Things to Do in Southwest China - page 2
An early Tang Dynasty classic, Qingyang Palace (also known as the Green Ram Temple) is considered to be one of the oldest and most important Taoist temples in all of China due to its location near the boyhood home of Lao-Tzu, the father of Taoism. Much of the palace was restored during the Qing Dynasty.
Situated on Lingyun Mountain, Lingyun Temple is also called Great Buddha Temple because of its location at the head of the Leshan Giant Buddha, the largest stone Buddha in the world. Four monuments flank the entrance to the temple, which contains the Heavenly King Hall, Precious Hall of the Great Hero, and Scripture Collection Hall.
The former home of Du Fu, one of China’s most revered and influential poets, this 24-acre (10-hectare) park and museum is now dedicated to his life and legacy. Inside, you can see examples of his work, while the ground’s lush gardens and pretty streams provide a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of Chengdu.
The picturesque Haoshang Bridge leads travelers visiting the Leshan Giant Buddha across a river to the steps of Wuyou Temple, situated on the slopes of the mountain of the same name. Built in the Tang Dynasty, the site consists of seven Buddhist palaces, including the Arhats Hall with its 500 clay figures of the Buddha’s disciples.
Learn about the ancient and mysterious Bronze-Age Shu culture at the Sanxingdui Museum. Located on the grounds of the Sanxingdui archaeological site north of Chengdu, the museum displays relics unearthed at the site, including more than 1,000 bronze, gold, jade, and other artifacts dating back 3,000 to 5,000 years.
An ancient town located about 18.6 miles (30 km) southeast from Chengdu, Huanglongxi Ancient Town is named for the Huanglong River, which flows through it. The town consists of seven well-preserved, ancient streets, which were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and also includes three temples: Gulong, Zhenjiang and Chaoyin. These three, along with two others in the immediate area, are what attract visitors to the site. Pay particular attention to the preserved stilt houses (built in levels to hold livestock on the ground floor), which are remnants of the Shu people, as well as the ancient 800-year-old banyan trees.
Also near Huanglongxi are the Ancient Buddha Cave; the Buddha Weir, a narrow, stone-walled canal that leads fish into a closed tank where they can be caught; and an old military encampment called the Old Battlefield. Huanglongxi is also home to cliff tombs, which are burial sites of the Han Dynasty that have received architectural interest in recent years. The picturesque landscape and preserved buildings have also attracted filmmakers (more than 200 movies have been filmed here). With this, Huanglongxi has earned the title of the "Hollywood of China."
Learn where Sichuan got its spice at the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine (Chuancai Bowuguan). Located about a 1.5-hour drive by car outside of downtown Chengdu near Pixian Old Town, the museum not only gives a history of Sichuan cuisine but is also home to a tea house and a restaurant where guests can sample typical Sichuan food and, possibly, prepare a dish of their own.
The museum consists of halls that show various elements of Sichuan food, from antique tools used for processing to a collection of more than 3,000 bronze, pottery, porcelain and wooden cookers that span 2,000 years. Perhaps most intriguing are the giant open-topped clay pots containing fermenting chiles and beans that are on their way to becoming douban jiang, a red, fermented paste of erjingtiao chiles and broad beans that is responsible for the deep umami flavor and penetrating heat in famous Sichuan dishes. A visit to the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine gives a guest a unique look—and taste—into one of China’s most popular palates of flavor.
The Chengdu Culture Park, a downtown green space, specializes in displaying Chinese culture. Located next to Qingyang Palace, there are a variety of special events that take place at the park; it’s also a popular place to watch the Sichuan Opera, a theater form unique to China. Some of the special events include the Lantern Festival carnival, a flower festival, art displays and photography displays. Also in the area is the old Taoist Qingyang Temple, which dates from the Tang period (618-907), while the present buildings are from the Qing period (1644-1911). Also of interest is the Pavilion of the Eight Trigrams, featuring eight stone pillars carved with dragon patterns.
A gathering place for the community, the garden features lush foliage, bonsai displays and historical monuments and sculptures. It’s an area frequented by card players and Mahjong players enjoying the day and a bit of fellowship.
Situated on the banks of the Jinjiang River in Chengdu, Wangjianglou Park (aka Wangjiang Tower Park, Wangjiang Pavilion Park, or occasionally Wangjiang Park) is dedicated to Xue Tao, a Tang Dynasty female poet who penned some 500 poems. Her marble statue sits amid a bamboo grove. The similarly named Tomb of Wang Jian sits nearby and serves as the final resting place for the emperor of the short-lived Shu Kingdom.
Song Xian Qiao Antique Market is the country's second-largest antiques market and an excellent place to shop for souvenirs. With more than 500 separate stalls selling exquisite watercolor paintings, fake Buddha statues, and everything in between, it’s a treasure trove for shoppers and people watchers alike.
More Things to Do in Southwest China
Visitors flock to Luodai Ancient Town, an ancient town located in the Sichuan area of China, about 12.8 miles (20 kilometers) from Chengdu City. Situated at the base of Er’eshan Mountain as part of the Longquanshan Mountains, Luodai is considered the largest and best-preserved Hakka ancient town in the western part of the country. Ninety percent of Luodai’s inhabitants are Hakka, and the Hakka language is still spoken here.
Built more than 1,000 years ago, Luodai has a long history and, now, a vibrant tourist culture. The architecture and layout of the ancient town preserves the typical styles from Ming and Qing dynasties, with old streets, Hakka folk houses and narrow alleys. There are also several parks, a museum and four guildhalls, which add great historical and artistic value. Created in the typical architectural style of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the guildhalls feature exquisite carvings of Chinese motifs like dragons, flowers, phoenix and other birds. Be sure to check out the picturesque Yudai Lake and Jinlong Great Wall and Temple.
Located on the fringes of Dali Old Town, the iconic Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple date back to the ninth and tenth centuries. The middle of the three, named the Qianxun Pagoda, was erected in the ninth century during the Tang Dynasty as one of the tallest pagodas ever built in China. The two other pagodas went up about a century later, and their architectural styles are more similar to buildings of the Song Dynasty.
While Dali has endured numerous earthquakes through the centuries, including a severe one in 1925, the Three Pagodas were some of the few buildings to survive undamaged (though one now leans slightly). The well-maintained park that houses the pagodas is also dotted with smaller Buddhist temples, statues and several small lakes, all with the Cangshan Mountains as a backdrop.
At the Chengdu Sichuan Opera Art Center, learn about the history of Sichuan opera, enjoy tea and local cuisine, and take in a performance. Located in downtown Chengdu, the comprehensive cultural center is made up of Jinjiang Theater, Yuelai Teahouse, Pansun Restaurant, and the Sichuan Opera Museum.
Considered one of the most important Zen Buddhist temples in western Sichuan, Zhaojue Temple dates back to the seventh century. While few traces of the original buildings remain, Zhaojue Temple is regarded as the ancestral temple for many Japanese and Southeast Asian Buddhist temples.
Part of the Happy Valley franchise of theme parks, Happy Valley Chengdu is the largest amusement park in western China. Located in the Jinniu District, the park features a variety of rides such as roller coasters, tilt-a-whirls, bumper cars, and water rides, as well as magic shows, concerts, and other performances.
Located in northern Chengdu, Wenshu Monastery (Wenshu Yuan) is often regarded as the best-preserved Buddhist temple in the city. Originally known as Xinxiang Temple, the Buddhist center was later renamed after a 17th-century monk who famously inhabited the monastery. Wenshu Temple features an 11-story iron pagoda—the largest of its kind in China.
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- Things to do in Lijiang
- Things to do in Chongqing
- Things to do in Shangri-La
- Things to do in Northern Vietnam
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- Things to do in Southern China
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- Things to do in Wuhan
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- Things to do in Northwest China
- Things to do in Tibet