Dazu [dead link] (大足) is a district in Chongqing Municipality, China. It is famous for the Dazu Rock Carvings (大足石刻), located in forty separate locations in Dazu District (大足区). They date from the 7th to the 13th century and are listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Travellers arriving at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in Yubei District have several options for getting to Dazu:
- Bus: Seven buses to Dazu depart daily from the coach station located between Terminal 2A and Terminal 2B.
- Train: Chongqing Metro Line connects the airport to Chongqing North Station, where you can catch a high speed train to Dazu South Station.
- 1 Dazu South Station (大足南站), Chongqing-Kunming Expressway, Youting Town, Dazu District (大足区邮亭镇渝昆高速公路) (The train station is linked to Dazu Bus Station and Dazu Passenger Transport Center via public bus routes 204 and 206 respectively). This station is on the Chengdu-Chongqing high-speed railway. Eight trains serve this station daily from central Chongqing, including five from Shapingba Station (24-31 minutes), two from Chongqing North Station (37-43 minutes) and one from Chongqing West Station (34 minutes). There are also eight trains daily from Chengdu, all of which depart from the Chengdu East Station and take between 54 to 76 minutes to reach Dazu. An important thing to keep in mind is that Dazu South Station is outside Dazu's main urban area and is about 37km further away from the rock carvings than the bus station. For this reason, many people still prefer to go to Dazu by bus.
Dazu is located about one and half to two hours west of central Chongqing and about three to three and a half hours south-east of Chengdu and can be reached via the bus station in either city. The fare is ¥43 from the Caiyuanba (菜园坝) bus station in Chongqing and ¥89 from the East Railway Station Bus Station (东站汽车站) in Chengdu.
In Dazu‘s main urban area, there are two bus stations with buses to many of the sites:
- 2 Dazu Bus Station (大足汽车站), 218 Shuangta Road, Longgang Subdistrict, Dazu District (大足区龙岗街道双塔路218号) (At the Huannan Road (环南路) intersection), ☏ . Colloquially known as 'the old station' (老站).
- 3 Dazu Passenger Transport Center (大足客运中心站), 15 Longzhong Road, Longgang Subdistrict, Dazu District (大足区龙岗街道龙中路15) (About 900m east of the old station and a short distance north of Leiqishan Bridge (擂旗山桥)), ☏ . Colloquially known as 'the new station' (新站).
Bus route 205 links the old station to the new station.
Within Dazu transportation options include taxis, motorcycle taxis, pedal-taxis and three wheeled vehicles called sanlunche (三轮车). Taxis fares start at ¥3 and motorcycles, pedal rickshaw and sanlunche can ferry you around the area for ¥5-10.
As noted above, there are two bus stations in Dazu's urban area. The newer bus station at 15 Longzhong Road is the one that services the local area, including the rock carvings.
Numerous travel agencies in Dazu District, central Chongqing and Chengdu offer tours to the carvings that will take the hassle out of travel, but at a cost.
- 1 Dazu Rock Carvings (大足石刻), ☏ , email@example.com. 8:30AM-6:00PM, no tickets sold after 4:30PM. The main rock carvings can easily be visited as a day trip from either central Chongqing or the Dazu urban area. From December to February, the cost of a ticket to Treasured Summit Hill is ¥110 and tickets to Beishan are ¥70, but a combined ticket for entrance to both sites can be purchased at either site for ¥120. For the rest of the year, the figures are ¥135 for Treasured Summit Hill, ¥90 for Beishan and ¥170 for a combined ticket..
- 2 Baodingshan Rock Carvings Site (Treasured Summit Hill, 宝顶山石刻景区), Baoding Town, Dazu District (大足区宝顶镇) (To reach the site, catch bus no. 205 from the public bus stop outside either of Dazu's main bus stations. The ticket is ¥3 and will take 30-45 minutes, depending on the number of passengers the driver picks up and drops off on the way. The bus will drop you off at the parking lot of the Treasured Summit Hill tourist area. From there it is a 30 minute walk to the carvings or a five minute walk to tour carts that will take you to/fro the caves for ¥3. When you reach the "Longevity Temple" (admission ¥15), follow the path to the left. You'll be able to see the rock carvings in the valley below.). This site is said to be the most spectacular one. It is about 15 kilometers or 9 miles east of the Dazu urban area.
- 3 Beishan Rock Carvings Site (北山石刻景区), Beishan Road, Dazu District (大足区北山路) (The site can be reached by taxi or a thirty minute walk north from either of the main bus stations.). This is the second most popular rock carvings site. It is about 2 kilometers or just over a mile north of the city. It includes a pagoda and several intact statues.
- 4 Nanshan Rock Carvings (南山石刻). 09:00-17:00. Smaller, less-popular zone of carvings a 2km walk south from the Dazu bus station. 5¥.
- 5 Shimenshan Rock Carvings (石门山石刻) (There are some local bus routes in this general area, but you're probably better off hiring a taxi or a motorcycle taxi). 16 caves in a ~70m-wide cliff face, 20km from Dazu. Tourists are rare enough at this site that you may need to find the administrator to unlock it for you. 5¥.
- 6 Shizhuanshan Rock Carvings (石篆山石刻) (Hire a taxi or a motorcycle taxi). This area, 25km southwest of Dazu, combines Taoist, Buddhist, and also Confucian imagery. Its caves and carvings are scattered over a wider area (including Mother and Child Temple 母子殿 and Thousand Buddha Rock 千佛岩, 1.5km apart) and it is the most difficult of the five sites to find. It is unclear whether it is formally open to the public yet, but you may be able to negotiate your way in.
- 7 Dazu Rock Carvings Museum (大足石刻博物馆) (Bus route 205; one stop after the Baodingshan parking lot). 8:30AM-6:00PM.
- Located just outside of Dazu's urban center, one minute down the road towards Baoding Shan, is an interesting old estate called Loquat Country Villa (枇杷山庄). Unfortunately as of 2006 the buildings were closed for tourists, but the front gate is open and you enter and wander around. Beware of the growling dogs that patrol the grounds!
Dazu is an average semi-urban district of around a million people and at first sight, it may appear that there isn't much to see or do within the area besides going there to view the famous rock carvings. But in fact, that isn't quite true.
One interesting option would be to bike around the verdant farm lands. No rentals are available so bring your own bike. The route to the most impressive carvings located at Baodingshan (宝顶山) is rather scenic and could offer a potential biking destination. It does however require biking up several long steep stretches and Chinese drivers are notoriously dangerous. Wear bright colors and leave early if you choose this option!
Several internet bars are located in Dazu, including on Longzhong Road near Dazu Binguan and Jinyuan Luguan.
- 1 Longshui Lake Tourist Resort (龙水湖旅游度假区), Yulong Town, Dazu District (大足区玉龙镇) (Take a long-distance coach to Longshui Bus Station (龙水汽车站), then take bus no 208 and get off at the Longshui Hot Springs Center (龙水温泉中心) bus stop. You may also catch bus 208 from outside Dazu Bus Station), ☏ . This is Dazu's second biggest tourist attraction after the Dazu Rock Carvings. Situated on the northern side of Longshui Lake (actually a man-made reservoir), the resort features numerous hot springs and a water-based amusement park. You can also go on boat rides on the lake or try out a military style obstacle course that runs through a forested area. ¥138 for entry to the amusement park, ¥50 for tour boat ride, ¥70 for sailboat ride, ¥60 to use the obstacle course.
There are plenty of opportunities to buy trinkets within urban Dazu and at many of the cave sites. One local specialty to look for is purple stone jadite, which is carved into a variety of trinkets, from pendants for ¥10 to large statues running into the thousands of yuan.
There are numerous restaurants located within the area. The buffet breakfasts at Dazu Bingguan are a good deal at ¥15. Dazu is located in China's spice bowl and famous spicy hotpot is widely available for those who wish to test their intestinal fortitude.
A minimarket is located next to the Longzhong Road bus station and every block has a couple of stores selling food.
Cold beer is plentiful in restaurants throughout Dazu and water and soft drinks are readily available at the rock carving sites. Anything near the site will be price inflated as expected.
Numerous hotels are located in Dazu's urban area and around Baodingshan, though not all will accept foreigners.
- Dazu Bingquan (大足 兵馆) is the most decent option available. Located on the corner of Longzhong Road (龙中路) and Longgang Road (龙岗路) the hotel is a large complex of several buildings and dozens of rooms. The rates listed on the wall start at over ¥300 per, but the actual price after negotiating starts at ¥180, for a clean twin with air conditioning, to well above ¥300. The telephone number is 02343721888 and the fax number is 023-43722967.
- Another option is the family run Jinyuan Luguan (金原 旅官) located at 55 Longzhong Road (龙中路). A clean single with airconditioning starts at ¥120. Unfortunately the sign outside the hotel is only in Chinese and the staff doesn't speak English.
- Rooms are also available at the Beishan Bingguan located at the Beishan rock carvings. Rooms start at ¥150.