Don’t be mistaken. I am not talking about Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan province. I am talking about small town lying 200 km north east from Beijing. Honestly I have been living in China for four years and I haven’t heard about Chengde until this June when I decided to improve my Chinese and found a language program which took place in Chengde where local people speak the most standard Mandarin Chinese of all China. So I spent four weeks in this small but very nice place. Let me introduce it a bit more….
ABOUT CHENGDE 承德
Chengde lies in Hebei province about 200km from Beijing. Despite it is not that far away from capital city which is unfortunately ”famous” for its air pollution Chengde is situated in beautiful mountain area, with fresh air and blue sky. Besides the beautiful surrounding Chengde is mainly famous for its historical sites especially the Mountain resort and its outlying temples.
Mountain resort 避暑山庄
Mountain resort is a huge park in the middle of the town and it used to be a summer residence of the emperors of the Ching dynasty. When the summer was too hot in Beijing emperors left the Forbidden city and headed to Mountain resort in Chengde where the weather was much cooler. There they could relax, enjoy lush greenery and lakes or pray in one of many temples.
Today The Mountain resort is the main tourist attraction of Chengde so unfortunately it lost most of its tranquility but it’s still worth to visit. In the evening it’s a perfect place for locals to go for a walk or practice traditional Chinese dancing. If you visit Chengde for more days I recommend to buy a year entrance ticket which is only for 180 yuan (1 day ticket is 140 yuan). For purchase a one year ticket you will need to show your passport.
As I said the Mountain resort is really big park. One part is a former living area, temples and lakes. The second part is just a vast forest. The forest part is also worth to visit. You can walk it if you have enough time or take a sightseeing bus (which most of the Chinese tourists do). If you walk you will have to share one road with the tourists buses which can be sometimes quite annoying especially on the weekends when there are much more of them. But once you get to the northern part of the park you can walk on the walls. It’s actually a bit like smaller version of the Great wall. Moreover there is a beautiful view over the Potala Palace from the walls so it’s really worth to do it and also it’s a good hike as the walls go up and down up and down.
In total you can spend a whole day in the Mountain resort. Especially nice is in the evening time when most of the tourists are gone and the air is very cool and fresh.
There are 8 temples outside the walls of The Mountain resort. The biggest and the most magnificent is definitely Putuo Zongcheng temple 普陀宗乘 which is also called Potala Palace of Panchen Lama. It’s a replica of the famous Potala palace in Lhasa and it was built in 18th century.
Few hundreds meters from the Potala Palace lies XuMi FuShou temple 须弥福寿. This temple was built in order to welcome the Panchen Lama to celebrate emperor Qianglong’s birthday. These two temples lies very close to each other and you buy only one entrance ticket to visit them both (80 yuan)
If you are more into Buddhism go to see Puning 普宁and Puyou普佑 temple. The name of these two temples means ‘universal peace’. There is a giant wooden statue of Buddha in the Puning temple. This place was used by Lamas to study Buddhist scriptures.
Another ‘replica’ temple is a part of Qingchui peak national park. It is called Pule temple 普乐and the main part of it is an imitation of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Remaining four outlying temples are Anyuan temple and Puren temple – these two are nearby of the last mentioned Pule temple and QingChui peak national park. ShuXiang temple – this one lies near the Potala Palace and Rehe Confucian temple which is situated near the Bifeng gate of the Mountain resort
QingChuiFeng national park 磬锤峰森林公园
This small but nice national park is also nicknamed Bat mountain. It’s because the rock formation looks like a baseball bat (however my boyfriend said it looks more like a bird rock…) You can buy a cable way ticket to get to the top or walk. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk up. Anyway if you choose to walk it is a bit tricky as the first ticket office you will see is the cable way tickets only! Ignore that and continue up on the small tarmac road which will get you just in front of the Pule temple. The walking path is a bit hidden behind the temple on its right side. Anyway the peak is visible from several places in town including the Mountain resort so no worries if you don’t have enough time to visit the national park.
Two Towers mountain 双塔山
Another small ‘in town’ national park. Basically it’s just a hill with a rock formation looking like two towers. Again you can take a cable way to the top but this park is even smaller than the QingChui national park so you need probably only one hour to walk up, go for a little walk around and go back. All for 50 yuan. You can also spot wild macaques in this park. However this place is not so interesting and in my opinion not worth to go.
JinShanLing Great Wall 金山岭长城
This part of the Great Wall lies about 90 km from Chengde. It’s a good choice for one day trip. JinShanLing is definitely the nicest part of the Great Wall I have been too. It’s rustic but still well maintained to climb it safely. Compare to the other parts of the Wall like BaDaLing, MuTianYu or Simatai there is much less people on the JinShanLing (so far) . Entrance ticket is 65yuan. It’s a bit adventurous to get there from Chengde as there is no direct bus. But if you can speak at least basic Chinese (or have a good translator app) you can take bus from the West bus station (汽车西站)in Chengde to Luanping town. From there take a shared or normal taxi to the Great wall (it’s about 40 minutes drive depends on which gate you choose to go). Or hire a car with driver in Chengde to get you there (one way will cost you about 300-400 yuan)
JinShanLing is definitely recommended!
Chengde is a lovely place indeed. And it is not only good place for traveling but it’s also a great place for Mandarin Chinese learners as it was mentioned above the local people speak the most standard Mandarin in China.
If someone of you needs more detailed information of how to get there or how to get around, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also find more pictures of this amazing place on my Facebook
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