Chongqing is a thriving metropolis situated in the heart of China. Cranes and skyscrapers are silhouetted against the surrounding mountains, and the streets are alive with hawkers, street vendors, and business people.
Known as the Mountain City, it lies in China's South West, at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtze Rivers. Hills and valleys surround it. The Yuzhong District (city centre) is on a peninsula between the two rivers, and is a hive of crowded street markets and tiny apartments stacked on top of one another.
With a history dating back 3000 years, Chongqing is an important river port and has long been of commercial and military importance. During World War Two, it was the de-facto capital of China. Though heavily bombed by the Japanese, it was never captured. Its importance during the war earned it the nickname 'the City of Heroes'.
Other than being a launch point for a Three Gorges cruise, Chongqing is not on most tourists' radars. That said, it is becoming increasingly popular with international business travellers. More luxury hotels are opening every year, and many multinational companies are investing in the city.
Regarding local cuisine, Chongqing is famous for its hot pot. The spicy, tripe broth is served in more than 30,000 hot pot eateries, with official guidelines given by the government on how to serve the dish.
Several prominent attractions lie within the city limits. Ciqikou is an ancient village where visitors can see what Chongqing was like before World War Two destroyed it, and subsequent redevelopment shaped it. Chongqing's natural hot springs are well worth a visit and provide some lovely respite from the busy metropolis. The Ronghui Hot Springs and Chongqing Bolian Hot Springs are highly recommended.
One of the biggest challenges for English speakers is that very few locals speak fluent English. And while the crime rate is relatively low for a large urban metropolis, petty crime does occur, especially near train stations and major tourist destinations.
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