Chongqing, previously known as Chungking, is the largest and youngest municipality directly under the Central Government (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin). Nestled in the midst of mountains, Chongqing often has drizzles and heavy fog in winter and spring, hence the names of the “Mountain City” and the “City of Fog”. The official abbreviation of the city is Yu. Chongqing is also one of the most interesting and dynamic cities in Western China.
Thanks to its long history and favorable geographic location, Chongqing boasts many tourist attractions, such as Three Gorges (namely Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Xiling Gorge) and Three Little Gorges (Longmen Gorge, Bawu Gorge and Dicui Gorge), Three Gorges Dam, Three Gorges Museum, Dazu Rock Carvings which has been included in the World Cultural Heritage List, Wulong Karst which has been included in the World Natural Heritage List (Wulong Karst includes Natural Pit & Crack Scenic Zone, Three Natural Bridges Scenic Zone, and Furong Cave), Heavenly Pit and Earthly Ravine, White Crane Ridge, Ciqikou Ancient Town, and Fishing Town, and so on.
Located in the upper reaches of Yangtze River, Chongqing is the launch point for most Three Gorges cruises. Boats go on the Yangtze from Chongqing all the way to Yichang and Wuhan, or upstream from Wuhan to Chongqing, among which the most popular route is the cruise downstream from Chonqing to Yichang. Chaotianmen Dock, where cruise ships await, offers an opportunity to see the various boats, and it is also a nice place to witness the merging of the muddy-brown Yangtze River and the blue-green Jialing River.
The downtown area of Chongqing is surrounded by hills and two rivers. Its location on a rocky promontory is rare among Chinese cities. The area around Liberation Monument (Jiefang Bei), a synonym for Chongqing’s central business district, is the heart of the city, while the old town is a collection of winding alleys connected by steep flights of stairs. The Eighteen Steps, just south of the Liberation Monument, is one of the coolest places in the city. This neighbor hasn’t changed since the early 20th century.
Splendid Night View of Chongqing
Chongqing looks best from the water, especially at night when the city flashes with neon. The best way to enjoy the night view of the city is to take a river cruise, which leaves nightly from Chaotianmen Dock. A ride on either the Yangtze River Cable Car or the Jialing River Cable Car gives you a bird’s-eye view of the waters. Both are within walking distance of the Liberation Monument. You can also go to the well-known sightseeing spot called “Yi Ke Shu” (or One Tree) on top of Nanshan Mountain or Liangjiang Tower in Eling Park to experience a splendid panoramic view of the city.
History and Culture
Chongqing’s history dates back to more than 3,000 years ago. Since ancient times, Chongqing has been the birthplace and center of Ba-Yu culture, with unique ethnic customs and lifestyles. Chongqing attracts tourists from home and abroad with the time-honored Sichuan Opera, one of the representatives of Ba-Yu culture, the Hand-waving Dance of Tujia ethnic group in Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, and so on.
A great thing to sample in Chongqing is the hotpot, if you like spicy food. Chongqing is all about hotpot, a fiery cauldron of chilies and Sichuan peppers into which is dipped deliciously fresh ingredients, from vegetables and tofu to all types of fish and meat.
When walking around the city, you can also encounter “Stickmen Army”, whom you may only find in Chongqing. The stickmen, known in China as “Chongqing Bangbang” (Bangbang means stick in Chinese), are peasants for hire. They wander about the streets and make their living for carrying stuff up and down the hills for people.
Chongqing allows transit passengers 72-hour visa-free stays from November 2013. The new policy will apply to visitors from 45 countries, and follows similar decisions taken by Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Visitors eligible for visa-free stays must have air tickets to a third country with confirmed dates and seats, and visas where required. A service center for transit passengers will operate at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. The airport will provide services including currency exchange and travel advice at the international terminal for the convenience of passengers.
Entitled as China’s Capital of Hot Springs, Chongqing has many mountains, karst caves which are the most ideal reservoirs to store hot spring. Among 38 districts or counties of Chongqing, only two have no hot springs. So it will be a good opportunity to take a hot spring bath when traveling in Chongqing.