NANJING, China Travel Guide - Best Things to Do & Travel Tips

Travel Tips
Nov 23, 2021

Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, is a popular tourist destination with a rich history in both ancient and modern times. The name Nanjing stands for "southern capital," a renowned historical and cultural city that was the capital city for six dynasties. With numerous spectacular historical monuments, including Ming tombs on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the remains of the past are hidden in the contemporary cityscapes making this city charming and unforgettable. 💝

Contents

1. First-time in Nanjing, China
2. Nanjing Transportation, How to Go to Nanjing | Cheap Flights to Nanjing
3. Basic Entry Information
4. Nanjing Transportation: Trains, Bus, Subway, Taxi
5. Nanjing Weather: Best time to visit Nanjing
6. 3 Best Things to do in Nanjing, Jiangsu
7. Best Nanjing Foods You Should Try
8. Nanjing Shopping, Top Places to Shop in Nanjing
9. Local Customs in Nanjing
10. Unique Travel Experiences in Nanjing

NANJING, China Travel Guide - Best Things to Do & Travel Tips

Located in East China's Yangtze River Delta, Nanjing is a major commercial and trade city with an estimated urban population of 8 million people. There’s an abundance of water with the Yangtze River flowing through the city and close proximity to the water network of Taihu Lake in the south. Nanjing has 11 districts in total, of which Gulou District is the traditional heart of the city that also houses the cultural and administrative centers of the Province. Xuanwu District is the home to most of Nanjing’s tourist attractions including Xuanwu Lake and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. The future in this metropolis can be found in Jianye and Yuhuatai Districts with their skyscrapers, electric trams, and industrial centers for well-known enterprises.

The most common ways to reach Nanjing are by air (Nanjing Lukou International Airport) and by train (e.g. Nanjing Railway Station, Nanjing South Railway Station, and Nanjing West Railway Station), linking the city to all major domestic cities. Getting around town is also simple and convenient. Visitors can easily reach top attractions by using the Metro or one of the five authorized special sightseeing bus routes.

Nanjing has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, hence there’s a long list of historical relics and sites to explore, such as the Presidential Palace of the Republic of China, and the Ming dynasty City Wall and Palace ruin. The city is also famed in China for its amazing natural landscapes like the Purple Mountain Scenic Area, Pearl Spring, and Laoshan National Forest Park. What about art and culture? Nanjing has some fantastic museums and galleries, for example, the Nanjing Museum, Jiangsu Art Museum, and Sifang Art Museum.

1. First-time in Nanjing, China

Nanjing is a modern city steeped in history with magnificent architecture, beautiful scenery, and mouthwatering cuisines. What’s the best time to visit? The most pleasant seasons in Nanjing are Spring (April to May) and Fall (September to November). The cool breezes and mild temperatures are most suitable for sightseeing. Tourist areas can get extremely busy, so avoid visiting on weekends or during national holiday periods like Labor Day or Chinese New Year.

Deciding where to stay for a first-time visitor to an unfamiliar city can be quite unnerving. Here are some helpful tips to point you in the right direction. The most highly sort after accommodating areas in Nanjing include Nanjing Downtown Area - around Xinjiekou Square where you’ll find a concentration of hotels (for all budgets), restaurants and shopping malls; Confucius Temple and Qinhuai River Area – great for nightlife as it is one of the liveliest places in town with numerous entertainment venues, the night view along the river is also stunning; Xuanwu Lake Area – immerse yourself in natural scenery and serene environment, many hotels are located around the lakes and offer lake-view rooms.

Nanjing is a compelling city with much to do, but if you only have limited time, the famous must-see destinations are Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum, the Confucius Temple, Xuanwu Lake, and City Wall of Nanjing.

Foodie-travelers are in for a treat in Nanjing, with local snacks and Jiangsu cuisine favorites that emphasize a mildly sweet taste, delicate appearance, and fresh ingredients. Pan-fried beef dumplings, salted duck, and hairy crabs are all unmissable local delicacies. Not sure what to bring home as a souvenir? For specialty Nanjing products, visitors can consider rain flower stone, Yuhua tea, bamboo carving, and Gaochun ceramics.

2. Nanjing Transportation, How to Go to Nanjing | Cheap Flights to Nanjing

With its vital location on the Yangtze River and proximity to major cities like Shanghai and Wuhan, Nanjing is at the crossroads of commerce and travel. It is served by two airports and two main train stations (Nanjing Railway Station and South Railway Station) with high-speed train services from Beijing and Shanghai among others.

Nanjing's Lukou International Airport (NKG) is the largest airport in the city with international and domestic flights covering around 45 Chinese cities and 12 international destinations. NKG offers a wide range of facilities, such as duty-free shops, restaurants and teahouses, entertainment centers, medical services, Bank and China Mobile services, and luggage storage.

Located about 35km (22 miles) from the city center, there are multiple transfer options between the airport and downtown. In addition, for passengers’ convenience, there are also buses between the airport and nearby cities like Huai’an and Yangzhong. For airport shuttle or express buses, there are two routes to downtown Nanjing. The services operate at 15-minute intervals with a one-way ticket costing 20 RMB (can be purchased at the kiosk outside the arrivals hall). There are limited stops along the routes, so most visitors will need to connect with the Metro, local bus, or taxi to reach their final destinations.

Other airport transfer options are Metro and Taxi. Metro Line S1(Airport line) costs around 6 RMB and takes 30 minutes to reach Nanking South Station where visitors can transfer to other lines, e.g. Line 1, 3, and S3. Although not the cheapest option, getting a taxi is hassle-free in comparison to the bus or metro. The 30-minute taxi ride to the city center costs around 100 USD.

3. Basic Entry Information

China, or officially the People's Republic of China, is the world’s third-largest country by size, covering an area of around 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million square miles). It is also the world's most populous country, with more than 1.41 billion inhabitants. There are 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four direct-controlled municipalities, including Beijing.

There are 55 ethnic minority groups, with the Han Chinese being the main ethnic group. The Chinese language is one of the oldest written languages in the world, and today, the official language of China is Standard Chinese (Putonghua) or Mandarin. There are several other main dialects spoken in different regions of China, for example, Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and most of Guangdong.

For the size of China, it spans five geographical time zones, but officially China only has one time zone, China Standard Time (CST). CST is also known as Beijing Time in China, always 8 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). There are no Daylight-Saving Time clock changes.

4. Nanjing Transportation: Trains, Bus, Subway, Taxi

For a cosmopolitan city and tourist hotspot like Nanjing, getting around is simple and fast. Because the city attracts millions of visitors each year, the local government authorized five special sightseeing bus routes (Y1, Y2, Y3, Y4, and Y5) which provide a convenient way for people to explore many scenic spots throughout the city. For example, Route Y1 departs from Nanjing Railway Station in downtown to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum in the Purple Mountain area; and Route Y2 travels from Yuhua Tai to Nanking Underwater world via Confucius Temple, presidential Hall, and Ruins of Ming Palaces. The fare for the sightseeing buses is 30 RMB for one ticket which lasts 24 hours. Meanwhile, regular city bus lines are numbered 1 to 159 and with fares starting at 1-2 RMB. It is useful to note that all downtown city buses are self-service with no refund given.

Nanjing has a comprehensive Metro system with 10 lines covering most of the central city and several suburbs. Lines 1, 2, 3, and 10 are useful to tourists as they stop at a number of top attractions. For example, Line 2 terminates nearby the Purple Mountain scenic area and Line 3 has stops at Confucius Temple and Xuanwu Lake. The ticket fare starts at 2 RMB and most lines max out at 6-7 RMB.

If traveling by taxi is more your style, you’ll be happy to hear that finding a taxi in Nanjing is generally very easy, though it is still good to avoid rush hours. All taxis are metered and the starting fare is at 9 RMB, with most trips in the city costing less than 25 RMB. One safety to note, like many large cities, getting a taxi can be frustrating at times, but in Nanjing visitors may risk getting an illegal cab where the drivers are not monitored. Remember, the legal taxis are brightly colored cabs, with working meters and have brightly lit signs on the top of the taxis.

5. Nanjing Weather: Best time to visit Nanjing

With four distinct seasons, Nanjing has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and cold winters. If you plan for a great vacation in Nanjing, the best times to visit the city are during Spring and Fall, predominantly from April to May and September to November. While Spring can be warm and humid, but it has less rainfall and is not as scorching hot as Summer with an average temperature of 26 °C (78 °F). It is an excellent season for outdoor activities and viewing blossoming flowers. Fall is another good season to visit as the weather is pleasantly cool and dry. The worst period is arguably the summer as the temperature easily top 34 °C (93 °F). The highest temperature is in July, hitting above 40 °C (104 °F).

Beside Spring and Fall, other peak times for Nanjing are national holiday periods when millions of domestic tourists tend to descend on the city. To avoid extreme crowds, pick your dates carefully. Also, prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these times. Major Chinese holidays are the Chinese Spring Festival (late-January or early-February), Labor Day (beginning of May), National Holiday (first week of October), and Student Summer Holiday (July to August).

6. 3 Best Things to do in Nanjing, Jiangsu

As one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Nanjing has a long list of unmissable historic buildings, amazing natural landscapes, and tranquil waterways. For visitors with only a few days in the city, here are three top attractions that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The stunning Purple Mountain dominates the northeastern skyline of the city and sits in the middle of this lush surrounding is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. Considered as the "Father of modern China," Dr. Sun Yat-Sen played a key role in bringing down the Qing Dynasty and took China into a new age. Constructed in 1929, the magnificent design of the mausoleum is both understated and grand. There are numerous buildings on the complex including memorial archways, Sacrificial Hall, Open-air Music Hall, and the Sun Yat-Sen Museum. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes, as visitors must ascend a total of 392 stone steps up the 400-meter path leading to the Mausoleum.

Confucius is perhaps China's most famous teacher and philosopher, and he has a special place in the heart of Chinese people. The Confucius Temple in Nanjing was first built in the year 1034 during the Song Dynasty. Situated on the bank of the Qinhuai River, there are three parts to the complex: The Temple, Jiangnan Gongyuan, and Xuegong. The temple is a joyous place during Chinese New Year when visitors can catch a glimpse of traditional Chinese culture and a festive atmosphere.

To recharge your batteries and spend a day in the great outdoors, why not head to Xuanwu Lake Park? One of the largest Imperial lake gardens in China, the lake is located at the foot of Purple Mountain on the outskirt of the city. Amidst the serene landscape, visitors can leisurely stroll around scenic spots, teahouses, pavilions, and historic sites.

7. Best Nanjing Foods You Should Try

😀Nanjing-style food is considered a part of Jiangsu cuisine. Its dishes have the characteristics of having a lightly sweet taste, delicate appearance, and high-quality ingredients.

For foodies, pan-fried beef dumplings are an unmissable local delicacy. The dumplings are stuffed with ground beef and aromatics, then fried until golden and crispy. You can taste this at Jiang You Ji Restaurant and Liji Hala Restaurant, two of the most popular places for locals to enjoy these delicious morsels.

If you enjoy duck, then you’re in luck as duck dishes are much loved in Nanjing. You can have it marinated or roasted, with just duck meat or duck blood. One popular dish is the salted duck, marinated in brine to keep the meat tender with a mildly salty flavor, it is typically served as a cold appetizer dish. Jinling Hotel Plum Garden is a renowned restaurant for this culinary creation.

Though not a dish that originated in Nanjing, marinated bean curd can be found in nearly every local restaurant. Deep-fried firm tofu is cooked in broth with bean sauce, shrimp, and spices. Go get your plate from Longmen Feizhua on Shiziqiao Food Street.

8. Nanjing Shopping, Top Places to Shop in Nanjing

With Nanjing’s long history and rich natural resources, there’s a wide range of local specialty products that visitors can bring home. Rain Flower Stone (Yuhua Stone) is a natural agate that is one of the symbols of Nanjing. They can be purchased as fine jewelry, vase, or pebbles at Nanjing Yuhua Stone Museum. Calling all tea lovers, Yuhua Tea is one of the top ten famous teas in China and it is produced locally in Nanjing. Other notable Nanjing products include Yunjin brocade (a type of Chinese silk fabric), bamboo carving, velvet flower (handmade artwork), and Gaochun ceramics.

In terms of shopping districts, there are three popular areas for tourists and locals. Many large and exclusive fashion boutiques and department stores can be found in Xinjiekou, while around Hunan Road visitors can shop leisurely along a pedestrian street lined with endless food options. For people who prefer to shop local and like to haggle, head to the section of Qinhuai River near the Confucius Temple. It is a great place to bag those souvenirs and local produce. But if you would rather shop in an upscale mall with international brands, the Aqua City Shopping Center is located across from the Confucius Temple.

9. Local Customs in Nanjing

While Nanjing is considered a safe and orderly city, visitors should stay vigilant as petty crimes like theft are common, especially on public transportations, in shopping areas, and at tourist sites like the Confucius Temple area. For emergencies, dial 110 for police (or look for patrolling police in tourist destinations) and 120 for ambulance services.

The official currency used in China is Renminbi (RMB) which is also known as Yuan. While tipping is not customary in China, it is acceptable to leave a gratuity for guides, drivers, and hotel porters.

10. Unique Travel Experiences in Nanjing

(1) Pigeons in Nanjings Purple Mountain

Towering in the eastern suburb of Nanjing, Purple Mountain (Zhongshan Mountain National Park) has been known as one of the most famous mountains in Southern China. It got its name because purple clouds can often be seen at the top of the mountain. The mountain is not only beautiful, but also rich in historical and cultural relics.

One of the various attractions is the "open air music stage", a stone shaped amphitheater style theater. Especially in autumn, many pigeons are there, you can feed them or just watch them. The music stage is between the Linggu Temple area and Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum Scenic Area.

The pigeons are already used to people and will sit on your hand or shoulder... 🐦

⌚ Opening hours:

Mar. - Nov.: 6:30- 18:30

Dec. - Feb.: 7:00- 17:30

🎫 10元 entrance fee

(2) 🍁AUTUMN IN NANJING🍁

There are my 2021 - 2020 - 2019 photos in the same spectacular place. This place is called "Maple Color City". I always visit this place every autumn, and always captivated to its stunning beauty😍. It has a pretty lake inside, and sea of roses🌹. The air's so fresh, the place is so quiet and I always enjoy there English love songs playing through out the whole area, their fav singer is Whitney Houston😋. You will surely add this to your bucket list when you visit Nanjing!

🍁Location : 枫彩漫城, you can take S8 Line Xiongzhou Station, it will take almost 3 hours by bus, or 45 minutes by car. Didis usually charge almost 90rmb.

🍁Entrance Fee : 90 rmb

🍁Visiting Time : The whole month of November if you wanna enjoy the maple leaves.

(3) Golden Autumn at the Linggu Pagoda

It's autumn again and the leaves are yellow, red and brown. Beautiful nature. Nanjing is a green city and you can choose from various places to watch the wonderful leaves.

I recomment Linggu Pagoda, which is inside the Linggu Temple scenic area.

🎟️ Entrance ticket is 30元, you can also consider to buy the Nanjing year card.

🛕For the best view, climb until the top of the pagoda!