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Much Ado About Chengdu: Why the World is Obsessed with China's City of Pandas

Where: Chengdu, China
August 29, 2013 at 11:05 AM | by | Comments (0)

In the grand tradition of US college hijinks, Thursday is affectionately known as "Thirsty Thursday." So what's United thirsty for today? The answer: flights to China! We're talking about Chengdu specifically, as United just announced that they'll be the first airline with nonstop flights to Chengdu from the US, beginning June 11, 2014.

The route, operating by United's Boeing 787 Dreamliner, will fly from San Francisco to Chengdu-Shuangliu three times a week, a trip of nearly 14 hours one-way.

This is only the latest in a slew of headlines for Chengdu travel this year, and it's left us wondering what's so cool about Chengdu, anyway?

Perhaps it's because Chengdu is...

... the panda capital of the world, with panda-crazed tourists traveling from all over the world to visit the Panda Research Base and its resident population of 60 giant pandas, and a smaller number of red pandas.

... the place to nosh on Sichuan cuisine. Your local Chinese take-out place spells it "Szechuan," but either way, we're talking spicy goodness.

... newly added to the route map of British Airways, as well. The nonstop route from London, which commences in September, was announced with appropriate fanfare (some crew dressed up as pandas and posed for photos in Club World seats).

... the inspiration behind Japanese airline ANA painting up one of their planes to look like a panda, as they plan to increase capacity on current flights from Tokyo.

... playing host to chef/restauranteur, author, party boy Eddie Huang as he films the second season of his VICE show, "Fresh Off the Boat."

... home to world's first-ever bubble hotel. OMG.

... a departure point for Tibet travel and flights to the world's two highest airports, Daocheng Yading (4,411m) and Qamdo Bamda (4,334m). [Credit to Stephen Segraves/@ssegraves for this fact!]

But, most likely, Chengdu is cool because it's a city of 14 million people with the 4th busiest airport in China, bustling business and nightlife, and why shouldn't a US airline jump to get a bite of all this action?

[Photo: wolneyklen]

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