Chongqing Arrival and Departure:
Transport to and From Chongqing
By Air – Flying to Chongqing
Unless you’re coming from Chengdu, you’re probably best off entering Chongqing by air. The hilly terrain around the city makes road or rail travel a drawn-out process to pretty much anywhere besides the Sichuan capital.
Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (重庆江北国际机场)
Located 21km north-east of the Chongqing city center, Jiangbei Airport was the 10th busiest airport in China in 2007. While it’s not China’s best, it is reasonably modern and fairly efficient – though passengers can expect some queues for security checks. The airport features the usual overpriced restaurants and there are several ATMs around the terminal. As a hub for both Air China and Sichuan Airlines, Chongqing Airport is linked to all major domestic destinations and also has international flights to Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok and Singapore.
Chongqing Jiangbei Airport’s Website (Chinese only): www.cqa.cn
Transport to and from Chongqing Jiangbei Airport
By Bus: A bus from Jiangbei Airport to the city center leaves every 30 minutes from 6am until 8:20pm. The journey takes about 30 minutes. The terminus is the Civil Aviation Ticket Office at #161 Zhongshan San Lu. From here it’s about ¥10 or less in a taxi to the Liberation Monument area. Buses to the airport run from the Civil Aviation Office ‘according to the flight schedule’ which roughly works out as once every half hour between 6am and 6pm. The fare is ¥15 in either direction. You will spot the airport bus immediately outside arrivals.
By Taxi: There is a reasonably orderly taxi queue at the airport. There are also a few touts around who will hassle you – ignore them. Taxis in Chongqing are very cheap, so a ride to the center shouldn’t cost more than ¥50 on the meter. However, many drivers will refuse to take you on the meter so you might have to negotiate a slightly higher price (¥60 or so to the Jiefangbei area).
Transport to Chongqing By Train
Chongqing’s Main Train Station (重庆火车站) is the most central of the city’s stations, located west of the Jiefangbei area – around a ¥10 fare in a taxi – on Nanqu Lu, not far north of the Yangtze River. It is also known as Caiyuanba Railway Station. The T9 from Beijing arrives here.
Chongqing’s North Train Station [火车北站(江北)] is more distant, located north of the Jialing River in the Jiangbei district. It costs about ¥20 in a taxi from the Jiefangbei area to get there. The first phase of this modern station was completed in late 2006. When the second phase is completed its modernity will be matched by its size.
The bullet trains to and from Chengdu arrive/depart from Chongqing North Railway Station. Note that there are two entrances – one for the high-speed trains and one for the regular trains. Check the signs above the entrances for your train number. The waiting rooms are generally hot and crowded so there’s no need to get in too early.
There is a third station out in the western Shapingba District of Chongqing, but it is unlikely you will depart from there. While there are claims that there is some sort of order or common sense as to which trains leave from which stations, in reality there isn’t. Just be sure to check your ticket.
There are eleven high-speed (‘D’ class) trains from Chongqing North Railway Station to Chengdu each day. The first leaves at 8am and the last departs at 9pm. The journey takes just over 2 hours and costs ¥114/¥98 for 1st/2nd class. There’s also one daily high-speed (‘D’ class) train per day to Beijing, departing at 4:15pm and arriving at 7:25am, as well as a slower but comfortable (‘T’ class) train to Beijing which takes just over 24 hours. Other destinations include Guiyang (11 hours); Shanghai (14.5 hours) via Nanjing (13 hours); Guangzhou (20 hours); Kunming (19 hours); Lhasa (46 hours), via Xian (11 hours) and Lanzhou (17.5 hours); and Urumqi (46 hours).
Buying Train Tickets in Chongqing: The queues at the main train station are bearable, but there is no English spoken. A better option is to use one of the little train ticket booking offices in the city center. There’s a particularly convenient outlet (pictured right) at #139 Zourong Lu (1/F of Yinzuo Plaza) not far from the Liberation Monument (open 8am-8pm). They charge a ¥5 booking fee. Alternatively, your hotel can arrange tickets – generally the booking fee will start from ¥30.
Transport to Chongqing By Bus
Chongqing has numerous bus stations, with many of them servicing the same destinations. So your best bet is to head to the biggest one, conveniently located right next to the train station. The Caiyuanba Long-Distance Bus Station (菜园坝长途车站) has regular buses to Chengdu (around ¥100), Emei and Leshan in Sichuan Province, and painful routes to Guiyang, Guangzhou and Kunming for the masochistic. Buses to Dazu County also leave from here.
Taking a Cruise Boat from Chongqing
Since Chongqing is most popular with tourists as the starting point for the Three Gorges cruise, naturally many people will leave Chongqing by boat. Most cruises will terminate in either Wuhan or Yichang and usually take three nights and at least two full days. Alternatively, it is possible to take a hydrofoil along the Yangtze River which will speed you to Yichang in about 12 hours. These boats aren’t designed for sightseeing, but if you’re short on time (or money) then it’s the way to go. Boats leave from the Chaotianmen Docks and tickets can be purchased from travel agents near Chaotianmen Square above the docks. See the Three Gorges Cruise page for more information.