Skip Navigation

Chongqing

Photo © Kickstart

Travel Guide Asia China Chongqing

edit

Introduction

Chongqing

Chongqing

© All Rights Reserved gt248

Chongqing is a city and one of the four province-level municipalities in China officially known as Special Economic Zones (SEZ). The other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin (City). Although the city itself 'only' has around 6 million inhabitants, the total municipality is one of the largest in the world, with well over 30 million people living here. Although like the other SEZ's most of the area is rural.

Top

edit

Neighbourhoods

Chongqing municipality stretches over 80,000 square kilometres and has 40 county-level subdivisions, subdivided into 19 districts, 17 countries and 4 autonomous counties. The city itself can be subdivided into:

  • Yuzhong, the central city area
  • Nan'an (Southern Bank District)
  • Jiangbei (North of the River District)
  • Shapingba
  • Jiulongpo
  • BaNan
  • Dadukou
  • Yubei (the northern district of Chongqing)
  • Beibu (the new district at Northern Chongqing)

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Chongqing has the largest population in West China and is the focus of China's "Go West" development strategy. As a result, it is a very lively and rapidly modernizing city, although it does get a bit too hectic most of the time. On the surface, the city appears rough around the edges and a bit gritty and thus there may appear to be not much to do in the daytime, but further investigation will uncover a city with truly its own character and a number of interesting sites actually worth looking into.

  • Dazu Rock Carvings - a Unesco World Heritage Site
  • Zhou Enlai's old residence
  • HongYaDong - Near Jiefangbei, a recreation of the old Chongqing, clinging to the side of the mountain with many small shops. A tourist place but you can find recreations of old local crafts here and genuine local food.
  • Great Hall of the People - Chongqing's Great Hall of the People (and the People's Square in front of the Hall) is an architectural symbol of Chongqing City. Its construction began in 1951, but its design is traditional and mirrors those of China's ancient classical dynasties. It somewhat resembles an enlarged version of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. The People's Square was only completed in 1997 and is decorated with trees and flowers. The ground of the square is paved with smooth marble tiles; there is magic music fountain; at the southern end of the square stands a stage for performances in the open air. You may see thousands of people dancing on the square in the numerous beautiful lights in the evening. The buiding is to be seen from the outside, no need to pay the admission fee. ¥10.
  • Three Gorges Museum - Across the People's Square is Three Gorges Museum, well worth a visit for its exhibits on the Ba culture and the area of the three gorges downriver from Chongqing. Also noteworthy are a series of exhibits on life in Chongqing during the Qing dynasty, the early republic, and the World War II era.
  • Red Rock Village (Hong Yan Cun)
  • Chongqing Old Town

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.

Top

edit

Weather

Chongqing has a subtropical climate with humid conditions. Summers last from June to September when temperatures average between 27 and 33 °C during the day and between 20 and 25 °C at night. Temperatures of 40 °C or even more are not uncommon and the humid conditions make this probably the worst time for a visit. Winters are actually better though temperatures are not really great: between December and February it is around 10 °C during the day and a few degrees less at night. Occasionally temperatures drop close to zero but rarely below. It is the driest time of the year with just around 20mm of precipitation a month, against 150-200mm a month between May and July!
Obviously, good months for a visit, are the spring and autumn periods (March-April and September-November).

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max9.5 °C11.6 °C16.8 °C22.2 °C25.9 °C28.1 °C32.2 °C32.8 °C26.5 °C21.3 °C15.7 °C10.9 °C
Avg Min5.6 °C6.9 °C10.9 °C15.1 °C19 °C21.5 °C24.5 °C24.5 °C20.4 °C16.2 °C11.5 °C7.2 °C
Rainfall20 mm21 mm37 mm102 mm159 mm166 mm171 mm138 mm149 mm96 mm53 mm26 mm
Rain Days101011141716131116151411

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (CKG) is about 20 kilometres from the city centre of Chongqing. About a dozen of airlines, among which Air China, China Southern Airlines and Sichuan Airlines offer numerous domestic services. Destinations include Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Beijing, Chengdu, Lhasa, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. International destinations include Bangkok, Hong Kong, Nagoya, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei and Singapore, mostly with Air China, except Singapore.

By Train

There are three train stations in Chongqing: Caiyuanba (in Yuzhong District), Shapingba (in Shapingba District) and Chongqing Beizhan (in Jiangbei District).

High speed trains (G series) link to Chongqing North Station to Beijing in about 12 hours, and to Chengdu in about 1.5 hours. In addition, there are slow trains that take about twice as long.

The longest railway trip from Chongqing is from Harbin to Chongqing North, a 48.15-hour, 3,535 km ride. The price of hard ticket is ¥344 and hard berth is ¥599.

Most train tickets can be purchased through the help of the hotel your are staying. The tickets are then delivered to the hotel for you to pick up.

By Bus

Long distance buses travel to Chongqing from almost anywhere. There are numerous buses into Chongqing, most notably is the hourly service to and from Chengdu, Nanchong, and Xi'an. From the west Chengdu is 2.5 hours and to the east Wanzhou is three hours, both on good highways and good buses. Avoid the "sleeper" buses as they must be the most uncomfortable way to travel ever invented.

The main bus station is at Cai Yuan Ba (pronounced Tsai Yuan Ba, is the old station), next to the Chongqing train station. It is complete mayhem most of the time - people in Chongqing do not queue. Many hotels will sell rail tickets thus avoiding the madness of the station.

By Boat

There are quite a few options to travel by boat downriver via the Three Gorges towards Yichang.

Top

edit

Getting Around

By Car

Taxis in Chongqing are bright yellow small sized Suzuki sedans. They are relatively cheap (starting at ¥8 and ¥1.8/km, ¥8.9 and ¥2.25/km after midnight) 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.

Caution: Empty taxis are hard to find on extremely hot days. It is advisable to seek alternative transportation or stay indoors. This is because most taxis have A/C running, thus requiring more frequent natural gas refills. There aren't enough natural gas stations around and the pump pressure is frequently inadequate, so many taxis will be stranded lining up for gas.

By Public Transport

Chongqing Metro offers extensive services in the urban area. The first section of Chongqing's rapid transit system opened in 2005. Since then, major expansions have now linked major railway stations, major shopping districts and the airport, with more extensions under construction. Announcements are made both in Mandarin and English. No smoking is allowed and all services are air-conditioned, which is a reason alone to board one from between April to September! Don't forget your electronic ticket card to get out of the station. If you overshoot your stop, just go to the service counter and add value to your card.

  • Line 1 Chaotianmen to Shapingba, Daxuecheng, east-west heavy rail metro line. Handy for visiting Ciqikou, Jiefangbei, or Chaotianmen.
  • Line 2 Jiaochangkou to Yudong, monorail line. Convenient for visiting the Zoo, Stilwell Museum, Jiefangbei, Jiulongpo, Peoples Hall and Three Gorges Museum.
  • Line 3 Ertang to Jiangbei Airport, monorail line running north-south. Convenient for Chongqing North Railway Station, Guanyinxiao, Chongqing Central Railway Station, Chongqing Garden Expo site, NanPing, and airport.
  • Line 6 north-south subway line, connects Beibei in the northeast with Chayuan in the southeast, thru Yuzhong district (near Jeifangbei) in central Chongqing.

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 in Chongqing city, simply ask each bus if they go there. There are four city centres, so be sure you know the name of the place you want to go to:

  • Shapingba (Sandplains) NW part of town and is an academic and university centre
  • Jiangbei (Northplace) which includes Paradise Walk shopping center - There are two bus stations near the pedestrian street (Guanyinxiao).
  • Nanping (Southernplains)
  • Jiefangbei, the primary centre of Chongqing, contains a pedestrian mall with a major shopping and entertainment centre and a series of supertall skyscrapers around the Jeifangbei monument. There are two bus stations in Jiefangbei, south and west of the monument.

By Bike

The bike is the worst choice for people who understand the layout and structure of "the mountain city". Added the fact that it is incredibly dangerous to bike on city streets it is just not a good idea. First timers to Chongqing should be warned it is very easy to get lost due to the many hills and valleys and the two major rivers.

Top

edit

Eat

Chongqing is a harbor city and with this comes what is called dockside culture (matou wenhua). This culture is blamed for a lot of things from cursing profusely to...Hot Pot. While many great restaurants abound in the city, memorable dining is best along Nanbin Lu with incredible night views back across the Yangtze River with the Jeifangbei city skyline lit-up.

There are many "Western Restaurants", but it is very difficult to find any real western food in them. Many smallish restaurants will have a reasonable stab at spaghetti bolognaise, and some will have menus in "Chinglish" and even pictures of dishes. However as an exception, you can find quite nice fusion dishes (ranging from Japanese Sushi and Tempura to American Sirloin Steak.

Hot Pot

Hot Pot (huǒguō, lit.: firepot) is one of Chongqing's claims to fame. In cities across China, one can find hot pot restaurants, but only Chongqing people can really stand a real hot pot, so if you want authenticity, get it while you can in Chongqing.

When ordering hot pot you have a choice between three kinds. First, the spicy version called red soup (hong tang). Then there is one without any spices. This is basically a bone soup, and it is tasty. To get this, simply ask for "yuan wei" or tell them "wo bu yao la" which means "I don't want the spicy stuff!" Finally there is a compromise with Yuan Yang Hot Pot (Yuan Yang Huo Guo), which is basically a pot split down the middle with the spicy stuff on one side and the mild on the other.

For those who like spicy but do not like it too spicy, it is possible to order red soup without the jolt (wei la hong tang). It is a nice mild experience.

For those who can not speak Chinese, it would be best to grab a Chinese friend to take you, though be warned, you will have to put up with a lot of drinking, you will be forced to smoke more than you normally would, and some of the things they go slipping into the pot might not be your cup of tea. You will also have to be aware that you will be fed with a lot of dishes from your Chinese friends because they like to see your bowl is full of food. You might feel a little uncomfortable being fed like a child, but that is the way Chinese people show concern and enthusiasm towards their friends, especially when eating hot pot.

Top

edit

Drink

There are many bars in Chongqing, but most are underpopulated. Generally the local bottled beer is ¥10, and the variety includes several local beers and even Guinness (expensive) on occasions. If you go to one of the small restaurants to eat, you can buy bottles of local beer at ¥3 upwards.

Top

edit

Sleep

There are hundreds of hotels all over the city ranging from dormitary style for ¥30 per night, through three star equivalent hotels for ¥150, up to the numerous top western hotels for ¥600-2000 per night, and many more are being added and currently under construction. Most hotels are rarely fully booked. You can always check the room before you commit.

View our map of accommodation in Chongqing or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

Top

edit

Work

Top

Top

edit

Keep Connected

Internet

Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.

Post

China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

Top

Quick Facts

[edit]

Coordinates
  • Latitude: 29.5549144
  • Longitude: 106.548425

Accommodation in Chongqing

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Chongqing searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Chongqing and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as Lavafalls (3%), Sander (1%)

Chongqing Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Chongqing

This is version 19. Last edited at 9:18 on Aug 21, 17 by Utrecht. 21 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License