Chongqing is the economic hub of China and its fourth largest municipality and is situated in the south west of the country. Although Chongqing is not as modern as Beijing or Shanghai, it is nevertheless a fun place to explore for some great souvenirs! The Jiefangbei pedestrian street is the center of the main shopping area. Chaotianmen Market is the largest market and has teapots, candles, shoes, handbags – plus a myriad of other ideas and its clothing is good quality at reasonable prices. Having said that, market traders expect you to bargain with them! Nat Bin Road on the south bank of the Yangtze River is a colorful street of different craft shops and tea houses.
1. Buy a beautiful folding paper bird
Chongqing has been known for its exquisite paper birds since the days of the Qing dynasty and today exports them all over the world. There are so many colors to choose from and all have been created in origami and are perfect to hang near an open window so that their wings flap in the breeze.
2. Pack some packets of wonderful tea
The area is noted for its fine tea and there are several that are particularly good including C Tuo Tea, Yin-pang Silver Needle Tea of Banan, Xiuya tea from Yongchuan and Xinong Fur Tip Tea and these make the perfect souvenir as they are light and easy to pack!
3. An unusual antique perhaps?
The Antique Market in Zhongxin Road is a wonderful multi-floor market with an amazing selection of antiques including wood carvings, ceramics, old books, and old stamps as well as all types of quirky statues, bamboo objects, and old embroidery. The market is open every morning, but Saturdays and Sundays are best. Some of the stallholders ask outrageous prices so some good-natured bargaining is a must!
4. Enjoy the beauty of Chinese silk
If you are good at sewing or know someone who is, a length of jewel-colored silk is the perfect souvenir. There are plenty of stalls in Chaotianmen Market and as well as good quality silk in a rainbow of colors, they reflect the passing seasons with lovely cotton and linens on sale during the summer and a variety of woolen fabrics in the winter months.
5. Grab some haute couture fashions
The Metropolitan Plaza (Da Du Hui) covers seven floors and has 160 shops stocking all the top labels including Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Dior, Hugo Boss, and Adidas. The plaza is the perfect place to combine shopping with fun as there is a food court on the 6th floor with local hot and spicy dishes to try and there is also a skating rink and bowling alley.
6. Choose some three gorges inkstone
This very special stone which is used for calligraphy is excavated from the Libi Gorge on the Jialing River. Beautifully shaped, the ink stone is engraved with intricate patterns and is sometimes encased in metal filigree work. A piece of the ink stone makes a handsome ornament.
7. Pack a pretty folding paper fan
The Rongchang fans have a rich history spanning 500 years and have had an important place in Chinese society. Everyone carries a fan and these are either embroidered or hand-painted with the traditional motifs of gorgeous flowers, exotic birds and trees and they have a lovely wooden handle and casing. Many visitors buy Rongchang fans to use as wall decorations.
8. Be tempted with Hechuan sliced walnut cake
This lovely looking cake is more like a work of art and is being made in the Hechuan District of Chongqing since 1840. Made with rice, walnuts, sugar, and honey, each glossy slice is thinly cut with a layer of chopped nuts in the middle and an intense aroma.
9. A piece of Shu (Sichuan) embroidery
These intricately worked pieces of embroidery have been popular since the Southern Song Dynasty and are ranked in the country’s top four embroideries. Beautifully worked by hand in soft muted colors, the embroidery is classically styled and has highly detailed designs of birds, flowers, insects, and trees. A piece of Shu embroidery certainly makes a souvenir that can be treasured.
10. A stylish carving
There are many craftspeople to be found in the heart of Chongqing and many of them make fantastic carvings in all sizes, working in different mediums such as bamboo, wood, jade, and stone.
11. A beautiful made-to-measure suit
Chongqing is known for its excellent tailors and there are certainly a huge number of shops where a made-to-measure suit for either a woman or a man can be completed in 2-3 days at a very reasonable price. Although the tailors around Liberation Square are a little more expensive, the bonus is that most of them speak a little English. If you have a photograph of the particular style you would like, take it along with you as they will be able to copy it well!