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Overview

Long known in the West as Chungking, modern Chongqing is one of the largest municipalities on Earth (population 32 million). The city center is packed into a hilly wedge between two rivers, the Jialong and the Yangzi. As western China's largest, most industrialized city, Chongqing has been modernizing at a ferocious clip, its old downtown eclipsed by skyscrapers and shopping malls. The city center is marked by Liberation Monument, which is fronted by a massive central square and Jiefangbei Pedestrian Street (beneath which lies yet more shopping and dining in the "Sleepless Underground Town"). The Jiefangbei district also encompasses the ...

Long known in the West as Chungking, modern Chongqing is one of the largest municipalities on Earth (population 32 million). The city center is packed into a hilly wedge between two rivers, the Jialong and the Yangzi. As western China's largest, most industrialized city, Chongqing has been modernizing at a ferocious clip, its old downtown eclipsed by skyscrapers and shopping malls. The city center is marked by Liberation Monument, which is fronted by a massive central square and Jiefangbei Pedestrian Street (beneath which lies yet more shopping and dining in the "Sleepless Underground Town"). The Jiefangbei district also encompasses the bustling Ming Dynasty-era Luohan Temple, the city's Great Hall of the People, the Three Gorges Museum, and Chaotianmen Harbor, with its fascinating flea markets. Worth a five-minute detour is an over-the-river cable-car ride. Downriver to the northwest is Foreign Street, a new area of restaurants, shops, and amusements ranging from an upside-down-house to "the world's largest public bathroom." Residences associated with the World War II era, when Chongqing served as China's provisional capital (1937-1945), abound. Chiang Kai-Shek's military headquarters, General Joseph Stilwell's residence, Premier Zhou Enlai's home, and Song Qing Ling's mansion are open to visitors. On the west bank of the Jialong River, Ciqikuo (also known as Chongqing Ancient Town or Porcelain Village) shows off old Chongqing as it once was. Steeped in hills, Chongqing has never attracted bicycle riders; beset by fog, it has repelled sun seekers; but Chongqing's iconic dish, the hot pot, has swept the world and is among China's chief culinary delights.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Chongqing is a major city located in southwest China.
  • Language: Southwestern Mandarin, Sichuanese
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summers are extremely hot and humid, as befits one of China's three "furnaces." Winters are milder, but wet. China's "Fog Capital" is frequently socked in, not only with fog, but excessive air pollution. Late fall is often the best time to visit.