Chongqing, a metropolis of more than 30 million people in Southwest China, is different from some other Chinese cities.
In 1997, it became the fourth municipality of China after Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. But many people are drawn to Chongqing by its delicious food and natural scenery. The city looks futuristic with its skyscrapers, while at the same time, with some 3,000 years of history, it still preserves local culture and lifestyles.
Largely built on mountains and surrounded by the Yangtze and Jialing rivers, it is often called the mountain or river city. After building more than 4,500 bridges in recent years, the largest number in China, it is also referred to as the "city of bridges."
After the popular TV documentary A Bite of China introduced Chongqing noodles and hotpot to the audience at home and abroad five years ago, the two spicy local delicacies have become very popular. Restaurants in many Chinese cities are selling such noodles and hotpot, though people in northern and coastal regions tend to eat less chili.
Boasting the largest number of hotpot restaurants in the country, Chongqing was named "China's hotpot city" by the China Cuisine Association in 2007.
According to the Chongqing Hotpot Association, there are more than 50,000 hotpot eateries, employing at least 3.5 million people.
Natural hot springs are a hidden gem of the city, where some of the world's oldest hot springs are said to be located. Nowadays, thanks to ample geothermal resources and its beautiful landscape, Chongqing has developed dozens of hot spring spots across the city.
In 2012, the World Federation of Hydrotherapy and Climatotherapy held its annual conference there and dubbed the city the "global capital of hot springs," a first of its kind in the world.
The best seasons to visit Chongqing are spring and fall. The city has long been one of the hottest in China due to its geographic features and summer temperatures there can cross 40 C.