CiQiKou Ancient Town lies on a steep hillside, about 14km west of the centre of Chongqing. CiQiKou translates as “Porcelain Port”, and was the source of much of the famed Qing and Ming dynasty porcelain.
The town is also known as “Little Chongqing”, and is a look back into how the city was before the inevitable modernisation. A Chinese proverb “One flagstone road and one thousand years : Ciqikou” seems to hold true. The buildings there still date from the Ming and Qing periods, and are constructed from bamboo and timber.
CiQiKou is reminiscent of Jinli Ancient Street in Chengdu, but larger and still inhabited. Most of the residents seem very elderly and cling to the traditional way of life, so the shop fronts are strewn with hanging laundry and drying corn.
CiQiKou Visitor Tips
The town is about 14km west of the city centre, so best reached by bus or a taxi. The route for both is a little indirect, so takes longer than expected.
The town is about 1.2sq km and only has twelve lanes. You can’t get too lost as main roads bound it on two sides, a hill to the north and the JiaLing River to the northeast.
The main entrance is the southeast gate. There’s no entrance fee, but lots of touts and noisy tour groups. Were we to visit again we’d walk a block north or south and slip in one of the smaller entrances.
There are numerous food shops, many demonstrating the manufacture of small street snacks. For a full meal with a view, there are many restaurants on the terraces next to the water. Specialities of CiQiKou include bean curd sheets (Qianzhanqpi) and spicy duck blood (Maoxiewang) congealed into cubes.
There are also tea bars scattered through the streets. These are far more popular with the residents, but avoid them if you just want a quiet chat, as they are often served with a side of folk opera.