Chongqing

Chongqing (重庆; Chóngqìng), (formerly spelled Chungking), is becoming the most economically important city in West China, with an urban population of around 7 million. In addition to the central urban area, the municipality of Chongqing also includes some 80,000 sq km (31,000 sq mi) of the neighboring countryside and smaller towns, with approximately 30 million people altogether.

Chongqing is also the launching point for scenic boat trips down the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges Dam. The spectacular Buddhist Dazu Rock Carvings are located three hours west of Chongqing City in the outlying Chongqing Municipality and are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chongqing is notorious for its hot and humid weather. The air quality, winter or summer, can be challenging to people with respiratory problems due to massive amounts of smog. Chongqing has been ranked by the World Bank as one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Understand

Chongqing skyline
 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 10 13 17 23 27 29 33 34 28 22 17 12
Nightly lows (°C) 6 8 11 15 19 22 25 25 21 16 12 8
Precipitation (mm) 20 21 36 105 152 171 175 134 128 92 46 25

Chongqing (105°17'-110°11' East, 28°10'-32°13' North) is humid yearround, cold December - February and hot June - September.

Chongqing is one of four municipalities in China, large cities that are not part of a province but report directly to the national government; it is the only municipality not located on the east coast, (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin).

While administered separately since 1997, it is historically and culturally part of Southeast Sichuan and shares the same love for hot and spicy food dishes.

Neighbouring provinces: Hubei (East), Hunan (East), Guizhou (South), Sichuan (West), Shaanxi (North)

Located on the edge of the Yungui Plateau, and surrounded by small green capped mountains, Chongqing City is intersected by the Jialing River and the upper reaches of the Yangtze. The municipality includes Daba Shan in the North, Wu Shan in the East, Wuling Shan in the Southeast, and Dalou Mountain to the South.

Get in

By plane

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport is about twenty-one kilometers northeast of Chongqing in Lianglu Town, Yubei District IATA: CKG) is served by international flights from East Asia, South East Asia and Europe. It also serves most main domestic cities.

It features two terminals currently with a third much larger terminal under construction.

Terminal 1 - International Flights (smaller original terminal)

Terminal 2 - Domestic Flights (major building with the terminal further divided into two halls A & B)

Monorail (Metro Line 3) now connects the airport to the centre of Chongqing and the station is accessible from both terminals. Buses also depart from the ground level of the terminal to Shangqisi Lu, Yuzhong (Airport bus stop in City GPS 29.562860-106.544200), in central Chongqing. Taxi to downtown Chongqing would cost about ¥40-80.

By train

There are three major train stations in Chongqing:

Trains arrive daily at the Chongqing station, including the daily T9/T10 express train from/to Beijing, a 25-hour ride.

The longest railway from Chongqing station is from Harbin to Chongqing Beizhan at 1,064 km, a 48.15-hour ride. The entire journey is 3,535 km through 9 provinces and municipalities. The price of hard ticket is ¥344 and hard berth is ¥599.

If arriving from Chengdu, the T88xx express trains provide a 2 hours 30 minutes link between the two cities. This is the ideal choice of transportation for the two cities.

T88xx, Chongqing Bei(重庆北) - Chengdu (成都), 2.5 hrs, ~¥87

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 / and old rail station is Cai Yuan Ba (pronounced Tsai Yuan Ba, is the old station) and is complete mayhem most of the time. Many hotels will sell rail tickets thus avoiding the madness of the station. People in Chongqing do not queue.

Get around

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 added the two major rivers. The bus system and monorail are advised as the best forms of transportation and are very cheap and efficient.

By metro/monorail

Chongqing Metro

The first part of Chongqing's new rapid transit system opened as a monorail in June 2005. The system was only useful for getting around in the city center, but 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 airconditioned, which is a reason alone to board one from 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, newly opened east-west heavy rail metro line. Handy for visiting Ciqikou or Chaotianmen

Line 2 Jiaochangkou to Yudong, Extends the original monorail line. Convenient for visiting the Zoo, Stilwell Museum, Jiefangbei, Peoples Hall and Three Gorges Museum

Line 3 Ertang to Jiangbei Airport, new monorail line running north-south. Convenient for Chongqing North Railway Station, Jiangbei, Chongqing Garden Expo site and airport.

Line 6 This will be the second heavy-rail metro and was finished in three stages of construction. It connects Beibeii in the north east with Chayuan, Nan'an, thru Yuzhong district in central Chongqing.

By bus

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.

The four city centers in Chongqing are called Shapingba (Sandplains)(GPS 29.559900-106.457440) NW part of town and is an academic and university centre, Jiangbei (Northplace)(GPS 29.577000-106.528000), Nanping (Southernplains) (GPS 29.530531-106.561379) and Jiefangbei (GPS 29.560454-106.573400), which is one of the oldest centres and a shopping centre and near Chaotianmen harbour where there are lots of small markets and shops (often called the "fleamarkets" locally)(GPS 29.566742-106.583977).

The bus station in Shapingba is at GPS 29.559300-106.455450. There are two bus stations in Jiefangbei, south and west of the monument. There are two bus stations in Jiangbei near the pedestrian street.

By taxi

Taxis in Chongqing are bright yellow small sized Suzuki sedans. They are relatively cheap (start by ¥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. The reason is because most Taxis have A/C running thus making more frequent stops to the natural gas station. Added to the fact that there aren't many natural gas stations around and the pump pressure is frequently inadequate, most taxis will be stranded lining up for gas.

See

Chongqing Grand hall of the people
The pedestrian mall in downtown Jiefangbei

On the surface, the city appears rough around the edges and a bit grungy and thus there may appear to be not much to do, but further investigation will uncover a city with truly its own character and a number of interesting sites actually worth looking into.

Chongqing served as the capital of the Republic of China for seven years during the late 1930s and early 1940s during the Anti-Japanese War (World War II). With this political history comes a number of historic sights which are worth visiting. Chongqing has the largest population in West China and is the focus of China's "Go West" strategy to help further develop the western part of China. As a result, it is a very lively and rapidly modernizing city, although it does get a bit hectic at times.

Jeifangbei Shopping Square, itself completed at the end of 1997, is 400 meters from east to west, and 350 meters from north to south, covering an area of 24,400 square meters. Around the square are more than 3,000 stores various kinds of shops, with more than two dozen large malls and shopping centers, dozens of star-graded hotels, and offices such as banks, stock markets, trade and finance companies, postal and telecommunication services, and places of entertainment.

Do

Buy

Food

Other

Eat

Patrons standing in line at a snack shop in Chongqing

Local food

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 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 city skyline lit up.

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.

Suggested dishes at nicer restaurants

Suggested dishes at noodle shops

All dishes served in the noodle shops can be either spicy flavoured or plain flavoured.

Dog meat

Overall it is also a good experience to try some dog meat (gourou) in winter.

Western food

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

Restaurants

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.

As a warning, some bars have recently adopted a less pleasant method to send pretty girls to accompany and entertain you, and then ask for huge additional sums when you leave. Take care.

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 top hotels for ¥600-800 per night and many more are being added under construction. Most hotels are rarely fully booked. You can always check the room before you commit.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Cope

Immigration

The immigration, or Public Security Bureau (PBS) was earlier in Jiefangbei, but has moved to Jiangbei and new premises (GPS 29.599932-106.530928)

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.