Located spectacularly at the confluence of Yangtze and Jialing rivers, the massive city of Chongqing raises from the mountains, with its countless skyscrapers and tower blocks dominating the skyline. Back in 1997, the eastern part of Sichuan was “torn off” to form one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities alongside Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Thanks to that the largest city proper in the World has emerged, currently housing the stunning number of more than 29 million residents.
However, the quick look at the census reveals that only less than third of the dwellers live in the urban area. A short glance at the map shows another clear message – most of the land located within the boundaries of Chongqing municipality is comprised of lush mountains, marvellous river gorges, deep valleys and dramatic canyons.
However, you can be excused for thinking that a lot of effort is being done to ruin these natural wonders. Massive scale road construction and infrastructural mega-projects (such as Three Gorges Dam) significantly alter the natural setting of Chongqing, taking away from its pristine beauty. On the other hand, to this date plenty of romantic scenic spots exist within close proximity to the down town Chongqing, offering a perfect retreat from the hassle and bustle of the Yangtze river metropolis. No matter if you are en expat living in Chongqing (or Chengdu) or just visiting for a few days, some scenic spots are definitely worthy a trip. One such place is Jindao Canyon.
Jindao Canyon (the name literally means the Golden Dagger Canyon) is located near the Beibei (北碚) suburb, situated in the North of the urban core of Chongqing. The scenic spot comprises of the upper and lower canyon, both offering stunning views and excellent hiking and relaxation opportunities. Especially the lower canyon is a feast for the eyes. While walking on the 7km plank path (apparently the longest in China) built along the cliff side you can admire thousands of stalagmites, caves, pillars and other mesmerizing rock formations.
The rapid river flows through the bottom of the canyon, constantly refuelled by the water coming from numerous waterfalls scattered here and there. The best thing is you can have this natural beauty all for yourself – unlike a lot of scenic spots in China, Jindao Canyon does not attract crowds of annoying domestic tourists. In fact, during my last visit here in the middle of the week in October 2015, I was alone most of the time.
While Autumn is a great time to visit the canyon, it can also provide a cooling retreat from the scorching summer heat of Chongqing or Chengdu. If you are an expat living in one of those two cities, you won’t regret spending a day or even a weekend chilling out in the canyon and its peaceful rural surroundings.
How To Get There
Jindao Canyon can be reached from downtown Chongqing by public transport. You can choose from two options:
1. Board the direct bus to the canyon, departing from Chongqing North Bus station (重庆汽车北站), located adjacent to Hong Qi He Gou (红旗河沟) metro station. Note that especially in the low season, some buses do not go directly to the entrance of the canyon, but stop in the nearby town of Liuyin (柳荫). From there you can share a minivan (面包车) which will take you to the gate of the scenic spot. Don’t pay more than 15RMB for a seat in a minivan.
IMPORTANT: Make sure the driver takes you to the Upper Gate (上门口) of the canyon! Otherwise be prepared for a very strenuous constant uphill walk. Moreover, the scenery in the lower canyon, as mentioned above, is particularly breathtaking – it’s worth to keep the best part for the end of your visit!
2. Take the subway line 6 to the last stop – Beibei (北碚). From there you walk towards the Beibei bus station （北碚汽车站). The station is actually an extremely ugly building housing flats, shops and other services, with a few buses standing in front. Board the one with large sign 金刀峡 (Jindao Canyon) on the front window. Just as mentioned above, some buses do not go directly to the canyon and terminate in Liuyin instead.
Going back from the canyon, you can easily find a minivan to share which will bring you back either to Liuyin (from where you can take a bus back to Chongqing) or even Beibei.
High Season (March 1st – October 31st) – 100 yuan. Students: 50 yuan.
Low Season (November 1st – February 28th) – 60 yuan.
There is also a compulsory 10RMB payment for a short boat ride crossing one part of the river.
Open all day long.
Accommodation available nearby in rural houses (nongjiale – 农家乐)