My Favorite Things To Do In Chongqing, China

Every now and again, a breeze drifts past me and I swear I can smell the summer heat and humidity of Chongqing, China. Can you tell I miss it?

To be honest, even though the the summers in Chongqing were hot and humid, they were my favorite parts of the year. My skin was always clear and smooth from the wet air, no one was ever out on the streets if the sun was high and hot, and it was the very few chances I had to experience less of the gloom that came with the air pollution and constant rain.

Chongqing resides in the Chengdu Basin and is about 2 hours away from Chengdu by the fast train. The Chongqing Proper is population 11 million, meaning the city is huge and there is so much to do.

I spent most of my days wandering the city alone to see what I could find traveling from Beibei District and back to Dadukou where I lived.

Some of my places were not far from my front door and easy to get to if you had the light rail system and bus system down. So below is a list of my favorite places in Chongqing that I spent countless hours at.

Watch Hong Ya Dong Light Up

Hong Ya Dong is an ancient structure that sits at the edge of the Yangtze River and is filled with a variety of restaurants and bars. It’s frequented by both foreigners and locals throughout the day. At night, it is most magnificent because its little up with bright orange lighting which lines the rims of the build to accent it’s ancient facade. This is the perfect place for a #selfie or a stroll with your honey.

Marvel at Jiefangbei

Jiefangbei is a structure that sits in the middle of the Jiefangbei square. The monument signifies the Chinese people’s victory in the Sino-Japanese war. The monument was constructed in 1946 and it still stands to help remind the city of the people’s liberation. The monument is at the center of the square, which is surrounded by high-end stores for the shopper in you.

Wander Ciqikou

I few other large cities have a Ciqikou of come kind, but I particularly enjoyed the Chongqing one. When you arrive, you are immediately met with the delightful and signature aroma of stinky tofu. The cobblestone streets are filled with people wandering into shops wedged so close together sometimes it’s hard to find the right door. On the way you’ll find many delights on skewers and other delicious sweet treats being made to order. If you take the right turn, you’ll end up by the bank of the river or the wall of locks. It’s a good place to get lost, because you always find something amazing.

Drink Coffee at Dadukou Square (Or Anywhere)

I’m a people watcher. So, one of my favorite things to do when traveling anywhere, or even living anywhere is to order a delicious cup of coffee and a pastry, and then find myself a spot near a large window where I can watch the people go through their days. I particularly enjoyed the Starbucks in Dadukou because it looked right out into the square and there were always people walking by with small children, in eccentric outfits… you get the idea. But I also loved making the trip to Ugly Monkey to get my coffee and people watching fix.

Take a Yangtze River Night Cruise

It’s definitely a cliche activity, but a Chongqing Yangtze River Night Cruise a good way to catch a gloriously lit Chongqing cityscape in the evening. There are multiple cruise vessels to choose from and they last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Some of them serve drinks and food on board so you can snack and sightsee. With the brisk air brushing your face, it’s a perfect trip for you and your friends and family members.

Get Shaokao (Street BBQ)

More commonly known as Shaokao, Chongqing street BBQ is probably the most magical thing I’ve ever eaten. I think I ate shaokao at least three times a week. When you approach a shaokao cart, they’ll hand you a tray and you get to pick your vegetables and meats. They grilled up everything for you until it’s nice and tender then they mix it with oil, Chongqing spices, garlic, salt, MSG, and send you off on your way. You can either take it to go, or sit down around a table on the street with your friends and indulge with a Tsingtao beer to wash it down.

Grab Zhajiangmian at 2 am

There were many times I would go out into Dadukou square at night when I couldn’t sleep and get one of my favorite noodle dishes of all time, Zhajiangmian. It’s noodles, Chongqing spices, cooked vegetables, chickpeas, mushrooms, and sliced pork served in a oversized bowl with mass amounts of oil. The idea is you have to keep mixing it to make sure all the flavors come with every bite. It costs about 12 RMB and is well worth the 2 am trip. I found mine in Dadukou Square next to the pizza delivery place.

I lived in Chongqing for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer and loved every minute of it. (A very love-hate relationship). To read more of my blogs on living in China, go here!