Where slow living is the natural setting - Chengdu 2 - Magazine | Monocle

thumbnail text

Meet your guide:

Shi Ying, gallery manager, A Thousand Plateaus

A commercial art gallery opened in Chengdu Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone in 2007, when Shi Ying was a cartoons and animation student at Xihua (West China) University. The aspiring artist started on reception. “This is my first job,” she says. She now oversees double the exhibition space and a staff of 50. A Thousand Plateaus works with emerging artists and has a space called 1000+ for less commercial work. Ying’s pick for an emerging Chinese artist and photographer? Chen Xiaoyi.

“I usually start my day at 07.00 with yoga before I get my daughter ready and take her to school. Then I head to the gallery. Yoga helps me find a balance in my daily life and then on the weekend I go to the mountains. There are loads around Chengdu but my favourite is Mount Heming. It’s not touristy so it’s much more relaxed; that’s probably why I like it. There’s also great fruit there. Chengdu is surrounded by natural resources and that’s one of the reasons why people living here are so tolerant and friendly: even during hard times they know they will still have a good life. People here also have a natural confidence and openness that comes from having such a long history and rich culture. There are so many cultural things to do here. Chengdu is one of the few cities in China – perhaps the only one – that has never changed its name. Spring is the best time of the year in Chengdu: all the woods are turning green, the flowers are blossoming and it’s sunny all the time.”

Shi’s recommendations:


Five-star attraction:


Sanxingdui or “three-star mound” is an ancient ruin in a small city called Guanghan, about 60km from Chengdu. It represents a kind of cultivation from about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The archaeological work is still in progress and in March there were many exciting findings there: some really big bronze sculptures.



Read the leaves:

Heming Teahouse

Heming Teahouse in People’s Park. This teahouse is almost 100 years old and has the same name as the mountain where I go hiking. The menu is pretty simple. You don’t come here to order luxury tea; the atmosphere is the critical part. Older people tend to gather here, so it displays the Chengdu spirit. We are famous in China for our slow life and nowadays it’s the thing that people most admire about the city.


Night time is the right time:

Yulin Road

Some of my friends from all over China come here just for the nightlife. There are two parts to Chengdu after dark. One is Yulin Road, where there are many folk bars and rap music. The other part is the 339 Tower, which has many nightclubs inside. Having fun and enjoying life is an important part of Chengdu culture.



Share on:






Go back: Contents

On the menu


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Continental Shift