Inevitably, when doing business in China you will have some downtime. During which you can roam the city, sample local cuisines, or buy things that you probably don’t need. My favorite and most frequented city in all of China is Beijing. I travel there more than Shanghai because most of my business contacts are located in Beijing, but also partly because I prefer it to Shanghai. Perhaps because I am somewhat claustrophobic and in Shanghai, the streets are very narrow and the buildings are built seemingly one right on top of another. I don’t like feeling like an ant trapped in an ant farm, and while in Shanghai, I certainly have that feeling. Beijing on the other hand has wide streets with 5 or 6 lanes, and a very spread-out landscape, not to mention the night and day contrast among its districts and neighborhoods.
However, I recently visited Chengdu for the first time for a conference and was presently surprised. Besides the unbelievably spicy food which I enjoyed, people in Chengdu move at a very leisurely pace (Not counting the driving in the streets, which is chaotic at best). Compared to Beijing and Shanghai, business in Chengdu is conducted in “due time”. The night life is riddled with what I perceive to be “free-spirited” expats and locals, whom were all very different from the crowds in Beijing and Shanghai.
Chengdu is running close second behind Beijing in my book. And if I return to Chengdu for pleasure, I will most certainly return to the charming Tibetan-inspired hotel with the 24-hour full service spa.