ChongQing is a beautiful city!
Chongqing is in a beautiful location. It is not a beautiful city then again all cities are beautiful in China according to local logic/tradition. After much construction it will be much improved.. and has great potential. The place is not very cosmopolitan and very much behind even local Chengdu. The vast majority of the pop. is very provincial and the problem of smoking is just scratching the surface. It is a nice place to visit but I would not recommend living there as a foreigner. (yet) give it at least 5 years. This is West China- the final frontier so to speak... air quality and weather are never good and people tend to be rude in public. Go to Chengdu or Xi'an!
Chongqing a "mountain" City
I have been to Chongqing 9 times now over the past 2 years (starting in September of 2007) and I've eaten the fire pot, shopped in a variety of stores and even played badminton with locals.
It is a great city, but it is huge, busy, hot and humid in summer, cold and wet in winter, and almost always "overcast." As with most cities in China they rely on coal to power their industry so it is actually unusual to see blue sky. It isn't all smog as the city has long been famous for being cloudy and overcast.
Not a lot of English spoken in Chongqing and as a foreigner you will get some attention. In Beijing and Guangzhou you won't get much special attention as foreigners are far more common. Chongqing is still getting used to having tourists and foreign workers wandering around the city. In the heart of the city you won't stick out, but get out to Nanping and the locals will find you pretty interesting.
The vast majority of people in Chongqing are friendly and willing to assist you in whatever way they can. I have encountered a lot of people that want to say hello and speak a little English with me. They are also impressed if you can say anything in Chinese and if you want to impress them even more - learn to say it in the local Chongqing dialect. I'm proud to say that I've made quite a few taxi drivers smile and laugh as I direct them to my destination.
If you want to shop and eat and don't care much about saving a lot of money on it then the MetroPlaza is your best bet. It is in the heart of the cities business and shopping district (most of the upscale hotels are within walking distance). You can get some good coffee and deserts too.
Just around almost any corner is a Fire Pot restaurant. Go with a local and open yourself up to the experience. If you aren't a beer drinker then I would consider going with a less spicy version. There are a variety of styles of this popular local meal include a mushroom (vegetarian), fish, spicy (the traditional red sauce) and non-spicy (traditional without all spices). It is an adventure and if you can get over your fear of what all you are eating you can have a great time.
Smoking is done almost everywhere. Starbucks (not hard to find) is a safe haven for the non-smoker. The taxi drivers will light up and can be rude if you ask them to put it out (most just assume that you will join them). I have noticed that a lot of people are getting more and more aware that not everyone is a smoker and making an effort to stop or at least not blow smoke your way. I actually had some folks get up and move away from me when I asked them politely to not direct their smoke my way.
Chongqing is in the middle of a building boom and has been for quite a few years. As in any major industrial and urban city there is plenty of grit and grime as a result. The streets are cleaned often, but usually pretty slick when it rains and dusty when it is dry. All the construction makes for some additional traffic and noise, but also shows the amazing growth and prosperity.
There is plenty to do and worth the time and effort. Go in October or May when it is warm, but not unpleasantly hot and humid. Hougou (fire pot) is best when it is cold outside, but no matter when you are there - if you leave without eating some you have missed out on an amazing adventure. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Zakary10 (talk • contribs)
I wanted to add a mid range hotel, but weren't able to save my edit, so if someone can put it in, please: