January 20, 2014
Chongqing 重庆 and Wulong 武隆
Writing travel guides is not an easy task. I can write it for myself because I know what I want and what I am looking for, but I don’t know what you are trying achieve with your travel. As I mentionned in previous posts, travelling is a personnal experience nearly imposible to compare to another’s.
But China needs more information available on the web for us foreigners, addicted to our dear technology.
Chongqing is a fairly big city situated under Sichuan province. It has no big interest in itself, no pandas, great buddha or whatever other cities can offer but it is a good starting point for hiking paths and river cruises. The city is surrounded by mountains and forest parks worth visiting. Other than that, compared to Xi’an, Chongqing wins our heart over with its nightlife and animations. People are, I think, more outgoing and won’t hesitate to talk to you – in their dialect that is- and question you about your trip. They will gladly help you, foreigner, if you need anhthing.
On our first day there, not having planned a single thing to do, lady who probably saw us wandering around gave us a list of things to see in Chongqing.
Very well then.
Most of the sites were out of the city, so we decided to spend a day in just to see why tourist won’t stop here. Asking around, we came up with a list of places to visit.
What we enjoyed
In the battle of fake touristic attractions this one is probably number one. Still, the Chinese seem to enjoy the old alleys and traditional food that comes out of it. I have to admit that the old city is a nice place to spend a few hours in and it is surprisingly easy of access.
Take the underground line 1 and stop at Ciqikou. When you get out, you will see the gate of the village. Do not stay on the main street, turn left in any alley you see, as scary as it might seem. They will all lead to the real village.
This is the place where hotpot was born so obviously you must try it. Beware though, it will be very spicy, but incredibly flavoury if you know where to go. Do not try any of the recommended restaurants and don’t stay in the avenues. Go behind the buildings, into the real China, where the locals hang around and go in any street restaurant full of locals. Cheap (40 kuais for us both), big and delicious. Choose your dishes and cook them in the boiling spicy water.
The streets behind modern buildings
There is not much to do but they have a nice athmosphere…
I haven’t been to many Chinese cities yet but this one at least seems to have made an effort in the architecture of the buildings, as compared to the aweful, horrible things in Xi’an. A bit European I would say.
We do not recommend
The entry is free for locals but the foreigners pay 10 kuais. It is a nice temple to see if you fon’t have anything else to do. The cavemen part is nice -no photos allowed- but the rest of the complex is like any other in China, perhaps less decorated. When we visited they were building other temples in the complex so it might end up being pretty big, but I doubt they make it more interesting. Purely touristic.
This ridiculous fake complex is built with the same architecture as Ciqikou except it is full of foreign restaurants and brands (starbucks, mcdonald’s…) The decoration inside the “alleys” is that of any haunted house in the U.S. and the view to the river and around is probably not what you came to see in China.
Little tower loist in the middle of shopping malls and luxury brands. It speaks for itself.
In need of nature and fresh air, we headed towards Wulong. It’s a two-hour ride that will take you in this charmless town. Most visitors take day tours to wulong but we recommend you stay three days in.
Mount fairy. 仙女山
We were disappointed to find out there is no way to hike the mountain. The park is divided into several areas proposing family activities like riding horses, skiing, visiting yourts, etc. The only place you can walk through is the grassland which we enjoyed a lot but the rest is concrete roads, cars and buses. However, we did appreciate the forest mountain, very different from the rocky, cliffy mountains we can find in China.
Transport: from Wulong bus station, ask to go to Xiannushan (14yuans). Take any van leaving from there, every 5 minutes. The ride is 1 hour long.
Tip: if you feel like heading to the grassland after skiing, go down to the intersection and stop any bus going up. The rock mountain and grassland are 10km from there.
Day 2 and 3
Tiansanjiao 天三峤 and furong cave 芙蓉东
Unfortunately we didn’t visit the site because we were already out of budget and he weather was foggy, but people- Chiese and foreigners- were unanimous with it: it is the best thing to see in the area.
Entry: 95yuan each
Transport: same as for mount fairy but stop at Tiansanjiao. 30 minutes ride, 8 yuan.
Tip: winter is not the best season to visit,bacause of the constant fog ad the low clouds. It works for mount fairy though.