Hit list: Chongqing's charm

1 Nov 2017 by Business Traveller Asia Pacific

Three Gorges Museum

Located in the centre of the city opposite Chongqing People’s Hall, the Three Gorges Museum opened in 2005. There are several floors of exhibits offering a fascinating insight into the region’s past, from ancient folk customs and artworks to the impact of heavy bombing during the Sino-Japanese war. A highlight is the main Three Gorges Dam exhibit, providing a detailed look at the construction of the dam and preserved culture from the flooded areas. Entry is free; opening hours 9am-5pm, closed on Mondays. Access via Zengjiayan subway station.

Chongqing Great Hall of People

People’s Assembly Hall

This huge building houses a 4,000-capacity auditorium that plays host to a range of concerts and events, but it’s the striking exterior that really draws the crowds. Built in the 1950s, with reference taken from ancient Chinese architecture, its green glazed roof tiles, red colonnades and white balustrades make it probably Chongqing’s most impressive landmark. In the evening, the façade is spectacularly illuminated.

People's Liberation Monument in Chongqing

Jiefangbei Square

Jiefangbei CBD is the “Times Square” of Chongqing. Gleaming skyscrapers adorned with LED screens surround a large pedestrianised square and the tiny-by-comparison People’s Liberation Monument. With boutique stores in the hundreds and international brands from Apple to Gucci and Rolex, Jiefangbei is a shopping paradise. In the evening, it becomes a lively entertainment hub, with plenty of high-end restaurants and bars. Delve into the local flavours of hotpot or hot and sour noodles from one of the street vendors on Bayi street, or tuck into steak at one of the more high-end establishments.

China Chongqing Hongya Cave, Chongqing

Hongya Cave

Immerse yourself in traditional ethnic Bayu culture at this picturesque riverside spot. The architecturally striking Hongya Cave is an 11-storey stilt-house complex containing a maze of shopping arcades and restaurants. A popular tourist attraction, it has its fair share of tat, but is still an entertaining experience. The local food offering, on the other hand, is well worth investigating. Grab a table with a view to enjoy scenes of the Jialang River and get your camera ready in the evening, when spotlights turn Hongya Cave into an even more ethereal sight. It’s a ten-minute walk from Jiefangbei Square, or accessible via bus and taxi.

Ciqikou Porcelain Village

Step back in time at Ciqikou, a pretty hillside village overlooking the river. Its history dates back to the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644), when it was famed for its porcelain trade. Today the warren of cobbled streets and old timber structures offer a snapshot of 15th-century Chongqing life. There’s a mixture of tasteful restorations, replicas and ancient structures (including the 600-year-old Bao Lun Buddhist temple – reportedly constructed without a single nail). Wander the souvenir shops, then head for one of the restaurants serving delicious – and sometimes unusual – local specialities. Bus 808 goes to Ciqikou, or take a 30-minute taxi ride.

Eling Park

This beautiful century-old park is perched on a hill in the middle of Yuzhon District. Built in 1909 as the private garden of a wealthy businessman, the tranquil garden oasis is now a welcome respite for all. Winding paths guide visitors through the manicured gardens, dotted with Chinese pavilions, lotus ponds, arcing bridges and teahouses. Stunning city views are available (smog permitting) from the recent addition of a pagoda-style viewing platform. Access via the subway to Eling Station.

Chongqing Wulong ancient Inn natural bridge Scenic Area

Wuling Mountain Forest Park

Within two hours you can swap the concrete blocks of the urban jungle for the
lush forests, karst valleys, caves and waterfalls of Wuling Mountain Forest Park. Those brave enough can enjoy the Grand Canyon-like scenery through a glass viewing platform, while others can marvel at natural formations such as the Three Bridges. Movie buffs may also recognise the area, as it was a prime setting for Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. Given the size of the park and the trickiness of access, booking a guided tour is recommended. Otherwise, catch the train from Chongqing North Station to Wuling.

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