Although Chengde was always at the end of a long tour its gorgeous temples and wonderful Imperial Resort were a great reward for making the 3-4 hour journey north from Beijing.
Back in the Qing dynasty Chengde was developed as a summer getaway for the emperors, with a key part of the landscape the temples in the Tibetan, Han and Mongolian styles that sit on a ridge on the outskirts of town.
The Putao Zongchengzhi was built as a mini Potala Palace and is not only the biggest but also the most impressive. While the building may have been styled to mimic a legendary landmark I find the two to be extremely different in both look and feel – although you can certainly see the architectural similarities.
The Puning temple sits adjacent to Putao Zongchengzhi and contains a massive wooden statue of Guanyin.
Chengde is much more than temples though, the Imperial Summer Resort is a great place to explore in the early hours of the morning. The dawn lazily arrives revealing a spectacular landscape of pagodas, lakes and palace buildings, while dainty bridges emerge as ribbons of fog slowly lift. Parks in China are a fantastic place to be in the mornings and give you a real glimpse into the everyday lives of the locals.