Rough Guide to Chongqing Travel

Rough Guide to Chongqing Travel

Chongqing, known to many English speakers as Chungking, is an economic juggernaut of the new China. The municipality of Chongqing is the largest in the country, sharing borders with Shaanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, and Guizhou provinces. The city is located in the southeastern part of the Sichuan Basin, and the central part of the city sits on a steep, hilly peninsula between the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers, overlooking the confluence of the two waterways. The city has grown astronomically since the opening up of the Chinese economy in the early 1980s: its GDP has almost doubled in the last five years alone, and it is now the largest industrial and commercial city in southwestern China and the economic center of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Chongqing was founded approximately 3,000 years ago and had several names before it became known as Chongqing about 800 years ago. During the Sino-Japanese War, the population of the city boomed when the city became the wartime capital of China for approximately 9 years.

The modern metropolis is the leading river port and industrial center of the area. As the economic center on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the city is rich in natural resources including minerals, dense forest and water reserves with its focal point being Three Gorges Dam.

In terms of weather, the city is known as one of the "three furnace cities of China" (along with Nanjing and Wuhan). Travelers tend to avoid its blazing summers and come at cooler times of the year. Chongqing's fog is also famous, with 100 foggy days each year, usually in spring and summer. Because of its sub-tropical monsoon climate, the city experiences plenty of evening rain, which helps cool things down in the summer time.

Chongqing is easily reached by water, air and land. As the biggest passenger river port on the Yangtze, Chongqing is an ideal jumping-off point for Yangtze River cruises. The international airport has domestic and international flights to over 60 destinations, and a web of rail connections link Chongqing to the rest of the country. The city's transportation infrastructure is the most diverse in China, and is strongly influenced by Chongqing's hilly topography. Bicycles are rare, and people rely on buses, taxis, pedicabs and motorbikes; in the hilliest spots, escalators and elevators go where few wheeled vehicles can.

Chongqing sparkles at night because of its radiant lights and dynamic evening life. Its urban and rural places of interest rank this city as one of the top 10 to visit in China. One of its most magnificent natural sites is the Three Gorges, located in the eastward reaches of the Yangtze River. In the summer of 2006, the Three Gorges Dam was completed after 14 years of construction. One of the best vantage points for looking at the Yangtze and Jialing rivers in Chongqing city is Chaotian Gate, where the contrasting colors of the two rivers as they swirl together at their confluence is a fascinating sight.

Chongqing is dotted with many places of historic and natural interest. The district of Ciqikou is popular both for its authentic restored housing and lively street scenes and for the traces of its past as a porcelain production center: more than 20 ancient kilns have been discovered in the area. The World Heritage-listed Dazu Rock Carvings provide fascinating insights into the religious life of ancient China. The Northern Hot Springs are popular with visitors for their beautiful scenery, ancient religious sites and health-giving waters. The Southern Hot Springs lie closer to the city and have an even stronger reputation as a health spa.

The Ba Yu Folk Culture and Custom Village, located 22 km outside the city center, displays artifacts of the Ba people who inhabited the area during the Warring States Period. Three important museums display the history of the city, both ancient and modern. The region's rich prehistory is on display at Chongqing Natural History Museum. The Chongqing Hongyan Revolution Memorial Museum recalls the political past of Chongqing during the revolutionary period leading up to 1949. The more recently-built Three Gorges Museum of China exhibits and preserves many of the relics that are found in the Three Gorges area. The Jiefangbei, or Liberation Monument, is a central landmark of Chongqing and a reminder of the determination of the people of the city during the period of Japanese aggression.

Chongqing local cuisine is one of the major eight cooking styles of China – Sichuan cuisine. It is famously spicy and flavorful, and one of the favorite Chongqing dishes, available in hundreds of restaurants, is Sichuan hotpot. In fact, Chongqing claims to be the birthplace of this famous Chinese dish.

Aside from its beautiful landscape, Chongqing also has a number of cultural events that attract visitors, including the Three Gorges International Festival, Ciqikou Spring Festival Temple Fair and Yongchuan International Tea Culture and Tourism Festival. Chongqing festivals are considered extremely vibrant with many of the local products and Sichuan cuisine being showcased. However, many of its local products can be purchased all year round. Domestic travelers like coming to the city to purchase Shu brocade, Tuo Tea, Silver Needle Tea, Rongchang folded fans and medicinal herbs.

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