Although Chengdu is a large and ancient city with a lot to see and to do, it is well-known because of the Giant Pandas. Pandas live in the forests of the mountain areas of Sichuan province. There is a large breeding center, where you can see pandas, take photos with them and even volunteer to help the center for a day. More details on that below.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province situated in south-west China. The Sichuan province occupies a large part of the Sichuan Basin and the Eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. Historically, Sichuan was home to the ancient states of Ba and Shu.
UNESCO named Chengdu the City of Gastronomy. Chengdu cuisine is famous throughout China for its intense flavor and hot Sichuan pepper.
The population of Chengdu is 7,415,590 which makes it the most populated and largest city of Sichuan. Chengdu has its own metro line system, and it is the fastest way to get around the city.
TRAVEL TO AND FROM CHENGDU
Being a center of Sichuan province, Chengdu offers many great transportation options, including an International airport with nonstop flights to many countries, cities in Tibet, and most of the major cities in China; three train stations with connections to Chinese cities and Tibet; bus stations to travel to nearby areas.
CHENGDU TO LHASA FLIGHTS
Distance: 770 miles/ 1290 km
Flight duration: 2 h 25 min
Airports: Chengdu Shuangliu airport (CTU) and Lhasa Gonggar Airport (LXA)
The easiest way to fly to Lhasa is from Chengdu.
First, there are many international flight arriving in Chengdu every day, and it is easy to find a flight from many international destinations.
Second, there are between 12 to 17 nonstop flights from Chengdu to Lhasa every day, depending on the season. The high season is from May till October. You can choose between flights from very early in the morning until late in the evening. You will fly from Chengdu airport (CTU) to Lhasa airport (LXA). Flight takes about 2 hours 25 minutes. When the weather is clear, you will enjoy a great view of the Himalayan mountains.
The best time to travel from Chengdu to Lhasa by plane is early in the morning. These flights are rarely delayed because of the weather conditions. Although there are always many daily flights between cities, we recommend booking your flight in advance. During Chinese official holidays, and at the beginning or end of students’ vacation time, tickets can sell out fast.
There are several airlines offering Chengdu to Lhasa flights: Tibetan Airline, Sichuan Airline, Air China, and Chinese Eastern.
CHENGDU TO LHASA FLIGHT SCHEDULE AND PRICES
Another alternatives are to fly from Chengdu to Shigatse or from Chengdu to Nyingchi. There are daily nonstop flights to both cities. Flying to Nyingchi is a great option if you want to acclimatize before traveling to high altitude. Nyingchi is lying at around 3,000 meters. It is easier to acclimatize to that altitude before traveling to Lhasa (3,650 meters).
Chengdu Shuangliu Airport (code CTU)
Name in Chinese: 成都双流国际机场
There is an international airport about 16 kilometers southwest of Chengdu. It is a hub airport for Western China and domestic airport for Sichuan Airlines and Chengdu airlines.
There are 2 terminals, where Terminal 1 serves all international flights as well as Sichuan Airlines flights. All other domestic flights arrive and depart from Terminal 2.
If you are staying in Chengdu, here are the options for transferring to the city:
- By taxi: around CNY 50-80 to the city center around Tianfu Square.
- By shuttle bus: bus N1 to the city center, bus N2 to the North Railway Station and bus N3 to East Railway Station. By taxi: around CNY 50-80 to the city center around Tianfu Square.
- By subway: the recently opened airport station connects with its metro lines 3 and 7 at the Taipingyuan Station
- By speed train: connections to the South or East railway stations By taxi: around CNY 50-80 to the city center around Tianfu Square.
If you are transferring from Chengdu airport to your flight to Tibet, you will need to pick up your Tibet travel permit. We will send you detailed information about the permit and its delivery to Chengdu airport.
CHENGDU TO LHASA TRAIN
Train from Chengdu to Lhasa departs every other day. On an alternate day, the train departs from Chongqing, the city nearby. Trains run all year round. In rare cases, train service can be stopped for construction work to maintain the train tracks. That’s why it is always best to check train schedule at least 1 month in advance and book your tickets as soon as they become available.
The train ride from Chengdu to Lhasa takes 36 hours and covers over 3,000 km. Most of the distance train goes through plain at low elevation. Only after Golmud train starts climbing higher reaching passes at over 5,000 meters.
Train from Chengdu takes a long time to reach Lhasa, and the most interesting part of the train ride starts after Xining. If you are short on time and still want to take a train to Lhasa, you can first fly to Xining and takle a train from there. There are many daily trains from Xining to Lhasa and it takes around 21 hours to reach Lhasa.
TRAIN CLASSES AND TICKETS
There are 2 classes on the train:
- Soft Sleeper: 4 beds in a berth with a door. Price is CNY 1,035 per ticket
- Hard Sleeper: 6 beds in a berth without a door. Price is CNY 664 per ticket
Train tickets go on sale 30 days before the train departure date. Due to very high demand, it is recommended to book tickets as soon as they become available. During official Chinese holidays, it might be difficult to reserve soft sleeper tickets.
CHENGDU TO LHASA TRAIN SCHEDULE
Chengdu to Lhasa Train number Z322 departs Chengdu at 21:37 from Chendgu North Railway station. The train arrives in Lhasa 2 days later at 09:55.
The return train number Z324 from Lhasa to Chengdu departs Lhasa at 18:35 and arrives in Chengdu 2 days later at 06:58.
North Railway Station
Name in Chinese: 成都站
There are three train stations in Chengdu: North Railway Station, East Railway Station, and South Railway Station. North Station is the largest, connecting Chengdu with major cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guangzhou, Chongqing, and others. When you travel from Chengdu to Lhasa, trains depart from the North Railway station.
The station is located near the North Second Ring Road, in the Jinniu District, to the North from the city center and Tianfu Square.
You can reach North Station on Metro line 1 and line 7. Get off at the Chengdu North Railway Station stop (all stops on the subway are marked in English, and there are English announcements for each station).
If you are traveling from Chengdu airport, take the shuttle bus number 2 directly to the train station.
CHENGDU TO LHASA OVERLAND
You can travel from Chengdu to Lhasa overland via highways G318 or G317. The Southern route (along highway G318) will take you through Eastern Tibet. The highlights of the journey are Kangding, Litang, Mount Gongga, Ranwu Tso lake, Medui glaciers, Bomi, and Nuingchi. Although the road is very scenic all year round, the best time to travel is in early spring during the peach blossom festival.
The Northern route (along highway G317) with take you towards Northern areas in Tibet. The highlights of this road are Garze, Dege, Qamdo, Nagqu. You can also make a short detour to visit Namtso lake near Damxung before you reach Lhasa.
The journey along the Sichuan Tibet Highways, goes for over 2000km and takes you through magnificent landscapes of Eastern Tibet.
The starting point is Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province. From there, you will travel to the Eastern border of Tibetan plateau. It is Tibetan area known as Kham. Tibetans here speak a dialect so different from the dialect in Lhasa, that Tibetans have a hard time understanding each other.
The scenery of Kham is very impressive, with magnificent mountain ranges and glaciers. You will also see remote areas with very few tourists. You can witness life of local Tibetans.
Once you reach Lhasa, you can continue overland journey to Nepal following the G318 highway route.
CHENGDU TO LHASA BY BUS
At this moment foreign travelers have to travel with a guide in a tourist car when visiting Tibet Autonomous Region. If you want to travel by bus, you can do it part of the way. For example, you can travel from Chengdu to Litang and start your guided tour further from there.
WHERE TO STAY IN CHENGDU
The central part of Chengdu is around Tianfu square (Chinese: 天府广场). This area is the most popular among tourists. You will be close to many attraction sites, a wide variety of transportation options, restaurants, and shopping centers.
You can find good accommodation options, from hostels to 5-star hotels. If you walk towards the shopping center at Chunxi Road. This pedestrian street offers fabulous shopping and dining experience.
If you are making a short transfer on the way from Chengdu to Lhasa, we can deliver your Tibet Travel permit directly to the airport. For overnight stay, we can recommend a hotel near the airport with pick up and drop off transportation service.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN CHENGDU
GIANT PANDA RESEARCH AND BREEDING CENTER
There are 2 breeding centers near Chengdu. One is located in the city, another one is in Dujiyangyan, about 40 minutes away by the speed train. While the first one is more convenient to reach if you are short on time, the second one is larger and offers more attractions.
If you are visiting the center in Dujiyangyan, we recommend contacting them in advance. They have daily volunteer opportunities when you can learn more about Pandas and feed them. You can also take a photo with a baby panda.
The facility provides a natural breeding environment for Pandas to preserve them. The environment of the center: plants, bushes, bamboo trees are imitating panda’s natural habitat.
Name in Chinese: 文殊院
Address: No.66 Wenshuyuan Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu
Wenshu Monastery is the best-preserved and most important Buddhist monastery in Chengdu. It is famous due to the legend of Cidu, a Buddhist monk who built a hut and lived in the temple as an ascet. The legend says that when Cidu was cremated Bodhisattva of Manjushri (Wenshu in Chinese) appeared in smoke of a fire. That’s why the temple was built in that place.
Wenshu has a great collection of calligraphic work. You can visit temples inside the complex and enjoy a peaceful stroll in the park.
There is a lovely tea house in a park inside the complex and a vegetarian restaurant where you can take a break.
LESHAN GIANT BUDDHA
Name in Chinese: 乐山大佛
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a giant (73 meters tall) Buddha statue carved from a rock. It is the largest Buddha stone sculpture. Leshan Buddha is about 1,300 years old. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. On the mountain, you can visit several temples. One of the best views is from the river below the statue. there are multiple boats that can take you on a short cruise to enjoy the sight. If you have an extra day, combine a visit to Leshan with traveling to Emeishan. The spectacular view of Buddha statue on top of Emei mountain is well worth the visit.
To visit Leshan you can take a bus or a bullet train from Chengdu.
Name in Chinese: 峨眉山
Mount Emei is one of the four sacred mountains for Buddhists in China. There is a magnificent Buddha statue at the peak of the mountain. Several beautiful temples are on the mountain slope, from the bottom to the top. Mount Emei is the UNESCO World Heritage site.
You will need at least 2 days to visit Mount Emei from Chengdu, three days if you want to trek to the top. The best time to visit is during winter when the weather is clear. You can see the Buddha statue at the top and the sea of clouds below the mountain peak.
If you are short on time, take a bus from the bottom of the mountain and then change to a cable car. From there, it will be about 30 minutes of walking up the stairs to the top. After visiting, return the same way.
If you wish to visit the entire mountain, you can start at the bottom and follow the stairs. On the way, you can visit beautiful temples and see great landscapes. Beware of the slippery stairs during cold months.
There are many nice hotels at the bottom of the mountain, along with restaurants and souvenir stalls. If you want to spend a night at the top of the mountain, there is one good hotel that we recommend booking in advance. Spending a night at the peak is well worth it as you will see both sunset and sunrise at the mountain.
You can reach Emeishan by bus from Chengdu or combine your visit with traveling to Leshan Giant Buddha.
Name in Chinese: 武侯祠
Address: No.231 Wuhou Temple Street, Chengdu 610041, China
Wuhou Temple or another name is Temple of Marquis, is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, a famous politician and military person. The complex will be of lesser importance compared to other sites in Chengdu. There are several shrines, mausoleum, and a small bonsai garden. It is worth visiting only if you combine it with other activities nearby. One of the most interesting places located right next to it is Jinli street. The pedestrian street is offering a wide variety of Sichuan food.
Another option is to cross the street to visit the Tibetan area. There are many Tibetan restaurants, street sellers with various souvenirs and Tibetan stores selling religious items.
Name in Chinese: 昭觉寺
Address: No.333 Zhaoqing Road, Chenghua District, Chengdu 610057, China
Zhaojue is a Buddhist Temple located in the Northern part of Chengdu. There is a Chengdu Zoo on the side of the complex. The first building of the Temple was built in the Tang dynasty, although the complex was many times rebuilt afterward. Zhaojue Temple played an important role in the exchange for the teachings between Chinese and Tibetan monks. Some structures inside the temple were built specifically for Tibetan monks that were coming to teach in the temple. You can see traditional Tibetan prayer flags around this area.
The complex is large with many interesting temples. You can spend an entire day visiting the complex and the adjacent zoo. It is very peaceful, not too crowded. Inside you will find a vegetarian restaurant. You can also relax in a park or by a small pond.
Address: Sec.2 Western First circle Street, Qingyang District, Chengdu 610072, China
Taoist temple located in the People’s Park (on the opposite side of the park from Opera House). The temple is also called the Green Ram Temple. It is not a very large complex. There are some shrines and a large teahouse in the park at the back of the complex.
It is not very touristy, but an interesting historical and cultural place.
Name in Chinese: 锦里古街
Address: No.231 Wuhouci Street, Wuhou District, Chengdu 610041, China
The entrance to Jinli street is to the East from Wuhou Temple.
The small area around Jinli street is densely packed with street sellers and restaurants offering delicious and fresh Sichuan food. The street is lined with buildings in the style of the traditional architecture of Chengdu. You can spend a couple of hours walking down the street, trying some snacks, shopping in small souvenir stalls or relaxing with a cup of tea or in one of the bars. Jinli street looks especially beautiful in the evening. There is a small stage in the middle of the street. If you are lucky, you can see various types of performance on the stage, such as traditional music, dance or drama show.
The most famous opera house is Shu Feng Ya Yun in People’s Park.
Sichuan opera performance is very popular. If you are looking for some evening activities, it is a good choice. Opera House is located in People’s park. Depending on the selected ticket, you will get snacks and tea or dinner while watching the show. The opera performance consists of several different parts: comedy show, fire show, performance with changing masks, etc. There is no English translation, and some acts might be less interesting, but you will certainly enjoy the bright show.
It is a good way to experience culture and rest after daily activities.
DUJIYANGYAN IRRIGATION SYSTEM
Dujiyangyan Irrigation System is extremely important for farming and draining floodwater. The system was completed over 2,000 years ago. It makes it the oldest no-dam working irrigation system in the world. The cable bridge over the Minjiang River is the most beautiful place in the area. There are several nice temples in the area.
To visit Dujiyangyan from Chengdu, take a bus or a bullet train from Chengdu.
THE MOST POPULAR TIBET AND LHASA TOURS
A beautiful and exciting journey, starting in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and going to the Everest Base Camp. The tour visits Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Sera, Drepung and Tashilhunpo monasteries, Kumbum Stupa, Yamdrok Lake and Karola glaciers.
This tour starts in Lhasa. We will stay there for 2 days to explore the capital and acclimatize. After that, we will head to the center of attraction in Himalayas – Mount Everest. We will spend a night by the highest mountain on a planet and continue driving through majestic mountain ranges, alongside rivers and waterfalls to the border between Tibet and Nepal.
This private tour takes you from Lhasa to Yarlung Valley and Samye Monastery. Yarlung valley is the birthplace of Tibetan civilization. You can see Yumbulakhang, an ancient fort and the first surviving building in Tibet. After that you will visit Samye, the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
This classic four days tour is perfect if you are short on time. On this tour you will learn about the most impressive historical and religious sites, walk in the heart of Lhasa and will get a chance to take stunning photos of Tibetan capital and local everyday life.
PREPARE FOR YOUR TOUR
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