WHY INTERN IN CHENGDU?
Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province, is a modern city with a long history. Fabled as “the Land of Abundance”, Chengdu is bestowed with uniquely favorable natural resources. Chengdu is one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in China. It is also the permanent host city of the International Festival of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of China.
The 14 million residents of Chengdu make it one of China’s five largest urban areas. Due partly to its location in a fertile plain, Chengdu has been a place of potential growth opportunity since its inception over 2000 years ago.
Chengdu is the birthplace of the renowned Sichuan cuisine, and has been crowned by UNESCO as a key Gastronomy City of the World. Sichuan cuisine is as famous abroad as it is in China. The Sichuan cooking style is steeped in history, but it is also developing rapidly with the introduction of new ideas and practices.
Famous dishes include delicacies such as mapo tofu, gongbao chicken (known in the west as kongpao chicken) dumplings and steamed buns. These dishes often accompany the legendary and extremely popular hot-pot dishes. While Sichuan cuisine is known for its spicy heat, visitors can always find dishes to satisfy any palette.
Sichuan’s cuisine is famous throughout the world. You can find a wide variety of dishes and street snacks all around the city at any hour of the day. Normally, a simple Chinese meal will cost between 10 to 20 RMB. You can find tasty and filling street snacks everywhere. Street carts offer all sorts of fruit, meats, steamed breads and dumplings, costing a few RMB each. Do not be too concerned about health hazards from eating street food. These snacks are well cooked and made with fresh ingredients.
All the dishes are prepared in a healthy fashion. It is most common to broil and steam the food, and a meal will always include lots of vegetables, rice, fish and various types of meat. A visit to the supermarket in China is quite an adventure. Most of the product tags are written in Chinese characters, so you will need time and patience to investigate and shop. There are also international supermarkets in which you can find products that are more familiar to you.
Chengdu is often referred to as a “Party City,” thanks to the active nightlife found on streets such as Fanglin Road and Renmin Road, which are lined with bars. Chengdu locals certainly enjoy their nightlife, which boasts a particularly laid-back feel. In accordance with Chengdu’s cosmopolitan vibe, many of the city’s bars exhibit a particularly modern style, unlike the traditional teahouses. Various bars feature great selections of imported beers from all over the world. Chengdu also has an assortment of micro-breweries that are worth checking out.
Food is also easily found at night. Many street BBQ’s are scattered throughout various parts of town and are absolutely delicious. These street stalls don’t come out until 8:00PM and will stay open until the wee hours of the morning!
Read our blog for some advice from past interns on where to go in Chengdu in the evening during your internship
Dating back to the 17th century, Sichuan opera is a deep-rooted tradition that holds stronger than ever in Chengdu’s cultural scene. Sichuan opera consists of a structure that is dispersed across many stages. Re-occurring themes and roles, such as the clown, face-changing and spitting fire are particularly popular in the region. Be sure to catch Sichuan opera pieces at the Opera Theatre or at some of the larger teahouses, and in the city’s outdoor parks, such as Peoples’ Park and Culture Park.
Chengdu’s teahouse culture abounds, with locals enjoying countless hours in the city’s wide array of teahouses. Teahouse culture is a fundamental way of life for every Chengdu resident. These establishments are much more than just a place to sip a cup of tea, they are where locals kick back and socialize. More often than not, these interactions will also revolve around a heated game of mahjiang. Look up here, to learn more about mahjiang in Chengdu.
There are MANY places to see, but here are just a few in Chengdu!
Mt. Emei (峨眉山), one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains, has been the base of Chinese martial arts throughout history. Today, while serving your internship in China, you can visit several historical temples and sites on the mountain side, observing wild monkeys and admiring the huge golden Bodhisattva statue from the ninth century, and enjoying the breathtaking views of the clouds on the top of the mountain.
A mere bus ride away from Chengdu lies one of China’s most breathtaking natural wonders: Jiuzhai Gou Valley (九寨沟). Literally meaning “Valley of Nine Villages”, it is an enormous nature reserve located in the north of Sichuan. The best time to visit Jiuzhai Gou is in the fall as the whole valley is covered in color with its deep blue and turquoise glimmering lakes and its glistening leaves which all combine together to form a truly breathtaking landscape. Read more about Jiuhai Gou Valley in our blog.
The Huang Long scenic area (黄龙景区) is located in the north of the Sichuan province. It is very close to the Jiuzhai Gou so it makes sense, to combine the two trips. Like Jiuzhaigou, this area captivates with its impressive water landscape. Blue deep water emerges from the mountain and flows from chalk terrace to chalk terrace in little waterfalls.
Chengdu without pandas wouldn’t be Chengdu. The fertile plain around Chengdu contains beautiful natural parks and habitats for animals, including the local panda population. The world-famous Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base (大熊猫研究基地), located in the heart of Chengdu, covers over 600 acres of natural land and is home to over 100 pandas. Travellers are invited to visit the Panda Research Base and observe these huge gentle animals. Read more about the Panda Research Base in our blog.
The Sichuan province with Chengdu at its heart borders with Tibet to the west. If you are serving your internship in China and you are interested in Tibetan culture, you will discover, that it can be a very complicated process to travel to Tibet as a foreigner because you can’t enter Tibet as an individual traveller, you have to book a guided group tour. But don’t worry, there is also an alternative for people who value their individual freedom when traveling. The region of Kangding (康定), which is located in the west of Chengdu in Sichuan and is very close to the Tibetan border, offers mountains, yaks and real Tibetan people, Tibetan culture and Tibetan food – you will feel like you are really in Tibet! Click here to read more about this place.
A daytrip to Leshan near Chengdu is worthwhile, to visit the famous world’s biggest Buddha statue carved into the face of a cliff. The Giant Buddha of Leshan (乐山大佛) is over 70 meters tall and 28 meters wide, it looks towards the Emei Mountain. According to the legend, the Buddhist monk Haitong carved the statue in the eighth century in order to calm the river. Directly next to the Giant Buddha is the Oriental Buddha Park (东方佛都), a large area with over 3000 Buddha sculptures, its 170 meter long sleeping Buddha and its surprisingly unknown and even more impressive huge Buddha statue carved inside a giant cave. You can read more about this place in our blog.
Kuanzhai Xiangzi (宽窄巷子) literally means “Wide and Narrow Alley”, and was built in the Qing Dynasty as housing for soldiers. Today the old architecture of Kuanzhai Xiangzi is completely renovated and offers a variety of teahouses, traditional restaurants, bars and art galleries.
Many people interning in China are interested in Chinese culture, especially Taoism or Buddhism, so Chengdu’s temples are the best places to learn more first hand. Read our blog to learn more about the various temples in Chengdu.
The lovely Mt. Qingcheng (青城山) is famous for its role in the Taoist emergence. The name Qingcheng literally means “green city” and owes its name to the several peaks with their evergreen trees that surround the area – along with the old Taoist temples – like a city wall. This is the perfect place for a day trip during the weekend and for learning more about the history of Taoism.
During your internship in China you may need a rest from time to time. Chengdu is very green compared to other cities in China and it is famous for its parks, where you can take a rest after a hard day on your internship. Enjoy a cup of tea and a view of the river in the Wangjiang Pavillion Park (望江公园), admiring the Bonsai collection of the Baihuatan Park (百花潭公园). Take a relaxed walk around the lake in the Eastlake Park (东湖公园) or watch the birds in Huanhuaxi Park (浣花溪公园). Chengdu’s parks can help you to gather new energy. Look up our blog for more information about the various parks in Chengdu
Dujiangyan (都江堰) is a water irrigation system located near to Chengdu, it is a very good example of ancient China’s amazing engineering. Built about 2000 years ago during the Qing-Dynasty, it is the oldest water irrigation system in the world. Operational even today it controls the flow of the water without using a dam. Around the irrigation system, there are two temples, which were built in honour of Li Bing, the architect of the water irrigation project.
The Heart of China’s GO WEST Policy
Since the inclusion of China in the World Trade Organization in 2001, the Chinese government has invested $300 billion dollars in a massive “Go-West” strategy that seeks to expand the country’s manufacturing and business footprint far beyond its coastal areas. The development of Chengdu is a strategic focus of the Chinese government, which places great importance on Western expansion.
Companies that participate in the program and develop facilities in the central and western regions benefit from financial incentives while gaining early ground in this key sector for future growth. Chengdu sits at the very heart of this “Go-West” policy, because of its geographic location as well as its historic position as the gateway to the west of China.
The economy of Chengdu is rapidly growing; in 2005, the city’s GDP was about 200 billion RMB. By 2011, the GDP had reached 685 billion RMB, and in 2015, it had surpassed 1 trillion RMB, which is a fivefold growth inside 10 years. Today, there are already more than 265 Fortune 500 companies, settled in Chengdu.
Riding The Wave Of The Second-Tier Cities
Although the coastal cities of Beijing and Shanghai garner much attention in the news, the true future of Chinese growth is in what is known as the “Second Tier Cities”. Chengdu is the leading second tier city in China, with all of the amenities one would expect from a major urban center. However Chengdu balances this urban strength with a true heartland feel. Throughout the city, Chinese culture is abundant, with world-class cuisine and warm hospitality in every teahouse; this is a city with a local culture that always has time for a friendly conversation.
Chengdu: Where the Business is Happening
Chengdu is widely acknowledged as one of China’s most business-friendly cities. It serves as China’s western primary centre of commerce, and has developed core strengths in logistics, finance and technology, which augment its historical strengths in manufacturing and agriculture. The two national-level development zones, the Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone (CDHT) and the Economic Technological Development Zone (ETDZ), are the base of important key industries including machinery manufacturing, electronic information and biomedicine.
Chengdu is the most competitive IT city in west China. The Software and Electronic Industry plays a key role in Chengdu’s economical success. Forty Fortune 500 companies from the IT sector and 13 out of the top 20 software makers in the world are located in Chengdu including Foxconn, Microsoft, Nokia, Symantec, Motorola, Ubisoft, Siemens, and Intel. Twenty percent of all computers, half of the computer chips for laptops and two thirds of all iPads in the world are produced in Chengdu. Further important industrial chains are integrated circuits, photoelectrical displays, digital audio and video equipment and optical communications products. The Tianfu Software Park is one of the largest software clusters in China. Check here for the report of one of our interns, who made his internship at our cooperating Fortune 500 IT-company Foxconn.
A further pillar of industry in Chengdu is the aviation and automobile industry. Several car producers and suppliers of car components have settled in Chengdu. The industrial system combines development, production and trade of sedans, passenger cars, off-road vehicles, vans and parts and accessories. Leading key companies are FAW Toyota and Volvo, FAW Volkswagen, Chengdu Wangpai Motor Group, and Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen and Chengdu Bus Cooperation. Chengdu is an important collaborative production base in China for Boeing, Airbus, United Technologies and General Electric. Seventy percent of Boeing’s orders in China are fulfilled in Chengdu.
The World Bank declared Chengdu as a benchmark city for investment. Chengdu has the largest variety and number of financial organizations in Western China. Eleven branches of foreign-invested banks and eleven foreign-invested insurers are located in Chengdu, which makes Chengdu the No. 1 city for foreign banks and insurance companies in Western China.
Chengdu, with its advanced railway and air transportation structures is the logistical hub of the middle and western regions of China and several companies like DHL, Goodman, GLP, Maersk and Prologis have set up their own logistics and distribution centers. The Chengdu Shuangliu Airport is one of China’s biggest cargo airports. The airport has opened 167 air routes to 100 domestic and international cities, including cargo flights to Frankfurt and Hong Kong, and passenger flights to Amsterdam and Taipei. The city plans to build a second larger airport, which will be finished in 2018. The container railway station is estimated to be the biggest container railway station in Asia. A direct line connects Chengdu with Lodz in Poland.
Traveling in a different country can make a foreigner wary of their health and safety. Don’t worry! Chengdu is extremely safe for travelers!
Chengdu is a very safe city, but as in any big city, you should be aware of petty crime. Pay special attention to your belongings when traveling in crowded public areas and keep your wallet close to your person. Do not leave your mobile phone on a restaurant table and always be aware of your possessions.
In China, pedestrian crossing areas at traffic lights are often not respected by drivers. You should always check both sides of the road before crossing the street. Also, be especially aware of bicycles and motorcycles that occupy the sides of the streets.
It is not a good idea to drink water from the tap. If drinking water, always buy a bottle of water (with its seal in tact). Teeth brushing with tap water is ok, but don’t gargle.
Dial 120 for emergency medical services or an ambulance. In addition to first-class Chinese hospitals, Chengdu has Western medical hospitals and clinics with foreign doctors and dentists. We will assist you in contacting a doctor in case of an emergency or any other need. The following are two of the leading foreign clinics in Chengdu:
Please remember to come to China with full medical insurance! Be sure to research the best medical insurance options in your own country.
LIFE IN CHENGDU
Chengdu is a lively and dynamic city, and you’ll quickly discover that fact once you start your internship in China. Regardless of your preferences, you’ll always find something that suits you in Chengdu!
If you want some peace and quiet, you can take a walk in the wonderful parks of Chengdu, the easiest one to access and perhaps the most famous is People’s Park. In the parks you can see people dancing, playing badminton, performing TaiQi and more – and all by walking in a calm and peaceful park. You can even stop to drink tea all day long for only 10RMB.
If you’re interested in visiting traditional Chinese streets you can go to Kuanzhai Xiangzi street which is close to People’s Park, and there is Jinli street which is even bigger than Kuanwhai Xiangzi street. There are multiple temples in Chengdu too where you can experience Buddhism in closer detail.
If you want to go shopping, first of all let me introduce you to one rule here in China, you can negotiate prices in many places! So don’t be shy – give it a try! Of course it’s a good idea to prepare in advance; you don’t want to show up with a 100 RMB bank bill to pay for something that costs 10RMB. Now that you have learned the rule, you can go shopping! Tianfu Square and Chunxi Road are good for shopping; there are lots of shops with easy access from the subway stops in Tianfu Square and Chunxi Road. There is also Raffles City which is at the Sichuan Gymnasium subway stop. If you need anything for your computer, mobile phone or camera Computer City is also in this area. One great thing about China is that shops close at 22:00, which means that even during the week you can do your shopping after work.
You’re a musician? Or just curious about music in general? You can visit the Sichuan Conservatory (四川音乐院), situated around the school are many shops where you can see traditional Chinese instruments. The Conservatory often holds Chinese traditional music concerts, if you manage to catch one you will be taken on a trip around China through the country’s music.
A bit thirsty tonight? Don’t worry there’s plenty of bars and you can continue your night with music thanks to all the concerts and DJs playing there. There are plenty of bars all along the river such as Jiu Yan Qio for example, or close to the Nijiaqiao subway station is the Polycenter and Ke hua bei lu, where there are clubs and bars. So is beer expensive here?
In some bars for the cheapest beer like the Tsintao you might pay 35RMB, but in a cheap bar you might pay 10RMB for the same drink, so choose your hangout wisely!
There is a little of everything in Chengdu, you’ll certainly find something that suits you! You can even read a magazine in English like Gochengdu, which keeps you updated on events in the city!
You might not know much about Chengdu, but we can assure you that it’s easy to get around the city, public transportation is well developed. We currently have three active subway lines, the BRT (bus rapid transit) operating on three ring roads and also a bus that covers all the places that are not on the ring road, and of course there taxis if you want to be sure of getting to the right place. If you want to travel outside the city we also have an international airport, four railway stations and two long distance bus stations.
Once again there are currently three active lines and one in construction:
Line 1: Operating from the south to the north of the city, it’s probably the line you will use the most, passing through Tianfu Square, in the heart of the city, and where you can also transfer to Line 2. On this line is the north and south railway stations, so if you’re departing the city from one of those stations you need to use Line 1 to get there. You can also go to the New Century Global Center on this line, which is one of the biggest buildings in the world. You can also go to Wenshu monestary. If you need to transfer to Line 4 you have to use the Luomashi subway station.
Line 2: This line is currently the longest one, it goes from the north west to the south east of the city. The east railway station is on this line and it also goes through many pretty parks such as People’s Park and Tanzishan Park, as well as well-known Chunxi Road.
Line 3: This line is not open yet.
Line 4: This line is routed from west to east. If you need to access the West railway station, you need this line.
Fares are variable depending on the distance of travel. The minimum fare is 1,8 RMB and you can pay up to 5 RMB if are travelling a long distance.
BRT (bus rapid transit):
These lines are exclusive to buses so that they can travel around the city quickly. The ring roads are elevated, allowing the buses to avoid traffic.
Bus fares are a flat 2 RMB. You can use the ticket for two hours and a maximum of three transfers.
Buses operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m
Normal bus lines:
You can find them everywhere, make sure that you know where you want to go and feel free to ask to a local if you’re on the right bus, they’ll be pleased to help you. There are so many lines that you’ll always find what you need but you should still check in advance.
Even though the city is full of signs written in both English and Chinese, the taxi drivers don’t know the names in English, so if you want to take the taxi you need take your destination address with you written in Chinese – or you could learn how to say it in Chinese! No need to stress, it’s really easy to use the taxis and they are very cheap compared to western countries. During the day the price starts at 8RMB so always make sure that they activate the meter. After 10 P.M the initial price is 9RMB, rising with each kilometer.
If a taxi driver gives you a price prior to the journey it’s usually more expensive, so it’s easier to pay the normal meter price – especially if the driver is asking for extreme amounts such as 100RMB. Unless you are traveling around the entire city, you should never have to pay that much money.
If you’re familiar with applications like Uber, then you’ll be pleased to learn that you can use them in China as well. You can even use the Chinese version called didi, and if you do, there is no need to use taxis and you will pay less than the equivalent taxi fare for each journey. Note that you need the application and you also need to pay in advance using it.
You might find some people on scooters offering to take you a small distance! No need to be afraid, you should try it at least once, it’s a funny experience and it’s not really expensive. You can negotiate the price too.