Chinese cities are concrete jungles, and Chengdu is no different. You taste that dusty air? That’s the flavour of progress. You hear those construction cranes? That’s the sound of advancement. A grey ubiquitous fog hangs over the city like a dome, reminding you that you are far removed from the natural outdoors – or so you thought. Actually, Chengdu is filled with parks, perfect for when you need some space away from the city.
1) Wangjiang Park 望江楼公园 View In Map
This park/museum was constructed in honour of the great Tang Dynasty poetess, Xue Tao (薛涛). Inside you can see her tomb, her sculpture, read some of her 500 plus poems, and visit a small museum dedicated to her. There’s also the 39-metre tall Wangjiang Tower, which offers a lookout over the park and city. As soon as you walk in, you’re transported into a bamboo forest. Walk down the various lanes and you’ll find some beautifully kept Chinese-style gardens. In general, this is a good place to walk, read, meditate, or zone-out. The air here definitely seems fresher, and the grounds are well maintained – there was not a single piece of trash on the ground inside (I looked).
Inside the museum, you’ll see a photo of what Chengdu looked like roughly 40 years ago. You’ll be stunned at all that “countryside” that once was here, and likely be left wondering how it could look so different in such a short period of time. Located near Sichuan University’s east gate, this Wangjiang Park is a must-visit for literature buffs, bamboo fans, and those who need some precious nature time. In the fall, the leaves changing colours make it particularly beautiful.
Add: 300 Wangjiang Lu, Wuhou District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8522 3389; 028 8524 9305
Opening Hours: 07:00-21:00
Price: 20 RMB
2) Dufu’s Cottage 杜甫草堂 View In Map
Dedicated to another great Tang Dynasty poet, Dufu, this is another great historic site to catch some fresh air. Covering 59 acres, the site of Dufu’s Thatched Cottage blends together the natural winding streams, poetic gardens, tall trees, a plum garden, bridges, and pavilions with the history of the realist poet Dufu. Get a literature lesson while enjoying your escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are literally tens of thousands of collections of Dufu’s writings and artefacts to see here.
The area echoes simplicity and elegance at the same time. Rebirth is a word that comes to mind when visiting here. In the spring, the plums begins to blossom; in the summer, the lotus arrives; in the winter, the orchids come alive. The earthy figure of Dufu in the Gongbu Temple is visually punctuating, and worth a good look. Check out the Bonsai Garden, and take note of just how many bonsai trees they are. Don’t forget to go to the top of the pagoda as well. It offers a panoramic view of the park and of the city of Chengdu.
Add: 37 Qinghua Lu, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8731 9258
Opening Hours: 07:30-19:00 (summer); 08:00-18:00 (winter)
Price: 60 RMB; 30 RMB for students
3) Donghu Gongyuan 东湖公园 View In Map
Near a ritzy residential complex, East Lake Park (Donghu Gongyuan) combines a jogging and walking path next a large lake. The complex consists of basketball courts and playgrounds, teahouses, small forests, restaurants, and entertainment centres. You can even have yourself a little picnic out here. It is one of the best places within the city to take your dog for a walk. The only problem is that sometimes it can get a little busy on weekends. Located on the eastern outskirts of Chengdu, and right next to the river, this park truly provides a break from the city… from within the city.
Add: 99 Erhuan Lu, Dong Wu Duan, Jinjiang District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8308 0008; 028 8670 2855
Opening Hours: daytime; restaurants, clubs and teahouses are open until around 23:00
4) Huanhuaxi Park 浣花溪公园 View In Map
With construction completed in 2003, this park is a hidden gem, an isolated wilderness within the mammoth city. It’s free too. Located on the west side of Chengdu, near Dufu’s Cottage, Huanhuaxi Park features a large lake surrounded by wild plants and animal life. The gardens, forests, and scenery here are mystical and poetic. Fog hangs over the lake in a hazy, sublime way, and this effect takes the imaginative mind to places far away from the surrounding city. “Poem Way” (诗歌大道) encourages reflection and serenity to visitors as the reading of ancient and modern Chinese poems is encouraged as you walk about the wooded areas. This area, albeit man-made, was built with tranquillity and romance in mind. However, at night there tends to be a lot of dancing, so your tranquil state may be a slightly compromised.
Add: 9 Qinghua Lu, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8738 4099
Opening Hours: 06:00-22:00 (summer); 07:00-21:00 (winter)
5) Renmin Park 人民公园 View In Map
I’d be remiss if I didn't mention Chengdu’s most famous park, The People’s Park (Renmin Park). Teahouses, ponds, walking paths and resting spots saturate the park complexes. Looking at the goldfish pools is a particularly meditative aspect of visiting here. Located in the middle of the city, this park has become a centre for jogging, Taijiquan, Mahjong, and good ear cleanings. There is also a bit of history to see, as it’s the site of the 1911 Chengdu protests against the Qing Dynasty for giving foreigners the rights to railroad construction.
Add: 12 Shaocheng Lu, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Tel: 028 8613 2021; 028 8613 9234
Opening Hours: 06:00-22:00
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Keywords: Chengdu People’s Park nature spots Dufu’s Cottage city parks
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