grounds. One large building covers the main excavation area. A separate museum houses gold masks, jade disks, kneeling figures, and other finds. There is plenty of English signage. This settlement is similar in age to the Sanxingdui site; both are well worth seeing.
Editor’s note: I love this museum and its grounds. Want to avoid the entrance fee? There
is a restaurant on the grounds of the museum that is quite good. If you go eat at the
restaurant first, you can enter the museum site through the restaurant. Restaurant is a
special gate on the North side.
12. Qintai Lu and the Culture Park
This street of modern traditional architecture has stores with Tibetan goods, high-end jewelry and art goods, and fancy restaurants. In the middle of the block is a recessed area with a bridge crossing into the Culture Park. This large park has tea houses around lakes and an open-air theater for Sichuan opera. There is a variety show which offers a bit of opera, shadow puppets, acrobats, comics, etc., with some English explanations. The tickets at the door can be rather pricey, but group discounts can be arranged. The price includes tea; hot water is replenished from long-stemmed tea pots. Ear cleanings are also offered. Go early and watch the actors put on their makeup.
13. Wide and Narrow Streets
These three pedestrian streets feature upscale restaurants, bars, gift shops, a book store,etc. in clean, modern, traditional-style architecture. There are plenty of places for coffee or snacks; indulge in a traditional Sichuan banquet (Yu’s Family Kitchen, No. 43 Zhai Xiang Zi, Xia Tong Ren Road, Tel: 86-28-8669-1975) or French dining (Desir, 33 Kuan Lane, 028 8626 6535 . This is a nicer area for walking than Qintai Lu – no cars to dodge It is in walking distance of both Qintai Lu (to the southwest) and Renmin (People’s) Park, a large park to the southeast.
Places to See in Chengdu – South
14. Wuhou Temple
231 Wuhouci Da Jie
Admission: 60 RMB
This is one of Chengdu’s premier tourist areas. The temple is pleasant, but does not stand out in my mind over the other temples I have seen in the area. You’ll want to see it once, perhaps when friends are visiting, but there’s a lot to see outside the temple area as well:
Jinli Street, Nanjiao Park, and the Tibetan area.
This “ancient” street has a lot of quasi-traditional architecture, with a bustling array of souvenir shops, restaurants, and folk performances. One street is dedicated to snack foods – I’ve tried lots of strange things with no ill effects. Thirsty – take your pick of a traditional tea garden or Starbucks.
This gem of a park can be reached from the back of Jinli Street, or from its front entrance to the left of Wuhou Temple. Most of the year entrance is free; for the Spring Festival it is decorated and an admission is charged. There is a scenic lake and many shaded areas to relax. On a Sunday morning there will be a lot of groups of older women and men practicing Tai Ji or ballroom dancing.
The streets across of Wuhou Temple have a variety of Tibetan restaurants and handicraftstores, intermixed with sporting goods. The Are Restaurant across from the Temple is a good place to get a Tibetan meal.
15. Artists Park
Check out the small park underneath the overpass where Ren Min South crosses the 2nd Ring Road. There are life-size metal figures of traditional characters from Chengdu street life, also some nice bas reliefs of street scenes. There is also a row of art shops nestled beneath the road featuring Chinese art and collectibles.
Places to See in Chengdu – Central
16. Sichuan Science and Technology Museum
16 Renmin Nan Zhong Lu, sect. 1 (just behind the Mao statue on the north side of TianFu
Admission: 30 RMB
This science museum, inspired by the hands-on science museums of the U.S., opened in2003. The only things in the museum specific to China are large-scale models of Dujiangyan and a model of an ancient salt works. Of the other exhibits, those which are conducive to showing to large school grounds are well maintained; those allowing handson activities have been loved to death. It’s either a glass half empty or a glass half full. Some kids will be frustrated by all that doesn’t work. Others will enjoy exploring the large building; there is a great view of TianFu Square from the upper stories. It was relatively empty the Saturday I visited; weekdays often have large school groups going through. Afterwards, take a stroll through Tianfu Square, the center of the city.
17. River walks
Since the mid 1990’s, there has been an extensive effort to clean and beautify the Jinjiang River; there are river walks along both banks which you can enjoy for a leisurely stroll or an all-day hike. There are numerous tea gardens along the way. There is a pleasant strip park at the confluence just west of the Shangri La Hotel. On Saturday and Sunday mornings you can see half a dozen or so brides having their pictures taken along this park; the confluence of rivers is considered a propitious symbol for a long and successful marriage.
Places to See in Chengdu – East, Southeast
18. Sichuan University Museum
No. 29 Wangjiang Rd, near the East Gate of Sichuan University. Tel: 028 8541 2451
Admission: 30 RMB
This museum covers much of the same areas as the Sichuan Provincial Museum: ceramics, stone carvings, local archeological finds, and clothing and handicraft of the local minorities. The Provincial Museum is newer and has much better lighting and signage. I think the University Museum has a more in-depth coverage of the minority cultures. If you have the time and interest, go to both. (Ruth Yeager, April, 2010).
19. Wangjiang Pavilion and Bamboo Park
Wangjiang Road, Jiuyanqiao, east of Sichuan University, along the Jinjiang River
Admission required for the Pavilion; the rest of the park is free.
Hours: 8am- 5:30pm
Walk through this park to see the many types of bamboo; stop at one of the tea gardens. It is an older park – a bit run-down, but still pleasant.
20. Tazishan Park
This large park is on many bus routes, and is likely to be very crowded on Sundays. The 13-story Jiutian Tower was closed for repairs when we went to the park. There is a large bird park (admission); from the outside it looks as if it has seen better days. We didn’t go in, but Gulya said her son enjoyed it.
21. Sansheng Xiang Flower Market
Sansheng Township, near the 3rd Ring Road in the southeastern part of Chengdu, features six big flower gardens. On a nice day, it is a pleasant place to stroll, appreciate the flowers, and stop at a tea garden or outdoor restaurant. There is a large wholesale flower market where you can buy a large variety of cut flowers, plants, and flower pots at reasonable prices. http://www.cdss.cn/english/ (not terribly useful)
Places to See in Chengdu – North
22. Wenshu Temple
Renmin Road central, north of downtown Chengdu
Admission: 5 RMB
This working temple has pleasant grounds to wander through – a bit of tranquility within the bustling city. Toward the back are two teahouses and a vegetarian restaurant. (No pictures on the menu, but I think there is some English – the dishes I ate were decent, but not outstanding.) Adjacent to the temple is an “ancient” street with high-end art objects, and a street lined with vendors offering the cheaper tourist items. It’s a fun place to wander around. Allow about three hours in all if you’re having lunch.
Places to See in Sichuan – West and Northwest of Chengdu
23. Pingle ancient Town
93 km southwest of Chengdu, about a 2 hour ride.
The heart of this ancient town lies along both banks of the Baimo River, where there are plenty of tea gardens and outdoor restaurants where you can while away the afternoon. It feels somewhat more authentic than Huanglongxi or Luodai, but it’s also much further away. When we went in March, 2010, our experience was diminished by extensive roadwork, lots of construction within Pingle itself, and a light drizzle. Our favorite part was walking into the countryside just beyond the town, onto a lane surrounded by fields of yellow-blooming rape.
24. Anren Museums, Dayi County – about an hour west of Chengdu
1) Jianchuan Museum Cluster – outside of Anren.
Admission: 100 RMB for six museums; a cheaper ticket is available if you opt for only
This cluster of private museums includes a museum commemorating the Flying Tigers (U.S. volunteers helping the Chinese during the war with Japan), a museum of shoes for bound feet, daily living scenes from Mao’s China, one museum of Mao badges, seals and clocks, “The Hall of the Core of the Resistance”, “The Hall of Unyielding Chinese Prisoners of War” “Red Age Porcelain Wares Hall”, and a museum commemorating the2008 earthquake. The grounds make for pleasant walking. There are a few places to eat, and there’s a tea garden.
2) Liu’s Manor house and the Rent Collection Courtyard Sculptures
Admission: about 60RMB
Liu was a wealthy landlord in pre-revolutionary times. The highlight of the tour is the Rent Collection Courtyard Sculptures, a group of 114 life-sized statues created in the 1960s to depict the suffering of peasants at the mercy of a cruel landlord. Copies of this collection have been made and displayed in Venice and in New York (2008); China tried unsuccessfully to sue for copyright infringement. The entrance price also includes the marriage customs museum, with is at the other end of an “ancient town” street. The marriage customs museum is an older building with some charming garden areas, but it has clearly seen better days. The signage is amusing; the exhibits are a bit dark, but not without interest. This makes for an interesting outing on a pleasant day, though it may not by a place to take those out-of-town guests you are trying to impress.
25. Wonderstones Museum
Admission: about 50 RMB
939 Tiansi Lu, Sect. 2, Wenjiang, tel. 82627339
It took about an hour on a Sunday to drive to this Western suburban location. The plaza outside the museum has a variety of small shops selling plants and stones. There were a few mineral specimens to be found, but most of the rocks were there for their “interesting” shapes or textures. There were also a large number of 10-12 foot stalactites around the plaza, presumably for sale. The museum itself, housed in a former orchid pavilion, is poorly lit and poorly labeled. The museum exits into a brightly-lit showroom featuring large show rocks – the type you see at the entrance to buildings – with prices listed in wan (10,000 RMB).
26. Flora Land
Wenjiang District. Tel. 028-8261122
http://www.floraland.cc/english/ (one of those fancy sites that seems to lack any useful
information, such as price, hours, and location)
Admission: more than 100 RMB per adult, with discounted prices for younger children,
no additional cost for rides within the amusement park.
Flora Land is billed as Western China’s largest theme park.
27. Happy Valley Amusement Park
16 Huaxi Dadao. Tel 61898166. www.cdhlg.com
This is a smaller, somewhat cheaper version of Flora Land.
28. Museum of Sichuan Cuisine
Pixian Guchengzhen, Tel. 87919398
Admission: 20 RMB
This museum is outside of Pixian, to the northwest of Chengdu, and is somewhat hard to find. It is new, and the displays have good lighting and labels, but most of the objects are ceramics or stoneware, similar to objects found in the Sichuan Provincial Museum. There is very little information on the food itself. It was a long ride to see relatively little. The museum shares a beautiful garden with a new restaurant; I had a very enjoyable lunch in July 2009, sitting on a verandah overlooking a lotus pond. It would be a beautiful spot for a wedding reception or other function, providing your guests could find it. I was there again in March 2010; a highway is being constructed right by it, so access may be improved in the future.
29. Xiling Snow Mountain
About 2 ½ hours west from Chengdu.
Xiling is Sichuan’s premier ski area. The ski slopes are short and appear to be beginner level; I don’t know anyone who has actually gone skiing there. Xiling can also be a great place to go hiking, with a few caveats.
1) Xiling Front Mountain.
Admission: Two cable car fees.
The trail head has a few food vendors, but doesn’t have a warm place for your driver to wait. The first cable car, a 17-minute ride, takes you halfway up the mountain. From there a bus takes you to the center of the resort, where there are several large hotels, a mall with stores and restaurants, and short slopes for sledding or skiing. A second cable car takes you on a 40-minute trip (with a brief stop a short way up at the top of a long water slide) up to the crest of the mountain. There are food vendors there, and a 1and ½ km walk around the crest. The most famous spot, Yin-Yang, is supposed to be cloudy on one side of the divide, and sunny on the other. It was Yin-Yin the day we went, and a little bit nippy (in November 2008), but otherwise we had a good time. My husband has been back twice with less fortunate results. During the winter holiday, the crowds were so great that it took a two-hour wait to go down the lower cable car; he walked down instead. The next time he went the cable cars were all being repaired, so he ended up hiking elsewhere.
2) Xiling Back Mountain.
The lesser-used back mountain has a trail through a lush canyon, with spectacular waterfalls toward the upper part of the trail. Like most Sichuan mountain parks, this path is paved and has numerous food stations along the way in case you get hungry or thirsty, or just need a rest.
30. Qingcheng Mountain
This holy Taoist mountain is about 65 km west of Chengdu, a short way south from Dujiangyan. Allow two hours to get there.
1) Qingcheng Front Mountain
Admission: 90 RMB
This area sustained heavy damage from the 2008 earthquake. Repairs are ongoing, so it’s hard to predict exactly what you will find in operation. When we visited in 2009, Yuecheng Lake was dry, its dam having been breached, and the cable car to the top of the mountain was not in operation. But the paved path up the mountain was in good condition, and we had a pleasant climb to the Shangqing Temple. Plan at least four hours for the climb up and back. Some of the steps are rather narrow, so I found myself sidestepping down some of the steeper portions. The scenery is beautiful.
2) Qingcheng Back Mountain
The back mountain is about 15 km northwest of the front mountain gate. It is not officially open, but there are still a fair number of intrepid hikers who are not deterred by the boulder that took out part of the bridge near the trail head. When we were there in March 2010, serious repairs were being made to the paths, including new bridges. The two cable cars will probably be out of operation for quite a while. The town at the trail head is currently a mess of mud and construction, but before too long it should be a pleasant place to stay. With over 20 kms of hiking trails, Qingcheng Mountain deserves a two-day trip. It’s a two-hour climb up to Baiyun village; from there the trail leads past several Buddhist temples and some grottos filled with colorful statuary – lots of Buddhas, including Buddha with the pandas! Baiyun village was almost a ghost town, and the temple areas were all abandoned, but I think the villagers and monks will come back once the cable cars are in operation. So far, this has been one of our favorite places to hike.
31. Shui Mo and SanJiang Ancient Towns
The valley one mountain range to the west from Dujiangyan is currently being developed into a summer resort area. A new toll road, with two long tunnels, takes you quickly into the valley. The roads in the valley themselves are narrow and under construction, so traffic can be a problem. It takes us about three hours to reach Shuimo, which has an ancient town under construction and what will be a lovely waterfront area. A short way beyond Shuimo is SanJiang, which has a beautiful new visitor center, waterfront area, and Tibetan village. From there the mountain road leads past “18 happy curves” – each one of them labeled – to a huge resort at the top. We got out at curve 3 to admire a waterfall, then walked up a brand new “ancient plank” path up a valley – and saw no one. There are also some very good bike trails in this area. It’s a long way for a day hike, but in a few months it should be a good place for a weekend visit.
32. Wolong Nature Preserve
150km northwest of Chengdu
As of April 2010, the road to Wolong hds not yet reopened after the 2008 earthquake.
Places to See in Sichuan – South of Chengdu
33. Huang Long Xi Ancient town (Gu zhen)
About 50 km south of Chengdu city center, on the Huanglongxi River.
This ancient town is a hotspot for local tourism, but the crowds are friendly and relaxed, and there are so many restaurants, shops, and places to explore here that there are no long lines or bottlenecks. There has been a lot of new construction in the past year, considerable expanding the tourist area, but for the most part it has been tastefully done. Along the waterfront there are old buildings, casual restaurants overlooking the water, lots of tea gardens, vendors with bunnies and puppies, and a suspension bridge to an island with a small amusement park and more tea gardens. There are many shops where you can dress up in Chinese outfits and have your picture taken – and take your own pictures – for a very small price.
Places to See in Sichuan – east and southeast of Chengdu
34. Luodai Ancient Town
20 km from downtown Chengdu in the Longquan district, Luodai is an old settlement of the Hakka ethnic group. The old part of Luodai consists of one 1,000 meter long main street with seven alleys. It features several guild halls and numerous traditional houses, which have enclosed courtyards, black tile roofs, and carvings of turtles and flowers. The main festival is the Hakka Water Dragon Festival, which takes place at the end of July. Unlike so many of the “ancient towns” in Sichuan, Luodai is a modern town with old buildings rather than a Disney version of an ancient town. It is both more authentic and less striking than places like Huang Long Xi.
35. Golden Dragon Great Wall
A 10-km ride from Luodai takes you to Golden Dragon Lake, which is the starting point for the Golden Dragon Great Wall. This modern wall was built by the local government to provide a path for Buddhist pilgrims going to the ancient Golden Dragon Temple at the top of the mountain. At the bottom of the wall is a market and an amusement area, and a boardwalk along the lake. The wall is about 1.6 km long, with enough steps to make it a good workout. Every time the wall changes direction, there is a small turret you can climb for a better view. There are vendors along the way offering a variety of food and – further up – large sticks of incense to burn at the temple. Just outside the temple itself is a small town with restaurants and stalls with a variety of sate (beware the big pieces – they’re mostly bone). The temple is quite small, but nonetheless makes a nice destination for the walk. Although the eastern mountains are relatively low, you can get a good view if the weather is good. If you enjoy hiking, it makes a good outing; go in the morning, then stop in Luodai on the way back.
36. Zigong: Dinosaur Museum
The city of Zigong is about a three-hour drive southeast of Chengdu. The Dinosaur Museum is outside of the city, right at the end of the freeway, so it is a fairly smooth drive there – assuming it isn’t a national holiday, in which case traffic back to Chengdu may be a problem. (It took us five hours to get back on the Tomb Sweeping Holiday in 2010.) Admission: 42 RMB The Zigong Dinosaur Museum, which opened in 1987, is one of China’s largest dinosaur museums. It has two main exhibits: a large room with about a dozen dinosaur skeletons found in the area, and a large excavation area with many dinosaur bones in situ. It also has several rooms showing other plant and animal fossils and some of the more spectacular dinosaur bones found, all with adequate English signage. The museum can be seen completely in 1 – 1 ½ hours. I would not recommend it for kids, unless they are particularly interested in dinosaurs, because of the length of the ride. Zigong Salt History Museum: near the Fuxi River in the older part of Zigong Admission 20 RMB Centuries before anyone started drilling for gas or oil, the Sichuanese were mining salt using bamboo structures that look remarkably like oil rigs. The Salt History Museum shows the type of mining techniques used, with models, actual fishing tools, and pictures illustrating the legends surrounding the salt industry. An added attraction is the museum building itself — the 18th century Xiqin Guild house, built by wealthy salt merchants from Shaanxi. Both the building and the exhibits are in good condition, and there are plenty of signs in English. We enjoyed walking around the “block” from the museum to the Fuxi River in April 2010. There is a red-walled tea garden over-looking the river, and there are brightly colored boats on the river that appear to be for tours, but we didn’t have time to explore this. There is also a somewhat derelict stone staircase leading to the top of a ridge along the river, along which are several more tea gardens.
Places to See in Sichuan – North of Chengdu
37. Chengdu Zoo
Admission: 16 RMB
The zoo is located just north of Chengdu. The animals are in reasonable condition; it’s worth checking out with the kids.
Guanghan, about forty minutes beyond the north of Chengdu.
Admission: 82 RMB
This world-class museum features bizarre masks, blade, “trees”, and other artifacts from the 3,000 year old Shu civilization. The two galleries have excellent signage, and use mirrors and glass-backed display cases so that you can see objects from all sides. There is still a lot that is not known about these objects. The display behind an object may show similar objects from around the world and suggest how they might have been used. Allow several hours to view the galleries and the park grounds. I’ve been twice and look forward to taking my next set of visitors there.
39. Botanical Garden
Tianhui Shan, north of the city, off the Chuanshan Highway.
This park has a botanical museum building, but there is very little in it. A few trees are labeled within the park, but otherwise there is nothing outstanding to distinguish this park from others in Chengdu. Located on a hill north of the city center, just east of the northern railroad line and about two kilometers south of the “around Chengdu” toll road (the 4th Ring Road). The park is fairly well maintained but heavily loved.