Updated: 2012-04-20 07:56
Jinli Street, one of the snack havens in Chengdu, offers the chance to sample authentic nightlife.
About 20 giant pandas live at the Chengdu panda base. [Photos provided to China Daily]
Southern provincial capital knows how to work and play
Giant pandas and a pleasant living environment are some of Chengdu's major attractions, but the capital of southwestern Sichuan province is also justifiably proud of its appeal to foreign investors.
By far, Chengdu boasts the presence of 212 Fortune 500 companies, including Intel, Texas Instruments and Dell, surpassing all other cities in China's central and western regions.
The provincial capital was chosen to host the upcoming 2013 Fortune Global Forum, making it the third city in the mainland to hold the major business event after Shanghai and Beijing.
Chengdu's robust economic growth in recent years has attracted an increasing number of business travelers. Here are three attractions for business travelers.
1. Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base
The giant panda is the national treasure of China. There are fewer than 1,500 in the world, of which about 75 percent are found in Sichuan.
Located 10 kilometers away from downtown Chengdu, the Chengdu Panda Base has been re-created to follow pandas' natural habitats - large open grounds are built for the giant pandas to roam free, making it an great place to see the giant panda up close.
About 20 giant pandas live at the base. Other endangered species such as the red panda and the black-necked crane are also bred here.
2. Wide and narrow alleys
This tourist attraction is composed of three parallel alleys called Kuan Alley (Wide Alley), Zhai Alley (Narrow Alley) and Jing Alley (Well Alley).
The place is one of the top three historic, preserved areas in Chengdu. Most buildings are courtyards made from wood and bricks.
All three alleys are narrow lanes chock full of restaurants, and cafes as well as shops selling tea and curios.
3. Dujiangyan Irrigation System
The Dujiangyan Irrigation System, 58 km from downtown Chengdu, is the oldest existing irrigation project in the world, with a history of more than 2,000 years.
It was designed to divert water without the use of dams and was built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).
Li Bing, an official of Sichuan at that time, was assigned to build an irrigation system on the Minjiang River with his son to prevent flooding. After they came up with the system, the Chengdu Plain was free of floods. Even today, the irrigation infrastructure still diverts the waters of the Minjiang River and distributes it efficiently to the fertile farmlands of the Chengdu Plain.
In 2000 the Dujiangyan Irrigation System was included in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Eating and drinking
Sichuan is home to some of the spiciest - and many swear, tastiest - Chinese food. As the capital of Sichuan, Chengdu is obviously the place to try out authentic Sichuan cuisine. Hotpot in Chengdu should not be missed. There are countless hotpot shops operating throughout the city.
The famous Grandma Chen's Beancurd Restaurant serves mapo tofu, one of the most popular dishes of Sichuan. Soft bean curd is served up with a fiery meat sauce. Another place worth trying is Long Chao Shou Special Restaurant, with its chain stores scattered throughout the city.
Zongfu Road, Chunxi Road and Jinli Street are the snack havens of Chengdu.
Several bar streets offer the chance to sample authentic nightlife, including Jinli Street, South Renmin Road and Yulin district. Visitors can chit chat or play mahjong at local teahouses to help immerse themselves in famous local pastimes.