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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrChongqing is a relative unknown but huge city in China. In fact, many people outside of China don't even know of its existence, even though its administrative area is home to over 27 million residents.
With an abundance of tall buildings, one can stand on a rooftop in this city and see nothing but skyscrapers for as far as the eye can see.
Chongqing, itself, is located on the Yangtze river, the longest river in China, and the 3rd longest river in the world. Its classic snake bend creates a picture perfect skyline, yet there is also a very strange phenomena associated with this specific area in Chongqing. The Jialing River of China and Yangtze river clash into one another, but don't mix. (Creating two different colored waters with a breaking point in the middle, perfect for photos!). It is very rare for large bodies of water to do this, which makes Chongqing offer something extra special compared to other large cities.
Chongqing is known for two things in particular, compared to the rest of China. Its incredibly spicy food (hotpot) and incredibly hot weather. With temperatures never going below 10°C , generally, you are guaranteed to sweat year round. Tourists be warned, this is not a place for jeans and jackets. Pack lightly if staying in Chongqing. The people also love their peppers, so if your stomach can't take the heat, it's best to try and convey that before you dig in!
With its lush green surroundings, this city offers an abundance of outdoor activities. Although not the most western of all Chinese cities compared to places like Beijing and Shanghai, the locals here enjoy a health conscience attitude and partake in a fair amount of outdoor activities like mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and white-water rafting.
With its mostly year-round nice weather, there's not a big shortage of things to do. Although, one can argue that with its 40°C degree weather, it may just be to hot to go out and enjoy the sunshine!
Chongqing is also known for being one of the leading producers of motorcycle and manufacturers of laptops in the world, creating a large rise of western influences such as theaters, malls, and western shopping centers.
HistoryIn what was believed to be around the year 316 BC, Chongqing was established. Its date vary due to how old the city, itself, actually is. What is, indeed, known is that the first people, known as 'Ba', established this city after immigrating from the eastern part of the Sichuan province. Although the year 316 is in question, it is believed that it could have been even before this time. Its original name was Jiangzhou, yet underwent many different name changes as different dynasty's began and different wars had raged. Some names having stuck such as Yuzhong, which is still used to name a district within Chongqing.
Having being so unknown to much of the western world, in 1890 the British Consulate General was opened thus making ports for western influence to enter the city. 40 years later, Chongqing was heavily bombed during World War II by the Japanese yet recovered quickly due to how mountainous of a city it was and the protection the landscape gave to it.
Mafia connections have also given Chongqing its colorful past, some recent high-profile connections dating back to only 2012. However, evidence was hard to come by and information is flakey, leaving Chongqing's current government ties in question.
What to doChongqing is separated into many different districts, each offering its own unique blend of activities. With many different activities, below is a few of the major tourism spots in different areas. It's wise to have a translator, as Chongqing is very difficult to navigate around. Also, showing where you want to go in English letters is like showing someone in your home country where to go in Chinese letters. Most taxi drivers won't be able to read English.
Hongya CaveHongya Cave is a tourist attraction with faux-pas Chinese architecture, restaurants, shops and stalls.
The Three GorgesThe Three Gorges are a magnificent view which one can see on the Yangtze River cruise. Prices range from 400 CNY and up. Here you can also find Wulong Karst, the very famous landscape of Chongqing, hosting many different temples.
Foreigner StreetForeigner Street is a comical representation and theme park that is free to enter (pay for rides), and shows a Chinese view on western cultures. Do not take it seriously.
Er Wang CaveA very rare and unique cave was discovered recently in Chongqing, 2013, that has its own Eco-system and weather system. However, since it's relatively new, it does not offer cheap tours.
Bailheliang Underwater MuseumThe Baiheliang Underwater Museum is China's first underwater museum and is located in Chongqing. It shows a recorded change in Yangtze river and rock carvings dating back to 618 BC.
Dazu Rock CarvingsThe Dazu Rock Carvings are from the 7th century and there are 50,000 statues and over 100,000 Chinese characters carved into the stone creating inscriptions and stories.
CiqkouCiqikou is a part of the city that was once a busy commercial dock during the Ming and Qing Dynasties and also a place for the creation of famous Chinaware.
Xueyu CaveXueyu Cave is a pure-white and famous cave in the Wulong Karst National Park.
Wuxi CountyWuxi County is known for its witchcraft and has display sets in different parts of the city.
Three Natural BridgesThe Three Natural Bridges are natural limestone cliffs located in Wulong where one can tour through the wilderness and see some of these gorgeous natural creations.
Qixia TempleQixia Temple is a temple located 5 km from the city center from the northwest part of the city known as Yunyang Town.
Fengdu Ghost TownFengdu Ghost Town is where the Chinese believe heaven and hell are divided, yet this place is almost a theme-park. Expensive to enter, but worth the trip for the scenery and understanding of Chinese culture, although you may need a translator!
JiefangbeiJiefangbei is a large metropolitan area offering shoppers a paradise. Gucci, Prada, and any other famous brand one can think of is offered here at normal prices. Chongqing is not known for its knock off clothing. Within Jiefangbei, there is the Chongqing Guotai Grand Theater, which also doubles as an art museum and opera house.
ShoppingJiefangbei is the center for shopping when it comes to fashionable goods.
Chaotianman Market is the largest market in Chongqing and generally offers wholesale items. Don't forget to bargain!
Nan Bin Road is a very popular flower and tea market. It is often filled with tourists and the prices are generally pretty high.
Chongqing People's AuditoriumChongqing People's Auditorium was built in 1951 and can hold 6,000 occupantsfor?. Its mixture of Soviet and Chinese architecture makes it a very unique architectural monument.
Late night river walking is an incredibly wonderful experience in Chongqing, much of the city's skyline is illuminated by moving lights and other LED designs. Most guidebooks won't tell you to do this, but Chongqing is a very picturesque city and it is highly recommended you get lost in it. Within reason, getting home is not easy if you don't have a map with directions in Chinese!
- Hot pot is Chongqing's most famous dish, which consists of cooking the meal in a center 'pot' or barbecue in fat or oil. You can find hot pot all throughout the city here.
- Jiangtuan fish is a carp caught locally in the area.
- Qianzhang is a delicacy made of skim soy bean milk.
- Dog meat is rarely offered and don't let the cliche idea of Chinese eating dog everywhere lead you on about their food.
As stated earlier, Chongqing is known for its spicy food, and it is generally difficult to find non-spicy dishes. Especially if you don't speak Mandarin. Most food in China is not the same as that offered in western countries, such as orange chicken and chicken chow mein. A lot of the food here is also covered in oil, not for flavor - but because oil shows financial stability. Those who consumes oil have money. Remember: High consumption of oil can affect your skin.
Getting aroundMost taxi drivers will not speak English and most will run a meter and not charge you by the location. They will only charge you for how long you are in the taxi, which is different then a lot of places in South East Asia. Taxis are also incredibly cheap.
Chongqing has an extensive bus and subway system, although, none of it is in English, most tourists stick to taxis. However, if one can speak Mandarin or master the art of understanding the system, one can get from one end of the massive city to the other end of the city which would cost around 20 CNY.
Get outChongqing has a two-terminal international airport, servicing flights to hundreds of different locations and different airline carriers. Jiangbei Chongqing International Airport. (CKG) It also holds a 3 day pass for non-visa holders, much like Beijing and Shanghai. (Only for those who are in transit to other countries.)
Chongqing has an extensive train system that connects to many other places. With its high speed bullet trains and also rickety old trains, there is no shortage of secondary destinations. It also contains the world's longest escalator. Bring your passport when buying ticket, you cannot buy a train ticket without one!
There are several bus stations servicing different areas of China, but seeing as the size of China is massive, this is not a very time friendly decision unless you are traveling to cities close by. Otherwise, use trains! Hourly bus trips to Chengdu, Nanchong, and Xi'an.
AccommodationChongqing offers a variety of different types of accommodation. Rates are generally from ¥250 RMB ($40 USD) and up for a basic hotel, but one can find cheaper outside the main city. This city offers no shortage of hotels at anyone's budget! It is better to walk right in and get a room then reserve one on the internet, you can save a lot more money.
The Sheraton being the grandest when it comes to hotels. It's prices are not cheap, usually around ¥800 RMB ($128 USD)+ a night.
The Hilton in Jiafangbei is also a very hotel that is also around ¥800 RMB ($128 USD)+ a night.
However, if you don't have the money to live lavishly in fancy hotels, budget hotels are available. Also, a couple of hostels are available but generally a little harder to find.
Yangtze River Hostel usually offers dorm beds for around ¥50 RMB ($8.00 USD) a night.
Tina's Hostel is a smaller hostel offering accommodation in dorms for around ¥40 RMB ($6.40 USD).
Next destinationsChengdu is a large city, 2.5 hours from Chongqing with a much higher percentage of foreigners, being more friendly for the non-mandarin speakers.
Xi'an is 9 hours away and considered one of the oldest cities in China.
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Author: ChaseHunter. Last updated: Jan 13, 2015