9 reasons to visit Chengdu when China reopens

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(CNN) – While China has not yet announced solid plans to reopen its border to international leisure travelers, there is nothing wrong with starting to dream about your next visit now.

There are hundreds of worthy destinations in the country for all tastes. Undoubtedly, Chengdu appears, the capital of southwestern Sichuan Province and the perfect starting point for those looking for a mix of stunning natural scenery, wildlife, is the world capital of pandas, of course. and some of the most amazing foods on the planet.

In recent years, the city has expanded its offer, which includes a number of new projects that tourists will want to experience, such as a striking new international airport and various architectural wonders.

Whether you’re traveling for business or just dreaming of a post-pandemic trip, here are nine reasons why Chengdu should be part of your itinerary when China reopens the world.

It is the happiest city in China

Chengdu has been voted the happiest city in China for 12 consecutive years.

Chengdu has been voted the happiest city in China for 12 consecutive years.

Li Mengxin / Xinhua / Getty Images

If visiting a place with happy local people is a priority for you, there is no better city to visit than Chengdu.

Chengdu has been voted China’s happiest city for 12 consecutive years by an annual poll conducted by Oriental Outlook, a Shanghai-based magazine affiliated with the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The results of the survey combine big data, questionnaires, site visits and expert opinions and take into account everything from medical income and services to city living standards.

Chengdu pandas are getting a great new home

The new panda pavilion at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base will open early next year.

The new panda pavilion at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base will open early next year.

Courtesy Atelier Ping Jiang / EID Arch

The home of the most adorable residents of Chengdu and the biggest attraction, the pandas, is getting a big update.

“We are very impressed with the natural environment of the place, surrounded by rolling hills and covered with dense green forests,” said Ping Jiang, the mastermind of the Panda Pavilions and design director of the Ping Jiang / EID Arch Workshop, during a interview. with CNN Travel about your site visit.

The light-filled, cedar-covered spaces are “inspired by the natural scenery of the Chengdu prairies” and “animal-friendly environment.”

Panda pavilions house bear indoor and outdoor activity spaces and living rooms, along with staff administrative offices and support facilities.

“In addition, the pavilions offer interactive exhibition and education spaces designated for panda research and preservation,” says Jiang.

It has one of the most beautiful bookstores in China

Chengu's impressive new Zhongsuge bookstore.

Chengu’s impressive new Zhongsuge bookstore.

Shao Feng

Shanghai-based Architecture Studio X + Living is known for building some of the most beautiful bookstores in China, and its latest opening in Chengdu is no exception.

The new location in Dujiangyan, 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 the terrace fields.

Inspired by the ancient Dujiangyan irrigation system, the oldest of its kind in the world, the whimsical new bookstore features walnut shelves meandering from floor to ceiling and high and low arches.

The mirror ceiling makes the hallways look like a kaleidoscope.

“Dujiangyan is a city with flowing scenery. The magnificent dam project and the magnificent mountains and waters have become the cultural landscape I want to express in Zhongshuge,” X + Living founder and chief designer told CNN Travel , Li Xiang.

“I hope the beautiful environment of the bookstore can attract more people who don’t love books, and arouse their interest and memory in reading.”

There is a spectacular new mega airport

Opened in early 2021, Tianfu International Airport is one of the largest new airports in China.

Opened in early 2021, Tianfu International Airport is one of the largest new airports in China.

VCG / Getty Images

Tianfu International Airport, which began operations in 2021, is the largest civilian airport to be opened as part of the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

With a total of six runways (only three have been completed as part of its first phase), the mega-airport is expected to reach up to 60 million passengers a year by 2025.

Travelers can experience a variety of cutting-edge technologies in Tianfu, such as facial recognition software, automatic check-in kiosks, and AI robot concierges.

The shopping and dining options are also amazing.

It is a world food capital

Freshwater noodles, a Chengdu specialty.

Freshwater noodles, a Chengdu specialty.

Adobe Stock

The first city to be certified as a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO in 2010, Chengdu’s gastronomic prowess is undeniable.

Many come to the capital of Sichuan for the spicy pots that numb the tongue, but the now famous tofu map also comes from here. The addictive dish of minced meat and diced tofu with hot chili and fermented bean oil is said to have been invented in Chengdu more than a century ago.

Meanwhile, Zhong dough balls (meatballs in a special chili oil and sugary soy sauce) and freshwater noodles with peppers and peanut crumbs are two other local dishes that visitors should try.

Don’t like spices?

Two other must-haves include smoked duck with sweet, crunchy skin and salted meat, and tofa, a silky, sweet tofu pudding with various add-ons.

The art scene takes off

The Chengdu Biennial will be held until April 6, 2022.

The Chengdu Biennial will be held until April 6, 2022.

Chengdu Biennial

Since the founding of the Blue Roof Artistic Center in 2003, a dissolved artists’ neighborhood, the city has become the capital of art and culture in the southwestern region of China.

Some of the most internationally recognized contemporary Chinese artists, such as Zhou Chunya and Zhang Xiaogang, are now studying in Chengdu.

This year, the Chengdu 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 Museum of Contemporary Art.

Both operated by Chengdu Art Academy, Tianfu Art Museum will focus on local arts, while Chengdu Museum of Contemporary Art will focus on forward-looking international work and promote the global development of Chengdu art scene.

The start of the inauguration of these events is the Chengdu Biennial (from now until April 6, 2022), which takes place inside the park and inside the two museums.

The city comes to life after dark

Chengdu's lively nightlife is one of the main attractions.

Chengdu’s lively nightlife is one of the main attractions.

Kiszon Pascal / Moment RF / Getty Images

But the city’s nightlife is more than just its famous pubs and live music venues and nightclubs.

Chengdu residents also enjoy a quiet night at a local tea house in an alley, sipping hot drinks and playing cards while watching Sichuan operas.

It is a window into ancient China

Beautiful Jinli Street is a 550-meter pedestrian road.

Beautiful Jinli Street is a 550-meter pedestrian road.

Getty Images

Chengdu may have only been on the international radar for a decade or two, but it has been a thriving city for more than 2,000 years. Curious fact: it claims to be the only city in China that has not changed its name for about 2,300 years.

To travel back in time to ancient China, visitors should head to Sino Ocean Taikoo Li. In the heart of the city, it is a multi-purpose shopping and shopping complex centered around the 1,400-year-old Dacian temple.

Many of the gray bricks and tile roofs of historic buildings have been restored, while the low-rise contemporary architecture integrates naturally with the surroundings.

And then there’s Bitieshi, a beautifully restored Qing Dynasty courtyard house (1644-1912) located inside the Temple House, a boutique hotel that pays homage to the area’s rich history.

To enjoy some classic flavors, Jinli Old Street, recently opened, is a 550-meter pedestrian street full of shops selling snacks.

With a history dating back 2,000 years, it was inspired by Qing dynasty architecture.

It is also a city focused on the future

Unicorn Island designed by Zaha Hadid.

Unicorn Island designed by Zaha Hadid.

VCG / Getty Images

There are plans to turn Chengdu into a “science city in western China,” 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-friendly and avant-garde architecture created by some of the world’s most renowned firms.

Among them is the world’s first “Unicorn Island,” a complex designed by Zaha Hadid dedicated to incubating the country’s next high-tech unicorns: more than $ 1 billion worth of private start-ups.

There will also be a low-carbon Future Science and Technology City, created by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture and Gerkan, Marg & Partners (GMP). Part of the Science City’s grand plan, the high-tech city will have an aviation academy, educational complexes, labs and a business center for innovative companies.
After marveling at modern architecture, take a walk on Chengdu’s fully automated subway line 9 and see the stations created by J&A and Sepanta Design, or board the futuristic glass-bottomed panda train.

Zhongtang Air Railway, the latter, debuted in June. The train, painted to look like a panda, has a transparent background and offers 270-degree visibility (the top is not transparent).

It is the world’s first energy tourism air rail test line (translation: an overhead rail train that uses lithium battery power packs for traction) and is about 11.5 kilometers (about 7 miles) of length.

Top Image Credit: Philippe Lejeanvre / Moment RF / Getty Images

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