Chongqing – A heaven for hot pot lovers

1 05 2018

As a big lover of hot pot, I can’t resist the opportunity to make a “side trip” from Chengdu to the home of hot pot Chongqing. Nestled along the famous Yangtze River, this mountainous city has a pretty unique architecture with the whole city built on the mountainous slope. I knew Chongqing is a mountainous city but unless you visit the city, it is quite hard to visualize what a mountainous city mean. You can enter a building on the ground floor and go up to the 7th floor and yet you are still on street level!

The most iconic landmark in Chongqing is the People’s Liberation Monument (Jiefangbei). Located in central Chongqing, this monument commemorates China’s success during WWII.

Another must-see sight is Ciqikou Old Town (translated as Porcelain Old Town). Away from the city center, the quaint town dates back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties when it served as a port town and commercial center. For those who like to try out some local delicacies and do some shopping, there are many nice small shops in this old town selling food, tea shops, craftwork, clothes and many more.

Many of you may know of the Three Gorges and the controversial Three Gorge Dam that was built which caused many of the towns and monuments along the Three Gorges to be submerged under water. For those interested in understanding more about the project and have a glimpse of what life was before the project, the Three Gorge Museum which is also home to a variety of cultural and artistic pieces is worth a visit.

The night scenery along the Yangtze River is beautiful so don’t miss it. One nice viewing spot is around the Jiefangbie area so why not plan a nice dinner around the area while admiring the night scenery?

Dazu Rock Carvings

If you are an art lover and history buff, the Dazu Rock Carvings about 2 hours drive from Chongqing is a great day trip. Though less magnificent in scale versus the Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi province and Longmen Grottoes in Henan province, the Dazu Rock Carving is much more colourful and less crowded, giving one more opportunity to slowly admire the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fengdu Ghost City

Chongqing is also the most popular place to start the famous Three Gorges cruise down Yangtze River (also known as the Yangtze River Cruise), taking in sights like Fengdu Ghost City, White Emperor City and Three Gorges and many more. It’s a pity that I didn’t have the time to do the Three Gorges cruise but I managed to squeeze in a trip to Fengdu Ghost City, about 3 over hours drive from Chongqing. This mysterious city has also been one of the place that I yearn to visit since young after I watched a documentary about this city. Legend has it that when one passed away, the spirit will come to this city and undergo three major tests to decide where he/she will go in the afterlife. The locals will tell you that it is wise for the living to come here and familiarize with the route and protocols of netherworld so that one can easily pass the tests and get a good rebirth in the afterlife.

The first test is crossing the Naihe Bridge (translated as “Nothing to be done” Bridge). One has to cross the middle arch of the 3 arches and apparently virtuous people will pass over the bridge without obstacle whereas those that are not will fall into the pool below.

The next test is the Ghost Torturing Pass (Guimengguan) where the dead will report to Yama, the King of Hell, for judgment. Next up is the Tianzi Palace which is located at the center of the whole scenic area. This is where the dead will take the third test where he/she has to stand on the large stone in front of the gate on one foot for three minutes. Apparently, a good person will be able to do it while an evil one will not and will be sent to hell. For those who successfully pass all three tests, they can then go to a tower called Wangxianglou (Tower of the Last Glance at Home) to take once last glance home before taking rebirth.

Given that we have to “leave the netherworld and return to our living world”, we will need to cross back the Naihe bridge on the return route but this time not via the middle arch but via either the Gold or Silver bridges to the left or right of the middle arch. The Gold bridge will give one good wealth/fame and the Silver bridge will give one good health/peace so take a pick on what you want. Well I will say that whatever your beliefs are, this trip is rather fascinating and a good reminder that “good begets good, evil begets evil”. Before I leave the city, I was told that by walking through the Ghost city, I will live to 99 years old according to the local superstition haha. Time will tell if this is true but no matter what, I truly enjoy the whole visit and will strongly recommend this site 🙂

Navigating around:

Taxis in Chongqing run on gas so the boot/trunk is very small and can only fit 2 luggages. So if you have more luggages, you will either need to book a private big car/van or split into 2 taxis.

– It is not easy to go to Dazu Rock Carvings and Fengdu Ghost City via public transport as the places are in smaller counties. The best way to get there is to book a car/driver for the whole day as it is hard to get a taxi from there (I didn’t even see one at the sites).

Other nice side trips

– The Wulong Karst Geological Park is also a nice day trip to go hiking. The breathtaking scenic area with beautiful streams, gorges and limestone formations is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

– Chengdu is just a short train ride away. Check out my blog here.

– Emeishan and Leshan are not too far away too. See my blog here.

– I had not done the Three Gorges cruise. Though many reviews said that it is not as magnificent as before the Three Gorges Dam was built, it is still worth doing it with nice scenery and many historic sites. Make sure you pick a good cruise though as you will be stuck on board for a couple of days.

Food

Do try out for famous Chongqing hot pot but be warn that it is extremely hot and spicy! I will say that I prefer the Chongqing “loud traditional and hot” flavours versus the Chengdu “innovative and spicer” version. Well given that the 2 cities are well connected by high speed train, plan a visit to Chengdu too and try out their hotpot and decide for yourself which one you like 🙂

Where to Stay:

Chongqing is a very big city. It is the most convenient to stay around Jiefangbei area for tourists.

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4 responses

1 07 2018
CareerBreakAdventures

I can remember our first hot pot experience during our recent trip to China. Lots of fun and more spicy than expected. Although we opted to avoid the traditional meat options such as brain and goose intestines…

2 07 2018
Carefreetraveller

Indeed hot pot is lots of fun with family and friends crowding round the hot and spicy pot, chilling out with a bottle of beer. I opted out of those organs too…

1 05 2018
Chengdu – The land of the kungfu panda | The Carefree Traveller ~ Wanderer from the Little Red Dot

[…] – Chongqing is just a few hours train ride away from Chengdu. If you are interested to see the Yangtze River or take the cruise, check out my blog here. […]

1 05 2018
Mt Emei and Giant Buddha Leshan | The Carefree Traveller ~ Wanderer from the Little Red Dot

[…] – Why not plan a trip to Chongqing? Take a look at my blog here. […]

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