Southwest China is the most exotic area of China, home to many minority ethnic groups. It has much in common with Northwest China; both areas are far less prosperous than the eastern and southern coastal regions.
Much of the terrain is quite mountainous. Tibet and Northwestern Yunnan are located on the Tibetan Plateau and have many very high mountains; including the world's highest (Mount Everest) which is located in on the Tibet/Nepalese border. Guizhou has smaller mountains, terraced rice fields, and many caves.
The regions of Sichuan and Chongqing are considered part of Western China, because they are the edge of "China proper" (the area historically inhabited by Han Chinese) even though they are near the geographical center of the modern Chinese state. Western Sichuan was once part of a Tibetan Empire and part of Eastern Tibet; it lies at the edge of the region and is the gateway to the frontier/minority provinces of Tibet and Qinghai.
Chongqing is historically and culturally part of Sichuan, but is now administratively a separate municipality and a mega-city in its own right. It is China's largest city, with a population of almost 30 million counting suburbs, countryside, and the many towns under its administration.
- 1 Lugu Lake — a lake between Sichuan and Yunnan
- 2 Mount Kailash , known as Gang Rinpoche in Tibetan, Tibet (5,656 meters), sacred to Hindus, Jains and some Buddhists
- Two fantastic hiking areas hiking areas in Yunnan, both featuring large gorges winding between large mountains:
- 5 Mount Emei , Sichuan Province (3,099 meters)
This part of China is culturally very rich, with many ethnic minorities like the Zhuang, Miao, Naxi, Bai and Tibetans who speak their own languages. Nevertheless, as Mandarin is the medium of instruction in all Chinese schools, nearly all younger locals are bilingual in their ethnic language and Mandarin.
The Wikivoyage itinerary Hong Kong to Kunming overland covers travel through this region.
No visit to Chongqing would be complete without a visit to one of the famous hot pot restaurants throughout the city. A spicy broth with seasonings most westerners have never tasted, diners boil their meats and vegetables in this heavenly stock. Try the pig brain and lotus roots or stick with the beef and potatoes - everything tastes better from a hot pot!