Beginner's Guide to Chongqing, China

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

After living in Chongqing for over 6 months, a city that most people have never heard of, I thought I would shed some light onto the wonder of this city. I live on the Yuzhong peninsula, which is right in the heart of downtown Chongqing city. Here are a list of great things to do in the city:

1. Ciqikou

This is considered the "old town" of Chongqing, where are all the buildings are traditional Chinese style. It's a small bundle of buildings overlooking the Yangtze river filled with lots of shops selling local foods, goods, and clothes. It is a major tourist destination for Chinese citizens who come to Chongqing from other parts of China. As a foreigner you will stand out and will get asked to take lots of pictures with the Chinese people!

Time to spend: 2-3 hours

How to get there: Metro line 1 (red) towards Jiandingpo, get off on Ciqikou stop

2. Hongyadong

This is truly a sight to see at night! A plethora of traditional Chinese style buildings stacked on top of one another overlooking the Yangtze river on the Yuzhong peninsula. At night, it is all lit up and another popular tourist destination for other Chinese tourists. You can have a fantastic dinner while looking at the bridge lit up and the river boat cruises going down the Yangtze river. Inside Hongyadong each floor has different specialities: local street food, international food restaurants, and local artisan markets.

Time to spend: 3-4 hours

How to get there: Metro line 1 (red) or line 6 (pink), get off on Xiaoshizi stop

3. Times Square

Yes, you read that correctly: Times Square. Created to imitate the one and only Times Square in NYC. It is a huge shopping mall area with high-end fashion stores, bright lights, and endless food. Great for a night out on the town!

Time to spend: 2-3 hours (depends on how much you like to shop!)

How to get there: Metro line 1 (red) get off on Xiaoshizi stop or line 2 (green) Linjiangmen

4. Eling Park

This is a gorgeous park that gives you great views of the Chongqing skyline. You can walk around the park and find rope bridges, small ponds, and large grassy areas. The main sight to see is the pagoda up on the top of the hill that allows you to have the 360 degree view of the city. It is 5 Yuan (less than $1 USD) to get into the pagoda, and then you climb up the stairs to the top. I recommend exploring the park a couple hours before sunset and then climbing up to the top to watch the sunset over the Yangtze river. Shortly after, you'll be able to see the bright lights of the Chongqing skyline.

Time to spend: 4-5 hours

How to get there: Metro line 1 (red) towards Xiaoshizi, get off on Eling stop

5. Hot springs

Chongqing has several different hot spring locations. The one that is the closest to the city center and easiest to get to is the Ronghui Hot Springs in Shapingba. They have so many different types of pools: aloe vera, green tea, lavender, rose, licorice, and so much more. Each pool has a sign in Chinese and English that describes what this pool is enhanced with and how it can help your body. They also have a wave pool and fish foot spa as well! On top of all the water attractions, they have a pink salt room, where you cover your body in salt, a hot lounge room, where there are hot stones on the ground to nap on, and multiple saunas throughout the grounds.

Time to spend: 5-8 hours

How to get there: Metro line 1 (red) towards Jiandingpo, get off on Shapingba stop

How much does it cost: 119 RMB ($17 USD) with a CBC bank card at the door, 139 RMB ($20 USD) online, or 169 RMB ($25 USD) at the door

6. Huashengyuan Golden Cake Dream Kingdom Park

I know the title is a mouthful, but it's not what you think. It's not some crazy touristy amusement park. A very wealthy man who owns a cake/bread company decided to build several European style castles across China- and this is one of them! It is absolutely gorgeous. You can walk around the grounds for hours to see all the intricate details of this castle and its detail. It is definitely a hidden gem that most Chongqing local people don't even know about!

Time to spend: 2-3 hours

How to get there: Taxi/Didi (Chinese version of Uber) The English address is: No. 123, Fengxiang Road, Dadukou Chongqing, China. The Chinese address is: 华生园金色蛋糕梦幻王国

How much does it cost: 20 RMB ($3 USD)

7. Hong'ensi Forest Park

This park is up in the mountain, but not hard to get to. It is a beautiful, free place to walk around and see lots of greenery, pagodas, and ancient structures. The main pagoda on the top of the hill can be seen from Chongqing city center! Pack a picnic or even order Mei Tuan and spend a sunny afternoon here.

Time to spend: 2-3 hours

How to get there: Bus 139 to SuJiaWan stop or Taxi/Didi. The English address is: Hong'en Road, Jiangbei, Chongqing, China

If you want to get out of the city for a quick day trip, here are some easy train or bus trips from Chongqing city:

1. Dazu Rock Carvings

This is truly a sight you don't want to miss! Ancient statues and pictures carved into the sides of mountains dating all the way back to 600 A.D. It is truly a gorgeous sight that I wouldn't miss if you come to Chongqing.

Time to spend there: All day

How to get there: Bullet train from Chongqing city (73 RMB or $10 USD, 20 min) to Dazu South. From the Dazu railways station you can either taxi (100 RMB or $14 USD, 45 min) or take the bus (6 RMB or 89 cents USD, 1.5 hrs)

2. Fengdu Ghost City

This is a popular stop from most river cruises leaving from Chongqing city and going down the Yangtze river to the Three Gorges. It was a city built on top of a hill designed to be a test for souls to find out if they are good and or bad and be cast to hell.

Time to spend there: All day

How to get there: Bullet train from Chongqing city (79 RMB or $11 USD, 1 hr) to Fengdu. From Fengdu Railway station, taxi (30 RMB or $4.50 USD, 20 min).

Wanna leave for even longer? Here are some weekend getaways that I know you'll love:

1. Wulong

Wulong has two main tourist destinations within the city limits: Wulong Karst Geological Park and Fairy Mountain. Wulong Karst is a nature-lover's paradise. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction was filmed here because of its majestic beauty. You could could squeeze this trip into a day trip from Chongqing city, but there are so many things to do in the surrounding areas you might as well turn it into a weekend trip.

Fairy Mountain is definitely a winter destination. They call it a "winter wonderland" and it truly is. White for as long as you can see. With picturesque views and sledding/tubing adventures, this is a great winter weekend getaway.

Time to spend there: 1-3 days

How to get there: Train from Chongqing (49 RMB or $7 USD, 2.5 hrs) to Wulong. From Wulong Railway Station, you need to go up the mountain by taxi (80 RMB or $11 USD, 30 min) or bus (10 RMB or $1.50 USD, 50 min)

2. Xi'An

This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, right behind Beijing and Shanghai. Why? The terra-cotta warriors of course! It is a little bit more difficult to get to because of the distance from Chongqing city, but it is definitely manageable. You can also walk or ride a bike on top of the ancient city walls that surround the perimeter of the city. Don't forget to grab an unforgettable bite to eat in the Muslim Quarter, with some of the most outlandish foods in all of China! Read more here.

Time to spend there: 2-4 days

How to get there: Flight (Around 485 RMB or $71 USD 1-way, 1.5 hrs), Bullet train (400 RMB or $59 USD for 3 hrs, or 280 RMB or $41 for 5 hrs), and Overnight sleeper train (100 RMB or $14.80 USD, 10.5 hrs)

3. Chengdu

This is also a popular tourist destination in China because of one main reason: Pandas. Chengdu has the largest Panda Breeding Research Center in all of China. At this research center they have both giant pandas and red pandas. You can even volunteer to work with the pandas for an entire day (for a mere price of around $290 USD...yikes!) Going to see these beautiful creatures is definitely worth a weekend visit. You can even go to the People's Park in Chengdu city center, and take a bus 45 minutes south to see the famous Leshan Giant Buddha!

Time to spend there: 2-4 days

How to get there: Bullet train (1.5 hrs for 144 RMB or $21 USD) or Slow train (4 hrs, for 46 RMB or $6.80 USD)

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