A Quick Guide to Chengdu

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The pace of life in Chengdu is considerably slower compared to other major Chinese cities. Whether leisurely slurping up noodles at the outdoor restaurant, or playing an enticing game of mahjong at the teahouse or the park, the locals here seem to have mastered the art of relaxation. A few tips gleaned from my lovely stay.

STAY

Chengdu Mix Hostel Backpackers

This is one of those hostels that upon walking in you are greeted by smiling and friendly staff who speak superb English and are eager to provide you with a handy drawn map of the area in which they have highlighted what to do, see and eat within the vicinity. Now, that’s what I call service. I can’t rave enough about how helpful, informative and overall warm the staff was. To boot, the decor and vibe of the place was quirky, cozy and youthful. And, they had a restaurant in which lovely aunties and grandmas cooked up some delicious [and very affordable] local grub. Probably one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in.
 

DO

Panda Base

Chengdu is panda country and a visit here warrants checking out the adorable furry animals that love to laze atop trees and munch on bamboo all day long. Spend a few hours at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to learn about the history of pandas, the work they do at the base, and obviously to fall in love with pandas. Make sure you get there early to avoid the crowds.

Wangjiang Pavilion Park

Glimpse into the laid-back Chengdu lifestyle at this park. Here, you will find plenty of people spending endless hours at the teahouse playing mahjong, a traditional Chinese board game made up tiles, or cards. You may also stumble upon people practicing tai chi or kung fu.

Wukuaishi Tea Market

If you’re in need of souvenirs, head over to this market for high-quality tea. I bought some here and had the intention of gifting it, but after tasting it, I decided to gift it to myself. I recommend getting a couple bags, just in case.

 


If you’re in need of souvenirs, head over to this market for high-quality tea.


SEE

Wenshu Monastery

This monastery is conveniently located five minutes away from Mix Hostel. I found the architecture of the structures to be more dramatic than Korean temples. My favorite part was the garden, boasting ponds full of koi, pagodas and sculpted rocks.

Jinli Folk Street

Go here at night to appreciate the plethora of lanterns lighting up the street and architecture of the buildings, in the style of the Qing Dynasty. If you can resist the temptation, avoid shopping for souvenirs or drinking at the bars. Mostly everything is overpriced as this is a very popular – rightly so – destination for tourists.

EAT

Hot Pot

This lesser Chinese metropolis is located in the Western province of Sichuan, known for its spicy cuisine. If you make it to Chengdu, you must try hot pota simmering hot soup where ingredients (sliced meat, seafood, vegetables, etc.) are cooked by dunking into the broth. Do yourself a favor and order the mild version. From personal experience, the ‘spicy’ level isn’t apt for human consumption.

Aidao Nunnery

Make sure you make it to this donation-based vegan lunch (5RMB is acceptable) cooked by the nuns living at the facility. It’s like Korean temple food, but a lot better. It’s served every day at 11:40 am, don’t be late.

Street Food

Eat the buns, the noodles, the soups, the pastries. It’s all amazing and so affordable!

Eat the buns, the noodles, the soups, the pastries. It’s all amazing and so affordable!

DRINK  

Tea

It’s no secret China produces top-notch green tea. Go into one of the many teahouses to enjoy a jasmine blend, or any other you fancy.

Baiju

This is a traditional Chinese liquor made from grain with a range of alcohol between 40% and 60%. It’s clear and usually made from sorghum, but the ingredients vary from region to region. Use moderation when drinking, it’s very strong.

Bookworm

This posh bar full of books serves some mean cocktails. It also has a great selection of wine and beers. This hip establishment is perfect for a date or to start off the night. It is conveniently located in one of Chengdu’s best nightlife districts.

Little Bar

If you’re looking for good craft beer and some live music, Little Bar is for you. We headed here after spending a bit too much time at Bookworm, which made us miss the music. As the name suggests, the place is little and cozy. For more space, head over to their second locationNew Little Barwhich is larger in size and music programming.

Written and photographed by Rocio Cadena – Read more from Rocio at http://www.thisisrocio.com/.

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