Stretching north all the way to the Longmen Shan close to the epicenter of the 2008 quake, Pengzhou County ( 彭州) has undergone a quick recovery and reconstruction and now offers an interesting mix of history, sightseeing, hiking, and wildlife to Chengdu weekend escapists.
A trip to China's peony capital should definitely include a stop at the city museum, which covers 3,000 years of local history and while it can't rival the size of Chengdu's major museums, its assortment of relics is equally well presented, earning praise during national and international exhibitions. The museum especially prides itself on its significant collection of Song Dynasty gold and silver pieces.
Approximately 20 kilometers north of the county capital sits White Deer Town, which was hit hard during the quake but has been rebuilt for the most part. The area was a hotspot for missionary work in the 1800s, and the French-style architecture preserved in local houses and the church, built by a French priest in the early 1900s, delights visitors and provides a scenic spot very popular among wedding photographers.
Farther north the Jiufeng Mountain offers scenic hiking with beautiful examples of long-forgotten and reconstructed Buddhist and Taoist temples along the way as well as river boat trips.
Eco-tourists will head to the nearby Baishuihe Panda State Level Nature Reserve, a 300-square-kilometer reserve with altitudes reaching 4,800 meters that is home to some 1,770 plant species and 331 animal species, including rare giant pandas, red pandas, golden snub-nosed monkeys, the Himalayan eagle, Chinese Monal, and various birds.
Pengzhou City Museum
Jinpeng Dadao West Section
White Deer Town
Baishuihe Panda Nature Reserve
By the end of 2013, the new intercity train should be in operation, cutting travel time between Pengzhou and Chengdu's North Train Station to less than 30 minutes. Currently, buses depart from Chengdu's Wukuaishi Station (五块石车站) for the Pengzhou Bus Station (彭州客运中心) regularly between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. (the journey takes 40 minutes and RMB12). Buses depart to various destinations in the county from the Pengzhou Bus Station.
This article was first published in CHENGDOO citylife Magazine, issue 66.
Photos by Dan Sandoval.