Chongqing Travel Guide

The Liberation Monument (Jiefangbei) in downtown Chongqing
The Liberation Monument (Jiefangbei)
in downtown Chongqing

Believed to have been founded as the capital of the shadowy State of Ba in 1000 BC, this port is situated on a peninsula at the junction of the Yangzi and Jialing rivers. Also known as Shan Cheng (Mountain City), due to the hills covering the peninsula, it is one of the Yangzi valley’s "three furnaces" owing to its stifling summer humidity, made even worse by pollution. The main reason to visit Chongqing, a lively, rapidly modernizing city with few historic sights, is to catch a Yangzi ferry downstream through the Three Gorges. In 1997, Chongqing became the administrative center of the new city-province of Chongqing Shi, which stretches 311 miles (500 km) east to Hubei.

Visitors' checklist

  • 160 miles (258 km) SE of Chengdu
  • 5,090,000
  • Jiangbei Airport
  • Caiyuanba Bus Station, Hongyan Bus Station, CAAC (to airport)
  • Chaotian Men docks
  • Zourong Plaza, Bldg A/8th Floor, 151 Zourong Lu, 023 6387 6537

    Chongqing City Center

    Chengdu City Center
    • Chaotian Men 1
    • Chongqing Museum 4
    • Great Hall of the People 5
    • Luohan Si 2
    • Stilwell Museum 6
    • Liberation Monument 3
    People and goods coming off river-ferries, Chaotian Men Wharf
    People and goods coming off river-ferries,
    Chaotian Men Wharf

    Chaotian Men
    Chaotian Men (Gate Facing Heaven) is Chongqing’s wharf district right at the tip of the peninsula, where cruise boats line the muddy banks, readying themselves for their journey into Eastern China. A viewing platform overlooking the river junction was built in 2000, and offers splendid views on a windy day, though often visibility is impaired by the heavy fogs caused by intense pollution.

    Luohan Si

    • 7 Luohansi Jie
    • daily

    This Ming-era temple is famed for its hall crowded with luohan (those freed from the cycle of rebirth). The Indian Buddhist pantheon has just 18 luohan, but the Chinese have added hundreds of their own, including Buddhist figures, folk heroes, and even Daoists. The hall has 524 life-sized statues; some sit serenely, while others have grotesque faces. The most easily identifiable figure is Ji Gong, a comic peasant hero near the exit.

    Liberation Monument
    Situated in the heart of downtown Chongqing, the Liberation Monument is a plain-looking clocktower that commemorates the Communists’ defeat of Kuomintang forces in 1949. It is surrounded by a busy shopping district.

    Three Gorges Museum

    • Opposite Great Hall of the People
    • 9:30am–5pm daily

    This museum, also known as Chongqing Museum, houses a superb collection of Eastern Han tomb relics (AD 25–220) from sites around Sichuan. Peculiar to the region are 20-in (50-cm) long mausoleum bricks, illustrated with figures depicting religious and secular themes. A recurrent image is that of the dragon-bodied sun god, Rishen, associated with Fuxi, legendary ancestor of the Chinese. The highlight is a frieze of soldiers and chariots passing a nobleman being entertained. Upstairs is a display of Ba-era boat coffins.

    The extravagant Great Hall of the People, now part of the Renmin Hotel
    The extravagant Great Hall of the People,
    now part of the Renmin Hotel

    Great Hall of the People

  • 173 Renmin Lu
  • daily

    This 213-ft (65-m) high rotunda, seating 4,200 people, was built in 1954 as a conference hall to commemorate Chongqing’s important war-time role. Inspired by Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, it is now a part of the Renmin Hotel and is occasionally used for concerts. Its striking exterior, with three tiers of red-pillared eaves beneath a blue canopied roof, stands out from the modern high-rises that are slowly encircling it.

    Stilwell Museum

    • 63 Jialing Xin Lu, Liziba, 3 miles (5 km) SE of city center
    • 9am–5pm

    This is the former home of General Stilwell (1883–1946), who was based here between 1942 and 1944 as Commander of the US forces and Chiang Kai Shek’s Chief of Staff. The US was instrumental in helping China overthrow the Japanese, and Stilwell led the effort. Exhibits include a display on the legendary Flying Tigers, a volunteer group of US fighter pilots who held off the Japanese along the China-Burma border between 1941 and 1942. The museum also sells T-shirts with the Tigers’ logo.

    A colorful snack and fast food stall in town
    A colorful snack and fast food stall in town

    Hongyan Cun

    • 52 Hongyan Cun. 3 miles (5 km) W of Chongqing
    • 8:30am–5pm daily

    This group of whitewashed buildings was the base of the Nationalist-Communist "United Front" government during World War II. Among the prominent people based here were the Communist leader Zhou Enlai and his wife, Deng Yingchao. Chairman Mao briefly visited Hongyan Cun (Red Crag Village) after Japan surrendered in 1945, to attend the US-sponsored talks with the Kuomintang forces led by Chiang Kai-shek. The buildings now house a collection of sparsely-captioned wartime photographs. More appealing is the hilly parkland surrounding the site.

    Ciqi Kou

    • 9 miles (14 km) W of Chongqing
    • from Chongqing Hotel

    Founded 1,700 years ago on the banks of Jialing Jiang, Ciqi Kou (Porcelain Port) was a famous porcelain production center during the Ming era, and is something of a museum piece. Its riverfront lanes, preserved in their original flagstoned state, are flanked by old timber, adobe, and split-stone buildings with carved stonework, latticed windows, and gray-tiled roofs. Teahouses are everywhere, and there are about 100 to choose from. A couple of traditional ones overlook the river and occasionally host opera shows. Porcelain is no longer made here, but Ciqi Kou is now popular with modern and traditional painters.

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    China Tours including trips to The Three Gorges Dam, Yangzi River