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Why do you like Chengdu?


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Hello everyone,

It looks like I will be coming to Chengdu a bit later this year to work. I would have preferred Beijing or Shanghai, but this is the way things have worked out. That said, I have nothing against Chengdu, it just never stood out as a city that I would have sought to live in. No doubt I'll enjoy it once I get there and have had an opportunity to discover its charm, but for the moment I'm still unsure of what that charm might be. So my question is for those of you that love Chengdu and especially those of you that have deliberately chosen to live in Chengdu. Why do you like Chengdu and why would you prefer to live there rather than in say Beijing or Shanghai?



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Hm, I'v been to Beijing, Xian, Hangzhou, and Shanghai to visit. My main problem with all the main popular cities is that they're all super super busy and they're all really Americanized. The week I spent in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai, you didn't even have to speak Chinese to get around. Hell, I felt that at times I was annoying them by trying to speak in Chinese because they knew English so much better than I knew Chinese. I'm in China to learn the language so being in a city like Chengdu where almost no one speaks English is a much more immersive experience. Not only that but everyone in Beijing and Shanghai are always busy and you just feel like another drop in the bucket whereas in Chengdu, people are almost always amazed to see a foreigner and always free to chat or help you out. This is a largely biased opinion but based on my experience, Chengdu people are the nicest people I have ever met.

Also, everything in Beijing and Shanghai are way way more expensive. I couldn't believe that my cab rides in Shanghai and Beijing were almost always 30-40kuai average compared to in Chengdu where I pay an average of 10-16kuai. Also, I can't even count the number of times people tried to rip me off in Beijing and Shanghai whereas in Chengdu, I have been living here for over 6 months and have yet to have someone even try to rip me off.

I guess I just love Chengdu so much more because the lifestyle is much calmer, the people are more inviting, and it's a more immersive, cultural experience. My time in Shanghai and Beijing almost felt like I was back in the US which I guess isn't too bad if you're looking for a western lifestyle with a Chinese twist. My study abroad program has programs set up all throughout the world including Spain, Shanghai, England, Scottland, Chile, Cuba, etc., and Chengdu is the number one city for program extensions/return students.

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I agree with jmido8 that Chengdu is relaxed. A bit too relaxed sometimes. People work from 8:30 / 9ish to 18:00-ish

There aren't many hawkers (selling on the street) , people in shops don't really put pressure on you to buy etc.

The weather though is worse. In the winter it cools down to say 2-5 degrees C and since there is no indoor heating (except airconditioning that gives really dry air) it can feel pretty cold and damp. The humidity can be 80% in winter making it feel even colder than Beijing even though it might snow and freeze there 5 degrees C zero.

Currently they are reconstructing the 2nd ringroad. It's a mess. Transport is difficult, less (or no empty!) taxis at rushhour, busses are slow, crossroads are congested. Metro works fine, but there are just 2 lines (North-South and West-East) also the connection from Metro to busses isn't great. Especially if you work in the Hitech zone in the south.

Food is ok-ish, but not that much quality choice if you like to eat western often. The best western-alike restaurant (imho) is Prince Steak in the city centre (inside Carrefour building, next to the Yanlord landmark at ren min nan lu). Grandma's Kitchen (2 locations at least, one is on ke hua bei lu at the Carribean Plaza with a handful of western bars) is ok, but was better 2 yrs ago. Peter's Tex Mex has become 'a lot of mediocre semi mexican/us style for certainly not low prices'. Yet you can have tortillas, chili con carne, mexican beer and quite some meat there. Pizza varies, I haven't visited a good one yet. Japanese / sushi is not spectacular , but there are some formula restaurants that offer like 150 rmb for an all you can eat lunch ( at chun xi lu, entrance where the taxis make an organised u-turn to pick up customers). The place is 2nd floor.

In Tong Zi Lin area (south in Chengdu) there are way more modern restaurants but almost non can be called authentic. It's often lookalike western food and sometimes it's spot on and sometimes just bad. Some pizzerias have been here too long and changed their formulas (and ingredients) too much to be called western-taste. The price should be ok for everyone coming from overseas and Beijing/Shanghai but it just isn't great.

The local food is hot pot. A table with a hole in the middle , a burner and big pot of soup or oil (spicy or non spicy). And then you dip vegetables, mushrooms, small pieces of meat, heads of rabbit, whatever, in it until it's done and eat it. It is more a social than a culinar (sorry to say) experience, but with friends and a beer it can be fun.

Again in winter be careful where to eat else you might want to keep your coat on (local custom) unless you want to freeze to death. In summer they don't always close doors (not efficient to keep things cool).

I've been in CD now for 3 years (came from europe) and I do notice it is getting more 'western' but in a bad way. Too many Flashy Shoppingmalls that seel you overpriced unknown local brands or western brands for 25% or higher prices than in EU or US. Those things don't help the locals ; everything gets more expensive, especially houses, rent, food etc. Cars already got limited now ; some cannot enter the city from 3rd ringroad on certain days of the week. That means if you live outside the 3rd ringroad (a lot do) and you were depending on your car that you are now fcked. Either buy another one with another licenseplate to carpool with yourself or hope that you have a collegue that is living close. Busses will do too but it will feel like a serious stepback for a CD citizen after he got a car to have to rely on a bus once a week (for example).

Business wise Chengdu is growing like crazy (lots of investments) but I don't always feel those opportunities are for all westerns here. The university schooled young people (20-30) speak English reasonable but you will find several that can't or don't want to speak. It depends a bit in which sector. IT probably is ok, but it won't be as comfortable as in Beijing or Shanghai.

CD could also use a bit more metro lines to be able to move during rushhours , but again , what is called rushhour in CD is probably a normal busy hour at some time of the day in SH and BJ.

Feel free to ask more.

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Instead of starting a new topic i will borrow this one i hope its ok? :D


Before i move to Beijing i will be in Chengdu for about three weeks, for one simple reason, i've never been there. I've been to other parts and cities in China but never in Chengdu. I heard alot of great things about it so i hope it will exceed my expectations. But back to the question in hand. I guess there are many expats/students/locals from CD reading this section so is there anyone who would like to catch up and show me around? :lol:

Go out for a beer (are you lucky i may have som Swedish beer with me), grab a dinner, go to a club or something like that.


I'm an easygoing male turning 30 the 11th of january (but look like 23, babyface :shock: ), like to meet new people and socialise. I arrive in Chengdu 14th of january so anytime after that im avaliable. Send me a PM or replay to this post!

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As the others highlighted, the lifestyle is the biggest difference. Chengdu is very relaxed, you can see a lot of people drinking tea and playing mahjong in the afternoon, during nighttime the streets are full of life, people chat, drink, eat on the street. Shanghai and Beijing are much busier, you always have to rush somewhere and the pressure is greater on you in every aspect of life I guess.

I also realized that people from Sichuan and Chongqing are much more funnier and also nicer to you than in Beijing and Shanghai. Of course it depends on your Chinese level, but networking with others in Chengdu seems super easy compared to the other two cities, both online and offline.

The others didn't mention it, but the girls in Chengdu are the hottest ones in China, I don't know whether or not you are interested in romantic relationships during your stay there, but if you are, then it is the best place to meet some nice girls :)

I really envy you, I also plan to work in Chengdu, but I will probably end up in Beijing or Shanghai if so. Shanghai is OK, but Beijing is like hell for me, that city is not meant for living in, that is sure.

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I had the best burger I've ever had in Chengdu!

There is a cafe/restaurant/bookstore place owned by an American Chinese guy (New Yorker i believe). I went with a friend who lives out there. It might have been the best partly because it was so completely unexpected to get a burger that good!! I don't know the name of the place though.

I was there for a week and found Chengdu very very liveable. Big but not too big, bus system is easy to navigate, nice tea houses, enough cafes, good sights, people generally friendly.

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