Chengdu Things to Do Tips by mke1963 Top 5 Page for this destination
Chengdu Things to Do: 282 reviews and 570 photos
Contrary to what it says in a number of guidebooks and at a number of government websites and on official city maps (WHY DO THEY DO THIS!!!!!!!!), the Jinsha Relics are NOT open to the public. There is a brand new building (huge, expensive, state-of-the-art....the usual massive overinvestment in infrastructure) which the guards "think" is a museum. They weren't sure as they have only been working there four months and hadn't really noticed the huge building 100 meters behind where they sit in their hut.
"When will it open?"
"Do you feel that life is passing you by while you sit in your hut?"
"I don't understand your meaning"
"So that's a 'Yes' then......."
When, oh when oh when oh when will tourism and heritage authorities in China stop misleading tourists and visitors about attractions and sites? When will they realise that providing wrong information (and confusing "what will happen in the future" with "what you can do today") just angers people and leads to people making long unnecessary journeys?
It's a disgrace.
UPDATE: According to a Chengdu government website, the museum was FINISHED in June 2004 so why isn't it open. Have RMB200 million just been wasted??
Address: Does it matter. It's not open.
This spectacular site is reviewed separately on this VT page.
Address: West of Chengdu
A visit to Sichuan’s largest Hakka town, Luodai, is an easy excursion from Chengdu for half a day or more. It lies to the east of the city at the foot of the Longyuanshan hills and is served by regular bus from Chengdu.
The town is reviewed on its own VT page.
Unfortunately I was unable to visit Sanxingdui (long story), which was to be the highlight of my trip to Chengdu. It is one of the most significant Bronze Age sites in China and it's discovery has resulted in major reappraisals of the Bronze Age in the country. It's like the "Mogaokou of the South" in terms of importance.
I hear from many people that it is absolutely fabulous. It is about 90 minutes north of the city in the Xinde area.
There are a lot of good websites connected with Sanxingdui...just Google for them but this one is very good.
There are some minor artefacts in the Sichuan University Museum (see separate review).
Sichuan University Museum is a superb set of collections and themese housed in a non-descript building alongside the Jin river. It's just a few hundred metres from the River-Viewing Pavilion and its nice park. sadly, the museum has an irritating no-photography policy despite there being absolutely no rationale for this. Unfortunately my camera shutter went off accidentally while I was looking at some interesting exhibits.
There is no guide book although there is a photocopied sheet of paper providing some information. No matter, most of the well-lit and well displayed exhibits have a basic label in Chinese and English and some explanatory displays as well.
The top floor is not really worth the effort unless you have a particular interest in porcelain or calligraphy and have not had the chance to see the displays in bigger museums in Shanghai, Beijing or Nanjing.
The middle floor is a single L-shaped gallery on Sichuan's minorities, with some good - if simplistic and "China focused" labels, as well as a good range of traditional costumes. About the half the dispaly area is given over to Tibetans, but several other groups are well represented, including the Tujia, Qiang and Miao.
The ground floor has a whole range of objects:it's all a big mix but it's all also very interesting.
Down in the basement is the star attraction, with spectacular exhibits of sculptures and stone artefacts in one room (many from Sanxingdui - but none of the "treasures"); next to it is a very good display of archaeological sites in Sichuan. Sichuan University is one of the leading archaeological institutes in China.
For those specifically interested, the museum has an interesting history and the papers of Daniel Dye, the original benefactor of the museum are at Yale University and available for reading.
Address: 29 Wangjiang Lu
Directions: East of the city centre, alongside river
But back to Du Fu.......
The centre of the park is filled with largely contemporary, but sympathetic, Qing-style pavilions used for interpretation, a teahouse, shops and galleries. To the east are quiet gardens and the pagoda, while to the east are the wooded gardens, the replica of the Thatched Cottage and the newly discovered original at the back of the park. I would highly recommend entering the park through the southern or main entrances, which requires a long walk from the road - again through parkland. Taxi drivers will drop most visitors at the northern gate, which tends to put everything into reverse - it is useful seeing the interpretative displays before the cottage.
The beauty of this park is partly that you end up getting lost and suddenly discovering quiet places, silent pools and panoramas open before you.
The park seems to allow free entry to students and children - again unusual.
Directions: Qinghua Lu
Phone: 731 9258
Although the archaeological discovery should be the prime attraction, for many the centre of the visit is the replica of Du Fu's cottage. This has an interesting history, as older guide books (and some published after 2001) present it, rather disingenuously, as "Du Fu's cottage" rather than a replica. This lead to the cottage being categorised as a state-protected relic. So what is the situation now that they have found the real McCoy? Well, a suitably Chinese solution; the state-protection vaguely extends to "the house" without being specific. Perhaps ironically, in other countries the difference wouldn't be an issue because there is a wider interpretation of "cultural heritage" that includes the concept of setting and landscape, but China's Cultural Heritage Law is very specific in its definitions. In the Du Fu Thatched Cottage situation it's all a mott point because both sit inside the park, but in many other cases, the classification of replicas creates a loophole whereby real heritage could be built over. Interestingly, elsewhere in the park, the discovery of the original foundations of a pagoda did not stop the authorities from constructing a replica right on top of them; they merely rotated the building 22.5 degrees so that people can see the foundations. At least this is an improvement on a period not so long ago when the foundations would probably have been removed altogether. China is learning that it is important to be clear about what is a replica and what is not, and although the whole concept of authenticity remains a difficult debate in east Asia, at least that debate is now happening. With it comes discussion about context, setting and the intangible heritage and the role of today's society in helping to determine heritage.
Directions: Qinghua Lu
Phone: 731 9258
Du Fu is one of China's best loved poets, and his simple, elegant prose has charmed the Chinese people down the ages. Perhaps his most famous period was when he lived, for a brief time, in a thatched cottage near Chengdu. His poems of that time are full of the ordinary life of Chinese farmers and rural people. The cottage figures in a number of his works, meaning it has become probably the most famous commoner's house in the entire country.
In 2001, archaeologists - and archaeology is particularly strong in Sichuan - discovered the remains of what is extremely likely to have been the original cottage. After excavation, it was protected from the elements by an elegant post-modern museum hall. The design and Tang era collection along the gallery of this hall are particularly well designed and lit - Sichuan is also strong on museum design!
We also found that the staff - far from the usual flippant, bored and uninterested flunkies staffing many Chinese museums - were an absolute pleasure to meet; all were keen to talk about Du Fu and were the epitome of what a curator should be: bright, happy and extremely passionate about "their place".
The Du Fu Thatched Cottage Museum as the entire park is now billed is one of the highlights of Chengdu, even if museums, history and culture are not your thing; the thick woods and stands of bamboo, the random paths and the dark pools make this one of the best parks in the whole of China if not the world. If it's peace, calm and reflection that you seek, this park could hold your inattention all day long.
Address: Qinghua Lu
Phone: 731 9258
In the 14th Century, the Chinese writer Luo Guanzhong penned what was to become one of the world's great literary epics and a novel that was to become central to the psyche of the Chinese people: the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It also propelled a number of the historical figures into Chinese legends, including Liu Bei, the 2nd Century Shu-Han emperor, his prime-minister Zhuge Liang and two faithful generals Zhang Fei and Guan Yu. All are commemorated at the Wuhou Shrine in Chengdu, which has become a focus for the memories of many Chinese people's dreams of government integrity. All these men, but especially Zhuge Liang are now revered by the Chinese, and it would be a brave person who attempted to remove the "romance" of the Three Kingdoms.
The shrine is split into two parts with the western part containing the tomb of Liu Bei and the eastern part the complex of halls devoted to these legendary men. It is, however, notable - an unusual in China - that although this is the burial place of an emperor, it is a commoner - Zhuge Liang or the Marquis of Wu - who is the main attraction. While an understanding of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms is not essential for enjoying the Wuhou Shrine, it certainly makes the visit more rewarding, but fortunately there is a lot of information in English.
The visit starts with the two famous stelae inside the main gate, one which dates from 809AD in the Tang Dynasty and one from 1547 in the Ming Dynasty, both beautifully carved and stating clearly the gracious and thankful words of the imperial court of these times. Chinese calligraphy is difficult for foreigners - especialy Westerners - to appreciate, but it is held in enormous regard by the Chinese, and the presence of important stele and inscriptions in the complex are a further sign of the importance of the commemoration of these 2nd Century soldiers and statesmen.
Directions: Qinghua Lu
Phone: 731 9258
Behind the Hall of Liu Bei is the Kongming Hall, the main attraction of the complex, where Zhuge Liang is honoured (Kongming is another name for Zhuge Liang). Zhuge Liang rose from humble birth in Shandong province to be one of the greatest Chinese statesmen of all time, unencumbered by the trappings of the imperial court and scrupulously honest. He was a military genius and captured one of his enemies, Meng Hou, no less than seven times, each time releasing the deeply embarrassed opponent. For more than two decades he was at the centre of things in the Shu-Han court, proving himself no less able a civilian administrator.
Behind the Kongming Hall is a hall commemorating Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, the fearless and loyal generals of Liu Bei, but after the Kingming Hall it all seems a bit of an anti-climax.
The western part of the shrine consists of a small museum that presents an excellent bite-size overview of the life and times of the Han Dynasty. It is amusing, for me, to see a number of (presumably replica) Wei-Jin tomb bricks from the Jiayuguan tombs in Gansu. These are used to illustrate daily life in those times; it is slightly odd because the very different climate in the two areas means that one cannot draw realistic conclusions about life in Sichuan from social commentary from western Gansu!
Just past the museum is the entrance to the mausoleum of Liu Bei, a large circular mound surrounded by a path. There is a legend that three grave-robbers dug into the tomb one night only to discover Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu alive and well, playing chess and drinking wine. The three offered the would-be robbers some wine and a jade belt each, and sent them on their way. As they emerged from the hole, the robbers discovered that the jade belt was a writhing mass of poisonous snakes and the wine had turned into lacquer, sealing their lips shut. Since then, there have been no attempts to break into the tomb, and, I understand, even archaeologists are reluctant to disturb the site.
More Reviews (3)
mke1963's Related Pages
Chengdu Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Bright lights and many motorcycles!"
- "Chengdu - Home of China's Pandas"
- "Chengdu - A city of interesting culture"
- "THE CITY OF CHENGDU"
- "Chengdu - Home of the endangered Giant Panda."
- See All...
- Things to Do in Chengdu
- Hotels in Chengdu
- Transportation in Chengdu
- Nightlife in Chengdu
- Restaurants in Chengdu
- Shopping in Chengdu
- Warnings and Dangers in Chengdu
- See All...
Explore the World
- Wilderness Hotels
- Eidsvoll Hotels
- Marsa al `Alam
- Wasserbillig Hotels
- Butterworth Hotels
- Province de Tanger
Badges & Stats in Chengdu
- 19 Reviews
- 62 Photos
- 0 Forum posts
- 6 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (22)
Have you been to Chengdu?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Chengdu
Photos in ChengduSee All Photos (62)
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Beijing Intro, 153 reviews, 126 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Zhangjiajie Intro, 29 reviews, 107 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Harbin Intro, 49 reviews, 60 photos, 2 travelogues
- Seoul Intro, 57 reviews, 35 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Lanzhou Intro, 27 reviews, 62 photos, 2 travelogues
- Jiayuguan Intro, 36 reviews, 47 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Chengdu Intro, 19 reviews, 62 photos
- Graaff-Reinet Intro, 25 reviews, 49 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Dunhuang Intro, 21 reviews, 43 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Suwon Intro, 24 reviews, 37 photos
FriendsSee All Friends (10)
Latest Chengdu hotel reviews
- Holiday Inn Chengdu West Century City
- 53 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 23, 2013
- Dragon Town International Youth Hostel
- 24 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Jun 25, 2013
- Chengdu Xinliang Hotel
- 8 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Sep 13, 2013
- Kempinski Hotel Chengdu China
- 59 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 25, 2013
- Holly's Hostel
- 22 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 6, 2013
- Jin Jiang Hotel Chengdu
- 28 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 26, 2013
- Chengdu California Garden Hotel
- 6 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Aug 28, 2013
- Mix Hostel
- 66 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 3, 2013
- BuddhaZen Hotel
- 283 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 2, 2013
- Sim's Cozy Garden Hostel
- 174 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 8, 2013
- InterContinental Century City Chengdu
- 90 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 3, 2013
- Sheraton Lido Chengdu
- 133 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 15, 2013
- Xin Hua International Hotel
- 3 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 9, 2013
- Tibet Hotel Chengdu
- 91 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 13, 2013
- Sam's Guesthouse Chengdu Youth Hostel
- 26 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 10, 2013
- Pandas- 61 Reviews, 136 Photos
- Leshan's Giant Buddha- 20 Reviews, 46 Photos
- Wenshu Temple- 26 Reviews, 50 Photos
- Sichuan Opera/Other Performances- 15 Reviews, 28 Photos
- Mount Emei- 9 Reviews, 12 Photos
- Wu Hou Memorial Temple- 11 Reviews, 24 Photos
- Tea Houses- 12 Reviews, 18 Photos
- Du Fu's Thatched Cottage- 13 Reviews, 31 Photos
- Streetscenes- 18 Reviews, 37 Photos
- Museums- 13 Reviews, 20 Photos
See All Chengdu Things to Do