Monday, 25 January 2016 04:11

11 Things to See and Do in Chongqing

Chongqing is one of the four large municipalities in China, after Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. It is the largest city is south-west China. Chongqing is a river port city, where the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers meet. It is also a ‘mountain’ city and a stunning place to live and teach. 
 
As a traveler, Chongqing is the ideal location, as it has a number of world class tourist spots and also has borders with Hubei and Hunan to the east, Guizhou to the south, Sichuan to the west, and Shaanxi to the north. Besides Han Chinese, which makes up the majority of the population, Chongqing and the surrounding area also has a number of Chinese ethnic groups.
 
Fun facts about Chongqing
 
- Chongqing has a large monorail system to get around the city on!
- Newcomers to Chongqing often get lost because of the numerous hills and confusing streets in the city!
- Chongqing was the capital city of China during World War II because the Japanese controlled the east coast of China!
- There is a harbor area in Chongqing called Chaotianmen Harbour which has a large number of interesting and unusual fleamarkets!
 
11 Great Things to See and Do in Chongqing
 
#1 - Foreigner Street
 
This is an entertainment, shopping and amusement park area in Chongqing where foreigners have been encouraged to open shops and bars. Here you can discover an ‘upside-down house’, a church, the world’s largest public toilet (!) and some great people.
 
#2 - Underground Arcade and Outdoor Beer Gardens
 
These areas have countless bars and restaurants, and after a long day of teaching, many foreign teachers and ex-pats living in the city will head over for a much needed cold beer and some good Chinese food. A wonderful place to chill out and relax. Very cheap.
 
#3 - Chongqing Jiefangbei Pedestrian Street
 
This is the heart of the city and contains a large number of malls, restaurants, hotels, banks, trade, telecommunication services and over 3,500 shops of all kinds. This is the uptown district of the city. At the centre is the tall Peoples Liberation Monument, which commemorates victory in the Sino-Japanese war.

#4 - Ciqikou
 
This is an ancient port village near to Chongqing which is known as the ‘Porcelain Village’ because porcelain china used to be made and traded from this area. Coming to this village is like stepping back in time to a forgotten China.
 
#5 - Forest Park Shengdeng
 
This tranquil forest park full of flora and fauna is located on Shengdeng Mountain, close to Chongqing. It is over 1000m above sea level and it is said that the Ming Emperor, Jing Wen, took refuge up this mountain.
 
#6 - Yangtze River Cruise
 
This peaceful cruise will take you through one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. Read a book and take in the stunning local scenery from the water.
 
#7 - The House of Zhou Enlai
 
For those interested in history, this will be of particular importance. Zhou Enlai was a senior member of the Communist Party during the days of Chairman Mao. He was a hugely popular man and genuinely tried to help his country at every turn. His former home is now a museum and for a small fee you can go there and see how he lived.
 
#8 - Chongqing Hot Springs
 
Deep under Chongqing lies a labyrinth of natural volcanic water systems. These bubble up to the surface, meaning Chongqing has some of the best hot springs anywhere in China. When you aren’t teaching, why not head over to one of the hot springs, immerse yourself in hot volcanic water for the day and ease all those aches and pains away?
 
#9 - The Yangtze-River Cable Car
 
For only 5RMB, you can take a cable car over the Yangtze River. The ride gives spectacular views of Chongqing.
 
#10 - Chongqing Hua Yan Tourist Spot
 
This is a large temple which includes a Buddhist monastery and a huge golden Buddha. This temple complex is tucked away within a lush valley on a small lake. It is amazingly right in the centre of an urban built-up area of Chongqing.

#11 - Eat Chongqing Hot-Pot
 
Before Chongqing became a municipality in 1997, it was culturally and geographically part of Sichuan Province and so shares its hot, fiery food. Hotpot is famous and wildly popular all over China, but all people in China recognize Chongqing as being the top place in China for the best hotpot!
 
Teach English in Chongqing
 
www.rayenglish.com has some excellent teaching positions available in Chongqing. To check out our Teaching jobs in Chongqing click here
 
Published in Articles about China
Monday, 25 January 2016 03:33

Things to See and Do in Xi'an China

Xi’an in China was one of the four great ancient cities in the world, along with Rome, Athens and Cairo. The city has a wealth of cultural artifacts and jaw-dropping places to visit. Xi’an was the starting point of the old Silk Road to the west, and so the city enjoys a unique mixture of history and heritage not found anywhere else in China, as the customs, religions and ideas from the west all had a distinctive influence over the years on the city and its people.

Xi'an: The Home of The Terracotta Warriors
 
Xi’an is the home of the Terracotta Warriors; the hidden clay army which lay undiscovered for two thousand years until a farmer digging a well in his field discovered a single mysterious statue many metres under the soil. Xi’an also has an ancient city wall with battlements which still surrounds the city centre today.

Xi'an City Centre

The city-centre itself is built around the famous Bell Tower, well over a thousand years old, which had bells which rang out to wake the citizens of Xi’an and to signal the opening of the city gates to allow in traders. You can still go on the Bell Tower today and for a small fee, you can ring the bell – thousands of people will hear it! Xi’an has a wonderful mix of ancient delights and a modern cosmopolitan buzz(depending on where you are in the city), and so there is plenty to amaze and stimulate anyone coming to teach English in Xi’an.
 
Finally, the central location in Xi’an makes it a great place to be located if travelling around China is of interest to you. The airport has direct flights to nearly all major Chinese cities.
 
The Xi'an City Wall
 
The Xi’an City Wall is the largest city wall on earth and the present wall as it is dates from the 1600’s. It is 15m wide at the base and about 13m wide at the top. The total length of the wall is over 13kmand it will take you about 4-5 hours to wander around the whole length. Should you not want to walk the whole length, there are a number of places to get on/off early. You can also rent bicycles and tandem bikes for around 80RMB for 90 minutes. At the night, the wall is lit up with lights and you can stroll through scenic parks around the wall and get snack foods. Each year, there is a mini-marathon around the wall which you can join. From the top of the wall, you can get a birds-eye view of quaint and hidden back streets teeming with everyday common Chinese life.
 
Beilin Art Street Xi'an
 
Just inside the south gate of the city wall, there is an art and culture district full of old folks doing Chinese calligraphy and all kinds of painting shops, jade stores and wood carving places. There are alsosome great bars in this district to be discovered.
 
The Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque, Xi'an
 
Running off from The Bell Tower are four major streets running like the points of a compass; North Street, East Street, South Street and West Street. In the quarter between West Street and North Street is the Muslim Quarter. This is where the large Chinese Muslim population of Xi’an lives and works.
 
You could spend weeks here and still be finding quaint back streets, places to eat and places to explore. There are markets here to buy all of your touristy things to send back home and remember to take your camera, as you’ll get great photos to keep and share for a lifetime. In the centre of the Muslim Quarter is the great old mosque which was built centuries ago for the Muslim population that came through as traders and inhabitants from the Silk Road.
 
The Terracotta Warriors Xi'an China
 
About 20km away from Xi’an (there are frequent buses) is the world famous Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Warriors were built on the command of the great Emperor Qin Shihuang, who wanted to have an army of soldiers for the afterlife.
 
The Terracotta Warriors comprise of thousands of soldiers, generals, archers, horses, chariots and weapons. There are three separate pits to see and a museum to learn more about the history of the soldiers. A 3D cinema brings to story of The Terracotta Warriors to life. The faces of the warriors are all unique and different. If you are an English teacher in Xi’an, then you must make visiting here a priority.
 
De Fu Xiang (Bar Street), Xi'an
 
De Fu Xiang is a narrow street within the city walls about a ten minute walk from The Bell Tower. Twenty years ago, this street had a different nature altogether – it was the Red Light District of Xi’an!
 
Today, De Fu Xiang is a really rocking place, with bars on each side of the road, side by side from top to bottom. If you are looking for a brilliant night out after a busy weekend of teaching, hit De Fu Xiang for a brilliant night out, with quiet bars, loud bars, coffee shops, niche corners or live music. It has it all.
 
Just around the corner, is South Street with an assortment of top quality night clubs if you want to keep going until the early hours.
 
Huashan Mountain
 
A few hours away from Xi’an is Huashan Mountain. In China, there are five ‘holy’ mountains, and each one is meant to represent the body, arms and legs of Pangu, a giant God-like creature from the old Chinese creation story. Huashan is one of these five mountains.
 
Carved into the granite mountain are literally thousands of steps which one climbs to reach the summit of the mountain, which is over 2,400m above sea-level. The climb is very arduous (and it takes nerves of steel!) and for those that can’t make it, then a cable car to take you most of the way is available. Top tip: Stay on the mountain overnight and wake up early to watch sunrise from the top of the highest West Peak.
 
The Big Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
 
Ever heard of ‘Journey to the West’ or seen ‘Monkey’? This is the story of a monk who travels to India, finds Buddhism, and then returns to China with the holy scriptures and then Buddhism becomes the dominant force in China, influencing the life and development of the Chinese people and the China story. Well, this event actually happened, and where did the monk leave from and return to? Xi’an. The Big Goose Pagoda is one of the most important religious buildings in all of China and for many years the actual scriptures which came back from India were housed here. You can still go into the temple and the parks and water parks surrounding are an absolute joy to visit.
 
The Small Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
 
Less well-known as the Wild Big Goose Pagoda is the Wild Small Goose Pagoda, also situated in Xi’an. This pagoda is 13 storeys high, but the upper most were destroyed in an earthquake centuries ago. You can also go up inside this pagoda, and the final few levels are quite fun and tricky to access. This is my favourite of the Xi’an pagodas.
 
The Qinling Mountains
 
They say that China is divided into two halves; the north and the south, and the Qinling Mountains are the border, running across nearly a thousand kilometres of China. This is a stunning mountain range is a 30 minute bus ride to the south of Xi’an and there are numerous National Parks, Panda Reserves, camping spots and areas of stunning beauty. Catch a bus, ride a motorbike, or feeling like a challenge, ride a bicycle out there!
 
The Tang Paradise, Xi'an
 
During the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an was unquestionably one of the most powerful cities in the worldand was at its peak of cultural grandeur. One of the original play areas for the Emperor and his concubines was a park and lake area strictly forbidden to be entered by commoners by pain of death. This was a private retreat for the most powerful man on earth and selected friends and lovers. Today, Xi’an has recreated the park to its former glory and it is now open to all. Tickets are around 60RMB to go in and you needn’t worry about losing your head!
 
Eating and Drinking Out in Xi'an
 
Xi’an is a very large city with numerous choices of many different styles of Chinese foods and also countless western options. Xi’an is famous for its street foods, and you’ll always be able to get good Chinese food at 3am or 4am!
There are also countless places to get a drink in the evening/night time. Xi'an is awesome at night!!
 
Xianease Magazine
 
Xi’an has a thriving expat community with lots of special events going on nearly every day of the week, every month of the year. The city has an ex-pat magazine named Xianease with events, restaurant guides, pub and club guides, reviews, cinema listings, pub crawl events, running clubs, quiz nights, movie nights, trips away, etc. You can check out the Xianease magazine here.
 
Teaching English in Xi’an
 
If Xi’an sounds pretty cool, then why don’t you apply for one of our Xi’an teaching jobs? Teaching English in Xi'an will afford you to actually live in this wonderful city on an excellent salary!

by Stuart Allen

Stuart Allen






Stuart Allen has been an English teacher since 2002 and has taught Chinese, French, Italian, Austrian, Korean and Spanish students, both in the UK and China. He runs two successful TEFL blogs in China and is a well-known voice in the China TEFL industry. Stuart is the founder and owner of www.rayenglish.com
Published in Articles about China

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