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Home > China Travel Destinations > Chongqing Travel Guide

Chongqing ( 重庆 Chóngqìng )

Chongqing ( 重庆 Chóngqìng ), is the largest and most populous of the People's Republic of China's four provincial-level municipalities, and the only one in the less densely populated western half of China.

Chongqing is the largest and most populous of the People's Republic of China's four provincial-level municipalities, and the only one in the less densely populated western half of China. The municipality of Chongqing has a registered population of 31,442,300 (2005), with most of them living outside the urban area of Chongqing proper, over hundreds of square kilometres of farmland. The population of the urban area of Chongqing proper was 12.057 million in 2005, making it the 3rd largest city in China in terms of population.

The urban area of Chongqing proper (重庆市区) includes the district of Yuzhong (渝中区, or "Central Chongqing District"), the central and most densely populated district, where government offices are located. Other districts are Nan'an (南岸区, or "Southern Bank District") Jiangbei (江北区, or "North of the River District"), Shapingba (沙坪坝区), Jiulongpo (九龙坡区), and Dadukou (大渡口区).

Historically, Chongqing has been a major trading inland port, transporting goods from the southwestern provinces to eastern China. Chongqing is rich in natural resources, with more than 40 kinds of minerals. Its coal reserves are estimated to be 4.8 billion tonnes. The Chuandong Natural Gas Field in Chongqing is China's largest inland production base of natural gas, with deposits of 270 billion m³, accounting for more than one-fifth of China's total. Chongqing also contains China's largest reserve of strontium, and China has the 2nd largest reserve of the mineral in the world.

Chongqing and surrounding areas are full of tourism resources. The most famous is the Three Gorges, a scenic area along Yangtze river. The 200-km long area is the most visited canyon in China. Besides its gorgeous natural scene, it is also a culturally rich area. Other tourism sites include Dazu Rock Carvings, mainly Buddhist themes, it was carved from the Tang Dynasty, now belongs to UNESCO World Heritage. City sightseeing is also a famous part of Chongqing tourism. Historical sites in World War II are located in the metropolitan area. In the surrounding areas, Fishing town is an important battlefield event in world history. In 1243, Mongol prince Mongke Khan was defeated and died here and it stopped the Mongols' expansion in Europe and Africa because of turmoil after his death.

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How to Get to Chongqing City

Due to its hilly geography and Yangtze and Jialing rivers which run through it, ground transportation in the city requires an unusual number of bridges and tunnels, which increases cost dramatically. However, the highway network around the city and to nearby satellite towns is almost completed. One unique form of transportation in the city are the cable cars which are suspended over the rivers. Recently, the Chongqing Light Railway system was completed and entered service in January 2005.

By plane

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, located north of Chongqing provides links to most parts of China and to other countries and regions such as Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Thailand.

By train or Bus

Chongqing is linked to other parts of the country through several railways and highways, including: Chongqing-Chengdu (Sichuan province) railway, Chongqing-Guiyang (Guizhou province) railway, Chongqing-Xiangfan (Hubei province) railway, Chongqing-Huaihua (Hunan province) railway, Chongqing-Suining (Sichuan province) express railway, Wanzhou-Yichang (Hubei province) railway (under construction), Chongqing-Lanzhou (Gansu province) railway (under construction), Chongqing-Chengdu highway, Chongqing-Wanxian highway, Chongqing-Guiyang highway.

Trains arrive daily at the Chongqing station, including the daily T9/T10 express train from/to Beijing, a 25-hour ride.

By boat

Historically, most of its transportation, especially to the eastern China is through the Yangtze river.

 

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Get around in Chongqing City

A great deal of time and expense has been spent on the new international airport and infastructure linking it to downtown Chongqing and surrounding areas. The taxi ride to downtown Chongqing should take no longer than 30 minutes and as road/bridge tolls (for this journey anyway) have been abolished, the fare is generally in the region of ¥50. A cheaper alternative is to take the convenient airport bus for ¥15 to the city center. Bus to Jiang Bei (northern city centre) or YuZhong (Main city centre) costs no more than ¥25.

By monorail


The first part of Chongqing's spanking new monorail system opened in June 2005. The current system (see map) is only somewhat useful for getting around in the city center, but major expansions are under construction.

By Bus


The buses are frequent and cheap, but unless you can read Chinese you have to know where they are going and choose the right number bus going in the right direction. If you are going to one of the city centres, simply ask each bus if they go there. There are five city centres, so be sure you know the name of the place you want to go to.

By Taxi


Taxis are relatively cheap and can be easily found 24 hours a day. Few drivers speak anything but Chinese, so you must know where you are going. Either have your destination written for you in Chinese, learn how to say it, or be able to direct the driver. A good way to use taxis is to gather cards from hotels, then simply show the driver the one you want to go to or is nearest to your destination.

 

 

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Attractions

 

While on the surface there may not appear to be much to do, further investigation will uncover a city with its own character and a number of interesting sites worth looking into.

History, Revolution, and War. Chongqing served as the capital of China for 7 years during the later 30's and early 40's. With this political history come a number of historic sights which have unfortunately turned into propoganda sights. If you're a history buff, don't miss these spots. If you're not a history buff, scroll down a bit further.

The city is home to one of the largest public assembly buildings in China, the Great Hall of the People, built in modern times but in the classic Tang Dynasty style - as a large circular building. This is adjacent to the densely populated and hilly central district, with narrow streets and pedestrian only walkways.

There is a museum at the World War II headquarters of General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell. The preservation and presentation of the materials here reflect the long and historic affection between China and the U.S., despite the global frictions between their respective governments of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

A giant ferris wheel offers spectacular views of the metropolitan area, although it is currently out of action.

A modern and well stocked zoo exhibits many national and regional animals, including the Giant Panda and the extremely rare South China Tiger.

 

Landmarks

Za Zi Dong


This is one of two Guomingdang prisons located in Shapingba, the other being Bai Gong Guan. Both are located at the base of Ge Le Mountain in Lie Shi Mu. Za Zi Dong offers a unique look at a 1940's era prison and the horrors that took place there when nearly 300 communist political prisoners were massacred at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. The entire area was also once the location of the Sino American Cooperative Organization (SACO), a camp where Jiang Jie Shi's (Chang Kai Shek) elite troops were trained. Unfortunately the attrocities that took place and the American presence are often connected, while it's not universally agreed they are.

Red Crag Village (Hong Yan Cun)


Red Crag Village (Hong Yan Cun) is a very important tourism site in Chongqing. At least that is how the Culture Bureau which is located in Hong Yan Cun and the other government propoganda departments see it. This location is where the Chongqing Negotiations between Mao and Jiang (Chang) took place, and the historic aspect of the place is nice. To get to the history, you will have to go through an exhibition center which is worth going to only because it serves as a good reminder of how powerful the Chinese propoganda machine is.

Joseph Stilwell Residence


Not far from Red Crag Village is the former residence of Joseph Stilwell, who headed American operations in China during the Anti Japanese War. Stilwell is an impressive person, not only for his leadership ability but also for his understanding of China and Chinese culture (he could write in Chinese with a brush) His former residence is a small grey building that is full of interesting old black and white photos of whatnot.

Song Qing Ling's Residence
Another interesting site to visit (especially if your staying at the Hilton Hotel) is Song Qing Ling's former residence, from the period of the Second World War when Japan held much of China and Chongqing was the temporary capital.

There were three Song (also spelled Soong) sisters. The eldest married a businessman. Middle sister Qing Ling married Sun Yat Sen, the founder of modern China. She was herself an important political figure, especially after his death. The youngest married Chiang Kai Shek. A saying about them is "One loved money, one loved power, and one loved China". Qing Ling is the one who loved China. There is an interesting movie [2] with an English soundtrack and a book, "The Soong Dynasty" about the family.

This house wedged in between tall, ugly buildings is a nice German design (the original owner was an engineer who studied in Germany) that is not unlike many of the pre-liberation colonial architecture that can be found here and there in and around Chongqing. The house is located about 100 meters south of the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel.

Chongqing Old Town
Located in ShaPingBa, this is a few streets of Chongqing as it was, (and still is in some places). It is mostly comprised of small shops selling tourist stuff, but does lead down to the river where it is possible to board a restaurant boat. Several buses go there including 808 and 843. Worth a visit for a couple of hours.

Dazu Rock Carvings
Two hours west of Chongqing city in Chongqing Muncipality are the Dazu Rock Carvings. The spectacular Buddhist carvings date from the 9th to the 13th century and are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The caves by reached by bus from the main bus station in Chongqing. For more information see the main Dazu Rock Carvings article.

 

Colleges and universities


Chongqing University (重庆大学) (founded in 1929)
Southwest University (西南大学)(founded in 1906)
[Chongqing Institute of Technology]] (重庆工学院)
Chongqing Jiaotong University (重庆交通学院)
Chongqing Normal University (重庆师范大学)
Chongqing Technology and Business University (重庆工商大学)
Chongqing Three Gorges University (重庆三峡学院)
Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications (重庆邮电学院)
Fuling Teachers College (涪陵师范学院)
Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (四川美术学院)
Sichuan International Studies University (四川外语学院)
Southwest University of Political Science and Law (西南政法大学)
Third Military Medical University (第三军医大学)
Western Chongqing University (渝西学院)
Chongqing University of Medical Sciences (重庆医科大学)
Chongqing University of Science and Technology (重庆科技学院)


Note: Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.

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When to Visit

Spring and winter season are the best time to visit Chongqing. The temperature is average about 64°F, with 45°F in January and 77°F in July. Summer is very hot in Chongqing with temperatures up to 111°F, ranking one o the three hottest cities in China along with Wuhan and Nanjing. Fall is usually very foggy, making it the foggiest city in China.

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Where to Stay

There are hundreds of hotels all over the city ranging from dormitary style for ¥50 per night, through adequate three star hotels for ¥150, up to the top hotels for ¥600-800 per night. They are rarely fully booked. You can always check the room before you commit.

Mid range

Chung King Hotel. Prices aren't over-expensive, rooms are slightly on the small side but on the whole well decorated and furnished. Rooms come with Pay-Per-View and regular Satellite TV. A couple of the channels are English-language. Even better, Room Service will happily provide you with the best Club Sandwich East of Britain. Somewhere in the hotel is a western restaurant which will provide you with the biggest Spaghetti Bolognaise you've ever seen. The friendly staff in the lobby can provide you with currency exchange, luggage holding and travel tickets.
Railway Guesthouse, Conveniently located at the Chongqing train station, rooms range from 4-bed (¥100) to 2-bed ensuite with a/c (¥160).
Southwest Hotel, Nanping. A good 3 star for ¥148.
The Grand, Shapingba. Has rooms from ¥150 upwards.

Splurge

Holiday Inn in Nanping, 10 minutes' ride to the downtown (if you are lucky enough to avoid the traffic jam)
JW Marriott: expensive and luxurious and located next to the downtown.
Harbour View Hotel: Even better situated than JW Marriot and well facilitated right in the downtown.

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