Chongqing is one of the Chinese cities which now qualifies for a visa-free stopover for up to 72 hours.
In continuing her guest post series Sarah Bennett explains some of the highlights of this city and why it is worth a visit.
Must sees in Chongqing in 72 hours
Situated centrally in China, Chongqing is often warm and can experience the infamous smog that so batters Chinese air. For a short trip however, do not let this put you off as there are plenty of things to see, do and eat, as similar to Chengdu, Chongqing is famous for its spicy food!
South Hot Springs (Ronghui) – 4/5hours
Everyone loves a bit of relaxation and the Chinese are no different, although spending the day at a hot springs for them is equally to do with keeping in good health, which is good enough for me!
Ronghui is relatively easy to traverse as all the signs for each of the pools is written in English, so you can understand what health benefits you are achieving by lounging in each one. You are provided with towels and flip flops and an electronic band which you use as payment in the hotsprings itself, so you needn’t worry about carrying money in your swimming costume. There are also fish spas you can delve into if you’re brave enough to be tickled by lots of little fish!
3 Gorges Museum – 3 hours
If you’re planning a visit to the dam (see below) the museum is a must, either before, or after your trip; there is a 360 degree show of the before and after effects of the dam.
The exhibitions include historical and cultural information about the Three Gorges, as well as information about the history of Chongqing and also information about what happened in Chongqing during the Second World War, especially in regards to Japanese aggression.
There are also a lot of relics and artwork from the Chongqing area all situated in the modern building
Three Gorges Dam – One day
Whilst 72 hours is a bit time-constraining for a full Yangtze River Cruise, which start at 4 days long, a day trip to the world famous hydroelectric Three Gorges Dam is not out of the question. Construction first began in 1994; the first power generation happened in 2003 and the dam was fully completed (all turbines functioning) in 2012. It is quite a project and a controversial one too. This is largely due to the many issues including the relocation of over a million residents, the destruction of archaeological sites, as well as negative impact on native species. It is difficult not to admire the feat of planning and engineering that went into the venture.
Ciqikou Village – Porcelain Village – 3 hours
Like many Chinese cities nowadays, CiQuKou is a street based on what a street in traditional China would look like. The village itself is famous for producing porcelain, with many old kiln sites having been discovered during restoration and reconstruction. The construction of the houses which line the streets are of bamboo and timber, with traditional and authentic colouring of all aspects of the frontage of the houses, including lanterns hung outside.
There are many opportunities to buy local souvenirs, including embroidery, art and teapots, made of course, of porcelain. Being not far from the centre of Chongqing this is also a fantastic place to visit with time constraints.
Dazu Rock carvings – half a day
Dating from the 7th century, the Dazu Grottoes have over 50,000 carvings of great artistic skill, as well as over 100,000 Chinese characters making up various inscriptions. The carvings are influenced by the beliefs of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, as well as depicting ordinary Chinese life at that time. Because of the “aesthetic quality, their rich diversity of subject matter,” the Dazu rock carvings have been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1999.
China is notoriously difficult in its visa processes. However it has recently made itself more accessible to foreign tourists for 45 countries by offering 72 hour visa-free access to several cities throughout China when arriving by air.
Having started with Shanghai, this policy is now in place in 4 other major cities, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing; Dalian and Shenyang are 2 more cities who were granted the policy early in 2014.
This article is part of a series which will give you ideas about what you can do in your 72 hours in each city. It will also introduce China as a new stopover destination for anyone wishing to break up their long haul journey, as the flights are, for example, around 12 hours to London and 12 hours to New Zealand.
Are you interested in going to China? Plan your trip now with the China specialists.
The visa itself is still a transit visa, so those wishing to use it must have an onward ticket to a third country, declare their intentions to their airline and must not leave the particular city itself. For more information on the visa-free rules, check this page out.
Bennett from The Further Adventures of Bennett planned to spend 6 months teaching English in China and left 2 years later. She can currently be found residing in New Zealand, having swapped teaching children English for babysitting dogs and cats and you can follow her on Twitter.
To read more about Bennett’s Chinese experience, head over to Amazon “Add Your Brick to the Great Wall” which is a collection of experience and advice for anyone wanting to live, work or travel throughout China.