9 reasons to visit Chengdu when China reopens
(CNN) – While China still hasn’t announced any solid plans to reopen its border to international leisure travelers, there’s no harm in starting to dream about your next visit now.
There are hundreds of worthy destinations in the country to suit all tastes. Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Sichuan province and the ideal starting point for those looking for a mix of stunning natural landscapes and wild animals – it is the pandas capital of the world, of course – no doubt appears. at the top of this list. and some of the most amazing foods on the planet.
In recent years, the city has expanded its offering, which includes a number of new projects that tourists will want to experience, including a flashy new international airport and several architectural wonders.
It is the happiest city in China
Chengdu has been voted China’s happiest city for 12 consecutive years.
Li Mengxin / Xinhua / Getty Images
If visiting a place with happy locals is a priority for you, there is no better city than Chengdu.
Chengdu pandas have a cool new home
The new panda pavilion at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base will open early next year.
Courtesy of Atelier Ping Jiang / EID Arch
The home of Chengdu’s cutest residents and biggest attraction – the pandas – is getting a major upgrade.
The cedar-covered and light-flooded spaces are “inspired by the natural landscape of the Chengdu grasslands” and “an animal-friendly environment”.
Panda Pavilions house the bear’s indoor and outdoor activity spaces and living quarters, as well as staff administrative offices and support facilities.
“In addition, the pavilions provide interactive exhibition and education spaces for panda research and preservation,” Jiang said.
There is one of the most beautiful bookstores in China
The stunning new Zhongsuge bookstore in Chengu.
The new location in Dujiangyan, in the northwestern part of Chengdu, is the second Zhongshuge bookstore in the provincial capital. The first, which opened in 2017 in central Chengdu, is inspired by terraced fields.
Inspired by the old Dujiangyan irrigation system – the oldest of its kind in the world – the whimsical new bookstore features sinuous walnut shelves from floor to ceiling and high and low arches.
The mirrored ceiling makes the hallways look like a kaleidoscope.
“Dujiangyan is a city of flowing landscapes. The magnificent dam project and the magnificent mountains and waters have become the cultural landscape that I want to express in Zhongshuge,” X + Living founder and chief designer Li told CNN Travel. Xiang.
“I hope that the beautiful environment of the bookstore can attract more people who do not like books and awaken their interest and memory for reading.”
There is a spectacular new mega airport
Opened earlier in 2021, Tianfu International Airport is one of the largest new airports in China.
VCG / Getty Images
With a total of six runways (only three were completed as part of its first phase), the mega airport is expected to handle up to 60 million passengers per year by 2025.
Travelers can experience an array of cutting-edge technologies in Tianfu, including facial recognition software, self-check-in kiosks, and AI robot concierges.
The shopping and dining options are also amazing.
It is a food capital of the world
Freshwater noodles, a specialty of Chengdu.
The first city to be certified as a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2010, Chengdu’s gastronomic prowess is undeniable.
Many flock to the capital of Sichuan for the spicy hotpot that numbs the tongue, but the now famous mapo tofu also comes from here. The addicting dish of minced meat and diced tofu in spicy chili and fermented bean oil is said to have been invented in Chengdu over a century ago.
Meanwhile, Zhong dumplings (meatballs in special chili oil and sweet soy sauce) and freshwater noodles with chili peppers and peanut crumbs are two other local dishes that visitors should try. .
You don’t like spices?
Two other must-haves include the smoked duck with a soft, crispy skin and flavorful meat, and the tofa – a silky, sweet tofu pudding with various toppings.
The art scene takes off
The Chengdu Biennale runs until April 6, 2022.
Since the founding of the Blue Roof Artistic Center in 2003, a disbanded artist district, the city has grown into the art and culture capital of the southwest region of China.
Some of the most internationally renowned contemporary Chinese artists, such as Zhou Chunya and Zhang Xiaogang, now have studios in Chengdu.
This year, Chengdu’s art scene will receive another major boost.
The 400,000-square-meter Tianfu Art Park, an art-themed urban park in central Chengdu, will open with two new museums: the Chengdu Tianfu Art Museum and the Chengdu Tianfu Museum. contemporary art from Chengdu.
Both managed by the Chengdu Art Academy, the Tianfu Art Museum will focus on local arts while the Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art will emphasize avant-garde international work and promote the global development of Chengdu’s art scene.
The city comes alive after dark
Chengdu’s vibrant nightlife is one of its biggest attractions.
Kiszon Pascal / Moment RF / Getty Images
But the city’s nightlife isn’t just about its famous pub crawls, concert halls and night clubs.
Chengdu residents also enjoy a leisurely evening at a local alleyway teahouse, sipping hot drinks and playing cards while watching Sichuan operas.
It’s a window on ancient China
Pretty Jinli Street is a 550-meter pedestrian street.
To travel back in time to ancient China, visitors should head to Sino Ocean Taikoo Li. Right in the heart of the city, it’s a multi-purpose shopping and retail complex centered around the 1-year-old Daci Temple. 400 years.
Most of the gray bricks and tiled roofs of the historic buildings have been restored while the contemporary low-rise architecture naturally blends into the surroundings.
For some classic flavors, the recently opened Jinli Ancient Street is a 550-meter pedestrian street filled with shops selling snacks.
With a history stretching back 2,000 years, it was modeled on the architecture of the Qing Dynasty.
It is also a city turned towards the future
Unicorn Island designed by Zaha Hadid.
VCG / Getty Images
There are plans to make Chengdu a “Western China Science City,” a leading demonstration area for innovation and entrepreneurship in China, according to a government statement.
Travelers visiting the “City of Science” can expect to see many examples of eco-conscious and avant-garde architecture created by some of the world’s most renowned companies.
Among these is the world’s first “unicorn island”, a complex designed by Zaha Hadid and dedicated to incubating the country’s next high-tech unicorns, private start-ups valued at over one billion dollars. dollars.
Zhongtang Air Railway, the latter, debuted in June. The train, painted to look like a panda, has a transparent bottom and offers 270 degree visibility (the top is not transparent).
It is the world’s first overhead rail test line for energy tourism (translation: a suspended overhead train using lithium battery power packs for pulling power) and measures approximately 11.5 kilometers (about 7 miles).
Top image credit: Philippe Lejeanvre / Moment RF / Getty Images