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  • Writer's pictureDustin Chen

Chengdu- A Hip City for Your Next Trip

American Boy Gavin Thomas has gained popularity in China since 2014 with his classic “professional fake smile” memes and the popularity never ceases as netizens of China has created memes out of his video resources to express basically every emotion. He appears in every online conversation and he is loved by everyone in China of all ages. Young ladies called him “little son” dearly even though they never met the boy living on the other side of Pacific Ocean. The situation has changed lately as the most familiar stranger “fake smile meme boy” embarked on China to meet his fans in tens of millions. It’s not a red-carpet kind of meeting, instead, invited by Chinese fashion brand Peace Bird, Gavin, and his parents had a tour in two cities of China, Beijing, and Chengdu. And their journey was covered by GQ Magazine China and delivered to his fans online. There are a lot of stories to tell behind this. But wait, of the two cities Gavin visited, Beijing and what? The little-known city is clearly not on most people’s radar. After all, when people think of cities of China, they would think of Shanghai and Beijing? But why Chengdu? What’s cool in Chengdu? This is what we are going to explore.

Imperial Fake Smile-Gavin viisting the Forbidden City

Gavin in Chengdu

“Hometown of Panda”

The reason is simple. Gavin visited Chengdu for the sole purpose of pandas. China is home to panda, but wild pandas are only found in the province where Chengdu serves as the capital city, Sichuan province (and its neighboring province Shaanxi). Of course, Gavin was not going to see wild pandas in the wild. This won’t happen due to the rare existent of the creature. Pandas are not animals like kangaroos that you can easily spot in wild or in your backyard. However, due to the geography distance with the wild habitat of giant pandas, a lot of reservations for giant pandas were established in and around Chengdu. Only in these reservation centers, visitors are able to see a large number of pandas, in all age, in all condition. Those are the only and true places packed with so much cuteness that you can’t handle. It’s a paradise of cuteness. However, Chengdu is more about panda, it is merging destination for visitors from all over the world, according to a story covered by :

Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, is having a massive popularity moment at the moment, according to new data from

The booking agency has looked at emerging destinations that are seeing huge growth in search numbers and Chengdu — despite having an overall popularity ranking for Australian travelers of 130 — has come out on top, with year-on-year growth of 133 percent.

Panda in Wild

Pandas in a research center

Chengdu-Chill and Hot

Chill and hot are words occur when people talk about Chengdu. The antonyms coexist perfectly. Chill refers to its lifestyle. The city is known for its lush and relaxed vibe. Even the government brand the city as “the capital of relaxation”. The city has the largest number of tea houses, Karaoke Venues (it serve the function of bar and nightclub in China) and bookstores etc. in the country. The city is also an artsy city for independent music, cafés and bars and people’s favors of live music have fostered dozens of independent singers gain fame all over the country. Another factor that determines the city’s relaxation vibe is its proximity to nature. Surrounded by mountains, nature is easily accessible from urban. Around Chengdu, there are Qingcheng Mount, Emei Mount, Gongga Mount and many others that can be counted as nature wonders kind of place to go. In fact, Chengdu is the largest city in the world that people can see the snow-capped mountain in the urban area(well, on a clear day).

Hot, on the other hands, refers to its food. The prides itself on its super-spicy cuisine. The numbing and spicy hotpot is the food style that represents the city. From hawker food to barbecue to traditional restaurants to fine dining, they all serve super spicy cuisine, For those who love spicy food, you are home here. For those who don’t, you will be starved and can only feed yourselves with McDonald(like me).

Without a doubt, Chengdu is a city with its own style and charm. Here let’s explore more cool things to do.



Selfie with Curious Baby

Besides you can have close contacts with pandas in the panda reservation center in the suburb area of China, you can also have a selfie with GIANT panda in the heart of downtown. See below

The public artwork by Lawrence Argent is called “I am here”. The panda went viral in China and everyone wants to visit him and take a selfie with him. They called him "curious baby"People do curious what this panda want to do though, why he left his habitat and appear in the concrete jungle, where is he going? What is here going to do? His Creator Lawrence Argent said the installment make us think on our existent and reflect on the city development…Indeed, come on and discover!

Tai Chi at Qingyang Palace

Qingyang Palace, aka Qing Yang Gong, is one of the most famous Taoist temples in China

Qingyang Palace was originally built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a period when Taoism was flourishing. The site is now one of the landmarks of Chengdu because of its magnificent architecture and historical value. Taoism is an ancient tradition of philosophy and religious belief that is deeply rooted in Chinese customs and worldview. Taoism is about the Tao. This is usually translated as the Way. But it's hard to say exactly what this means. The Tao is the ultimate creative principle of the universe. All things are unified and connected to the Tao. There are a lot of images and ideas originating from Taoism that are familiar to the western world, such as “Ying Yang”, Eight Trigrams, and Tai Chi.

There is no better way to dedicate to the philosophy with the practice of Taichi at the Taoism Palace!

Qingyang Palace

Drink Tea as Local

Like I mentioned before, Chengdu is known for its relaxation vibe. One example is that tea appreciation culture of the citizens here, Traditionally, folks drink teas at riverbanks and parks. Here, for around ¥20 (US$3.25), you can spend a whole day drinking tea and playing mah-jong, with lunch included. Some of these will also allow you to bring your own tea, in which case you will only be charged around RMB$2 (US$0.30) for hot water. A service charge or tip is rarely required. These century-old spots are most pleasant for whiling away an afternoon with a bottomless cup of tea. Neat tea-pouring performances can also be found. A culture shock might occur here for westerners, as ear picking services are common in traditional teahouses. Ear-picking is an ancient practice still alive in Chengdu, a joy to local residents and an extraordinary experience to many visitors to the city. Well, will you give it a try?

Stay in the classy Temple House and Explore Tai Koo Li.

As stated in its official website, the Temple house is “an enthralling and vibrant hotel in Chengdu, The Temple House celebrates a city with a rich and fabled past and an extremely exciting future. From first steps through a historic courtyard building to the elegant modern design of our hotel rooms and residences centered around gentle hills concealing a subterranean world, The Temple House is an engaging journey.” The hotel is found within a 1,000-year-old complex that was once one of China’s most famous monasteries. You can still visit the historical Daci Temple there today. The hotel blending China’s storied past and its future ambitions and decorated with a large collection of contemporary art has become the hottest hotel in town since its open in 2015. The area around, Tai Koo Li is open-plan, low-rise and lane-driven shopping precinct. Allied with art installment, fine dining, and luxury store, this is the trendiest spot in Chengdu.

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