A Day in Chongqing

My wife is going to Chongqing on business, and she’ll be free the whole day on Friday, February 23rd. She was able to get me a ticket to accompany her, so that means we have one day to check out what Chongqing has to offer. It’s probably not the best time of year to go, but oh well. (And yes, we both like spicy food!)

I chucked my Lonely Planet long ago, but in looking for info on Chongqing, I was thinking that there should be an online version of Lonely Planet. Something less commercial, in wiki format, that could offer the most up-to-date info on hot travel spots. That’s when I found WikiTravel.org. The site’s a little… visually boring, but it seems very functional. It has a page on Chongqing, but it doesn’t seem to offer much. Are the Dazu Rock Carvings (大足石刻) worth checking out?

To anyone who has been to Chongqing or lives in Chongqing, I would love to hear some suggestions of fun or interesting things to do. Thanks in advance!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I think a site like that would be awesome. Some sort of user generated China travel database with pictures, maps, video, testimonials, etc. I agree about the WikiTravel. It has potential, but it’s always just seemed like a crappy version of the regular wiki. I think a China specific site would be huge.
    (sorry….I got nothing on Chongqing.)

  2. I’ve been to Chongqing but didn’t see much except for some pandas and the General Stillwell (sp?) museum. I got the impression that there wasn’t too much to see there. You could take a boat trip on the Yangtze I suppose.

  3. how about 24-hour hotpot?it’s definitely worth it.

  4. Here to save…I suppose in a matter of saying. I live in Chongqing as a US Peace Corps volunteer and have been here just for 6 months now but will throw in my 2 cents.

    First because you mention it, the Dazu carvings are great. They didn’t make UNESCO World Heritage for nothing. A day trip is pretty tiring as it’s a 2.5 hour bus from the city to get there, and then another half hour taxi from Dazu bus station to the main carvings. I spent about 2 or 3 hours looking around. Needless to say, it’s a full day trip that leaves you spent at the end. Leave morning, come back late night from 菜园坝 long distance bus station. If you’re interested in seeing the city proper’s offerings and only have one day, Dazu sadly needs a miss.

    Other than that, here are things that are great to fill up a day in Chongqing:

    -Hotpot: This is the place for it. The original hot pot restaurant in Chongqing is called De Zhuang Hot Pot (德庄火锅). Others that are deservedly famous are Little Swan Hot Pot (小天鹅火锅), and my favorite, Qin Ma Hot Pot (秦妈火锅) as they use fresh spice and oil, not the pre-prepared version. The all-star of dinner locations in Chongqing is our version of the Bund (the city government’s words, not mine), Nanan Binjiang Lu (or Nan Bin Lu more commonly, 南岸滨江路). No good bus to get there, cab isn’t too bad. It has lots of upscale restaurants, clubs, bars, a nice river walk for a pre- and post- dinner stroll, and all of the hotpot places I mentioned above. For lunch, seek out a Chongqing restaurant that has multiple locations around the city, Lao Ma Chaoshou (老麻抄手) does their noodles and 抄手 up super 辣 and super 麻. Good eats.

    -Parks: Chongqing has two very good mountain parks. Ge Le Shan Gongyuan (歌乐山公园) and Nan Shan Gong Yuan (南山公园). They are in opposite sides of the city, but are both great mountain parks. Ge Le Shan is closest to the borough/district/区 of Shapingba (沙坪坝) and is a steeper climb and feels more natural and secluded. Nan Shan is the highest elevation in Chongqing and you can tell in the markedly better air. It is closest to the area of Nanping (南坪). Lots of flowers, old people, and also the Chongqing Anti-Japanese War History Museum, if you’re interested in that kind of attraction. If you are in Jiefangbei (解放碑), the “downtown” of Chongqing, take 347 or 384 to get to Nan Shan Park. Take 702 to get to Shapingba, then 707 to Ge Le Shan Park. Another “different” and great way to get a panoramic view of the city if you’re headed to Nan Shan Park is by taking the cable car across the river and then up to Nan Shan Park from there.
    Another park I just remembered is also near Shapingba, called 沙坪公园. It has sized down sculptures of some of the world’s most famous buildings (Sydney Opera House, Leaning Tower of Pisa, etc.) side by side with a Cultural Revolution Cemetary and Memorial.

    -Many recommend the Stillwell Museum for some historical insight. Closed still for Spring Festival holiday though I think.

    -Ciqikou Ancient Town (磁器口) is a late Ming dynasty town restored and preserved for tourists in the main area. But a quick 5 minute walk into the back area is an actual village where people live and go about their lives. I’ve got a great artist friend who has a studio back here, and know a wonderful teahouse hidden in the back near the peeing baby fountain (not a misprint). 2 nice buddhist temples too. This is the best place to buy the Chongqing local sweet, Ma Hua (麻花). It’s about a 45 minute bus ride from Jiefangbei. The closest borough to Ciqikou is Shapingba. Another restored old town is Hongyadong but it’s much faker, although only a 5 minute walk from Jiefangbei’s center.

    -Chongqing Mountain City (重庆山城) is a somewhat restored 老百姓 neighborhood that still retains great character. It sits on a huge cliff overlooking the Yangtze River too and has a nice walking path through the buildings, remains, and reconstructions.

    -Jiefangbei and the whole Yu Zhong Qu (渝中区) is a great place to stretch your legs for some urban mountain climbing. The local beer isn’t called 山城啤酒 for nothing. Despite this being the area of most development, it’s also got the remainder of the oldest buildings and I’d say, the most character out of the whole city. While you’re walking, check out Arhat Temple (罗汉寺) near the center of downtown. 1000 years old, in the center of downtown, and still cloisters to this day. 上清寺 is also worth a look. There’s also a great Sichuan Opera teahouse near the monument, but who knows with Spring Festival if they’re open.

    A good whole day to me in the city involves a breakfast near the monument of 酸辣粉, then some city wondering stopping by the temples, various outdoor markets, and the 潮天门 docks (the point of the peninsula, check out the great art gallery underneath). Then a cable car ride across to Nanping, finding some good 四川菜 or 老麻抄手 for lunch. Then either a bus trip to either park exploring the Chongqing mountain nature. If you check out Ge Le Shan, you could stop at Ci Qi Kou for a little Ming dynasty action. Back to the hotel for a little rest before a hotpot on Nan Bin Lu. Or you could say 算了 and head out to see Dazu on a busy day before squeeking back into the city for some hotpot.

    Regardless, check out my flickr as I’ve got pictures of the whole city as well as Dazu posted. And feel free to send me an email if you’d like. I’m here in the city and have nothing on my schedule if you’re interested in meeting up or want a somewhat local tour guide. I’m a ChinesePod listener and a Peace Corps volunteer, so that means I can’t be all that bad.

    Hope you enjoy my new home,

    PS – Award for longest comment ever goes to…

    PPS – I think Colleen (from CPod) used to live here. Certainly ask her advice too.

  5. Wikitravel is pretty weak. Chongqing doesn’t seem to have a city guide website…strange, most cities have one or even more.

  6. Hi, all. So, I agree that the Chongqing article isn’t one of our best. We’re still expanding our coverage of China, and in this particular case we’re a bit behind. I’m very proud of the travel guides that the Internet community has made on Wikitravel for other areas of the world. I hope that Matt, John and others can help us catch up in China.

  7. Matt in Madison Says: February 22, 2007 at 4:54 am

    Hi, John. I’m currently researching “Red Tourism” (Hong se lv you) for my thesis and spent a couple weeks in Chongqing over the summer. In addition all the stuff Matt said, I suggest eating some “Pu gai mian” (sorry no Chinese input on this comp. so I’ll translate it as “blanket noodles” cause they’re really big and wide – like blankets!).

    Also, if you’re into politically-oriented museums, I highly suggest visiting the “Hong Yan Cun” (Red Crag Village) where you can see the former residences of several party legends and the headquarters of a communication service which served for communication between Yan’an and Chongqing in the early days of the party (Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, etc.). This is not too far from “Sha Ping Ba” and can be accessed by several buses.

    Finally, if you’re not totally burned out on museums, I really suggest visiting “Anti-Japanese Education Museum”, which is a short walk up the hill from “Ci Qi Kou.” It’s a collection of history of what happened to universities affected by the Japanese invasion when they moved to the southwest. It really serves as a good history to how Chongqing itself expanded during the 30s-40s. I visited there last June on my travels looking at red tourism sites and was the first foreigner to visit there apparently. This helped me get a personal tour by the curator who led me through every exhibit. It was amazing. If the same guy is still working there, it would be a great history lesson about the evolution of Chinese education.

    Other than that, I went to Chongqing expecting nothing and had such an awesome time that I stayed for a couple weeks. Great food, nice people, good landscape, lots of Communist history.

  8. Matt in Chongqing and Matt in Madison,

    Thanks a lot for your lengthy, informative replies. This was exactly the kind of info I was hoping for. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  9. Isn’t Chongqing just one of those stereo-typically “Chinese” sounding names? I’m sure it wouldn’t be so amusing if I went there, but I chuckle a little every time I hear the word.

  10. Not to be missed: the General Joseph Stilwell Museum. Closed for renovation when I was last there in 2002, it should have reopened by now.

  11. Guys,

    I’m starting a one-year project in ChongQing (
    NNE of downtown 20 minutes?) and am more interested in the Pub Scene? I’ve only found one or two on the internet, Shamrck and Maggies?

    Any suggestions? In the past I’ve always opened my own pub during a project, so I can cater to my American engineers in the way they are accustomed too. (See – Clean bar, no baijiu, no Budweiser, BBQ, Salad without Corn, American TV).

    Please advise.

  12. I only had a few hours in Chongqing waiting for my Yangtze boat last winter, but I thought walking down along the river was interesting. At the point where boats embark for the trip downriver you can walk on a small beach… dirty, yes… but for me it had that “real Chongqing” feel.

  13. the Admiral,

    Sorry but that sort of place is in short supply here. There’s a Newcastle Arms that has a pretty strong british pub feel. The Celtic Man but it turns into a dance club at night. 洋人街, foreigner street, is quite outside the center of downtown, further from NNE (I assume Jiangbei 江北 area) than downtown. Despite being out of the middle, it seems to be the main congregation area for non-teacher expats. A hawaiian expat, Cliff, owns a bar here and does BBQs once a week which seems to be a solid place to meet the majority of expats in Chongqing. Remember, the pub scene and foreigner catering locations are small in Chongqing for a reason, there are very very few foreigners here. Talking with a man in the local international school, he said that of a town with about 12 million people, there are about 2,000 foreigners living in the city. 99.98% Chinese.

    So, I, along with the rest of the expats, would certainly welcome, frequent, and thoroughly enjoy the pub that you would set up. Keep me up to date (via email, linked).


  14. Thanks for all these comments. Son going to teach English in Chongqing and we will visit in October.

  15. Does anybody know how big is the foreigner community in Chongqing ? Where can I get this kind of number ? How many from the west ?

  16. I know this entry is from ages ago, and you have already been to Chongqing and back, but here’s something that I’ve just recently been able to start putting online. Discover Chongqing (I’m using a wordpress blog to host it for now, so you’ll need to use the workaround or a proxy to view it)

    I’m finishing up my two year Peace Corps stint in Chongqing this month, so I’m affiliated with ‘Matt in Chongqing’ and we actually have worked together on a couple projects. Hope the website can be of some assistance to others in the future, it’s only about halfway complete, but I’m working furiously on it!

  17. minicoolva Says: November 30, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    hello,i am from chongqing china,welcome to chongqing.
    if you want to come to chongqing,i can help you.

  18. HI, I found your chating by chance…

    Very intersting to know all your adices… hehe, I am a Chongqingness, and very proud of that…

    en, yes, it is a pity that there is no trouist website… Wish the goverment will relise this problem and put in process…

    On the other hand, Chongqing is devolping like a hill… supposed there is a lot of chance for you guys…

    Chongqing is a city with long history, and mutil culture… get into please, discover and you will love Chongqing

    If you want any more information for Chongqing , welcome to contact me.

  19. I want to know which ancient town in Chongqing to visit?
    excluding cikikou.

    1) how to get there by myself?

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