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How to Plan a Chongqing Tour

Chongqing (重庆) is a unique city located in southwest of China, bordering Sichuan, Guizhou, Hubei and Hunan Province. In most Chinese mind, Chongqing is different from other cities in China for reasons like hot weather, hot girls and hot pot. And for most travelers who choose to come to Chongqing, the top reason is definitely for a relaxing and rewarding Yangtze River cruise down the longest river in China with gorgeous scenery along the way.

In fact, Chongqing is so large to explore. Are you planning a China tour with Chongqing? If so, check the following planning guide which includes everything, like best attractions to see with time arrangements, top things to do you should not miss, how to spend your time reasonably in Chongqing, how to reach the Mountain City, where to stay and more. Hope this 2020 latest planning guide will do some help for you. Get inspired now!

Chongqing Hongya Cave Stunning View Chongqing Hongya Cave Stunning View

Best Attractions to See & Explore in Chongqing

Chongqing is one of the four municipalities of China and its size is even larger than Beijing and Shanghai. The tourist sites and trips in Chongqing can be divided into three parts - simply Yangtze River Cruise, Chongqing downtown area exploration, visiting in Chongqing suburb to Dazu or Wulong. Check the following attractions list and get a quick look at what to see and explore in and around Chongqing.

Attractions Type Location Distance & Driving Time
(from Chongqing Downtown)
Highlights Recommended Length of Visiting
Three Gorges Gorge Yangtze River in Chongqing Section 415 KM, 6 hours’ driving Top 10 Must-see Sight in China, including Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Xiling Gorge 2 days (with a 4-day cruise)
Fengdu Ghost City Cultural Site Yangtze River in Chongqing Section 148KM, 2.5 hours’ driving Experience ghost culture in this featured Ghost City 2-2.5 hours (with a 4-day cruise)
Shuanggui Mountain Nature & Parks Yangtze River in Chongqing Section 148KM, 2.5 hours’ driving Immerse in nature scenery and learn cultural stories 2 hours (with a 4-day cruise)
Shibaozhai Pagoda Architecture Yangtze River in Chongqing Section 253KM, 4.5 hours’ driving Pearl of Yangtze River with a 12-story wooden pagoda built by the steep cliff 2 hours (with a 4-day cruise)
White Emperor City Cultural Site Yangtze River in Chongqing Section 415 KM, 6 hours’ driving The best spot to view the magnificent Kui Gate, the starting point of Qutang Gorge 2 hours (with a 4-day cruise)
Three Gorges Museum Museum Chongqing Downtown In center downtown Have a better learning about Three Gorges, Yangtze River and Chongqing 2 hours
Hongya Cave Recreation & Architecture Chongqing Downtown 2.7KM, 15 minutes’ driving A lively place for dining, shopping and other fun. 1 hour
Ciqikou Ancient Town Architecture & Ancient Town Chongqing Downtown 14KM, 40 minutes’ driving Experience “Little Chongqing” in this thousand-year-old town 1-2 hours
Wulong Karst Nature Chongqing Suburb 190KM, 3-4 hours’ driving It include four parts: Three Natural Bridges, Furong Cave, Fairy Mountain, and Longshuixia Gap 1 or 2 days
Dazu Rock Carvings Culture & Buddhism Chongqing Suburb 105KM, 2 hours’ driving UNESCO World Heritage Site with valuable Buddhist arts 1 day

To get more ideas for what to see in Chongqing, you can turn to our Top 16 Chongqing Attractions for more inspirations.


Top Things to Do in Chongqing

Chongqing is situated on the upper portion of the Yangtze River, and it is the junction at which economically developed with its rich natural resources. Besides, Chongqing is an ancient city with many cultural relies and sites remained. Thus, there are some exciting things to do in Chongqing, making you fully experience its scenery, people, skyscrapers, unique transportation, cuisine…

No.1: Take 4-day Yangtze River Cruise Sailing down the Longest River in China

The main reason for most travelers transferring to Chongqing is to take their 4 days and 3 nights downstream cruise running from Chongqing to Yichang (Hubei Province). The whole journey is about 644 kilometers, passing through Three Gorges and Three Gorges Dam Site. Travelers can both enjoy lots of leisure cultural activities onboard and enjoy shore excursions in different counties or cities each day. A Yangtze River cruise is usually served as a nature break during the long China tour, exploring central authentic China in the most enjoyable way. All the Yangtze River cruises sail from Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock at night around 20:00-21:00. You are suggested to board your ship around 18:00 or after. If time allowed, you can take a walk to the nearby Chaotianmen Square with tall buildings and shopping malls.

Learn more about Yangtze River Cruises & Book Your Ship >>

Yangtze River Cruise Yangtze River Cruise Sailing through Wu Gorge

No.2: Experience Chongqing Special Topography with a House-Crossing Metro

Known as Mountain City, Chongqing has unique topography that can bring you special experience to witness the difference. I bet you have never seen a metro sailing through a flat or building that people living in. In Chongqing, it is a common scene that you are on a tenth floor that there is a wide road out of your window. And even a tall residential building with over 20 floors doesn’t have an elevator. To full make use of the topography, a house-crossing metro is designed on metro Line 2. It is highly recommended to experience a part of the metro running steadily and fast through a flat at Liziba Metro Station. Going out of the train and getting down the building, you can have a look at how amazing the house-crossing train is. Looking at the world, it is also a magic place of railway transportation.

Liziba House Crossing Metro in Chongqing Liziba House Crossing Metro in Chongqing

No.3: Have a Try the Authentic Spicy Hot Pot - Not Just a Food, It’s a Lifestyle

It will be a great pity if you do not try Hot Pot in the City of Hot Pot. And you will be regret once you try the special spicy flavor that makes your eye water. It is still worth to do it at least once. Eating hot pot is not just for food, it is a kind of lifestyle. Usually, good friends and families gather together around the table, enjoy their talking and laugh together. It is a kind of comfortable life. The way of eating hot pot is putting food in hot pot, wait for the food to cook, when the food is ready, dip them in sesame oil and eat. People can eat various kinds of food with Chongqing hot pot, such as beef, pork, chicken, Chinese sausages, beef strips, pig blood, duck intestine. You can choose a typical hot pot restaurant in Hongya Cave or Jiefangbei Square when the night falls.

Chongqing Hot Pot Chongqing Hot Pot

No.4: Catch Panoramic View of the Mountain City with Skyscrapers Surrounded by Mountains and Rivers

It will be interesting to overlook the mountain city cut by two rivers and separated into several districts. There are two ways that you can choose your favorite one to catch panoramic view of the port city. The two sites are recommended to do in the daytime.

● By Yangtze River Cableway: With a span of 1166 meters, Yangtze River Cableway used to be the local transportation to increase the efficiency between the Yuzhong and Nan’an Districts and now it has become a tourist way to appreciate the beauty of Chongqing which crossing the Yangtze River. It is recommended to do it during the daytime. Note: It will be crowded and you need to wait for a long queue.

● At E’ling Park: Established at the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1909 and originally the home of Li Yaoting, E’ling Park is large and beautiful park for travelers to embrace the green nature for a while. Also, this park offers a Liangjiang Pavilion to catch Chongqing skyline and skyscrapers of Jiefangbei CBD. The park is quiet and with less crowds.

Yangtze River Cableway Yangtze River Cableway

No.5: Enjoy the Dazzling Night View with Colorful Lights Reflecting on the Water

Chongqing has one of the most dazzling skylines in the world. The most spectacular view of Chongqing is in the evening. There are thousands of lights that reflect on the water, the view of the city’s skyline will impress every visitor. Yikeshu Viewing Point, situated on the Peak of Nanshan Mountain opposite of the main CBD, is the place to get great views of the city. The location of Yikeshu is outstanding as it’s on the hillside of Wangjia mountain range of Nanshan, which could directly see the comprehensive view of Yuzhong peninsula. Chongqing’s skyline in the evening was renowned as “mainland Hong Kong” when it compares with the Victoria Bay of Tsim Sha Tsui and Central of Hong Kong.

Another good way to watch the charming night view of Chongqing is at Nanbinlu Road due to its unique geographic location. The night viewing is particularly magnificent when the buildings built along the river are set off by the scenery. To see two rivers flowing into confluence, the best spot is Landmark Riverside Park (Chang Jia Hui长嘉汇) on Nanbin Road.

Chongqing Night View Chongqing Night View at Nanbin Road

To get more ideas about what to do in Chongqing, you can learn from our Top 10 Things to Do in Chongqing.


How Long to Stay and How Spend your Time in Chongqing Reasonably?

Most travelers would like to spend 4 to 5 days in and around Chongqing. For travelers who taken 4-day trip, they will come to Chongqing early in the morning and enjoy half day city to see all the highlights of Chongqing downtown and at the evening to take the 4-day Yangtze River cruise at Chaotianmen Dock sailing to Yichang. For travelers who arrange 5-day trip, they will stay one night in Chongqing city and explore in and around Chongqing for one or one and half day and then for the 4-day cruise.

If you have 4 days, you can go as following:

Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
Plan A Day 1: arrive in Chongqing in the morning, and take half-day city tour to Ciqikou Ancient Town, Three Gorges Museum, Hongya Cave, board the ship in the evening, departing from Chongqing;
Day 2 - Day 4: enjoy Three Gorges scenery onboard and take short trip to Three Gorges Dam, arrive in Yichang.
Classic and most famous sites 4 Days Chongqing Essence Tour with Yangtze Cruise
Plan B Day 1: arrive in Chongqing, transfer to Chaotianmen Dock to board your ship directly, departing from Chongqing;
Day 2 - Day 4: enjoy Three Gorges scenery onboard and take short trip to Three Gorges Dam, arrive in Yichang.
Only cruise experience; the most essence part Contact Us for Itinerary

(Note: If you need the private car transfer service from Chongqing Airport or Chongqing Train Station to Chaotianmen Dock, just feel free to let us know.)

If you have 5 days, you can go as following:

Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
Plan A Day 1: arrive in Chongqing this day and stay here one night;
Day 2: On this day, take the one day tour to Ciqikou Ancient Town, Three Gorges Museum, Liziba House-Crossing Metro Experience, Hongya Cave, board the ship in the evening, departing from Chongqing;
Day 3 - Day 5: enjoy Three Gorges scenery onboard and take short trip to Three Gorges Dam, arrive in Yichang.
One full day in Chongqing downtown + downstream cruise 5 Days Chongqing & Yangtze River Cruise Tour
Plan B Day 1: arrive in Yichang and transfer to Maoping Port to board your ship;
Day 2 - Day 5: enjoy Three Gorges scenery onboard and take short trip to Three Gorges Dam, arrive in Chongqing. You can do half day city tour in Chongqing.
Upstream cruise from Yichang to Chongqing 5 Days Yichang Culture Tour with Yangtze Cruise Experience

(Note: If you need the private car transfer service between Chongqing Airport / Chongqing Train Station and Chaotianmen Dock, just feel free to let us know.)

There are two big tourist sites - Dazu Rock Carvings and Wulong Karst Landscape around Chongqing within 2-4 hours’ driving, you can add them into your trip before or after your cruise. You can check the itineraries on our Chongqing Tours.


Choose Best Time to Visit Chongqing & Yangtze River

Chongqing has a classic humid subtropical monsoon climate, with average annual temperature from 16℃ ~ 18℃. The average temperature in the hottest month is from 26℃ to 29℃, while the average temperature for the coldest month is from 4℃ to 8℃. Rainfall is abundant, and May to September is the rainy season. Due to the effect of terrain and climate, Chongqing is rich in mist. In the mountainous area, the annual foggy days can reach to 204 days.

Spring and autumn is the best time to visit Chongqing. The weather during these time is fair and comfortable. However, from October to the next April, Chongqing is foggier than other time, thus, although summer is hot, it has less fog comparing with other seasons, and it's the best time to appreciate the stunning night view of Chongqing. In conclusion, if you just come to Chongqing for the cruise, it is suitable to visit all year round. If you want to cover some sites around, spring and autumn will be more proper.

Learn more about Chongqing Weather, Climate & What to Wear >>

Visit Chongqing in Spring Visit Chongqing in Spring (Photo at Wulong Karst)

How to Get to Chongqing? Flight & Train to Chongqing

Flights and high speed trains are the common choices to get to Chongqing. The mainly used airport in Chongqing is called Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. The airport has been connecting flight services with more than 200 cities in domestic China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Huangshan, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Kunming, Lhasa, etc.

Besides, taking high speed train to Chongqing is also popular. There are 4 frequently-used train stations in Chongqing. They are Chongqing Railway Station, Chongqing North Railway Station, Chongqing West Railway Station and Chongqing Shapingba Railway Station. Every day, there are more than 400 high speed trains running from/to Chongqing. You can catch trains to Chongqing from Xian (5.5 hours around), Chengdu (2 hours around), Lanzhou (7 hours around), Guiyang (2 hours around), Guilin (4-5 hours), Beijing (12 hours around), and Shanghai (11.5 hours around) and so on.

After arriving in Chongqing, you can take taxi, metro, bus or coach to different destinations in and around Chongqing. You can learn more from the following links:

>> How to Get to Chaotianmen Dock from Chongqing Train Stations

>> How to Get from Chongqing Airport to Chaotianmen Dock

>> Chongqing to Wulong: Distance, Train, Bus & Private Car

>> Chongqing to Dazu: Distance, Bus, Taxi & Private Car

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport
Chongqing North Railway Station Chongqing North Railway Station

Where to Stay in Chongqing?

Part of travelers will stay one night in Chongqing. But do you want to know where to stay and how to choose your hotel? Usually, there are four areas to stay in Chongqing. The first is Jiefangbei CBD located in the center of Chongqing city which is best for Yangtze cruise embarkation. The second is at Yuzhong District that is close to most tourist spots including Three Gorges Museum, People’s Assembly Hall, E’ling Park. The above two areas are chosen for most travelers. If you want to live Nanan District or Jiangbei District, you have got many choices.

Recommended Accommodations in Jiefangbei CBD:

● JW Marriot Hotel Chongqing (5 Star)
Add: No.235, Minsheng Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing

● Westin Chongqin Liberation Square (5 Star)
Add: No.222, Xinhua Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing

Recommended Accommodations in Yuzhong District:

● Wanyou Conifer Hotel (4 Star)
Add: No.77 Daping Changjiang Second Road, Yuzhong District, Chongqing

● 88 Eling Park Hotel (3 Star)
Add: No.181 E’lingzheng Street, Yuzhong District, Chongqing

Learn more about Where to Stay in Chongqing & Recommended Hotels >>

JW Marriort Chongqing in Jiefangbei JW Marriort Chongqing in Jiefangbei, Chongqing

Extend your Chongqing Tour with Other Destinations in China

Chengdu: Chengdu is the Hometown of Giant Pandas attracting numerous travelers coming to see the lovely creatures. If you like, you can even join in the meaningful panda volunteer program to take care of giant pandas where you can have rare moment to face them and feed food to them. Besides the pandas, you can explore in Chengdu downtown area to feel the leisure life of locals in Renmin Park, and absorb Three Kingdom culture in Jinli Old Street. For 2 days more, you can visit Leshan Giant Buddha and Mount Emei.

>> 3 Days Chongqing & Chengdu Essence Tour (Chengdu / Chongqing)

Xian: Called the 13 ancient China dynasties, Xian is undisputed the perfect representation of Chinese dynastic history and culture. It will be great to spend around 2 days in Xian exploring Terracotta Warriors and Big Wild Goose Pagoda, taking a walk on Muslim Quarter and Ancient City Wall. Then take a high speed train to Chongqing. The two destinations are perfect combination of history and nature.

>> 6 Days Xian Yangtze Cruise Tour (Xian / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang)

Guilin & Yangshuo: Known as “the finest scenery under heaven”, Guilin offers you a chance to get up closer with the glamorous world of hills, rivers, countryside and adventures. Cruising along the picturesque Li River, cycling around historically and culturally Yangshuo Old Town, hiking through the magnificent Longji Rice Terrace...Various activities await you to do. Both Chongqing Yangtze River and Guilin are scenic destinations, that you can cover them into one trip.

>> 7 Days Idyllic Guilin & Yangtze River Cruise Tour (Guilin / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang)

Zhangjiajie: In recent years, Zhangjiajie has become particularly well known for its striking surrounding surreal landscape. The UNESCO-protected national park represents the main attraction in Zhangjiajie, with over 3000 quartzite sandstone columns providing one of the region’s most arresting natural sights. While, the Glass bridge experience is the standard for trilling and adventurous activity in China. Actually, there are many stunning tourist attractions in Zhangjiajie well worth your time for further exploration.

>> 7 Days Nature Tour to Yangtze River & Zhangjiajie (Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang / Zhangjiajie)

Giant Pandas in Chengdu Giant Pandas in Chengdu
Xian Terracotta Warriors Xian Terracotta Warriors
Yangshuo Yulong River Bamboo Rafting Yangshuo Yulong River Bamboo Rafting Experience

Besides above destinations, many travelers may also cover Shanghai, Beijing, Yunnan, Guizhou, Huangshan, Hong Kong and Guangzhou and so on into their trip. If you have your own ideas for your Chongqing China trip, please feel free to let us know and we can customize the tour for you at any time.


Travel Chongqing with China Discovery

To help you enjoy a worry-free trip to Chongqing and the whole China, we suggest you travel with China Discovery. Our experienced travel expert will help you arrange the accommodation, transportation and everything well to let you spend all your effort and time on the sightseeing. If you have any other ideas or questions about your Chongqing tour, please feel free to contact us. We will help you plan your enjoyable trip with sincerity and professionalism!

Recommended Chongqing Tours

Top 3 Chongqing tours chosen by most customers to explore Chongqing in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise
4 Days Chongqing Essence Tour with Yangtze River Cruise

Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang

Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise
13 Days Classic China Vacation Tour with Yangtze Cruise

Beijing / Xian / Guilin / Yangshuo / Yangtze Cruise / Shanghai

Three Natural Bridges
3 Days Chongqing & Wulong Karst Landscape Exploration Tour

Chongqing / Wulong / Chongqing

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once enquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >