a VirtualTourist member from Malaysia
I will be in Chengdu and Chongqing next month - April 2013
What are the tourist traps I should be aware of?
In terms of tourist traps, I didn't find Chengdu any different to any other big Chinese city. The general rules really just apply. I'd suggest you have a read through these fora for general advice.
If you're heading for the Panda breeding centre then the only thing to watch for there is the very high price asked to hold a panda. I gather that it's so expensive now that few people are prepared to pay the money being asked. We were told quite openly that the keepers take a significant amount of the money for themselves, which probably counts as a tourist trap, but the price is advertised and unless you pay it you don't get to hold a panda.
My wife and I spent a few days in Chengdu last July. Can't say we visited any tourist "traps" but did check out the pandas,the Leshan Giant Buddha and "tourist areas" within Chengdu. Many places accommodate tourists ( mostly Chinese) but wouldn't consider them tacky. We used the 20/ 80 rule when in popular sites- the 20/ 80 rule is...80 percent of the people seem visit only 20 percent of the area ..so if you get out of the 20% area we often found very few other tourist..it seems to work..BTY the Leshan Giant Buddah and area was up there as one of the highlights of our 6 months in China last year.
I would like to say a word for the Panda holding charge. The Centre issues an official receipt to people who pays. The charge is meant to be a donation to subsidize the operation of the Centre. I do not think it is appropriate to count it as a "tourist trap". I paid RMB1000 for holding the giant panda. The experience was great.
Chengdu Panda Centre is well worth visiting, we thought it was an excellent experience and recommend you visit. I have a page on our visit should you like to see what value you get for the entrance fee.
China is no different to any other large country, you have to take responsibility for yourself, do not go down back streets at night, if someone approaches you and offers you someting, be careful and I recommend walk away, do not listen or go with touts. Do not flash money around etc etc and you shuld be OK.
The only thing I can think of is that we caught a bus to Leshan that dropped us off and after spending a few hours there came out at a different entrance, caught a bus and ended up in a bus depot a long way from home. Luckily, a very kind lady who spoke a little English helped us with a taxi. She made sure the taxi driver knew she was married to a policeman !!! So, make sure you come out of the main entrance if visiting the Leshan Buddha which is well worth it!!