Jin Li Ancient Street // This is Chengdu, China


Jin Li Street – Chengdu’s throw-back to ancient China’s commercial streets


Walking around Chengdu, you’d think it was a fairly new city – with all the modern buildings and its crisp look – but Chengdu has an amazing history. It was on both the Tea Horse Road and the Silk Road, which made it a trader’s paradise. Eighteen hundred years ago, Jin Li Street was the aorta of Chengdu’s commercial area. It was packed with shops, lined with lanterns, and bustled with pedestrians. In that sense, not much has changed, but the street obviously holds a different purpose now. It’s one of Chengdu’s greatest tourist attractions. The 400 meter pedestrian lane has that new Chengdu crispness, but the buildings are all decorated to look like ancient China. They’re beautiful, and the people flock to the street to absorb that beauty, and to buy a lot of panda souvenirs.

Jin Li Street restaurant
A restaurant on Jin Li Street
We visited the street during the Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival, one of the busiest times of the year to go. At first, we were reluctant to cross through the people-packed main gate, but once inside it didn’t really seem that busy. There were a few times when I had to push an old lady to the ground and step over her, but most of the time we could stroll at our leisure without much fuss.

For gift buying, Jinli kicks serious ass. There is a huge variety of knick-knacks from yak tail brushes to panda hats. If you want something more personal, you can get a man to write your name on a grain of rice, or get a clay bust made of your head.

Paper cut is an ancient Chinese art form that involves cutting a design from paper using only scissors or a knife. Watch for the booth – you’ll be amazed by the detailed patterns.

There’s also a panda store that sells every single thing that’s ever been conceived, but with a panda on it. In case you don’t know, Chengdu is the panda capital of the world. You’ll be reminded of this every 6 seconds when traveling in the city.

Speaking of potentially delicious animals, the food on Jin Li street various from high-end restaurants, to cheap food stands. Unfortunately, Sara and I were just coming off of a major meat binge and we had zero space left in our stomachs for food. It was tragic, but it gives us a reason to return.

Eventually, the street leads to the park, where you’ll find more paths with more food and shops, as well as a stage that has daily Chinese opera performances.

Jin Li Street Chengdu, China stage area
The pond and looking back towards the stage area.

You can combine your trip to Jin Li Street with a visit to Wuhou Temple and the Tibetan quarters. It’s all within a 5 minute walk.

Location: 231 Wuhouci Street
If you take the metro to Sichuan Gymnasium, you can walk up Dianxin South Street (which turns into Ximianqiao Cross Street) and take a right at Wuhouci Cross Street, which will lead you to the gate of Jin Li. It’ll take about 25 minutes, but it’s a pleasant stroll that takes you through the Tibetan quarters.
Alternatively, from Tianfu Square you can walk west on Renmin West Road, turn left on Dongchenggen South Street, and catch the #57 bus on the right side of the road. It’s only 4 stops to Wuhou Temple, where you’ll get off and backtrack a couple minutes to Jin Li Ancient street.
Walking from Tianfu Square is also a viable option. It takes about 30 minutes.

Hours: It’s a street, so it’s open all the time, but a lot of shops close at 8 or 9PM. Bars will be open late.

Entrance Fee: Free, but bring money for food and shopping. And because you shouldn’t be out with no money, I mean, what if there’s an emergency… or you see an original Nintendo for sale?

For more on Chengdu!