The weather’s getting colder, but it’s not quite time to dust off your winter coat and knitwear. You’ve got an afternoon to kill and fancy spending it outdoors. Why not make the most of the cooler autumn weather and head to one of Chengdu’s less well-known parks for a spot of relaxation and people watching? These are our recommendations for a day out away from the usual crowds and all those parks you’ve been to so many times before.
1) Chengdu Culture Park
Chengdu Culture Park can be found just inside First Ring Road to the west of the city. Paths meander through lush, verdant gardens, past people practicing Tai Chi, and card players whiling away the afternoon in leafy pagodas. There are a number of teahouses, including an atmospheric one set around the large lake at the centre of the park. There’s the usual selection of teas, which come with a refillable thermos of hot water per table.
As in many of the city’s teahouses, you will find the usual crowd of ear cleaners, shoe shiners and snack sellers. If you have time and 10RMB for the admission fee, it’s also worth having a look around the Green Ram Temple (青羊宫) next door, which is Chengdu’s oldest and largest Daoist temple.
2) Chengdu Wuhou Park
Situated near the Tibetan area, the park adjoining Wuhou Temple is a welcome oasis in this busy part of town. It’s an oasis of willow trees, lakes and beautiful arched bridges, and is a great spot for people watching or trying your hand at mahjong. The temple costs 60RMB to enter, but the park itself is free.
Come here for a quick stroll before heading over to nearby Jinli Street to sample some local delicacies, listen to some Sichuan opera, and buy some souvenirs to take back home with you. Be warned though, Jinli Street is not a place for those looking to escape the crowds.
3) Chengdu East Music Park
Tucked away in a series of abandoned factories to the east of the city lies one of Chengdu’s trendiest hangouts. After the original occupants moved out, the government converted the area into a space for music and art. Some of the old machinery has even been incorporated into exhibits. It’s easy to while away a whole day here looking around some art galleries and boutique shops or chilling out in one of the many independent cafés.
There are plenty of eating options in the park itself, but for cheaper fare you could head to one of the local restaurants just outside the park. In the evening, the numerous trendy bars and clubs lining the park come alive with music. The space plays host to a number of music events and other festivals throughout the year, so keep an eye out on what’s happening in this area.
4) Flower Town
Located just outside Chengdu’s third ring road in the south is a pocket of rural Sichuan known as Flower Town. Formerly made up of three villages that specialised in farming (you guessed it!) flowers, the area has become a place for those looking to escape the city. Home-style restaurants now outnumber the flower markets, and you’ll also find a collection of independent cafés and bars in the Hongsha Village area. There’s also a thriving community of artists, and a few galleries exhibiting their work: the Museum of Modern Art is located near the main entrance, and the two Blue Roof Art Galleries can be found further inside, in the Hetang Yuese area.
The demolition sign (拆) can be seen on a number of buildings, so it’s worth making the journey out here before the area gets absorbed by the city’s ever growing suburbs. There’s a lot to see, so it’s worth taking a full day to explore, either on foot or by renting a bike from one the kiosks inside.