Chengdu is best known for its pandas, pretty ladies and being a Unesco City of Gastronomy , but it also surprised many this week when it was named the most successful economy of any mainland Chinese city. The city in the southwest province of Sichuan has spectacular job and wage growth that saw it beat Shanghai and the capital Beijing hands down in the rankings compiled by US think thank, Milken Institute . READ MORE: Sorry, Shanghai: A city known for its pandas and pretty women has the best economy in China, says US think tank So what else does this city have to offer? Here's eight reasons to cancel your trip to Shanghai and head to Chengdu instead: Watch: How adorable are these pandas at the Chengdu Research Base? Pandas These adorable black-and-white celebrities are undoubtedly the biggest draw to Chengdu for tourists. The city is the closest to the centre of the panda’s natural habitat. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is one of four facilities helping to boost panda population. Because panda mating can be inconsistent and fragile with low reproductive rates, breeding centres coax their population through artificial reproduction procedures. The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has the world’s largest captive population with 146 pandas, so there's plenty for everyone to “ooh” and “aah” over. How can Shanghai compete with that? Tea culture With more than 6,000 teahouses Chengdu is one of the birthplaces of tea in China, so it's the best place in the country for a trip to a teahouse. Historically a place to relax, clean out your ears and gossip about Mao, Chengdu’s teahouses are a relic of Chinese tradition rarely found anywhere else. Tea culture is aplenty on Jinli Street in particular - an ancient pedestrian road the city has carefully preserved, lined with traditional-style buildings and lanterns. It’s also a great place to sample some local delicacies and find out why Chengdu became Asia’s first Unesco City of Gastronomy in 2010 . This is the place to loosen the belt and avoid at all cost on a diet. Spicy food, street skewers and numbingly spicy hot pot is bound to give you delicious food coma. Indoor sun Never mind the bottle-opener building (Shanghai's World Financial Centre) and other weird buildings in China, Chengdu has the largest building in the world by sheer size. Most impressively, the building has an artificial sun that shines 24 hours a day. The New Century Global Centre is large enough to contain three Pentagons or 20 Sydney Opera Houses. At 500 metres long, 200 meters wide and 100 meters high, the structure hosts office space, cinemas, two five-star hotels, an ice skating rink, a Mediterranean village and an artificial beach (where you can enjoy said artificial sun). Job boom If pandas, tea and an indoor sun weren't enough to draw the masses, Chengdu’s job boom over the past few years did. The largest city on that side of China, people have been pouring in from surrounding rural areas, seeking their fortune and a piece of Chengdu’s booming economy. The number of jobs in Chengdu grew by 30 per cent and incomes grew by nearly 90 per cent between 2008 and 2013. As of 2013, the city is one of China’s – and even the world’s – fastest growing cities with a population of 14 million. The car industry alone employs more than 80,000 people. By the end of 2014, Chengdu was home to 21 carmakers and 246 auto-parts companies. Manufacturing hub The city’s location close to the Yangtze River and mountainous topography are advantages that has made it the exclusive base for military aircraft manufacturing. This will only grow as Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, the leading designer and producer of China’s military jets, continues to expand. The city has more than 33 enterprises in the aviation and aerospace industry . Large companies here each employ approximately 70,000 staff. The next Silicon Valley? Approximately one-third to one-half of iPads sold worldwide are assembled in Chengdu. IBM, Intel and Microsoft also have a presence here. Since the central government launched the “Go West” campaign in 2000 with tax and investment incentives, foreign investments have poured in. Approximately 29,000 companies – including 1,000 foreign enterprises – are set up in the 130 square kilometre “hi-tech development zone.” Revered education As one of the main “science and education” bases in China, college and universities in Sichuan are concentrated in Chengdu, leading students straight into local industries and stable jobs. Reforms in education have also caught the eye of US first lady Michelle Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The first lady praised the Chengdu No7 High School for using “the power of technology to bring educational opportunities to students across southwest China.” Transport infrastructure Earlier this year, the southwest Chinese city was given the go-ahead to build a 69.3 billion yuan (HK$87.7 billion) airport to help relieve capacity at Chengdu’s Shuangliu Airport - the fifth busiest in China. Chengdu has laso kicked off its subway project with the first line opening in 2010 and a second in 2012. Eight more lines are planned and the whole network should be up and running by 2030. As the biggest top-tier city not positioned along the Pacific, Chengdu is also strategically important being a gateway to Europe. A railway that carries freight directly to Poland in 12 days opened in 2013.