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How to Experience Local Life in Chengdu

Many Chinese people reckon Chengdu is one of the best cities for retirement in the whole country. Chengdu people have a genius for enjoying life.

Arriving in this city, you might wonder how it can be that a breakfast shop owner opens his business after 9 am just because he can’t get up on time, and closes at 3 pm for he thinks he has already earned enough…

1. Morning/Afternoon Tea in People’s Park

Experience Morning Tea with Locals

Experience Morning Tea with Locals

Teahouses to Chengdu are what cafes are to Paris. Among the city’s numerous teahouses, Heming Teahouse in People’s Park is perhaps the most representative.

Built on the long corridor and packed with bamboo chairs and tables, Heming offers unlimited refills at a reasonable price and is a good meeting place for the leisure and entertainment of citizens.

People sit in groups of three or four, some sipping tea, others gossiping, playing mahjong, or painting… Whiling away time in a teahouse is a local routine, even on weekdays.

  • Please feel free to contact us and add the teahouse experience to your private Chengdu trip.

2. Sichuan Opera at Shu Feng Ya Yun

Fire Spitting Show

Fire Spitting Show

Sichuan opera is an important subset of Chinese opera. People from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, like to watch Sichuan opera while drinking tea.

Shu Feng Ya Yun (蜀风雅韵) is a great theatre for experiencing this traditional Chengdu entertainment. In addition to opera, you can admire its unique face-changing, fire-breathing, shadow-puppetry and other folk-shows, with free tea and snacks in hand.

3. Panda Time!

Panda Time

Panda Time

Giant pandas are not only national treasures of China, but also living icons of Chengdu. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a must-see for visiting families.

Located 6 miles north of Chengdu, the Panda Base is home to giant pandas, red (or lesser) pandas, and other endangered species.

You can visit the nursery to see the highly successful breeding program, among bamboo groves and shady walkways, and to view how these fluffy pandas eat, play and sleep. The Base is viewed as a holy land among panda fans.

4. Nightlife at a Ballad Music Pub

Music Pub

Music Pub

In Chengdu, if teahouses are a camp for middle-aged and elderly people, then pubs are a fairyland for young people who love music. The most distinctive feature of Chengdu-style bars is that they pay more attention to a lazy atmosphere with smoothing music than to alcohol.

A singer or band sings and plays on the small stage, while you shake your glass lightly and listen quietly to the music. It would be a pity if you came to Chengdu and didn’t experience such pleasure.

Recommended pubs: Music House, Macho Picchu Bar, Jia (家) Bar

5. Authentic Sichuan Cuisine

Chengdu Hotpot

Chengdu Hotpot

Chengdu is officially recognized by UNESCO as a “City of Gastronomy”. Those who like spicy or numbing food will have opportunity to appreciate some of the spiciest dishes in China. As a subset of Sichuan cuisine, Chengdu food also features cautious juxtaposition of audacity and delicacy, in its dishes, snacks, hotpot and banquets.

Must-try food in Chengdu includes hotpot, husband and wife lung slices, water-boiled beef, diced duck blood, Sichuan wonton (long chao shou), dan dan noodles, bean jelly, and chuan chuan xiang. The city is filled with mouthwatering cuisine. In case the food tastes bad, the only reason is that you don’t eat spicy food!

Recommended restaurants: Xiaotan Bean Jelly in West Main Street (小谭豆花), Long Chao Shou (龍抄手), Shu Jiu Xiang (蜀九香) Hotpot, Chen Mapo Tofu, Shunxing Old Teahouse (顺兴老茶馆)

6. Prayers at Religious Sites

Offering Incense at Qingyang Temple

Offering Incense at Qingyang Temple

Buddhist and Taoist temples represent religious culture and people’s reverence of the gods. Chengdu is the heart of Bashu culture, and is home to many religious sites. The most popular among locals are Qingyang Palace and Wenshu Monastery.

Qingyang Palace Temple: the largest Taoist temple in Southeast China. This is the place where Laozi preached the famous Dao De Jing to his disciple, Ying Xi.

Wenshu Monastery: the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu. Initially built during Tang dynasty (618–907), its history dates back 1,300 years.

There are teahouses and vegetarian restaurants in both temple areas. It is routine for Chengdu people to while away the rest of the day at a teahouse, after offering incense and saying prayers to the gods.

144-Hour Visa-Free Transit in Chengdu

Since January 1, 2019, Chengdu has been one of the cities in China that offers 144-hour visa-free transit service, which means you can stay in Chengdu for up to 144 hours (6 days) without applying for a Chinese travel visa to experience local culture and life. See details on Visa-Free Transit in China for Up to 144 Hours.

Experience Local Life in Chengdu with China Travel

Our Customers in Chengdu

Our Customers in Chengdu

Believe it or not, you are not likely to experience much local life if you tour Chengdu without a local guide. The tour packages below, including pick-up service and English-speaking tour guides, are examples for your inspiration: