Chongqing may not seem like a big place. It’s certainly smaller than Sichuan and not as well known as Shanghai, but it is technically the world’s most populated city! With 32,000,000 people in the municipality of Chongqing, you shouldn’t visit if you can’t handle crowds!
There are plenty of things to do in Chongqing, but we only had 1 day to spend in the city, so we had to pick and choose wisely. Here’s what we did:
Visit a Museum
Chongqing has a 3000 year old history and has always been an important location in China. The fact that it sits at the connection point between two important rivers means that it has always been important for trade between eastern and western China. During the second world war, Chongqing even served as China’s capital city! There is a lot of history here, so naturally, it’s a good place for a museum.
There was plenty of information about Three Gorges and how important the dam is. They focused a lot on the people who built the dam and who gave up their homes for it to be built. Of course, this was a very 1 sided version of Chinese history, but it was interesting nonetheless.
In addition to information about the Three Gorges, there were some areas set up for the geology, anthropology and political importance of Chongqing. We got to see some pottery from the area (thousands of years old) and fossils as well.
Because we had just been in the Lanzhou museum, I wasn’t at excited for our history stop in Chongqing. There was one thing that the museum offered that the previous one had not: a display about Chinese currencies throughout the dynasties.
The museum was definitely worth stopping by, for several reasons. They had some excellent displays, of course, and it was a great way to get out of the heat. Did I mention that Chongqing is known at one of China’s 4 Furnaces? It was about 40°c this week, and we appreciated the air conditioned museum! We also appreciated that there was no entry fee, because it is a provincial Museum!
Visit Ciqikou Ancient Town
We didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the ancient town, but we did have a chance to pop in. Like most ancient villages in China, it’s basically a shopping street with old style architecture.
There were lots of spicy treats for sale, and plenty of hot pots boiling. You can buy little packages of chili’s and oil to make Chongqing Hotpot at home. Those packs are sold everywhere!
The town itself is over 1000 years old, and has been very well restored and maintained. Traditional architecture is everywhere, and there is a Buddhist temple near the town, but we never made it there.
Take a Cruise
One of the top rated things to do in Chongqing is a river tour of the city’s architecture. Chongqing is an important location because it sits at the intersection of two huge rivers: the Yangtze and Jialing. The rivers are an important part of experiencing the city.
There are two types of boats you can get tickets for, and countless places you can buy them. There are vendors all over the city, in little tourist spots, and tickets are around 158rmb and 198rmb, depending on how nice of a boat you want. We actually bargained a bit with them and only paid 168rmb each for the fancy boat.
The “cruise” is just under an hour long, and sadly, only went a very short distance, turning around a few times. We saw surprisingly little in our time, so for me, even 168rmb was pretty steep. The views are still very pretty, and I don’t know if I would recommend that people skip it all together, but I also might have done the cheaper boat next time and bargained it down to 128 instead.
Chongqing, like many Chinese cities, is really beautiful at night. The way the country lights everything up has always impressed me.
Enjoy Some Night Life & Spicy Food!
Chongqing is known for its spicy food! Everyone out west knows about Sichuan food, but Chongqing takes it up a notch! Personally, the hot pot is too much for my prairie girl stomach, but we still tried several other spicy dishes while we were in Chongqing!
We ended up in a night market all 3 nights of our Chongqing stay. It was lively and had so many great food options that we just kept coming back over and over. We were all suckers for the pork belly and potatoes!!!
Jiaochangkou night market is sprawling. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you realize it continues down another street. It was a welcomed change for us, because Suzhou, though beautiful, has very little night life, and pretty much all street food is banned.
So that’s how we spent our day in Chongqing! On day 2 of our Chongqing trip, we ventured out of the city for something historic and cultural. Stay tuned for more on that soon!!