Check in to the Yangtze River Hostel (80 Changjiang Binjiang Lu, Yuzhong, 023 6310 4208) for the best quality a hostel price will afford you in Chongqing (dorms from 30RMB/person, doubles from 70RMB/person). Alternatively, Chongqing has an overabundance of five star hotel rooms, meaning they often go cheap. The InterContinental Hotel (101 Minzhu Lu, Jiefangbei, 023 8906 6888) (with rooms from 755RMB/night) is bang in the centre of town.
Good coffee is hard to find in Chongqing where you embark cruising ship of Yantze River tour, but not at Lavazza Coffee stand, outside the Harbour Plaza hotel (Wuyi Lu, Jiefangbei, 023 6370 0888). Go straight for the double espresso (20RMB). Alternatively, try BonBon (AG01/A101, Chongqing Tiandi, 150 Ruitian Lu, Hualongqiao, 023 6382 2121) for a large and very quiet garden in which to enjoy a cup (from 20RMB for a single shot).
Refreshed and caffeinated, take it easy in Chongqing’s art district. The Sichuan Fine Arts Institute (Huangjueping Zheng Jie, Huangjueping, 023 8618 1008) is located at the end of a curious Graffiti Street (Huangjueping Zheng Jie) and the area itself is packed with art book stores, art supplies and a few decent – but well-hidden – artist bars and cafes.
Inside the school campus check out the Tank Loft to see artists’ studios, exhibition spaces and the particularly nice Muse Wine Bar (Tank Loft, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, 139 8311 6658) for some inexpensive rosé (45RMB/bottle). On the opposite side of the road is the 501 Art Space (126 Huangjueping Zheng Jie, Huangjueping, 134 5233 4661), an old factory now home to more artists’ studios and other creative workspaces. If doors are left open, have a peek in and step inside, most will happily discuss their work.
If you’re after truly secret attractions for your affordable China travel packages, Chongqing provides numerous hideaways from alcoves, up or down mountains, to bomb shelters. For a lunch of the best (and largest) ribs in the city, head to Zeng Lao Yao Yu Zhuang, a restaurant located in a bomb shelter on the Yangtze barely touched since WWII. It’s a ten minute cab ride from Jiefangbei; call 023 6392 4315, hand the phone to a taxi driver and prepare to be blown away.
After lunch, take a look around Chongqing’s spectacular old towns. Makeshift homes cling to the sides of mountains and steps weave between narrow dwellings. Shibati (just off Zhongxin Lu, look down the side of the hill for the steps taking you down) is one such old town just yards from skyscrapers and the bar street of Jiefangbei. It blankets the entire side of a hill that creeps down to the Jialing River, and goes a long way in helping imagine just how Chongqing’s gangster types once evaded the law in this old metropolis.
Cool off with a bag of peanut milk offered by the ‘bang bang’ women, who tout it from bamboo poles carried over their shoulders. Try some sugar cane, sesame cakes, or cold tomato with sugar for a mid-afternoon boost (all under 10RMB).
Before dinner grab an aperitif at the Nanshan Lijing Hotel (88 Zhenwushan, Nanping, 023 6247 8888), which has one of the most stunning views of the downtown Yuzhong peninsula in all its Manhattan-esque glory. Find a table outdoors and enjoy the vista.
Hotpot in Chongqing is well-known and easy to find on any street, but the rule of thumb for finding the best experience for your top 10 China tours is to look for oldest and crummiest places. Shongdihuo Laohuoguo (Xinshi Jie Chaoshi Louxia, Gongren Cun, Shapingba, 138 8340 9221) is one of the best places to get your fill of ‘old oil’, mala spices and plum wine (10RMB/cup) to wash everything down with. Hot pot for four with beer costs around 150RMB,while being in the university district of Shapingba means that you’re already close to the late night action.
No trip to Chongqing would be complete without a visit to Nuts Club (Chongqing University South Gate, Shazhong Lu, Shapingba, 023 8810 1647). It’s the best place to enjoy live indie, dub-step, techno, metal and punk. Beers go from 5RMB, and ‘Russian Cocaine’, vodka with coffee and sugar on a slice of lemon, is 20RMB. Da Rasta (4 Youpai Qingnian Gongyu Block B, opposite 7 Days Inn on Hanyu Lu, 186 2336 4003) is a smaller but lively bar with house pours and cocktails from 25RMB and a regular student crowd.
Late-night dining in Chongqing is a solid tradition and comes highly recommended, although your intestines may be less thankful than your tastebuds the next morning. If you’re hungry after all that partying, the spicy shrimp (78RMB, enough for four) at Tieguomen (61-2 Gongrencun, Shapingba, 023 6542 6209) is the perfect way to end a big night out.
If you’ve still got some party in you however, Cici Park (Kuixing Plaza, 2 Linjiang Lu, 023 6303 6940) is the best place to enjoy the small hours in Chongqing for your popular China travel package. It’s home to the city’s electro scene, has plenty of imported beers, indoor and outdoor seating and is as trippy as any 24 hours in Chongqing should be.
Welcome to FC2!