11 Best Things To Do in Chongqing, China

Chaotianmen Bridge Chongqing
DuKai photographer / Getty Images

To hear of Chongqing without any previous knowledge of the city would leave one to think it’s an uninhabited area of China. However, this bustling city is home to over 30 million residents, making it the third largest city in China behind Guangzhou and Shanghai.

Chongqing boasts a booming business district, a vast number of universities, and a combination of both upscale and home-style restaurants and bars. One of the natural gems of this robust city are the natural hot springs that have built resorts and spas around them. The Ronghui hot springs, frequented by guests from all over the world, feature massages, traditional Chinese medicine services, cupping, and a buffet among other features.

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Soar On a Giant Swing

One of the most exhilarating attractions for thrillseekers coming to Chongqing is a giant swing that sits at the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff. Located in Wansheng Ordovician Theme Park, the swing is one of four and takes you as high up as a six-story building. More than 4,000 people make their way to the park daily to get their adrenaline-inducing fix. Note that there are height, weight, and age restrictions to ride the swing.

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Become the Zoo Attraction

Yongchuan District, Chongqing, China, 402168
Phone +86 23 6373 7700

This one-of-a-kind concept is definitely for animal lovers that have a strong opposition to a traditional zoo structure. The Lehe Ledu Wildlife Zoo prides itself on allowing some of the most terrifying animals to roam freely while visitors go through the park in a cage. Upon paying, visitors are placed in the back of a caged truck to slowly getting a glimpse of some of the world’s favorite animals. But, this isn’t the scary part. Visitors are asked to keep their limbs away from the cage due to chunks of raw meat being tied to the cage’s bars. The purpose is to lure the predators, like lions and tigers, much closer.

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Roam Through the Ghost City

China, Chongqing Shi, Fengdu Xian, Ming Shan Zhen, 名山路152号
Phone +86 23 7061 3323

It sounds a lot more scary than it actually is, but the Fengdu Ghost City is a popular attraction built around history and tradition. Located on the Ming Mountain in Chongqing’s Fengdu County, the Ghost City is a culmination of monasteries, shrines, and temples devoted to beliefs of the afterlife. The site’s history can be dated back to two-thousand years and hosts structures, statues, and buildings that tell the story of a combination of Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucianism traditions.

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Explore Former Bomb Shelters

The people of Chongqing repurposed former bomb shelters that were originally built during World War II to protect civilians from Japanese air strikes. You can now do everything from eating local cuisine to having tea or picking out wine from the many cellars underground. In the summertime, the former shelters are very cool which makes them a popular go-to spot. Similarly, in the winter, the heat is on, making it a comfortable place to walk around and indulge in the scenery.

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Catch an Opera

China, Chongqing Shi, Jiangbei Qu, Jiang Bei Zheng Jie, 城文华街

The Chongqing Grand Theater overlooks the Yangtze River is located in the area of Jiangbei in the Central Business District. The theater hosts an array of visual arts including musicals, ballets, operas, folk music concerts, and other types of performances. The large venue accommodates more than 900 people and the striking exterior plays host to colorful, futuristic light shows.

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Walk Three Natural Bridges

Wulong District, Chongqing, China

Inside of the Wulong Karst National Geology Park are three natural limestone bridges named “Heilong” (Black Dragon), “Tianlong” (Sky Dragon), and “Qinglong” (Blue Dragon). The area also consists of other natural scenery with the inclusion of caves, streams, and gorges. These bridges are the largest natural bridge clusters in the entirety of the continent of Asia which means wearing comfortable shoes is a must. Prior to exploring the array of scenic views, visitors can find an Optimus Prime structure due to part of the 2014 movie “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction” providing some of the movies setting.

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Soak in Natural Hot Springs

Yang Li Lu, Shapingba Qu, Chongqing Shi, China

The natural hot springs of Chongqing date back 1,600 years and can be found in nearly every mountain in this spectacular city. These hot springs provide a great tool of relaxation while also offering medicinal properties in the water including salt and other natural minerals. These hot spring resorts often include additional spa services, lounges, tea, food and snacks. Three locations that visitors will be sure to enjoy are the Ronghui Hot Springs Resort, Chongqing Bolian Hot Springs Resort, and the Hai Tang Xiao Yue Hot Springs.

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Ride On a Cable Car

One great way of getting magnificent views of Chongqing is via a cable car ride. Chongqing used to offer two cable car route options: One option gave you a front-row seat to the stretch of the Yangtze River, while the second cable car option used to take you across the Jialing River, but has since been removed to create a bridge. The cable car is typically used for locals to get to and from work or to and from one area of the city to the next without traffic our crowding of the subway. However it’s still worth grabbing your camera and catching some fantastic shots.

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Go To See Carved Statues

China, Chongqing Shi, Yuzhong Qu, Cang Bai Lu, 纸盐河街39号重庆洪崖洞03层

The Dazu Rock Carvings consist of more than 50,000 sculptures in the Dazu County area of Chongqing. The largest group of carvings stand nearly 30 feet tall, stretching to nearly 1,000 feet in circumference. Similar to the structures of Ghost City, the Dazu Rock Carvings infuse Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism in the meaning of their designs. The preservation of the structures and the surrounding habitat makes this activity a very authentic Chongqing experience to rival.

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Indulge in Hot Pot

The tradition of hot pot in Chongqing is unique due to its close proximity to the Sichuan region. The style of hot pot can be much spicier than one may find in Northern Chinese areas. Hot pot is a communal dish, with more than 50,000 restaurants in Chongqing. A pot of boiling spicy soup is placed in the middle of the table, while guests choose from a variety of ingredients to place inside. Popular food among the locals include duck intestines, various parts of cows and pigs, and in some areas, frogs. There are hot pot restaurants that are devoted to seafood and one or two that are considered vegetarian. 

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Shop Like a Local

As a flourishing, up-and-coming city, Chongqing still holds a lot of its authentic Chinese charm. One of the ways this city keeps visitors embracing the culture is through their flea markets. A good rule of thumb is that due to the nature of this hilly city, preparing yourself with comfortable shoes is imperative. These markets offer so much that you may want to cover every inch, with the intention of leaving with items such as clothing and traditional tea sets to paper fans and trendy handbags. One of the most well-known markets is in Chaotianmen, which can easily be found by taking the subway.

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Best Things To Do in Chongqing, China