Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, is the most important city in South-West China, with a population over 11 million. Despite its size, it has retained a somewhat laid-back atmosphere, and its streets offer a lot of animation to be discovered, although the old quarters have entirely disappeared. There is distinctively spicy foods, and a local opera tradition well alive for several centuries, where the colorful performances feature dancing and acrobatics besides singing. Outside the city, the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base is a good place to observe the extremely endangered and elusive animals in a semi-natural environment.
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