This region of Southern China is often overlooked by international tourists, but it has a great deal to offer those who don’t mind straying from the country’s best known tourist sites.

Chongqing City itself served as capital of China for 10 years in the mid-20th century. Allied forces had a major military outpost here, and the soon-to-be rivals, the Nationalist and Communist parties, attempted to coexist here briefly. Today the city boasts relics from the early Communist Party period including former residences of prominent party leaders.

Most tourists’ official reason for visiting the region is to see the Dazu Rock Carvings, a UNESCO-honored site with thousands of Buddha images carved from cliff faces and cave walls. There’s more images than anyone could possibly see during one visit, but the best are well touted and easily accessed.

One of the greatest assets of Chongqing is a portion of the South China Karst, a newcomer to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Towering limestone pillars flood the landscape. Until recently, this region was largely inaccessible, and today’s tourists can appreciate the unspoiled quality of this monumental feat of nature.

Outside of major cities and official scenic areas are hidden hamlets and sleepy villages retaining much of their old-world charm. Laitan is an ancient walled city with hundreds of ancient wooden houses that are well worth exploring. Another charming city in easy reach of Chongqing is Shuangjiang.

The 21st century is shaping up to be an era of tourism and investment for Chongqing. Beautiful landscapes and important historical sites that previously went unnoticed are now gaining popularity. Visiting now gives tourists the chance to enjoy the province’s authentic charms before infrastructure and development steal the stage.

Getting There & Away

Access is universally through Chongqing City, a well-connected travel hub that operates an international airport. Flights regularly connect to east coast destinations like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing in just a little over 2 hours. There are also flights to Japan, South Korea and Germany. Chongqing is situated on a major railway with long-haul service to Shanghai.

Once on the ground in Chongqing, public transport consists primarily of buses. Many major sites can be reached in a couple of hours though some of the more remote locations require more travel time.

Onward Travel