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A burgeoning gastronomy - anchored by the spicy hotpot delicacies - is one of the biggest draws of Chongqing, a metropolitan city sitting atop the confluence of Jialing and Yangtze rivers. But that's only the topmost layer of the rich fabric that makes the city an exciting vacation prospect.
From an ultramodern city centre to rustic-looking hot spring resorts in the suburbs, Chongqing has it all!
Chongqing is an expansive city, but an efficient public transport system - anchored by the wide network of Chongqing Rail Transit - ensures that no part of the city remains off limits!
That only widens your options in terms where you would want to base yourself at during your stay. And that’s precisely why we have come up with a comprehensive guide to help you pick.
Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Chongqing and what they might have in store for you traveler!
The city’s central business district of sorts, Yuzhong is the go-to choice for many first time travelers flying into Chongqing.
The expansive neighbourhood offers a quintessential downtown experience, with bustling crowds throbbing the vast shopping districts running along major avenues and a glitzy skyscraper-heavy cityscape.
Start your city tours with a trip to the Raffles City, the landmark complex comprising some of Chongqing’s tallest skyscrapers connected by the world’s second-highest skybridge - the Crystal.
Offering art galleries, restaurant options and even lush garden spaces in addition to the sweeping city, it is a one-of-a-kind attraction that you will definitely regret missing out on.
Yuzhong also sits on a prime location right atop the confluence and is one of the best places to explore the waterfront.
You can choose to get on one of the night river cruises from the Chaotianmen dock or take a trip across the Yangtze river on the ropeway; either way, you are likely to catch astonishing views of the city's ever-growing skyline.
And that's not to say that promenades have nothing to offer on this own. Even the most casual of strolls by the lively riverside, which is dotted with small cafes and viewing points will give you plenty to look forward to! In short, while in Yuzhong, you are unlikely to run out of things to do.
Yuzhong continues to be one of the most easily accessible parts of Chongqing, by the virtue of being the commercial centre of the city. Lines 1, 2, 3 and 6 of the Chongqing Rail Transit run through most of the neighborhood.
The metro rides make for the most efficient way to travel in an otherwise busy area and can be used for both inter- and intra-neighbourhood communing.
While technically still a part of the bigger Yuzhong district, Jiefangbei warrants a separate mention of its own. The true beating heart of Chongqing, this compact neighbourhood is where you’ll best experience the 24/7 lifestyle of the metropolitan.
The neighbourhood is centred around the namesake pedestrian mall that is the unofficial point zero of the city itself. Giant billboards and neon-lit screens cover the neighbourhood skyscrapers, and all of it really comes alive after sundown.
Jiefanbei offers a wide array of modern entertainment options; in addition to the big shopping malls and boutiques, it is also home to movie theatres, clubs, several trendy nightlife options as well as some of the most frequented restaurants in all of Chongqing, serving top picks from the Sichuan cuisine must-haves as well as the famed hotpots!
Jiefangbei is situated right in the centre of Yuzhong and is fairly easy to access. You can find your way into the neighborhood through Line 1 and 2 of the metro, which have major stations at Jiaochangkou and Linjiangmen respectively.
Hotel and other accommodation options are in plenty and among some of the finest that the city has to offer.
Right across the Yangtze river from Yuzhong is the other peninsular neighbourhood of Nan’an. Surrounded by the Yangtze river on three sides, the Nan’an is home to some of the famed old and modern city bridges.
Spare some time in the evenings to take in the views of the majestic bridges with the backdrop of the brightly-lit central business district; the relatively newer minimalist Egongyan and Yuzui Yangtze River Bridges, the box-girder Shibanpo Yangtze Bridge and the arched Cainyunaba Bridge are among some of the must-visits!
Nan’an is also popular for major tourist draws that include several ornate old-world shrines; the eclectic Foreigner’s Street, known for its replicas of world landmarks, rich blend of architectural styles and varied mix of entertainment options; and Nanping, another top pick from the city's often-frequented pedestrian malls.
Several major city bridges connect Nan'an to the city centre as mentioned up top; it only takes about a 20 minute ride to get from one location to the other. You can also reach the neighborhood by taking a metro on Line 3 and Loop of the Chongqing Rail Transit.
Once in Nan'an, you should not have too much trouble finding a decent hotel or resort option. Whatever your budget range, Nan'an is likely to have you covered!
Travel a little southwest of Nan’an and you will begin to see a significant change in the landscape. That’s when you know that you have made your way to the suburb of Nanshan.
The neighbourhood, named after the central mountain, has drawn travellers to its lush mountains and the natural scenery for long, and is just the perfect getaway spot in the region.
Tha Nanshan mountain is where you will find some of the neighbourhood’s most pristine forest trails. And if that doesn't get the adrenaline pumping quite as much, you can also take on some of the more challenging hikes that are in the offing in and around the neighborhood mountains here; the view from atop some of the paths is truly breathtaking and will more than make up for the work that you put in!
The neighbourhood is also home to small rivulets and water bodies; you can choose to explore the laid-back landscapes on traditional rowboats.
Nanshan also has a couple of great hot-spring resorts in the vicinity, something that further adds to the relaxing appeal.
The Nanshan mountain makes for the southern border of the Nan'an district, so access remains fairly straightforward.
The closest metro station is still a cab ride away, you might instead want to drive on 103 Provincial Road, which will lead you into the suburbs. For your stay in Nanshan, look for a nice homestay or bed and breakfast.
Located on the banks of the Jialing river, Ciqikou is the erstwhile port town that once served as the centre for the region's porcelain trade. Today, it makes for a historic quarter that stands out amidst a stunning mountain-heavy backdrop.
The well-preserved pedestrian streets are lined with old-world buildings - dating back to the days of the Ming and Qing dynasty eras - that are best representative of the architectural sophistication of their respective periods.
You are likely to come across stunning facades or serene-looking shrine complexes at just about every turn, so make sure that you spare some time to explore Ciqikou on foot!
The neighborhood streets are also lined with craft shops and homegrown businesses that sell some of the finest porcelain that the city has to offer. There are plenty of options so make sure you rummage through a few stores before settling on your souvenirs to bring back home.
And to top it all off, Ciqikou is also home to some of the most popular hotpot restaurants in all of Chongqing.
Sure you can get your steaming hot bowl of the extra spice-infused delicacy at one of the Downtown restaurants, but to be able to sit down with your hotpot in a quieter setting right in the heart of the old town is a whole different experience altogether!
Ciqikou is a fairly compact area and makes for one of the most walkable parts of the city, so you'll never need to look for public transport for getting from one part of the neighborhood to the other.
The eponymously named station - connected to Line 1 of the Chongqing Transit Rail - lies on the southwestern of the neighborhood, so commuting outside of Ciqikou is just as hassle free.
And for the last neighbourhood in the list, we bring to you the family-friendly Beibei. Situated a little northwest of the city centre, this is the neighbourhood that is best known for its plethora of hot spring destinations and quaint village-like setting.
Several small villages make up the bigger commune; many of them are perched atop the Jinyun mountain by the banks of the Jialing river and offer a stark contrast to the general cosmopolitan vibe that has come to be attached with Chongqing. The mountain setting also offers misty mornings and you will enjoy taking strolls along the forested paths!
And that’s even without dropping the mention of the hot springs. There are several resorts that run out of rustic cabins and traditional-looking houses; the comfort of a hot spring and the very intimate cultural experience of living in a traditional Chongqing village make for the perfect weekend getaway.
Beibei might come across a little farther out than some of the other central neighborhoods on the list, but is by no means difficult to access.
The quaint accommodation options - which range from luxury hot spring resorts to wooden cabins - will anyway make you want to make the trip up north into the neighborhood hills.
That's our complete list of neighbourhoods from Chongqing traveler. Take your pick and get packing for your next vacation; a cosmopolitan experience awaits!