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Chongqing is a city with a rich history and a unique character. It’s an industrial city with an active port, but the area also offers picturesque scenery of mountains, rivers and lush forests. As a result of the city’s location and climate, the landscape is often partly shrouded in fog. The pace of life is slow and leisurely, and you can see people drinking tea with their friends along the riverbanks. The city is also one of southwest China’s main transport hubs, with good connections to the rest of the country and South East Asia. What the city is perhaps best known for, however, is the delicious but extremely spicy local food.
Although Chongqing has been a regional centre for thousands of years, its industrial development only gained pace during the Second World War, when many of the coastal universities and factories were moved inland. Today, the city has a population of over 30 million and an economy driven by a thriving industrial sector. The city’s main exports include motorcycles and aluminium; Chongqing is also rich in natural resources, including coal, natural gas and mineral deposits. Situated at the fertile intersection of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, the area is also an important agricultural producer of rice and fruit – and is famous for its oranges.
SIGHTS IN CHONGQING
- Chaotianmen Harbour – located at the tip of the peninsula where the Yangtze and Jialing rivers meet, the harbour and large square are a great place to start your sightseeing tour in Chongqing.
- Yangtze River Cruise – while you’re in Chongqing, it is strongly recommended that you explore the dramatic river landscape. These popular cruises allow visitors to enjoy the beautiful ravine landscape of the Yangtze River and see the Three Gorges area.
- Eling Park – the oldest private garden in Chongqing is built high up between the two rivers and is famous for its majestic views over the city.
- People’s Liberation Monument – a famous wooden monument situated in the heart of the Yuzhong district’s commercial centre in Chongqing.
- Southern Hot Springs Park – bathe in hot springs both indoors and outdoors. A beautiful place for relaxation.
- Ciqikou Ancient Town – an ancient town containing historic houses and streets. Buy beautiful porcelain and take a break in one of many cosy teahouses.
- Chongqing Tiandi – a unique new urban centre and an important hotspot for business and entertainment in the Yuzhong district.
- Hongyadong – A reconstruction of the old Chongqing, this giant building clings to the mountainside and offers many shops and good local restaurants.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO NEAR CHONGQING
- Fengdu Ghost City – situated 2 hours downstream from Chongqing by the river, this attraction is famous for its ornate figures and statues, as well as its fascinating architecture inspired by the underworld of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.
- Dazu Rock Carvings – a World Heritage Site containing Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist sculptures and carvings dating from the 7th century, located 60 minutes west of Chongqing.
- Fairy Mountain – reachable by bus from Chongqing, the Fairy Mountain National Forest Park is about 1,900 metres above sea level and offers breath-taking views over mountains and grasslands.
- Jinfo Mountain – also known as the Golden Mountain, the highest peak of the Dalou Mountains is a giant karst formation with exceptional plant and wildlife diversity, including an endangered species of monkeys. About a two-hour drive southeast from Chongqing.
- Black Mountain Valley – a little further south is the Black Mountain Valley, where you can hike the 13-kilometre long valley along roads, narrow paths and drawbridges and enjoy beautiful views over the river, waterfalls and forest-covered mountains.
- Chengdu – only an hour away from Chongqing with the new high-speed train, Chengdu offers great food, lively nightlife and plenty of sights to see, including the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base.
SHOPPING IN CHONGQING
Chongqing offers numerous and varied shopping opportunities. The city has shopping districts filled with stores and galleries, where you can find everything from designer clothes to local handicrafts. Tourists should check out the attractive Shu and Chuan embroideries or the complicated Shu brocade produced here. The high-quality tea varieties that come from the city’s neighbourhoods are also famous.
- JiefangBei – the best shopping street in the heart of the city that contains numerous galleries, department stores and exclusive shops. Other noteworthy shopping streets and areas are Shapingba, Jangbei and Nanping which also offers the best viewpoint from which to enjoy the sparkling colours of the city at night.
- Guanyinqiao – the best shopping area in the northern part of Chongqing.
- Chaotianmen Market – the biggest market in Chongqing, where you can shop especially for clothes but also for a wide range of other goods.
- Nan Bin Road – a flower market where visitors also can buy handicrafts and teas.
CHINESE FOOD & DRINK IN CHONGQING
Chongqing is associated with its very spicy, chilli-filled, oily food containing lots of Szechuan pepper, but there are alternatives for those with more sensitive palates.
- Hot Pot – one of Chongqing’s culinary specialities. Beef, lamb or pork boiled in a spicy stock.
- Jiangtuan Fish – the city’s location next to two rivers means there is plenty of seafood on offer. Steam-cooked or oven-baked Jiangtuan Fish is one of the most common dishes.
- Kou Shui ji – boiled chicken in chilli sauce, a well-known cold dish.
- Xiao Mian – a popular dish of spicy red-oil sauce, noodles and vegetables, often eaten for breakfast.
- Mapo Tofu – tofu, ground beef or pork, Szechuan peppers, fermented bean paste and plenty of chilli oil. It is said that an old woman in Chengdu originally invented the dish over a hundred years ago, and it’s been a favourite throughout the country ever since.
- Kung Pao Chicken – an interesting mix of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavours, the traditional dish is usually made up of chicken, chilli, peanuts, ginger and spices.
- Tea – Chongqing is also known for its fine quality teas. Among the most widely known are Chongqing Tuo Tea, Yinping Silver Needle Tea and Xinong Fur Tip Tea.
- Beer – a wide selection of local beers is available.
TRANSPORT IN CHONGQING
- Metroline in Chongqing – you can reach almost any destination in Chongqing with the fast, convenient and low-priced metro. There are currently four metro lines in operation, and new lines are under construction to make getting around the city even easier.
- Taxi in Chongqing – the yellow taxis are easy to spot and fares are relatively cheap. It’s a good idea to write down your destination and agreed price before setting off to avoid any misunderstanding.