1. Chengdu Panda Base, 2. Jinli Street, 3. Hot pot
During my trip I flew from Beijing to Chengdu. We only had one full day and a night to explore Chengdu before we were off to Jiuzhaigou National Park. Ideally, I think two full days in Chengdu would be plenty, as one was just a little too short so we didn’t get to do everything we wanted.
Arriving to Chengdu late at night (due to our delayed plane) meant we were too late to book a tour with our hostel to the panda base in Chengdu. We had also hoped we could go out on the cruise to see the Giant Leshan Buddha, to which we sadly ran out of time and didn’t get to see. So while this did seem like a disappointment/mistake on our end, we ended up saving a lot of money by catching public transport to the panda base. It also meant we got to spend more time cooing over the cuteness of the pandas.
4. In Jinli Street, 5. Chengdu Panda Base, 6. Breakfast
Getting to the panda base via public transport:
From Wuhouci Street (the main street running through Chengdu) jump on bus 1 all the way until the last stop. From there, get on bus 87 all the way to the panda base. Keep a look out for it on your left hand side, as they only make announcements in Chinese. To get home, get bus 1 all the way back to Wuhouci Street or wherever is closest to your accommodation.
7. Entrance to Jinli Street, 8. Chengdu Panda base
At the Panda Base-
CNY 58 per person. Also, make sure you have exact change to pay your bus driver if you plan to get around Chengdu via public transport.
At the panda base there is a restaurant referred to as the Bamboo-based Restaurant. Eat here, I was absolutely starving and this was one of my favourite meals I had in China.
9. Chengdu Panda Base, 10. Jinli Street
Back in Chengdu:
If you have a night in Chengdu, walk through Jinli Street. It’s not really a street but more a tourist destination with lots of Chinese food and souvenir shops. It was a little tacky, but nice enough to spend an hour wandering through. I got my parents a nice set of chop sticks which are now displayed in the dining room.
Whilst in Chengdu, it is a must to dine in one of the restaurants that offer hot pot!
In Chengdu we stayed at Holly’s Hostel. I would say this resembled a hotel rather than a hostel. Very good accommodation, especially for the price and an excellent location right in the centre of town surrounded by restaurants and minutes walking distance from Jinli Street.
11. Chengdu Panda Base, 12. Delicious egg tarts from Chengdu Panda Base, 13. Bamboo at Chengdu Panda Base
Travelling to Jiuzhaigou:
Many travellers who venture to Chengdu will continue onto Jiuzhaigou via bus. You can go to the bus station the day before to book your ticket if you have enough spare time, but if you were like us and couldn’t find the bus station the day before, just get up super early (5:30am) and get the first ticket you can out of there. It’s a long 9-10 hour bus trip, but it is extremely picturesque and intriguing. I found the whole experience very enjoyable, except for the bathroom situation. But I’ll leave that for you to witness yourself!
From what I can remember, it was around CNY 150 each way.
Tips for the bus ride:
Make sure you bring food and water with you for the journey. The bus driver will stop along the way roughly every two hours where you can purchase snacks. Depending on where you stop, these can be more or less expensive than in the major cities you have departed from.
Taxis are very cheap everywhere in China, so if you are only going a short distance they are worthwhile. Local drivers in Jiuzhaigou will also beep at you, letting you know they are an available car service. These are a little cheaper than taxis!
In Jiuzhaigou we stayed at Jiuxhiang Hotel. This was also an excellent location right on the main street surrounded by restaurants and only a 5 minute drive or 15 minute walk to Jiuzhaigou National Park. The accommodation was very cheap.