Chongquing is one of the biggest cities in China, situated in the west and boasting an ancient history, as well as a diverse landscape to discover – but for some reason, we rarely hear about it as a travel destination. It’s not for the faint-hearted and you’ll need a little Chinese to really get around, but even for those who don’t speak the language Chongqing offers a unique travel experience – don’t miss out!
What to see
Chongqing has seen a lot of changes over the years – it was briefly the country’s capital when Nanjing was captured by the Japanese in the Second World War, and it’s still technically China’s largest city by surface area. To get a real feel for the city you can’t miss these great locations:
The Great Hall of the People: This spectacular building is a real symbol of the city, built in the style of China’s classic dynasties and surrounded by The People’s Square, a marble-paved square with beautiful flowers and trees.
Three Gorges Museum: Just down the road from the Great Hall, the Three Gorges Museum is a free exhibition focused on life in Chongqing between the Qing dynasty and the Second World War – ideal for understanding how the city has grown and prospered.
Forest Park Shengdeng: Discover a little of China’s stunning countryside high above the city at Shengdeng, a forest and natural park on the mountain 1,064m above sea level. Spectacular views and hidden temples await in this serene location – the ideal break from the hustle and bustle of the city centre!
What to buy
Chongqing has a huge range of shopping destinations, and China is a notoriously inexpensive place to shop compared to the West, so make sure you set a day aside to hit the stores! For brand names and high street fashion, head straight to Jiefangbei Pedestrian Street, the breathtaking commercial heart of the city. Here you’ll find glassy high-rise skyscrapers, over 3,000 shops and plenty of riverside hotels. Local produce is also worth looking out for, in particular the carpenters’ fine woodwork and the unusual foods around the market stalls.
What to eat
Chongqing’s cuisine is very much influenced by the nearby Szechuan region, boasting lots of hot flavours and complex, rich foods. A local favourite is the classic hot pot – although it’s got a bit of a kick, so if you want it without spice you can simply ask for “yuan wei”. The city has a vast harbour and enjoys an almost constant supply of fresh fish, so take advantage and look out for seafood options on the menu!