Chongqing Travel Guide

Chongqing is a thriving and fast-growing metropolis situated in heart of China. Cranes and skyscrapers are silhouetted against the surrounding mountains, and the streets are alive with hawkers, street vendors, and business people. The city has 9 million inhabitants and the wider region has a population of more than 30 million

The Mountain City, as it is known, is situated in the South West of China, at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers, and is surrounded by hills and valleys. The city centre, the Yuzhong District, is on a peninsula that juts out horizontally between the two rivers and is a hive of activity, with crowded street markets and tiny apartments stacked on top of one another.

With a history dating back to 316 BC, Chongqing is an important river port and has long been of commercial and military importance. During World War Two, the city was the de-facto capital of China, and was heavily bombed by the Japanese, but never captured. Its importance during the war earned it the nickname 'the City of Heroes'.

Other than being a launch point for a Three Gorges cruise, Chongqing is not on most tourists' radar, but it is becoming increasingly popular with international business travellers. More luxury hotels are opening every year, and many multinational companies are investing in the city - Ford has just opened its third factory in the region. There are now direct flights to Chongqing from New York, Los Angeles, and London Heathrow.

In terms of local cuisine, Chongqing is famous for its hot pot. The spicy, tripe broth is served in more than 30,000 hot pot eateries, with official guidelines given by the government on how to serve the dish. Within the city limits, there are several prominent attractions. Ciqikou is an ancient village where visitors can see what Chongqing was like before World War 2's destruction and the subsequent redevelopment on the region. The natural hot springs of Chongqing are well worth a visit and provide some lovely respite from the busy metropolis; the Ronghui Hot Springs and Chongqing Bolian Hot Springs come highly recommended.

Chongqing has a sub-tropical climate with humid, warm weather most of the year. Summers are hot and long, averaging 46 °F (8 °C), while the winters are mild and short, with average temperatures of 83 °F (28 °C). Spring and autumn are pleasant and mild, making March and September the best time to visit. The city is famously foggy due to the severe air pollution that shrouds Chongqing for around 100 days a year.

While there are efficient bus, train, and ferry services, the easiest way to get in and around Chongqing is by taxi, with your destination written down in Mandarin. Chongqing drivers are notoriously reckless drivers, so be prepared for a white-knuckled ride. Visitors should make sure the meter is running when getting into a taxi, as drivers have been known to overcharge foreigners.

One of the biggest challenges for English speakers is the language barrier, as there are very few locals who speak fluent English. While the crime rate is relatively low for a large urban metropolis petty crime does occur occasionally, especially near train stations and major tourist destinations.

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