Since ancient times, Chongqing has been known as "mountain city", and not without good reason. The undulating sight of foggy green-shrouded hills had long captured the imaginations of poets and writers. In modern times, this translates into Chongqing, a city distinctively missing the droves of bicycles ubiquitous to many other Chinese cities. Take a leaf from the local book and go on a mountain hike to truly appreciate Chongqing's unpredictable terrain.
Tramping up and down on mountain slopes is one of the best-kept fitness secrets of svelte Chongqing locals. Insights into elements of the local culture – group-singing and dancing or exercising on higher ground are certainly worth the battle against gravity. With hills on every side, chances are, there is probably a mountain near to where you live or work. Time to dust those walking shoes for a day in the hills!
1) Nan Shan 南山View In Map
A haven away from the populated Nan'an district, Nanshan is one of the more easily accessible mountains. The clear mountain air is a welcome change from the foggy city atmosphere. Hence, the heavily wooded natural reserve is a favourite with students from nearby campuses and Chongqing's incredibly fit elderly. As the highest point in the city, Nanshan offers great views of urban Chongqing. The official viewing site is Yikeshu (一棵树), a tall viewing tower halfway up the mountain – the most convenient spot to enjoy the panoramic view of Yuzhong district flanked by the Yangtze River. But savvy local friends can also take you to other viewing spots sans the entrance fee for the price of a bit of climbing.
Nearby attractions include the Laojundong Temple (老君洞), the Nanshan Botanical Gardens (南山公园), for the Sakura blossoms in spring and Laolongdong (老龙洞), a limestone cave with an internal lake for boat rowing. If this should prove too much to do in a day, Nanshan also has small hotels and villas for overnight stays.
Add: Nanshan, Nan'an District, Chongqing
Getting there: Bus No. 346 and 347
Lieshimu Mausoleum, Geleshan. Photo: zg1929.com
2) Geleshan 歌乐山 View In Map
Geleshan is a peaceful hill that visitors can ascend on foot while looking back on the view of SISU's sprawling campus or take the easy way of going up by cable car. The lush green hill, with hidden springs, gives no clue to the violent clashes between the Guomindang and the Communists. In fact, located at the northern foot of the hill is Lieshimu (烈士墓), a martyrs' mausoleum. Inside are Baigongguan and Zhazidong, where Kuomintang forces imprisoned, tortured and killed Communist revolutionaries at the foot of the mountain. Formerly the headquarters, radio station and prison of the Guomindang's secret service, it now stand as a tribute to those martyred in the civil war. The mountain itself is not a big place, so Geleshan is a great place for a half-day visit or combined with a cultural tour of the significant places in the civil war.
Add: Geleshan, Shapingba District, Chongqing
Getting there: Bus No. 821
3) Tieshan Ping 铁山坪View In Map
Virtually unseen on tourist guidebooks, Tieshan Ping is known among locals who enjoy natural hot springs and fruit picking in peach orchards. It is also a favourite among locals for viewing the spring blossoms from late February onwards. Located about an hour away by bus from the congested Guanyinqiao shopping district, going to Tieshan Ping is akin to entering another world of lush greenery, cascading waterfalls ending in a quiet lake. Should you wish to spend a few days enjoying the mountain air, a short stay in any one of the small hotels in the area would prove relaxing.
Add: Tieshan Ping, Jiangbei District, Chongqing
Getting there: Bus No. 813 from Guanyinqiao (观音桥)
4) Zhaomushan 照母山View In Map
Another mountain off the (tourist guidebook) beaten track, Zhaomushan is located in the greener district of Yubei. As the surrounding area is currently facing rapid development, this mountain is in danger of being overshadowed by tall buildings coming up around it. For park lovers, Zhaomushan features the third largest man-made botanical garden here, the nearest from Chongqing city proper. In the park are pagodas, a Chinese folk culture village with an exhibition centre featuring traditional Ba-Yu cultural items donated by a local farmer, mainly furniture and household items of that era. On fine days, locals enjoy flying kites near the small lake. There is also a large bamboo grove of 4,300 acres. Biking enthusiast might like to check out dedicated mountain biking trails coated with a special non-slip material for safety.
Add: 88 Jinkai Dadao Xi, Beibu Xinqu, Yubei District, Chongqing
Getting there: Bus No. 116
5) Huangshan 黄山 View In Map
Not to be confused with the renowned Yellow Mountain in Shanghai, this one is located in the south of Chongqing. Also a historical site dating back to the time Chongqing was made wartime capital during the Japanese resistance, this was the place from which Chiang Kai-shek issued military orders. His house and bomb shelter have since been preserved and there is a museum dedicated to those times. If history is not your cup of tea, this scenic mountain is also popular with photographers. As with most tourist attractions in China, don't bother with picnic baskets and instead sample fresh mountain produce.
Add: Songwen Lu, Nan'an District, Chongqing
Getting there: Bus No. 384
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Keywords: mountain getaways Chongqing places to see Chongqing nature travel Chongqing hiking in Chongqing famous mountains in Chongqing
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