Wealth of options

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2012, 12:00am


Chengdu is an easy city to live in. Its famous laid-back nature is on full display in the spring, when crowds of people head to the nearby countryside or fill the clubs and bars in the central business district and other parts of town. Others just amble about the city, stopping here and there to shop, grab a snack or watch the Fu Nan River flow by.

The nightlife has had some great new additions in recent years, notably the Lan Kwai Fong strip next to the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Chengdu. The strip hugs the river and meets up with another popular nightlife area, Binjiang Lu Bar Street.

The whole district - Lan Kwai Fong, Binjiang Lu and the Shangri-La complex - is full almost every night and definitely in the evenings at weekends. The Emperor club in Lan Kwai Fong anchors a dance scene that goes deep into the morning. The bars along Binjiang Lu cater to quieter crowds who would rather sit outside, while the Shangri-La complex has high-end restaurants and lounges and the popular Mooney's Bar, a live music venue with an international clientele.

This new district competes with the established Jiuyanqiao Bar Street further east and the bar scene in the south of the city. The south-side bars tend to be quite international in nature. The Leg and Whistle, Paname and the Shamrock all have mixed crowds, while nearby discos and dance clubs are augmented by first-floor barbecue and snack shops.

Kehua Road North and the Second Ring Road intersection are lively at night due to the student population pouring out of Sichuan University's south gate to join older night owls who also head there at weekends. Even famous tourist locations are nightlife hubs in Chengdu. Jinli Street, next to the landmark Wuhouci Temple, is abuzz all day and into the evening with snackers and shoppers. When night falls, small lounges and bars take over and couples stroll through the beautiful grounds around Jinli and Wuhouci, taking in the plum blossoms and feeding black swans.

Another great location for weekend fun is San Sheng Xiang, or Flower Town, where locals go to buy flowers, let the children run around and have a home-cooked meal. Chengdunese love to take day trips to Flower Town, Dujiangyan, Luodai Old Town or the Wenjiang Green Belt and then return to the city for the nightlife along the river or in one of the more popular bars and clubs scattered across town.

The great advantage Chengdu has over many other cities is that it offers visitors the chance to take these day trips and enjoy the lush beauty of the Sichuan landscape while still being able to enjoy a cosmopolitan nightlife. It has more than enough options to satisfy China's diversifying middle class and the growing international crowd.