As one of China’s great ancient capital cities, Nanjing is known for this history and rich culture dating all the way back to the Ming Dynasty in the Republic of China.  Sitting on the situated in the Yangtze River Delta area 190 miles northwest of Shanghai, Nanjing is recognized as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Nanjing has remained a popular spot for travellers to explore because it is filled with highly acclaimed attractions and affordable accommodations options.  To help plan your trip to China, here are 7 things to do in Nanjing during your next vacation.

Travel tip: If you’re looking to stay connected on social media while travelling, download a VPN to use before you go! 

The Grand Bao’en Temple

The Grand Bao’en Temple has been restored to become an ultramodern museum that shares the history of the landmark and is home to the reconstructed Porcelain Tower which offers one of the best aerial views of Nanjing.  The Porcelain Tower was a soaring Ming-era pagoda and one of the Seven Medieval Wonders of the World before it was destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion of the 19th century located on the south bank of the Qinhuai River.

Niushoushan Cultural Park

Opened in late 2015, Niushoushan Cultural Park is an immersive historical site set on the sacred relics of Niushou Moutain. This Buddhist site just south of Nanjing is filled with mystic landscapes and sacred relics including the Pagoda of Hongjue Temple and the nine-story Usnisa Pagoda, as well as Usnisa Temple, a monastery complex featuring monks’ living quarters and a large meditation hall. However, one of the awe-inspiring areas of the park is the ornate and intricate Buddhist palace, spanning six floors underground, built into the side of the mountain.
Niushoushan Cultural Park

Ming City Wall

The Ming City Wall is considered to be one of the longest walls in the world with 15.5 miles of the original 22 miles of the wall still remain intact. The historical landmark, Ming City Wall was ordered by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, to protect Nanjing from invaders during its time as the capital from 1368 to 1421. Inside the wall, you can visit the Lao Cui Teahouse to learn about traditional Chinese tea and other cultural activities like calligraphy.

The Purple Mountain

Purple Mountain is one of the most well-known mountains in Southern China as it is home to 15 important historical and cultural relics including Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, and one UNESCO World Heritage Site –the Xiaoling Tomb of Ming Dynasty. Purple Mountain goes its name from the purple-hued clouds that often surround the peak of the mountain located in the eastern suburbs of Nanjing.

The Purple Mountain
Image Credit: Nanjing Tourism

Qinhuai Scenic Area in Nanjing

Qinhuai River

In the evening, take a road down the Qinhuai River filled with quaint riverboats, footbridges and historic Chinese architecture. The “Mother River” is surrounded by a number of shops, restaurants and historic sites including the Jiangnan Imperial Examination Hall and Dacheng Hall, which houses China’s largest statue of Confucius plus a precious collection of jade, gold and silver panels detailing the philosopher’s life.

Confucius Temple

The Confucius Temple was constructed to worship one of the ancient great minds of China’s Spring and Autumn Period (771-476 B.C.). The original temple was built in 1034 A.D. but was later destroyed in World War II. It was rebuilt in 1984 by the Chinese government in 1984. In the main hall, the Dacheng Hall, there is the largest statue of Confucius in Chine along with a collection of jade, gold and silver panels detailing the philosopher’s life.

Where to Eat – Nanjing Impressions

As Top 10 Restaurants in China, Nanjing Impressions summons a line nightly for the tiny bites and traditional dishes. Their signatures include Nanjing Salted Duck, Poached “Lion-Head” Meatball, Duck Blood Soup, Honey-glazed Stuffed Lotus Root, Roasted Duck, and more served in a space decorated with fine furniture and traditional calligraphy on the walls.

Where to Stay in Nanjing – The Grand Mansion

One of the most luxurious experiences in Nanjing is the experience of staying at The Grand Mansion, a Luxury Collection Hotel. There are 158 guest rooms including 15 suites that showcase contemporary Chinese decor with modern sophistication. The property offers a number of dining experiences for guests to enjoy including an expansive breakfast buffet that is not to be missed.

The Grand Mansion, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanjing
The Grand Mansion, a Luxury Collection Hotel

How to Get to Nanjing from Shanghai

Nanjing is accessible by Nanjing Lukou International Airport (NKG) with daily flights from a number of international destination including a direct flight from North America. Three train stations – Nanjing Railway Station, Nanjing South Railway Station, and Nanjing West Railway Station – connect Nanjing to all of China’s major cities, including Shanghai, which is a 90-minute ride via bullet train or three hours by car.

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