Chengdu

Chengdu is one of the 24 well-known historical cities approved by the Sichuan provincial committee and the State Council of China. 2,300 years ago, King Kaiming the 1Xth of the Shu State relocated his capital here. In 256BC, the Shu County Governor Li Bing and his son built the Dujiang Dam. Since then the Chengdu plain has never had any flood or drought disasters and its farm and handicraft industries have prospered. The Chengdu plain has hence been referred to as the "Kingdom of Heaven." Since then, Chengdu has become the state capital of Sichuan, and an important political, economic, cultural and military center in the southwest. It was one of the 5 famous cities in Han Dynasty, and the best commercial city second to Yangzhou only in Tang Dynasty. It was also the second largest cosmopolitan city of the North Song Dynasty (960-1127) next to its capital city Bianjing, where Jiaozi, the earliest paper money in the world, was first circulated.

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Geography

Chengdu is located in the middle of Sichuan Province in the west part of the Sichuan basin, between 10254ˊ and 10453ˊ east latitude and between 3005ˊ and 3126ˊ north longitude. It is the center of science and technology, trade and commerce and finance and the hub of transportation and telecommunications in the southwest. It is adjacent to Deyang city in the northeast, Neijiang city in the southeast, Leshan city in the south, Ya'an prefecture in the southwest, and Aba Tibetan autonomous prefecture in the northwest. The average height of the Chengdu plain is 500 meters, with the highest point reaching 5,364 meters above sea level and the lowest point 387 meters. Its geographical features mainly involve plains, plus hills and mountains, with the terrain slanting from northwest to southeast. In the northwest is the Qionglai Mountain, and in the northeast is the Longquan Mountain. The city covers a total area of 12,390 square km including 87 square km of urban area, with a total length of 192km from east to west and 166km from north to south.

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Climate

Chengdu enjoys a humid, subtropical monsoon climate. Firstly, the climate differs in the eastern and western parts, and the east is warm and the west is cool. Secondly, it is warm in winter, and spring comes early, with the frost-free period exceeding 337 days each year. The average annual temperature is around 16.5 degrees centigrade, which is 2-3 degrees centigrade higher than in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and spring comes one month earlier, each year, there are only a few days when the temperature drops to below zero degrees centigrade. Thirdly, it enjoys plenty of rainfall in summer and autumn although it rains little in winter and spring, with an average annual rainfall of 1124.6mm. The rain fall of a record high year could be 2 times of that of a record low year. Fourthly, it provides enough sunlight, warmth and rainfall in the same seasons, which is beneficial for the growth of plants. Fifthly, the wind speed is low, the average annual wind speed is 1-1.5 meters per second, and the annual sunshine averages 1,042-1,412 hours, covering 83.0-94.0km per square centimeter.

Table of average monthly temperatures (unit: degrees centigrade)

January

6

July

26

February

7.6

August

26

March

13

September

22

April

18

October

16

May

21

November

12

June

24

December

7

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Natural Ecological Environment

The rate of vegetation coverage in Chengdu reaches 30.1 percent, and garbage treatment 100 percent, noise in tourist attractions averages below 60bd, and noise in urban area 54.9bd. The air pollution index indicates 78, and average drinking water quality in the city amounts to 99.1 percent. In 1997, in the comprehensive environment examination of 46 major Chinese cities, Chengdu won the fourth place in comprehensive score, the second place in environmental quality, and ranked the first among inland city.

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Economy

In 1992, Chengdu ranked the 12th among the top 50 cities in terms of comprehensive strength in China, and its infrastructure for investment was among the top 40 cities. During the eighth Five-Year-Plan, Chengdu's average gross output value saw a year-on-year increase of 16 percent. In 1997, its gross output value stood at 101 billion yuan, rising 11.5 percent over the previous year, with the growth rate higher than the average level in the country and other provinces, with an average per capita production value of 10,254 yuan per year. In 1998, its GDP reached 110.3 billion yuan, with the GDP proportion of the first, second and tertiary industries occupying 11.2, 45.1 and 43.7 percent respectively. The growth speed of electronic and information, machinery (including automobile), medicine, and food industries quickened, the "Chengdu-made" products increased, economic returns rose. The total demand grew significantly, and a balance between demand and supply was maintained. In 1998, fixed assets investment recorded 37.21 billion yuan, increasing 20 percent over the previous year. Its financial income grew steadily, and financial operation has been satisfactory.

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Culture

Early in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220), China's first official-run school, Wenweng Shi House was established in Chengdu. It was also home to men of letters and well-known people from various dynasties, including the founder of Han prose Sima Xiangru, poet and prose writer, philosopher and linguist Yang Xiong, knowledgeable lady Zhuo Wenjun of the Han Dynasty; woman poet Xue Tao of Tang Dynasty (618-907); master painter Huang Quan of the Five Dynasties (907-960); historian Fan Zuyu of the Song Dynasty (960-1279); and scholar Yang Shen of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Well-known poets Li Bai, Du Fu and Lu You had once settled in Chengdu. It is also the birthplace of the Chinese block printing technique, and Sichuan silk. During the Tang and Song dynasties, Chengdu was famous for its music, songs and dancing and operas. Since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Chengdu's tea culture became known throughout the country and grew popular. Now, Chengdu has more teahouses than and other place in the world. In 1993 and 1997, International Panda Festival was held here.

In 1997, the fifth Chinese Art Festival and the folk art fair of international friendship cities were held here. The city now has 16 art performance troupes, 16 public libraries, 4 public art galleries, 14 cultural centers and 8 museums.

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A Survey of Tourist Industry

Tourism began in Chengdu in the early 1980s. During the period of the eighth Five-Year-Plan, the city committee and municipal government have listed tourism as one of the development strategies of the city. In 1998, they promulgated the "decision on accelerating the development of tourism," and devised the "plan of developing tourism in Chengdu", which put tourism as a pillar industry of governmental support. Up to now, the development of tourism has been coordinated, integrating food, accommodation, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment, and service functions are comprehensive and facilities complete.

The city now has 57 tourist hotels, of which 53 are star rated hotels with a total of 20,000 beds, 5 designated restaurants; 142 travel agencies including 23 international ones; 11 tourist bus companies and designated bus companies, 108 taxi companies, 3 tourist airlines which offer charter services, 3 special tourist trains and one tourist shipping company. There are five shopping streets, 12 designated commercial centers for tourist shopping, 18 designated tourist restaurants, more than 10 tourist recreational centers, 14 tourist safety and relief centers and 8 tourist consultation and supervision institutions.

During the seventh and eighth Five-year-plan period (1980-1990), Chengdu received a total of 1.28 million overseas tourists, earning $259 million and 103 million domestic tourists, with an income of 4.669 billion yuan. In the first three years of the ninth Five-year-plan, it received 491,100 overseas tourists, creating $185 million in profits and 60.5 million domestic tourists, earning 17.854 billion yuan. Before the eighth Five-year-plan, tourism accounted for no more than 3 percent of the city's GDP but it rose to 6 percent in 1996, 6.5 percent in 1997 and 6.88 percent in 1998. Tourism has become a new economic growth point of the city. In 1998, Chengdu and Dujiang Dam city under its jurisdiction have been listed among the first group of "Top Tourist Cities of China."

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City Flower of Changdu

On May 26, 1983, the ninth NPC standing committee of Chengdu decided to choose the hibiscus as the city flower. The hibiscus has a long history in Chengdu. According to historical records, during the Five Dynasties, Emperor Meng Chang of the Shu State had hibiscus planted along the city walls of Chengdu, When autumn arrives, hibiscus blossom stretches for 40 miles, and therefore, Chengdu is also known as the "Hibiscus City." The hibiscuses are large, brightly colored, elegant and have several well-known varieties. An example is the "drunken hibiscus" which changes color three times a day, it turns white in the early morning, light red at noon and bright red in the evening. In poems, hibiscuses are praised as equal to chrysanthemums, or the best of autumn flowers.

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City Tree

On May 26,1983, the standing committee of the ninth NPC of Chengdu decided to choose the ginkgo as its city tree. The ginkgo tree is a precious ancient tree of Chengdu. According to a survey, the city now has over 600 ginkgo trees, the largest one is inside the courtyard of the Chengdu Real Estate Co. located on Tidu Street. It is 157 centimeters in diameter, with a history of over 500 years. There are also some ancient ginkgo trees in the forest gardens in the suburbs. On the Qingcheng Mountain of the Dujiang Dam City, there stands a large ginkgo tree, which could only be encircled by five people hand in hand. It is said to be planted by Master Zhang of a Taoist sect, and has a history of over 2,000 years. Ginkgo trees grow strong, with thick trunks and beautifully-shaped cap; its leaves are in the shape of butterfly, and turn yellow in the autumn. Its fruits are also a good tonic.

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Local Culture

Dramas and Quyi
Sichuan Opera, the major kind of local drama, has a long history. Chengdu was where it originated and flourished. The Sichuan Opera repertoire has a wide range of subjects. The comedy in particular, is well-known among the public. With exquisite performance and plentiful styled movements, especially the trick performance, it has become a favorite of both domestic and foreign audiences. The soliloquy and vocal music of Sichuan Opera take the local pronunciation of Chengdu.

Sichuan Opera has a large repertoire. Representative items include Tales of White Snake, Red Clouds, Good Men from Sichuan, etc. In addition, talking and singing quyi, comedies, stage plays, Peking Opera, music and dancing in Chengdu are also making continuous development.

Holidays and Festival Celebration
The Longchi Snow Festival, initiated at the end of 1995, is one of the largest tourism-oriented events sponsored by Dujiangyan City. It starts in December and ends in March. The period includes Christmas, the New Year's Day, the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival and Women's Day on the 8th of March. The festival provides people living in the south with a wonderful place for spending holiday, appreciating snow and skiing in winter. It has now become a golden route for winter tour in the southwest China region. During the period of the festival, items available include ice carving, snow carving, cross-country skiing, free-style skiing, high-slope sleighing, horse-driven sleighing, and ice and snow photography. Meanwhile, activities with extensive participation of tourists are organized. They include snowballing, making a snowman, tug of war and running on snow-covered ground, and puck shooting.

Longchi Snow Festival
The Longchi Snow Festival, initiated at the end of 1995, is one of the largest tourism-oriented events sponsored by Dujiangyan City. It starts in December and ends in March. The period includes Christmas, the New Year's Day, the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival and Women's Day on the 8th of March. The festival provides people living in the south with a wonderful place for spending holiday, appreciating snow and skiing in winter. It has now become a golden route for winter tour in the southwest China region. During the period of the festival, items available include ice carving, snow carving, cross-country skiing, free-style skiing, high-slope sleighing, horse-driven sleighing, and ice and snow photography. Meanwhile, activities with extensive participation of tourists are organized. They include snowballing, making a snowman, tug of war and running on snow-covered ground, and puck shooting.

Chengdu Lantern Festival
Since ancient times, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month has been called the Lantern Festival in China. In the evening of this day, family members world get together, eating sweet dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, visiting lantern shows and finding out lantern riddles, a scene of bustle and excitement. The Chengdu Lantern Festival was rooted in this custom. Nowadays, it is held in the Qingyanggong Park and the Cultural Park area annually, lasting about a month. The lanterns displayed have a good variety including traditional ones made of paper, silk and color glass as well as various kinds of neon lamps controlled with sound, light and electricity, low-voltage lamps, program controlled lamps, and lantern groups in various design which either tells a tale or displays a grand scene. The lantern group in dragon design consists of golden dragon drawn with sugar, jade dragon made of ceramics, two dragons playing with a pearl, golden dragon holding a pillar, nine dragons taking off and a dragon playing in water. All these lanterns are the products of superb craftsmanship. They upgrade the traditional recreational activity onto a new scale.

Huanglongxi Town Fire Dragon Festival
The Chinese folk art "fire dragon lantern dance" was originated in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). The ancestors, in accordance with the legend that "candle dragon" controls the light and darkness while the "ying dragon" controls wind and rain as well as the story of a dragon giving birth to nine young dragons, created the distinctive "fire dragon lantern dance" on the basis of totem culture of "dragon dance". The constant modernization and development during the later times has gradually improved such lantern dances, rendering Huanglongxi into the "Hometown of Fire Dragon", enjoying a nationwide reputation. From the evening of the second day to the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, fire dragon lantern dance performances are given with the accompaniment of gongs, drums, cymbals and other folk music instruments. The audience use specially made fireworks to spray on the naked performers, giving a jubilant scene.

Country Tour Festival in Pixian County
The Pixian County-based You'ai Folkways Village is known as "a village with flower blossoming" and "a peasants' park without wall", where the gardens and peasants' dwelling houses are typical architectures in west Sichuan. To promote the development of the agricultural tour, the village held the first country tour festival in February 1999, and the event will be a regular fixture in the future. The festival features folk art performances, flower exhibitions, exhibitions of peasants' traditional living utensils, traditional cultural and business activities, wheelbarrow service, walking on stilts, and pushing the stone mill. It has become a spotlight in the series activities for the Chengdu ecological tour in 1999.

Chengdu Flower Fair
Going to the flower fair at the Qingyanggong Park is a folk custom in the Chengdu region which dates back more than 1,000 years. Tradition has it that the fifteenth day of the second lunar month is the birthday of all flowers and also the birthday of Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism. This day, Taoist believers went to worship him at the Qingyanggong Park. During the Tang and Five Dynasties, it became folk custom for people going to visit flower and temple fairs at the Qingyanggong Park around the 21st day of the second lunar month. The annual traditional gala thus formed and was further developed in later years. The flower fair, temple fair and materials and goods fair combine together, giving the Chengdu Flower Fair a unique style. Today the annual fair is held inside the Cultural Park next to the Qingyanggong Park. Visitors can not only appreciate various flowers but also have the opportunity of tasting a good variety of local snacks and enjoying folk art performance.

Longquan Hill Peach Flower Festival
Longquan has been known to the world for producing fruits since ancient times. The production of honey peach holds a dominant position, with a total of 17 million honey peach trees covering some 11,333 hectares. As one of the 10 peach flower scenic spots in China, it has opened 234 square km of orchard to the visitors, which account for 40 percent of the total area of the region. In spring Longquan becomes a sea of flowers. Oriental cherry, peach, plum, pear and apricot blossom to create a fairyland on earth, attracting hundreds and thousands of visitors. In order to take advantage of this resource, the local government sponsored the peach flower festival in 1987. The event has since become an annual gala not only of sightseeing but also of economic, cultural and artistic exchanges.

Dujiangyan Drawing-Off Festival
The annual drawing-off event in the Dujiangyan City at the Pure Brightness Festival (April 5) started in the year of 978 to mark Li Bing and his son who led the construction of the Dujiangyan Water Conservancy Works to benefit the Chengdu Plain. In ancient times, people usually used wood and raft to build provisional cofferdams in winter so as to block the Minjiang River water for repairing riverbed and reinforcing the dikes. At the Pure Brightness Festival, a grand ceremony would be held to worship Li Bing and his son, pray for an abundant harvest of all food crops as well as for stability and peace. The cofferdam world then be removed to let in the Minjiang River water to irrigate the vast stretches of cultivated land on the Chengdu Plain. After 1957, a water gate was built on the Dujiangyan Canal to replace the cofferdam. As a result, the ceremony of drawing off water by cutting the cofferdam was no longer held. In 1990, the Dujiangyan City restored the event by holding mock cofferdam cutting and traditional worship activities. Lantern exhibitions, street performances, flower and goods trade activities were added. The endeavor has helped to attract a great deal of domestic and overseas tourists.

Tianpeng Peony Fair
Danjing Mountain in Pengzhou began to grow peony in the Tang Dynasty. In 1985, peony was selected as the city flower of Peng zhou City. The annual peony fairs held in April have helped to attract a continuous flow of tourists. Danjing Mountain, 50 km away from Chengdu, is the largest peony growing center in west China. Danjing Mountain peony shares the same reputation with Luoyang peony in Henan Province and Heze peony in Shandong Province. The Danjing Mountain Peony Garden is home to over 250 kinds of peony. Eight peony samples, Chinese herbaceous peony garden, crape myrtle garden and yellow azalea garden, which cover a total area of some 6.6 hectares have been open to the public.

Xinjin Dragon Boat Race
Xinjin is a place of rivers and lakes. The Nanhe River in the south of Xinjin City is wide and suitable for water activities. Tradition has it that dragon boat race in Xinjin on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month dates back to the Tang Dynasty. It became well-known during the Qing Dynasty. On that day, dozens of colorfully decorated boats were anchored in order on both sides of the river. After firecrackers, they rushed towards the destination under the deafening sound of gongs and drums. The boats, about 16 m long often go against the current, therefore, the competition is quite intense Catching ducks has been an interesting part of the repertoire at the dragon boat racing fair since the Qing Dynasty.

Pixian Wangcong Singling Match
The Wangcong Temple in Pixian County is where two ancient Lords of Sichuan Du Yu and Bie Ling were worshipped. Starting in the Qing Dynasty, such worship services were carried out twice a year in spring and autumn. Spring service fell on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month with the aim of encouraging spring ploughing, while the autumn service fell on the 9th day of 9th lunar month to mark the harvest. In addition, local officials visited the Wangcong Temple each year when the Dujiangyan Dam drew off waters. When the Dragon Boat Festival (5th day of the 5th lunar month) came, peasants were relaxed after the busy ploughing season. They would gather at the Wangcong Temple to "shouting folk songs" in antiphonal style or in the way that one sang first and the others joined in the chorus. The songs sung were eight eulogies to the two ancient lords or prayers for good harvests. The young people usually expressed their feeling and love through songs. Today, the custom of "shouting folk songs" has evolved into the singing match. In the meantime, goods trading, food exhibition, lantern and flower fairs are held to enrich this traditional festival.

Chengdu International Panda Festival
Giant pandas are a national treasure peculiar to China, and are on the verge of extinction. The existing pandas number some 1,000, of which 80 percent inhab it the mountain forests in west Sichuan, particularly in the giant panda reserves in Anzhihe, Chongzhou and Heishuihe, Dayi under the jurisdiction of Chengdu City as well as in Wolong and Baoxing Fengtongzai reserves. In order to give publicity to the importance and urgency of protecting giant pandas and the ecological environment and promote international economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation, Chengdu has sponsored two international panda festivals. In addition to promoting the protection of wildlife and environment and facilitating economic and cultural exchanges, the festival is also aimed at displaying the great charm of Chengdu as a historical and cultural city. It is a great event which helps the public to love and treasure the nature and helps the world to get to know Chengdu.

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Transportation

Chengdu is a transportation hub in south-West China. The Shuangliu International Airport, one of the seven largest airports in the country, is linked with other airports via 60 national flight routes, 5 international and regional routes and 12 charter routes. The Chengdu North Railway Station is the sole special-grade station in southwest China. Baoji-Chengdu, Chengdu-Chongqing, Chengdu-Kunming and Chengdu-Daxian lines meet here. The station handles 30 pairs of trains a day, including three pairs of excursion trains. The highways link every village. Some of the five expressways have been completed, and the others are under construction. They are from Changdu to Chongqing, Mianyang, Leshan, Nanchong and Ya'an.

Expressway
Entry to and Exit of Expressways
The two expressways linking Chengdu and other places that have been completed are the Chengdu-Chongqing line and Chengdu-Mianyang line. Another three expressways-Chengdu-Leshan, Chengdu-Nanchong, and Chengdu-Ya'an lines-are now under construction.

Water Transport
The Funan River, also called the Jinjiang River, consists of the Fuhe River and Nanhe River which pass through the urban area of Chengdu. It is the golden waterway leading to other places and the lifeline of the city's economic and cultural formation, development and prosperity. In 1992, Chengdu invested 2.7 billion yuan in comprehensive treatment of the river, therefore, greatly improving the outlook of Chengdu. The anti-flooding and sewage discharging capacity was improved. The river was reopened to shipping. There are 13 wharves on the river, a sightseeing shipping company equipped with two 40-star motor-driven cruise boats, four 40-star power-driven cruise boats and eight speedboats is operating on the river.

Railway
The Chengdu North Railway Station is the sole special-grade station in southwest China, located at where Baoji-Chengdu, Chengdu-Chongqing, Chengdu-Dunming and Chengdu-Daxian lines meet. The station handles 30 pairs of trains a day, including three pairs of excursion trains (Y207/208 between Chengdu and Guangyuan, Y217/218 between Chengdu and Chongqing, and Y227/228 between Chengdu and Yibin). The daily passenger flow amounts to some 50,000 and daily luggage handling capacity stands at 12,000 pieces. The station handles an annual passenger flow of near 8 million. It was nominated as the "unit guaranteeing safety and good services" by the Ministry of Railway and has kept up the honorary title of "civilized unit" for 11 years.

Air Transport
Domestic, International (or Chartered) Flight Terminal
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, as an air transport hub in southwest China, is open to all domestic and international airlines related, providing services such as various kinds of ground security, fire-fighting and rescuing. A passenger and goods marketing agent service system ranging from ticket selling, parking, freight transport to stop-over maintenance has been established and improved. At present, it has opened 60-odd international and domestic air routes. The annual handling capacity of passengers in 1998 reached 4.376 million. The rate of flights departing and arriving at the scheduled time has reached 99.9 percent. The rate of passenger satisfaction stands at 93.51 percent.
The airport staff adhere to the principle of "serving people and being a pace-setter of the trade" and take the satisfaction of passengers and users as their long-lasting goal. It has so far been awarded 60-odd honorary titles including the advanced unit in afforestation, the national hygienically qualified airport.

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  Information provided by China National Tourism Administration.

 

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