The story appears on

Page A8-9

July 22, 2020

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Great food and music. What more could a traveler want?

AS summer approaches, the daytime in Chengdu gets longer and you can enjoy daylight until 8:30pm. You can wake up at noon and still have a whole day ahead of you. When the sun sets, this dynamic capital of Sichuan Province will reveal another side of its slow life.

This is what the award-winning song “Chengdu,” written by Chinese singer Zhao Lei, is about. It reflects the feeling of many visitors to the city proud of its slower, relaxed lifestyle. The voice and tune can still be heard from time to time when you walk through the back alleys in the city.

Music plays a key role in the urban life in Chengdu. It is the heartbeat of the city and can leave a lasting impression on its visitors.

To hear that heartbeat, head for Kuanzhai Alley, where street musicians perform with guitars and African drums among favored instruments. Many passers-by stop to listen, often taking photos for their social media feeds.

As you wander around, you come across teahouses staging Sichuan Opera. In 2006, this opera genre was designated an artform of national intangible cultural heritage. Besides its rich melodies and unique performing styles, Sichuan Opera is famous for its mask-changing, known as bianlian in Chinese.

The practice involves the wiping, blowing and pulling of masks. The latter is the most complicated one. A performer may change more than 10 masks in 20 seconds. The magic happens between movements of raising a hand, swinging a sleeve or tossing the head.

The opera is staged in teahouses in Chengdu, where tea is served in small lidded bowls called gaiwan.

As Zhao Lei sings in “Chengdu:”


Join me in wandering around a city named Chengdu

Until all lights are off and we never stop.

You hold my arm

As I take your hand

Into my pocket

To walk til the end of Yulin Road.

And then, we take a seat

Just outside a bar.


There is no shortage of cafes and bars to fulfill those lyrics. In Chengdu, most cafes don’t open until 10am or noon and normally operate until midnight or later. When night falls, it’s time to sample an array of signature cocktails.

Mengzhuiwan is an area close to Sino-Ocean Taikoo Lee, a popular downtown shopping and dining area. Along Wangpingbinhe Road are many interesting cafes and bars serving coffee or alcoholic beverages.

ThePlace Café·Bar might easily catch your attention. Its façade, which looks like a site under construction, is an industrial design. Its array of cocktails includes passion fruit mojito, summer’s tea and a local version of classic Irish coffee.

Not far from Mengzhuiwan, by one entrance of Taikoo Lee, is Another Space, a small yet characteristic bar that serves cocktails with interesting names and descriptions borrowed from song lyrics. The No Series includes 20 drinks called No Tears, No Waiting, No Regrets, No Hesitation, No Depression, No Stress, plus one personalized version. The last option is very useful if you just can’t make up your mind among so many choices.

As one example, the lyrics for No Waiting reads: “I had hoped you’d see my face and that you’d be reminded.” Yep, it’s from Adele’s famous song “Someone Like You.”

The cocktail features a small block of rock ice with shots of elderflower gin, rose syrup and a fragrant rosemary stick as decoration. The taste is as good as its presentation. And if you remove the ice block, the less-diluted version is even better!

Chengdu’s night market is a great way to spend the end of the day. Xiangxiang Alley near the Jinhe Bookstore is filled with restaurants, bars and desserts shops.

What would a city of music be without dancing?

Many shopping malls in Chengdu are home to dance studios. Some, like Sinostage and Hello Dance, are chain operations. It’s not hard to see groups of dancers, ranging from those who may have appeared on reality TV shows to rank beginners. It’s amusing to see people in their 40s and 50s learning hip hop.

Evenings, neighborhood residents often gather to dance in local parks. The popularity of dancing extends to other activities, such as skateboarding and plaza dancing. For instance, you may see dancers filming for their vlog feeds alongside groups doing plaza dancing. Every evening, skateboarders practice and perform in precision maneuvers in an area outside Taikoo Lee.

Places to go

• Cafes and bars

ThePlace Cafe·Bar

34 Wangpingbinhe Rd

Opening hours: 10:30am to 1am the following morning


Famous for its brunch-like toast and non-alcoholic drinks

26-27, 1/F, No. 49, Zhongxin Rd

Opening hours: 10:30am to 1am the following morning

Another Space

Address: No. 14-3 Yucheng St, close to Taikoo Lee

Opening hours: noon to 10pm

• Shopping

Taikoo Lee

8 Shamao St

IFS Chengdu

Duan 3, Hongxing Road Pedestrian St

Jihe Bookstore

4 Wangpingbinhe Rd

Opening hours: 10am-10pm

Foodie paradise

Finding great food is never a problem in Chengdu, capital of a province famous worldwide for its cuisine. Spicy Sichuan cuisine is renowned across the globe as one of the eight major cuisines of China. For those not fond of food that certainly awakens the senses, street snacks, fruit and other local specialties are everywhere.

With hundreds of eateries, coffee shops and teahouses to choose from, the hardest part is making up your mind. MXBC Tea (蜜雪冰城), a local brand established in 1997, is famous for its great value, where you can get soft ice cream in a cone for as cheap as 3 yuan (43 US cents). It actually tastes good! The brand now has over 10,000 stores across the country.

Sichuan hotpot and chuan chuan, a version where food is put on bamboo skewers that are dipped in a pot to cook, shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Chengdu. Dipping the cooked food in sesame oil helps dissipate that burning feeling.

The most adorable residents

Chengdu is home to giant pandas. To see them, head for the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, which has more than 100 pandas, from little cubs to adults.

The location is not far from the city center. Frequent shuttle bus services are available in several popular visitor areas, including Sino-Ocean Taikoo Lee Chengdu and Kuanzhai Alley.

Address: 1375 Panda Rd, northern suburb

Hours: 8:30am-17:00pm (last entry at 4pm)


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend