Situated southwest of the city centre, this district is considered by locals to be Chengdu’s most charming. Local brewpubs line the streets, narrow stalls offer massages and dandan mian (spicy Sichuanese noodles), while creative studios work on everything from leather crafting to music production. Rather than endless shopping malls, one finds pedestrian-friendly streets packed with locals, enjoying the low-key vibe and myriad dining and entertainment options
1. Still Fun Whiskey Bar
Southwest China’s first whiskey bar was opened four years ago by artist Wen Chuan, who brought his keen design sense to the bar’s interiors and the menu, which features over a hundred different whiskey labels. Its motto contends that life is “still fun” – and after a Speyside Scotch, you’ll feel that way too. The lighting is mellow, with the feel of a classic sportsman’s bar, down to the paintings of English duck hunts and dark green leather seating.
108 Yulin West Road
2. K Gallery
Since its opening in 2007, this contemporary art gallery has been showcasing internationally acclaimed Sichuanese artists, such as Zhou Chunya, best known for his Green Dog series, and realist painter He Duoling. As Chengdu’s most commercial gallery, it has contributed greatly to the popularity of art emerging from this region. This stark white two-room gallery also includes a small art library where you can find a wide range of books on local and nationally renowned artists and art movements.
The original Little Bar was opened in 1997 by Chinese painter Tang Lei and quickly became a beacon for live music in the city. Tang soon handed management of the space over to his friend, Shi Lei, and crowds were demanding a roomier venue by 2007. Still located in Yulin, the second Little Bar is equally a site of pilgrimage for music fans, with the walls lined with gig posters made by local graphic designers. The intimate stage plays host to weekly performances featuring a range of experimental music acts from across China and the rest of the world.
4. The Yard Culture & Creative Park
Opened in 2016, this places doubles up as a community centre and a creative incubator for small businesses. With performances open to the public, there’s always a chance of spotting elderly grandmas curiously listening to underground and experimental music shows. The Yard is a three-storey space, with a library and café on the first floor. This cosy space serves hand-roasted coffee and also hosts a variety of DIY workshops and calligraphy classes, as well as smartphone app tutorials for retirees.
3 Yujie Lane
5. Laomatou Huoguo
This eatery is easy to spot, thanks to the relief sculpture of a dragon clambering up the restaurant’s façade. Here, you’ll get various cuts of meat including pig intestines and stomach lining. These cuts, along with various vegetables and other ingredients, are dipped in a boiling soup of either spicy hot oil or herbal chicken stock broth.
27 Yulin Middle Road
6. Piaoxiang Huoguo
Every evening, you’ll find people packed in wall-to-wall around boiling pots of medicinal broth roiling with Sichuan red pepper oil at this raucous restaurant. The atmospheric eatery offers you a choice of local cuts cooked in the bubbling liquid before being dipped in sesame oil, cilantro, Sichuan pepper and raw garlic.
1 Baiyu Alley
This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of Silkwinds magazine