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Chongqing is a fast-growing port city in western inland China located at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers.
One of four directly controlled municipalities in China - along with Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin – Chongqing has benefited from a government policy to revitalise the western part of the country and address the inequalities between the rich eastern coastline and the poor western interior.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, Chongqing has experienced extraordinary growth. Its famous Three Gorges Dam is the world’s biggest hydroelectric project.
Chongqing produces more motorcycles than any other city in China, is one of China’s biggest car manufacturers and is a centre for iron, steel and aluminium. The area is also rich in natural resources, with large deposits of coal, natural gas and other minerals.
As the city grows in size and importance, a shift to high technology and knowledge-driven industries is taking place. Chongqing aims to produce one-third of the world’s notebook computers by 2015, funded by foreign direct investment.
Chongqing is by no means a ‘new’ city. Founded 3,000 years ago, it got its current name in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) and it is known as the cradle of Bayu culture. It served as the wartime capital during the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.
Historically and culturally, Chongqing is part of the Sichuan province and retains a penchant for hot and spicy food.
When to go:
The best time to visit Chongqing is from March to May and from September to October.
- Take a cruise downstream on the Yangtze River to witness the amazing Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges (the Three Gorges). It is one of the most scenic spots in China.
- Visit the Dazu Rock Carvings, which are Buddhist works of art dating back to the Tang Dynasty in 650. Carvings continued to be added to the site until 1911. Dazu is about 160km from Chongqing.
- Go shopping in Ci Qi Kou Village. The ancient town is a protected cultural heritage site. You can still buy the porcelain for which the ancient town is famous, as well as many other handicrafts and souvenirs.
- Walk along Nanbin Food Street and eat a hot pot, the meal that Chongqing is famous for. Beware of how spicy you ask for it – the locals like theirs very hot!
- Learn about Chongqing during the Qing dynasty, its ancient Ba culture and the three gorges at the Three Gorges Museum.
- Walk around the Great Hall of People, the quintessential symbol of Chongqing City. While construction didn’t begin until 1951, its design reflects the architecture of Imperial China rather more than the modern office blocks it is surrounded by today.
- Visit the Wulong Karst, about 20km from Chongqing. One of the most beautiful features is the Three Natural Bridges; natural karst arches that have formed bridges 200m above a 1.5km-long gorge.
- Say hi to a Giant Panda at Chongqing Zoo.
- Take in an evening of famous Sichuan Opera.