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14 Things to Know Before Visiting Chengdu

Are you visiting Chengdu for the first time?  Or maybe just want to learn a few more tips before traveling to  Chengdu?  Chengdu quickly became one of our favorite cities with the seemingly endless attractions, great restaurants and pubs, and abundant shopping. The hustle and bustle of the city is contagious, but there are a few things to know before visiting Chengdu for the first time.

1. Geography

Chengdu is a sub-provincial city which serves as the capital of China's Sichuan province. It is located at the western edge of the Sichuan Basin and sits on the Chengdu Plain; the dominating terrain is plains. The prefecture ranges in latitude from 30° 05' to 31° 26' N, while its longitude ranges from 102° 54' to 104° 53' E, stretching for 192 kilometres from east to west and 166 km south to north, administering 12,390 square kilometres of land.

2. Weather

Although it's not always sunny in Chengdu, the city enjoys a pleasant sub-tropical environment for most of the year. A short, cold and dry winter is followed by a warmer, more comfortable spring, a sweaty, humid summer with the occasional thunderstorm, before a cooler and pleasant autumn lasts well beyond the October national holiday.

The annual average temperature in Chengdu is about 16 ℃ (61 F), influenced by the subtropical monsoon climate of the Sichuan Basin. The hottest months have to be July and August, with highs reaching 37 ℃ (99 F). The coldest temperatures are in January, sometimes even dropping to around -6 ℃ (21 F).

3. Time Zone

CST (China Standard Time)

UTC/GMT +8 hours all of the period

4. Visas

Visitors to Chengdu City from outside China may need a visa to enter the country. For details or Chinese visa application, visit the website of Embassy of PRC in your country or the website of Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

Travellers who stay longer than 72 hours will need to apply well in advance for a visa from the Chinese embassy. Typically you will need confirmed flight and hotel bookings before application and a letter of invitation, which a tour company or travel agent can usually provide. If you are staying for under 72 hours, simply present your air ticket as proof and register with the local police within the first day. Your hotel will usually do that for you automatically.

5. Currency

In Chengdu City and throughout China, the RMB (Ren Ming Bi) is the standard currency. This page allows you to determine the value of other currencies compared with RMB.

6. Local laws and Etiquette

Chengdu is, by all accounts, a relaxed version of the hectic, crowded side of China that can unnerve visitors. There are more than 30 universities in the area, so the younger generations in particular are both able and very willing to speak English and help out with any issues. Locals love to show off Sichuan cuisine, especially "hot pot" and will make sure to let you know how spicy the food is here. And spicy it is, much spicier than any standard English fare, but a good bit less fiery than south Indian cuisine.

As far as laws and etiquette, the worst you will have to deal with, in most cases, will be the increasingly rare pickpocket, the increasingly common bad driver, and people skipping queues. Chengdu is a very safe city, and flexible as most Chinese cities are in terms of closing times, crosswalk etiquette, and public revelry.

7. Public holidays

Travelling to China during its two main public holidays - Spring Festival at the beginning of the year and the national holidays in October (Oct 1-7) - is not advised. Everyone else in the country is also travelling and all planes, trains and other forms of transport are a crush.

8. When to go

Spring and Autumn are the best times to go. Midsummer can be sweltering, and the winter is wet and cold - southern China also does not enjoy central heating. April to June and September to early December can be wonderful, weather wise, but be sure to avoid the first week of May and the first week of October, China’s busiest holidays.

9. Getting in and out

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is around 20km outside of the city-centre and recently became one of the top five busiest airports in China. It serves flights to/from most major cities in China, many smaller cities within Sichuan, and some international destinations including Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Denpasar/Bali, Bangkok, Cebu, Denpasar, Doha, Frankfurt, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Luang Prabang, Mauritius, Paris, Melbourne, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Moscow, Osaka, Kuala Lumpur, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, and Tokyo.

Chengdu is connected by train to most major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming in Yunnan, Chongqing and Xi’an. The Chengdu railway station is the main stop for getting in or out of Chengdu long distance, although there are also many trains running to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Changsha, Nanning etc. at the East Railway station also. Lastly, the recently opened South Railway station runs many high-speed trains including the Mianyang – Leshan line. Here you can pick up trains mainly to other parts of Sichuan or close, but you can also get to major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing from here.

10. Useful Phone Numbers

police: 110  fire:119  ambulance:112

11. Internet

China carefully controls the internet, so anyone addicted to social media, or even those who are regular users of Google's services, should plan ahead and acquire a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Several providers and plans can be found on the internet, with Astrill, StrongVPN and Witopia among the most popular. Remember to configure your mobile phone to route your traffic through the VPN and you will be all set to leap over the "Great Firewall" and back into Facebook or Twitter.


Spring (mid-Feb. - Apr.): Take a thin sweater, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a jacket with you to visit the city at this time.

Summer (May - Aug.): Summer is both hot and rainy, from mid-May to early the end of August. Besides shorts, a thin overcoat and rain gear are also necessary for a summer tour.

Autumn (Sep. - Oct.): The temperature drops quickly, and there may be a lot of rain. You'd better take long-sleeved T-shirts and thin overcoats plus a thin sweater.

Winter (Nov. - mid-Feb.): The average temperature in winter from November to mid-February is about 5 ℃ (41 F). However, due to the clouds and moist weather, it feels very cold. You have to wear woollens, down jackets and warm winter boots to spend a winter holiday there.

13. Pollution

Air pollution in the city can sometimes cause hazadous conditions. Chengdu has an average particualte pollution of 72.9mm every cubic meter. Smog can be severe, so you should always check the readings before getting out. Always carry a mask with you.

14. Safety

Chengdu is China's safest large city, but visitors should still use common sense to protect themselves and their property. Be aware of your surroundings, and make sure to always use licensed, reputable businesses for any services you need.