Known primarily as the departure point for Yangtze river cruises to the Three Gorges, Chongqing is a fascinating city too often overlooked by those who arrive just in time to set sail. With a total land area the size of Austria, and a population larger than that of Malaysia, China’s World War II capital is sometimes called the “world’s largest city.”

Dazzling neon illuminating the streets of Chongqing by night
Dazzling neon illuminating the streets of Chongqing by night

This is a misnomer – Chongqing is actually a municipality, not a city at all. The hilly downtown area is built around the convergence of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, and at night the undulating neon skyline is an impressive spectacle – especially viewed from the old cable car that spans the river.

It is growing at an astonishing pace, and its designs for the future are on display at the Planning Exhibition Gallery, which features virtual video presentations, interactive maps, and a vast scale model of Chongqing as it is predicted to be by the year 2020. The city’s troubled history – it was repeatedly bombed by Japanese fighter planes during World War II – is documented with interactive exhibits at the Three Gorges Museum on People’s Square. A 20-minute taxi ride from the city is Ciqikou, a pretty riverside village with an old hilltop temple.


Getting There and Around Chongqing can be reached by air, rail, sea, or road. It has three airports, with links to all of China’s provincial capitals as well as some Asian and European capitals. In town, there is a comprehensive bus system and cable cars to link those districts separated by the city’s rivers.

Where to Eat Try Chongqing’s famous spicy hotpot dishes at Chongqing Prince Restaurant.

Where to Stay The 4-star Hongyadong Hotel is well located near the Chaotianmen dock.

When to Go It is hot and humid all year, but especially in summer (Jun–Sep).

Budget per Day for Two US$70–80

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