Formerly part of Sichuan province, Chongqing became an independent municipality in 1997. One of four municipalities in China, the mayor of Chongqing reports directly to the central government in Beijing. Being at the juncture of China’s largest river, the Yangtze and the Jialing River, the city serves as the departure point for the many Yangtze River cruises. Sailing to the beautiful Three Gorges is one of the highlights of the river cruise.
Surrounded by mountains, there is respite from the stifling city air. Mist-shrouded mountain trails are only a short drive away from the centre of town. Nanshan, the closest mountain is a popular retreat for the city’s elderly and urbanites looking for fresh air and scenic mountain views.
One of the most famous attractions in Chongqing municipality is the World Heritage listed Dazu Rock Carvings dating from the 7th century depicting Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian images and statues.
Chongqing food is a derivative of Sichuan cooking, one of the main schools of Chinese cooking. The dominating presence of chilli in most dishes tend to put off palates of those whose senses haven’t already been dulled by the mind-numbingly hot Sichuan peppercorn.
Chongqing fare is spicy, sharp and expansive. With chili as a main ingredient in many dishes, and an array of other pungent spices and flavours, the cuisine is exceptional and distinct. Chongqing chefs are famed for their diversity in using around 40 different cooking methods including salting, salting, smoking, frying and pickling. Nutrition and flavour are key considerations in preparing every dish. Just like you can't visit Beijing without sampling Peking Duck, you can't miss out on hotpot while in Chongqing.
Widely considered the city's signature dish, the Chongqing hotpot is a delightful, hot and raucous affair. Usually eaten in a group, people gather around a steaming pot of fragrant broth and add deliciously seasoned strips of meat, seafood or tofu. Freshly sliced spring onions, garlic and beansprouts are also thrown in. The cooked meat is eaten with a variety of dips, sauces and chilies. Some like to throw in rice vermicelli or noodles to make the meal more filling. Hotpot restaurants can literally be found on almost every street corner in Chongqing. Ask your guide or a Chinese friend to bring you to their favourite place. You won't regret it!