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Chongqing's charms

More than just a manic industrial city, Chongqing's northern natural wonders, fiery cuisine and sleepy ancient towns make it an underrated weekend destination. By Debbie Yong

Published Fri, Apr 18, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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THE pagodas atop Jin Yun mountain try their best to motivate visitors.

Placards along the ascent beckon: "200 more steps to the summit". Our local guide boasts of the view, up top, over tranquil Bei Bei, a district north of Chongqing, while retiree residents from the 12-million-population city - drawn here for the much-needed oasis of calm - clamber past us gingerly.

But we plug on today, cramping calves and all, neither for the view nor for the potential shame in lagging behind geriatrics. Because the best reward is the one well-earned, the carrot on our stick, really, is the private hot spring soak that awaits upon return to our lodging for the trip, the Banyan Tree Chongqing Bei Bei.

The Banyan Tree brand's first resort in south-west China is also a first of its kind for the company: besides seven hot spring pools on the resort's main grounds - there are separate indoor hot spring baths for males and females. Outside, five pools offer a mixed bathing experience. But the key feature of the six-month-old resort is the private, in-room hot spring jacuzzis that feature in each of its 107 suites and …

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