72 hours in Chongqing

Chaotianmen Port in Chongqing. This is where the Jialing River meets the Yangtze River. Photos: Icpress

Starting in November, Chongqing will begin offering foreign tourists a 72-hour window to explore the city without a visa, following the introduction of a new policy for transit passengers from 45 countries. The city's airport — Jiangbei International Airport — has prepared special visa-free channels for foreign passengers.

If you're transiting through Chongqing, why not take the opportunity to explore the unique charms of the city?

China Daily planned a 72-hour trip in Chongqing covering many of its scenic spots and a sampling of its local food. Even if you only have three days, the combination of the gorgeous natural scenery and the unique urban landscape will surely make trip worthwhile.

Here's how to get the most out of three days in this vibrant metropolis in western China.

Day One: Sightseeing in the downtown area

In the morning, you can visit Chaotianmen Port, literally "the Gate That Faces Heaven". This is where the Jialing River meets the Yangtze River.

Jiefangbei, or Liberation Monument, is located in downtown Chongqing. There is a saying that if you do not come here, your visit to Chongqing is not complete. It is the equivalent of Times Square in New York, surrounded by giant billboards and name-brand retailers.

The Yangtze River Cableway is also a must-see if you want to have a view of Chaotianmen Square and the Yuzhong Peninsula from above.

Then you can visit the People's Great Hall of Chongqing. Built in 1955, the whole complex is an imitation of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

In front of the building lies the People's Square. Every morning and evening, many people come here for exercise, such as tai chi, dancing and singing.

There is one snack street in Jiefangbei, named "Haochi" street, means food street. Mouthwatering options include hot and sour rice noodles, small sweet dumplings and Chongqing Noodles.

After the feast, in the afternoon, you can relax with a cup of tea in Ci Qi Kou, an ancient town that is more than 1,700 years old. It features traditional southwest Chinese architecture, small shops, a variety of snacks and even restaurants on boats.

At night, you will want to enjoy the spectacular night view of the city.

The best way to get a night view is to take in a cruise that commutes between the Yangtze River and Jialing rivers.

After a busy day of touring, you can chill out at the Cotton Club in Jiaochangkou near the JW Marriot Hotel. Or, you can go to the German beer house MUG in Chongqing Tiandi, a posh area similar to Beijing's Sanlitun.

Dazu Rock Carvings. It is one of the four greatest Buddhist grottoes in China and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

Day Two: War of Liberation tour

In the morning, if you are interested in the history of China's War of Liberation (1946-49), visit the two prisons in Gele Mountain, Cinder Cave and White Residence, where hundreds of Communist Party members and officials were held during the civil war.

In the afternoon, you can visit the Three Gorges Museum. As the landmark of Chongqing, the museum is not only the largest monographic museum in China, but also a public undertaking for the preservation, education, scientific research of cultural relics and the natural environment of Chongqing and the Three Gorges area. A 360-degree cinema of the Three Gorges shows the natural scenery of the Three Gorges prior to the construction of the dam. There are more than 170,000 cultural relics.

Eat dinner at Nanbin Road by the Yangtze River. There are dozens of upscale local restaurants with a view of the river.

Day Three: Nearby Attractions

The trip to Dazu Rock Carvings will take one day. One of the four greatest Buddhist grottoes in China, it has a long history of more than 1,000 years. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.

What makes the Dazu carvings so special are their aesthetic quality, state of preservation, rich diversity of subject matter, both secular and religious, and the light that they shed on everyday life in China during ancient times. Many of the carvings are brightly painted and tell religious, moral and historical stories.

If you are interested in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, Dazu Rock Carvings is a must-see destination.

After enjoying the spiritual journey, you can eat at the Lotus Garden. The must-order dishes include lotus soup, lotus pork, lotus porridge and, of course, the lotus drinks. You can explore more all by yourself.

At night, for a great view of the famous night scenery in Chongqing, you can go to the well-known sightseeing spot called "Yi Ke Shu", or One Tree, on top of Nanshan Mountain to experience a splendid panoramic view of the city.

Last but not least, if you can stand the spicy local flavor, you should try one of the dozens of open-air hotpot restaurants on Nanshan Mountain.

Jiefangbei, or Liberation Monument, is located in downtown Chongqing.

Dazu Rock Carvings. It is one of the four greatest Buddhist grottoes in China and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999





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