Jinli is a popular tourist attraction spot in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. Legend has it that Jinli is one of the oldest business street in China and was well known throughout China since the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC) and reaches its peak in fame during the three kingdom period (220 AD – 280 AD). The modern Jinli today does not has anything to do with the Jinli in history of course. The modern Jinli was built and open to the general public in 2004. It is meant to be a tourist attraction for both international tourist and Chinese throughout the country.
The modern Jinli was built accordingly to architectural design from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), which is not that long ago, at least in historical standpoint. So they must have got it right, since there must be documents and drawings from the Qing Dynasty in archive. The result is a place that is full of historical flavor and charm. Walking in Jinli, you will feel like you are walking on an ancient China’s street. That is a very unique feeling.
Jinli is a perfect place for souvenirs. It is full of shops and vendors that sell everything from toys to tea to traditional China/Chengdu art and craft. If you are about to leave the city and still haven’t have a chance to buy gifts for the people at home, just stop by Jinli, I am sure you will find all the souvenirs you need in just a short while.
A lot of the locals do not like Jinli because they think Jinli is not authentic and the prices there are too high. Those accusations are true, but as a tourist with limited time and resources, Jinli is great. Although those authentic old towns are worthwhile to visit, they are usually far away from the city. It is very hard to arrange for transportation without knowing the area well and it is very hard to arrange for accommodation. It needs a lot of prior arrangement. Not realistic if you are already in Chengdu unless you have two three weeks of extra time to spend.
Jinli however is in the heart of the City, it is very easy to get to. It offers a flavor of the historical China, it offers great shopping and if you are a tourist from outside of China, you will find the prices very agreeable.
If there is one reason you must visit Jinli, it will definitely be the food. Chengdu is famous for its food and dishes throughout the world, particularly their “small-bites”, which are simple fair consist of a varieties of small dishes. To better understand what are “small-bites”, think appetizer. A lot of tourist visited Chengdu just for their “small-bites” and they will come back years after years for it.
Jinli might not have the best food and restaurant in Chengdu, but it made up for it in the varieties it offers. You can basically try all the famous “small-bites” of Chengdu in Jinli. All the “small-bites” under one roof, it’s very convenient and it save you time and effort trying to hunt down all the “small-bites” throughout Chengdu. Chengdu is a very big city, mind you. So it might not be the best food Chengdu has to offer, but it is still very very good and very very tasty, definitely worth it.
Jinli also has a couple high quality hotels in the area, so if you so choose, you can stay right in Jinli. Jinli at night is a lot more fun than Jinli in the morning. It actually gets busier at night. Jinli at night offers more activities and entertainment, the whole place gets even livelier.
If you are lucky enough to stumble across Jinli during any one of the Chinese celebrations (they have a lot) such as the Chinese New Year and Chinese Lantern Festival, you will find Jinli even more crowded and busier than usual. You will also find tons of activities related to the celebration. It is actually the best time to experience and learn true Chinese culture. Most of the activities during these celebrations are spectacular and offer tons of fun. If you like photography like I do, these are golden opportunity to captures some amazing photos.
The one drawback about Jinli is that it is always very busy and crowded. If you are looking for peace and quiet, Jinli is not the place for you. The crowd in Jinli is shoulder to shoulder, and it never let up, perhaps only very early in the morning and very late at night. However, whenever you are tired and just want to get away from all the noises, the tea houses in Jinli, strangely, is always peaceful and calm. A cup of fresh brewed Chinese tea and soothing instrumental Chinese music in the background, you will be rested and refreshed in no time, ready for your next adventure.
I do not disagree that Jinli is very commercial and should not be consider as an authentic Chinese old town, but for Jinli’s ease of access and the varieties of experience it offers, in my opinion, it is definitely worth a visit. It does have a certain charm to it.
Reasons To Visit Jinli
- Ease of access – it is in the heart of downtown Chengdu
- The Qing Dynasty old town feeling
- Heaven for buying souvenirs – hundreds of shops and vendors
- Amazing varieties of Chengdu cuisine and “small-bites” under one location
- Fun nightlife
Reasons To Avoid Jinli
- Always busy and crowded
- The prices are indeed higher – as expected being a tourist attraction
- It is not a real old town, it is a replica – They did a very good job on the replication though
Lumaca Moderno recommendation: Recommended.