Chongqing city view at night

Hiking to the “best” vantage points in Chongqing, China

Posted on Posted in Asia, China, Chongqing, Travel Blog
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When I talk about the city of Chongqing, I am certainly biased. This is my hometown for nearly twenty years till I went to university in Beijing. Ironically, I was blind to its uniquely beautiful cityscape until I returned from some of the most amazing cities in the world. When I try to get rid of my emotional part of the brain and analyze how photogenic this city could potentially be, I have to rank it in the very first tier. However, when I look for travel information on Chongqing, few webpage, especially English websites, gave enough justice to its beauty. Thus I decided to write some posts about the unique features of the city so I won’t feel guilty. In this post, I would like to share with you our experience finding the best viewpoints of Chongqing city.


A short introduction of Chongqing


Chongqing is a major city in the southwest of China. It is one of the four cities ( the others are Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin) that are directly administrated by the central government. Historically the city was known as the City of Heroes due to its important roles in the WW II. It was the Provisional Capital of the Republic of China from 1937 to 1945 during which the city was heavily bombed by the Japanese. The mountainous environment helped local people building numerous bomb shelters and the Yangtze River served as a crucial transportation channel.   

Today, the geographic features of the city led to an amazing architectural outcome – a multi-dimensional cityscape – two rivers ( Yangtze River and Jialing River) wrapping around the inner city, dividing the urban Chongqing into several districts interconnected by bridges while the city itself sprawls up to the mountains, resulting in intertwining roads, overpasses and LRT lines. 

Chongqing city at sunrise
Chongqing city at sunrise


Chongqing city skyline viewpoints

Whenever I visit a new city, I look for a vantage point to capture a portrait of the cityscape. As a local here, honestly, I didn’t know exactly where to shoot a beautiful skyline picture of the city. After researching in some Chinese travel websites and local forums, we discovered two excellent viewpoints, one of which was easily accessible and the other might take some effort. From our recent travel experience in Vietnam, I could imagine that traveling to Chongqing as a foreigner is definitely a challenge, as most people here speak little English. The easiest way to navigate in the city is probably by taxi, with the Chinese of your destination written down. So in this post, I will include the Chinese of some important locations for your reference. 


Eling Park (鹅岭公园)

Eling Park is located at the highest point of Yuzhong peninsula. It was the earliest private garden in Chongqing, formerly known as the Li Garden. During the WW II, the Chiang Kai-shek couple lived there for a half year, and the Australia embassy was also in the park for several years. After the liberation of Chongqing in 1949, Eling Park became the headquarter of the Southwest Military District and was the residency of famous figures such as Deng Xiaoping. Now, this is a public park with free entrance ( but the observation tower requires an entrance fee of 5 RMB), and it is a local’s favorite place to have some leisure activities.

For people who want to photograph Chongqing cityscape or landscape, the weather is always a challenge. In winter, foggy or overcast days are very common. And I believe it to be one of the main reasons that we don’t see too many stunning shots of Chongqing cityscape. We came to Eling Park on a sunny day. The observation tower (瞰胜楼)was where we enjoyed the unobstructed 360-degree view of Chongqing. Here I took a panoramic image of the Jiangbei District (江北区)and Yuzhong District (渝中区)seperated by the Jialing River. 

Chongqing Jianbei skyline panorama
Chongqing Jianbei skyline panorama

Taking a time lapse shot of the city transitioning to nightlife was my all-time favorite activity. I was lucky to be at the right spot before other tourists rushed in for night photos.


Nanshan Mountain, Three Rocks (南山,三块石)

Nanshan literally means south mountain, which was once the residential area of the Chiang Kai-shek couple when they are in Chongqing. The most well-known viewpoint of Chongqing is The Tree (一棵树), along the road driving up to the mountaintop. It offers a spectacular view of Chaotianmen Harbor where the Jialing River joins the Yangtze River. However, from a photographer’s point of view, the images here are just too cliche, and because of the symmetrical view, you always have to put the city downtown in the middle of the picture, which weakens the depiction of the multi-dimensional aspect of the city. 

Former residence of the chiang kai-shek couple in Chongqing
Former residence of the Chiang Kai-shek couple in Chongqing Nanshan

Our destination of this visit, the hidden gem, was called Three Rocks (三块石), located inside the Chongqing Ruins Museum of the War of Resistance Against Japan (重庆抗战遗址博物馆). The museum was formerly known as the Huangshan Park, which would be a worthy visit by itself if you are interested in the history of the war against Japan. Finding the Three Rocks proved to be not easy for the first-time visitors like us. There was no sign pointing the way to the Three Rocks and the trail was not maintained. To get to the location, first follow the signs to the Bomb Shelter where you take the left uphill road, followed with a right turn onto the dirt trail. 

Turning to the narrow dirt trail to the Three Rocks (三块石)
Turning to the narrow dirt trail to the Three Rocks (三块石)

When you follow the trail for a couple of minutes, you will be arriving at a slab. Make sure to take the left downhill trail first and then keep right. 

Trail to the Three Rocks viewpoint of Chongqing
Trail to the Three Rocks viewpoint of Chongqing

After another 10-15 minutes walk, there comes the final climb. During our first visit there, the weather was foggy that we didn’t meet any travelers. On our second visit, there were several groups of hikers and photographers like us. 

Hiking to the Three Rocks viewpoint of Chongqing
Hiking to the Three Rocks viewpoint of Chongqing

Once you are up there, the city is all yours. Here is the GPS location of this viewpoint: 

29°34’29” N 106°36’40” E

Chongqing city view from the Three Rocks (三块石)
Chongqing city view from the Three Rocks (三块石)
Chongqing night scene
Chongqing night scene

As always, a time lapse video was made while Tammy and I enjoyed watching the sunset.

While we were shooting our time lapse video up there, another hiker told me that on top of Geleshan (歌乐山), there was another flavor of the city view that I wouldn’t want to miss. I knew I was going to find it someday. 


Related Topics:

Hiking to the best Hong Kong skyline photography location



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5 thoughts on “Hiking to the “best” vantage points in Chongqing, China

  1. Sir, You couldn’t made a post that make me less happy, this spot and your work is like a dream for me 🙂 you share is a precious gift thank you
    I live in a little town in France and this aesthetic is a dream since very little. I enjoy so much to take photo by night and I want to go to Chongqing this year.
    It’s not in my habits to ask this kind of request , but can you advise me some others spots in Chongqing and around for night photography? Do you know how to get on rooftops and buildings ? I send you a postcard and croissants from France for you kind and gently precious help :))

    My english is maybe a little approximative sorry!

    Thank you for your blog, your work is beautiful 🙂

    1. Besides the locations mentioned in my post, popular night photography locations are Hongyadong (洪崖洞), and many view spots along the Nanbinlu (南滨路). Usually, it would be hard to get to the top of highrise buildings if you don’t live there but if you look for accommodations on Airbnb you may find someone’s apartment with a nice view. Also in the Chongqing World Financial Centre(WFC 重庆环球金融中心)there is a tourist viewing platform with a 360° view of the city from above. Taking a night photo may be challenging though as there is a glass wall that you need to work with reflections. Another location is The Ropeway Of Yangtze River ( cabled shuttle across the Yangtze River 长江索道) , I have seen beautiful photos of the night city from the starting point of the shuttle. Of course, the weather is your biggest enemy so don’t come to Chongqing for photography in winter or early spring (very foggy). Summer is the best time for visibility or chances of nice sunsets (but it is very hot). Hope this helps, cheers!

  2. Can I ask how you made the time lapse video while panning the camera as you did? What equipment did you use and a brief description of your method if you don’t mind? I’m going to Chongqing later this month and your blog has really inspired me.

    1. Hi James, I used a motion controlled rotor and a DSLR ( in this case Pentax K1) for the time lapse. I don’t remember the brand of the rotor though. There are many options, even some gimbals can do that. Briefly, I set up the camera and the rotor system to take a photo ( in raw format) every 10s or so, with an automatic rotation between each shot for the whole duration of the sunset. Then I used LRtimelapse to reduce the flickers and compile the images into the footage. Hope this helps. Chongqing is amazing especially the food (if you can enjoy the spicy flavor).

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