Chongqing Travel Guide

Written by Sally Guo Updated Apr. 2, 2021

Chongqing is an enormous, one-of-a-kind Chinese megalopolis that represents the greatest population concentration in all of China (in terms of geographical area, it is about twice the size of Taiwan; in terms of population, it is about twice the size of Beijing). At its core is the old city of Chongqing, which has a history stretching back some 3000 years. Chongqing Municipality is semi-autonomous, being placed directly under the overarching auspices of the central government of the PRC. The municipality, which continues to expand, originally comprised some 82,000 square kilometers, absorbing the cities of Chongqing, Wanxian, and Fuling, as well as a number of smaller cities, counties, and other administrative entities

Chongqing Municipality's last recorded population figure was in excess of 30 million, most of them belonging to the majority Han Chinese ethnic group. Forty-nine other ethnic groups, each preserving its unique cultural heritage and traditions, are represented in Chongqing Municipality, the main groups being the Tujia, the Miao, the Hui, the Man, and the Yi. The presence of thriving minority cultures within the municipality's borders is considered as an asset by the leaders of Chongqing Municipality, both for the sake of cultural diversity itself, but also because this rich cultural diversity makes Chongqing Municipality an attractive tourist venue. As the birthplace of the Bayu Culture (i.e., the culture of the semi-mythical state of Ba, which is supposed to have been established during the 11th century BCE, before it was overrun by the state of Qin, whose origins, in contrast, are fully documented), Chongqing has established a Bayu Folk Culture Village.

Designated as Chu Prefecture during the Qin (BCE 221-207) Dynasty, China's first imperial dynasty, it was later designated as Yu Prefecture, then Gong Prefecture before being named Chongqing in CE 1189 at the beginning of the reign (CE 1189-1194) of Emperor Guangzong of the Southern Song (CE 1127-1279) Dynasty.

Given the area's population density and its prominent role in the country's history, it is no surprise that Chongqing offers an array of major historical and cultural attractions. The city was the base for the Allied effort during WWII. It was here that General Joseph Warren Stilwell, Allied Commander-in-Chief of the China-Burma-India theater, was based (the present-day Stilwell Museum in Chongqing is the restored headquarters of General Stilwell). Chongqing is also home to the Dazu Rock Carvings, there is a Panda Room at the Chongqing Zoo, and the city boasts China's largest eco-tourism venue, Chongqing Safari Park, to name just a few of the important cultural-historical highlights of the area.

But there are other, more charming and picturesque sides to Chongqing Municipality, including its many and varied cityscapes, its mountains, rivers, and lakes. There are days when the Chongqing fog can rival that of London, a phenomenon that enhances the coziness of the city and makes a cup of tea at a local teahouse most inviting.

The city offers a variety of choices for the visitor - from conference venues to shopping malls to dining and entertainment emporiums (the televised cooking show of Chinese-born (Guangzhou, 1948) American stir-fry cook, Martin Yan (, has naturally visited Chongqing). Chongqing is also a great place for a leisurely stroll, being wedged between the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers, surrounded by hills and mountains in the background. The nighttime view of the heart of Chongqing's downtown area, with its myriad of glittering lights, amplified by their reflections in the city's two rivers, is an especially majestic, if not romantic, sight to behold, especially given the diverse cultural setting. On a starry night, it is an experience rarely equaled anywhere on the planet!

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