SOME CHENGDU TRAVEL TIPS
a very subjective and incomplete list of recs for Chengdu
I often get messages from people planning to travel to Chengdu, especially from those hoping to check out the local music and nightlife scene. I am always happy to recommend places! Because I've gotten quite a few of these recently I thought I would just put my recommendations up here to make things more efficient. Enjoy!
A NOTE ABOUT GETTING AROUND
You can use Google Maps but it's not always helpful. If you can read Chinese (and even if you don't) I highly recommend 高德地图 for navigation. The Chinese yelp equivalent is called 大众点评 and it's helpful for finding addresses and restaurants in your vicinity. To find out about coming events at the venues I mention below, you should search the name of the venue in "official accounts" on WeChat and follow that official account for updates. This is the best way to find out about shows.
MUSIC AND NIGHTLIFE
NOX - medium sized venue located underneath Chengdu's 339 complex. Has a lot of hip hop shows
Nuspace - really beautiful space on Chengdu's trendy kuixinglou street. The front is a bookstore and cafe and the back is a concert space. Hosts underground of all different music genres including hip hop.
FUNKYTOWN - tiny underground club wedged behind a construction site. has DJ nights 7 days a week. my favorite spot in chengdu.
Hakka Bar - very chill bar located on the 12th floor of a mixed use building. has a nice outdoor patio. you have to go through the super 8 hotel lobby and take the elevator to get there.
TAG Chengdu - underground electronic club inside Poly Center. i've still never been because there's usually a cover so I just end up going to Funkytown. but if you like electronic music you should definitely check it out.
PLAYHOUSE - a non underground club that has a lot of hip hop nights. I've never been but it's supposed to be fun
The Hang - this is a nice vinyl shop/streetwear store/cafe/bar in the middle of Taikooli (luxury shopping complex) that I think was opened by a local second-generation rich kid. They'll sometimes have DJ nights or other hip hop related events and it's a fun place to visit.
Chengdu is one of the world's greatest food cities. I'm by no means an expert and if you're really interested in Chengdu cuisine you should book with Chengdu Food Tours, which is run by my friend Jordan Porter. He books up fast so make sure to reserve in advance. Below is a very incomplete list of restaurants I like in Chengdu. Most are in Yulin, a neighborhood just inside chengdu's south 2nd ring road, because that is where I live. I think most of these have multiple locations though.
Tiantian Family Feast 天添饭店 - this is a super solid choice for homestyle sichuan cooking
Mao Jiao Huo La 冒椒火辣 - super spicy chuanchuan, a chengdu specialty
Shujiuxiang Hotpot 蜀九香火锅 - there are a million hotpot places in chengdu but this is probably by favorite so far in terms of taste.
Grandma Ye's Bobo Ji 叶婆婆钵钵鸡 - my favorite bobo ji, another sichuan specialty
Lao Ma Chaoshou 老麻抄手 - There are quite a few of these in chengdu and they're a reliable spot for noodles, dumplings and wontons
Xiao Ming Tang Dan Dan Tian Shui Mian 小明堂担担甜水面 - this is a solid spot for famous chengdu snacks
I've traveled embarrassingly little in the areas around Chengdu. A lot of people like to visit the Tibetan plateau directly to the west and there are some outfits that will take you out there. I can personally recommend my friend Jeremy's business Wild West Tours if you like cycle touring. I did an overnight bike trip with him and a bunch of people a little while ago and it was super fun. He handled everything super professionally.