Chengde China is mostly known for its imperial resorts. It was a tiny, unremarkable city for hundreds of years—until the eighteenth century, which oversaw the town's transformation from sleepy backwater burg into the an overwhelming expanse of regal gardens, palace walls and ceremonial buildings. Now, easily connected to Beijing by both rail and road (and only 150 miles away), Chengde China is a major tourist destination, offering visitors a rare glimpse into the royal lifestyles of emperors past. The town itself is largely undisturbed by tourism - it's the palaces in the mountain that do the work of attracting travelers.
The entirety of the Chengde Imperial Palace measures well over two square miles and includes 110 buildings with over one million square feet of floor space. Amongst these, you will find the largest intact garden and palace wall is the entirety of China. In contrast, you will also find the shortest river in the world, the Rehe, merely nine miles long, with a large portion of the river completely enveloped by the resort's gardens.
The imperial palace, also known as the Chengde Mountain Resort itself is split into two distinct areas, the sweeping summer palace, and the surrounding scenic area. The Chengde Summer Palace is where the emperors handled state affairs and presided over banquets and festivals. But the real beauty is found in the scenic area, which includes the popular lake district, plains district and the mountainous district. The lake district is home to a collection of fishing villages and the popular Rehe springs. The plains district is a model of Mongolian grasslands and the mountainous district features hundreds of yards of dense green forests.
The Chengde Mountain Resort is renowned for its many architectural styles, and the way they blend seamlessly with the gardens and other aspects of the landscape. Serene lakes and demure pastures casually intertwine themselves with the pagodas, temples and the palaces. Though the Chengde Mountain Resort was an amazing undertaking during construction, the plans were hardly original. Almost all of the most famous gardens within the estate are copied from gardens found in Southern China, primarily those located in the Jiangsu province and Shanhaiguan. The mountain resort lists 72 scenic areas, each with a cavalcade of approaching tourists and mystical sounding names - for instance, the Green Lotus Island or Tower of Mist and Rain.
To the northeast of the walls of the Chengde Summer Palace, you will find the Eight Outer Temples, each built in a way that drew on the architectural styles of ethnic groups such as Mongolian, Tibetan and Ugyur. Even here, many of the most famous landmarks are homages to other important Chinese landmarks. The Hall of Brightness in one of the main temples is a complex recreation of a section in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, while another of the temples is modeled after the Potala Palace in Lhasa.