Always go prepared for rain whenever you visit Chongqing. April to June and September to October see comfortable temperatures for exploring on foot, whilst July and August are extremely hot and humid so probably best avoided. The biggest annual festival is, of course, the Chinese New Year, its date varies according to the lunar calendar. The town comes alive with dragons, parades and firecrackers. In May the Yangtze River becomes the stage for the Dragon Boat Festival, when oarsmen in traditional costumes race each other across the river. For the best deals on flights, make sure you book your travel and accommodation in advance.
The huge city of Chongqing, with a population exceeding 30 million people, sits on the River Yangtze in China. This hilly city, however, remains a relatively calm place as car horns are banned. From its 19th century days as a treaty port it has grown rapidly and in Chongqing the old sits alongside the new; stilted homes next to shining skyscrapers and porters bearing goods scuttling along beneath the new light railway. The ancient part of the town, Ciqikou, sits on the Jialing River. Here the buildings have been restored and you will find a living, working village with dark alleys, tiny homes and shop fronts. Chongqing has many temples; Baolun Si Temple sits relaxed in the old town whilst Arhat Temple is sandwiched between skyscrapers. Arhat Temple contains a remarkable collection of 500 life size terracotta models. There are many museums, but if you prefer your museum’s hands-on, visit the Science and Technology Exhibition in Jiangbei district, where you will find interactive displays and games, a cable car and an IMAX theatre. Great for younger visitors. If you want to escape the city climb up to the Pipa Mountain Park where residents bring their caged songbirds to get some fresh air. Chongqing dazzles at night when everything, even the motorway crash barriers, are lit with multi-coloured illuminations, all reflected back in the river. When you are ready to dine try some of the local hotpot dishes, but be careful, the Sichuan cuisine here is incredibly hot.
Unlike other Chinese cities you will not find many bicycles in Chongqing because of its hilly nature but you will find many options for getting around. The city has a metro and plenty of buses, both of which will be very crowded. There is a light railway and a cable car which crosses the river. Taxi prices vary according to the quality of the vehicle. The long Caiyuanaba Escalator makes a charge for its use, but cuts out the hundreds of steps between the station and the road. Take a boat trip on the Yangtze River or one of the many tours available, such as the one which visits the Xiandu Karst Cave and Golden Buddhist Mountain. You will find the guides very knowledgeable about the beautiful exotic flowers and plants that you see.
Chongqing Airport (CKG) is 13 miles (21 km) from the city centre. Airport shuttle buses depart for the city every half hour. Other options are taxis, which charge a flat rate, or the metro. If you choose to rent a car the journey time will be approximately 30 minutes.
(prices quotes are from London)