Nanjing (zh:南京) is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It lies to the south of the Yangtze River in the southwest part of Jiangsu Province. The city covers an area of 6,597 sq km with a population of about 5.4 million.
Known as the capital of six different dynasties, as well as of the Taiping Rebellion and the Nationalist Party, Nanjing is most famous for its cultural remnants. It is also a city with "mountains, water, city, and forest", and is one of the top tourist destinations for its all-season natural scenery.
Nanjing is home to many delicious restaurants. Even local Nanjing People (南京人) could never try them all in their entire lifetime. Tourists are advised to start with a few, and build your repertoire from there.
Nanjing has been the capital city of 10 dynasties in Chinese history. Nanjing boasts a long history. Its original village in the Lake Xuanwu (玄武湖) dates back well over 6,000 years ago. During the Spring and Autumn Period of 495 BC, King Wu established casting workshops at the foot hills of Chaotian Palace to make weapons for his army. In 306 BC, the State of Chu conquered the State of Wu, and King Chu set up a city called Jinling (金陵), which later became today's Nanjing. In 221 BC, Emperor Qin unified China, and renamed Jinling to Moling County (秣陵县).
Sun Quan (孙权) of the late Eastern Han Dynasty (212 AD) picked Nanjing as his capital, called Jianye (建业). In 229 AD of the three Kingdom periods, Eastern Wu moved its capital from Wuchang to Nanjing. In 280 AD, Western Jin Dynasty (西晋) eliminated Eastern Wu, and named Nanjing back to Moling, and renamed it to Jiangning County (江宁县) three years later. In 313 AD of Western Jin, Nanjing was renamed to Jiankang (建康) because the name of Jianye is same as then emperor's first name Sima Ye. So Jiankang is another name of Nanjing.
Nanjing was infamously sacked by the Japanese in 1937.
|Weather averages for Nanjing|
|Avg high °C (°F)||7 (45)||9 (48)||14 (57)||20 (68)||26 (79)||29 (84)||32 (90)||31 (88)||28 (82)||22 (72)||16 (61)||10 (50)|
|Avg low °C (°F)||-1 (30)||1 (34)||5 (41)||11 (52)||16 (61)||21 (70)||25 (77)||24 (75)||20 (68)||13 (55)||7 (45)||1 (34)|
|Rain cm (inches)||3.41 (1.3)||4.23 (1.7)||6.78 (2.7)||5.77 (2.3)||7.68 (3)||13.85 (5.5)||13.84 (5.4)||11.74 (4.6)||4.26 (1.7)||4.16 (1.6)||3.71 (1.5)||2.22 (0.9)|
|Source: per MSN 2008|
Nanjing has a humid subtropical climate with the annual average temperature of 15.3 ℃, and annual precipitation 1106.5 mm. Mid-June to early July is the rainy season. Nanjing is known as one of the three "furnaces" in China with temperature as high as 40 ℃ and averaging around 35 ℃ in July and August. In recent years Nanjing has attracted more and more people to travel in summer after planting many more trees and bushes, and increasing its "green area" coverage to over 30% of the city's total area.
 Getting in & Getting out
 By Air
Nanjing's Lukou International Airport is about 35km from the city center and serves inbound international flights from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany. You can also fly to Lukou International from most major cities in China, including Hong Kong (with the exception of Shanghai due to its close proximity to Nanjing.)
From the airport, there are several ground transportation options into Nanjing. The 30-minute taxi ride to the downtown area will cost ¥100 or more (there's a ¥20 toll about 3 km away from the airport). The Airport Shuttle bus runs every 15-30 minutes between about 6am and 9pm from outside the airport to several stops in Nanjing including Zhonghuamen, Hanzhongmen and Nanjing Railway Station. Hanzhongmen is the closest stop to the city centre, however Zhonghuamen and Nanjing Station offer connections to the subway system. Tickets are Y25 one-way and can be purchased from kiosks at the airport and railway station stops or from the ticket offices at Hanzhongmen and Zhonghuamen. The journey takes 45-60 minutes depending on traffic and which destination you choose. There's no luggage charge, however do not lose your luggage receipt that will be given by the driver.
If you're flying into Shanghai, there are bus and train services that travel to and from Nanjing. The bus runs four times a day from Shanghai Pudong International Airport, with a stop at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and then on to Nanjing Zhongyangmen (and back). From there, take the metro or a taxi to your destination. It costs ¥136 from Shanghai and the trip takes about five hours (only about four at night). Many people prefer to take a train to Shanghai then bus, taxi or train to Nanjing.
 By Train
There are many daily departures to and from Shanghai, which is about four hours away on slow trains and a bit over two on the new fast ones (see High-speed rail in China). Both types of train also stop at Wuxi and Suzhou and some continue on to Hangzhou. Fast trains offer better equipment and are comparable with a business class flight, while slow trains are older and without as many amenities, but may suit people traveling on a budget. Generally, the Chinese train system might appear a bit "weird" for European passengers, but it's comfortable, reliable, and is recommended over a bus for most trips.
The main station is simply Nanjing Station, although locals refer to it as Nanjing North. It is situuted on the north shore of Xuanwu Lake and is also very close to Zhongyangmen long-distance bus station. It is modern and more like an airport than a train station - the departure areas are on the 2nd and 3rd floors and you'll go through a ticket and security check to enter this area. Look for your train number on the indicator boards to find the right waiting room and when your train is called (usually 10 minutes before departure) just follow the crowd to find the right platform. Arrivals are in the basement, as is the taxi stand and the entrance to the subway station. The ticket office, pedestrian entrance and the local-bus station is on the first floor.
Many southbound trains start from Nanjing West, a small terminal staiton just west of the downtown area, however the facilities and public transport connections are nowhere near as good.
Nanjing South station (adjacent to Zhonghuamen metro and bus stations) is to undergo a major redevelopment and most long-distance overnight services will depart from here in the future.
 By Bus
There is a modern highway system between Shanghai and Nanjing, which can allow you to travel quite quickly from city to city. Beware of traffic in the morning and evening rush hours. If you're just one person, it may be much cheaper to travel by train, but if you're in a larger group, sharing a car service can be cheaper. Keep in mind that you need to be a very experienced driver to handle Chinese traffic, so you may be better served using trains and buses between the cities and taxis in the cities, unless you're really on for a challenge.
 By Ship
Nanjing is situated on the Yangtze river. Scheduled passenger liner service is available along the Yangtze river between Shanghai downstream and Wuhan in the Hubei province upstream, although, the river is mostly used for transport of goods.
 Getting Around
 By Public Bus
The bus system is a little confusing for foreigners who can't read chinese characters, but once you know a few useful routes you can find your way around easily. Most buses are modern and air-conditioned and have a flat fare of Y2 (Y1.6 with the Jinlingtong), although some routes operating with the old, noisy, non-AC front-engined buses only charge Y1 (or 8jiao with JInlingtong). Insert your fare into the box next to the entry door (you can insert notes but no change is given) or tap your Jinlingtong against the scanner - you're supposed to take a ticket from next to the farebox but no-one ever does because no-one ever checks. The next stop is announced in Chinese only, but if you know the name of your stop then it's easy to work out. Buses are supposed to call at all stops regardless of whether anyone will get on/off or not - however if the bus is quiet it's advisable to stand close to the exit door as you approach the stop otherwise the driver might not stop there.
Some useful bus routes include: - No.1 (which follows the subway down from the station to Xinjiekou and then heads east to Fuzimiao/Confucius Temple), No. 3 (which runs in a loop from Hunan Road, through Guluo, Xinjiekou and then via Nanjing Normal University back to Hunan Road), No. 9 (between Xinjiekou and Sun-Yatsen mausoleum via the Nanjing Museum and Zhongshan Gate), No. 20 (Runs from the university districts to Purple and Gold Mountain - this route is ALWAYS crowded). Any service with a Y-prefix is a tourist route and is guaranteed to go somewhere interesting. 3-digit numbers beginning with an 8 are night-buses. These typically follow the same route as their daytime counterpart but only run at a half-hourly frequency (e.g. routes 1 and 801)
 By Tour Bus
 By Metro
The subway is the fastest way to get around and although there is currently only 1 line (with a second opening later this year) it reaches most of the important areas. The route runs from Maigaoqiao in the northern suburbs down to the Olympic Sports Centre in the southwest and stops at the train station, Xuanwu Lake, Zhonghuamen/Nanjing South station and all the main shopping areas, although for some tourist attractions you may face a long walk or a bus/taxi ride. Fares range from Y2-Y4 (if paying with cash) or Y1.8 to Y3.6 (if using a Jinlingtong). The ticket machines are easy - simply touch your destination on the on-screen map, select how many tickets you want to buy and insert notes or coins. You'll be issued with a blue plastic token which you must tap against the scanner when entering the ticket gates and insert into the slot when leaving. All stations have a window that can provide change, information and also Jinlingtong top-ups.
 By Taxi & Rental Car
Taxis are a great way to get around and you can generally go anywhere in Nanjing for under ¥15, which is comparable to a bus fare in many North American cities. The cab driver should start the meter as soon as you are picked up (starting at ¥9); if the cab driver doesn't start using the meter and you don't say anything he/she may assume you don't know any better and overcharge you at the end of your journey. Any fare over ¥20 is probably a scam unless you are going to one of the suburbs. If this happens, ask for a printed receipt detailing the cab number, kilometers traveled, times, and money exchanged from the driver upon exiting the cab. Don't expect to get a cab during both the morning and afternoon rush hours; demand is high and the drivers make their shift changes around these times, too. Tipping is not expected in cabs in China, so the price on the meter is the price you should pay. Unlike cabbies in Beijing or Shanghai (who frequently shuttle foreigners around and may be accustomed to gratuity under the table) tipping in Nanjing is an alien concept. You are likely to befuddle (or even insult) a driver by insisting that they accept additional 'free' money.
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 Mid Range
Nanjing has dozens of small noodle (miantiao) and pot sticker (jiaozi) shops on many of its streets. Qingdao Lu, a secondary street running northbound before the intersection of Shanghai Lu and Guangzhou Lu has a few excellent miantiao shops, including a Hui restaurant (Hui are a Chinese ethnic group that practices Islam), which serves only mutton and beef. Here, a massive bowl of hot soup and noodles will only cost you about ¥6. The area closer to Nanjing University has plenty of good, cheap eats, including a series of jiaozi vendors. At most Jiaozi shops you order and pay at the cashier desk by the entrance and you'll be given a ticket which you must take to the serving window.
If it's late-night munchies you're after, just head down any small backstreet and follow your nose and you're sure to find a small BBQ joint. These smokey little restaurants offer spicy meat kebabs (usually beef or lamb) along with BBQ'd vegetables, bread, fish and even sticky-rice balls and also serve beer at about Y3 per bottle.
If you're after genuine hand-made dumplings, there's an excellent dumpling restaurant (which an English menu) just off Ninghai Rd - dumplings come in a variety of fillings in sets of 6 priced between Y2 and Y5, although you must order at least 2 sets.
If you can't read chinese and you're a bit picky on what you eat, there's an excellent restaurant called 'A Simple Diet', located just off Hunan Road (next to McDonalds). Here they have taken the Japanese innovation of recreating the menu items in plastic so that you can simply point and order. You'll be given a card upon entry - when you order, hand it to the staff who will stamp your card. When you leave, take your card to the cashier's desk to pay.
If you have a DIY mindset and are wary of street vendor food, there are a number of new Howdy CVS stores (owned by the Chinese supermarket company Suguo); these are roughly analogous to 7-11's and other corner convenient stores. Full-size Suguo supermarkets can be found on either Zhujiang Lu or Beijing Lu.
You can find inexpensive, Western-style sandwiches at the popular American sub shop Subway, which has four stores in Nanjing; two in the Carrefour stores, one in the Golden Wheel shopping mall, and one in the popular Da Yang department store. The Walmart (wa-er-ma) in Xinjiekou has an extensive grocery and live foods market on the basement level. McDonalds has a number of restaruants in the city, if you're interested in their ¥7 menu (the Chinese equivalent of the Dollar Menu).
- Soul Mate, Nan Xiu Cun 15-1 (near Shanghai road), ☎ +86 25 8332 8418. Western-style restaurant and coffee bar owned by French expats. The prices are reasonable but the food is bad. Meat in burgers consists of mechanically recovered watered down rubbish. Chocolate milkshakes consist of Nesquik. The owner is incredibly rude and unhelpful to customers.
- LES 5 SENS 乐尚法国餐厅, 52-1 Hankou Lu - 210008 NANJING (near Shanghai road), ☎ +86 25-83 59 58 59 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 11h30 to 22h00. French restaurant with a French Chef and a cosy atmosphere, providing traditional and family homemade french dishes. 38 to 119 Rmb.
- Gold & Silver. A great find for yummy Chinese food; this restaurant is right near the foreign students dorm at Nanjing University. The manager is a very friendly guy who has worked with and served with foreign visitors for over 20 years. The walls are covered with pictures of international visitors throughout the years. Stay away from the fried food if you're looking to keep healthy; the soups and other dishes are pretty good. It may seem a bit pricey compared with other local small places but it is well worth it. ¥10–¥30.
- Skyways Bakery. Owned by a German/Belgian couple Their sandwiches are of good quality and quite large and include a drink. They also have good salads and coffee at reasonable prices. Check out the bulletin board for employment opportunities in the city. ¥20.
- Shanghai Lu (just South of Bejing Xi Lu), ☎ +86 25 8663 4834.
- 10 Taipingmen Lu, ☎ +86 25 8481 2002.
- German Bread Store. If you're missing some taste from home, or just looking for good bread and sandwiches, try this cafe next to Nanjing Normal University. They serve sandwiches, drinks, and various styles of original German bread. You'll probably find foriegn visitors here are all ours, with lots of customers speaking various European languages. ¥20. edit
- Bebbis, Orient Departement Store, floor 1, ☎ +86 25 8473 0121, . A fondue restaurant originally established in Interlaken, Switzerland, has now opened a second restaurant in Nanjing.
- Kung, (main gate of the Mei Hua Shan Zhuang compound). ~¥150 for four. A Korean-owned restaurant, very popular among Nanjing's Korean community. Kung serves a wide variety of traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi and kimchi (in all its colorful variations). Order a selection of dishes and split them over four or five friends.
- 24hr Coffee Tea. (Could someone else confirm the closing of 24hr Coffee Tea.) This comfortable, yet unassuming, place has excellent coffee and tea as well as reasonable lunch options. The little Bento box deals are terrific, and come with a cup of soup and fruit. The servers are very attentive and the food typically comes out very fast. Be warned that the menu is all Chinese characters (no pinyin) and the servers do not speak English, so brush up on your Mandarin. Wi-Fi is available if you have either a China Mobile or China Unicom account. The two locations are located right across from each other on either side of the Shanghai Lu. ~¥100.
- Blue Sky, (on Shanghai Lu). Expat bar that is particularly popular with Australians with a pool table and jukebox. A sort of eclectic menu that offers pub fare like burgers or Indian food like vindaloo. The service can be slow, so don't try to grab a quick lunch here. If you're hurting for an ale or stout (Chinese beer is invariably light) you can break up the monotony with a nice heavy import. ~¥100.
Note: There is an extensive food court underneath Xinjiekou off of Fashion Lady shopping mall with lots and lots of options.
- OMAX Restaurant, 5th floor, Bangkok Yatai Plaza (in the Xinjiekou District). Offers a good steak, for ¥68, and other "western-style" meals as well as Chinese dishes. The owner and hostess speak fairly good English and there is often a piano player.
- Skyways Bakery. Lots of relatively expensive baked goods. The apple pies, tarts, and cheesecake are all excellent. They also have cinnamon rolls, croissants, muffins and cookies. Nice, though small, selection of ice cream too.
- Jack's. Credible Italian, especially if you have been in China a few years. Some staff have good English and many of the customers are expats. Pasta or pizza is around ¥40-60, while good steaks start around ¥70.
- Tairo. Japanese "teppanyaki" restaurant in the Nanjing 1912 district. Excellent food, and a decent option if you have a lot of extra yuan burning a hole in your pocket. This chain of teppanyaki places has consistently good food prepared right before you, and it's eat till you drop. May also have an all-you-can-eat Haagen Dazs ice cream option for ¥160. If you're feeling brave, try the snake pancakes!
- New Cafe, Corner of Qingdao and Hankou Lu (next to Nanjing University). Self-consciously contemporary restaurant/lounge with a fairly extensive selection of western brunch fare: waffles, omelets, french toast, paninis. They also have a good selection of coffee, tea, and rather decadent desserts. The food here - sort of continental American with the inevitable anomalies - is good, particularly in the presentation; however, beware of the service. If you just want to have a sundae or french toast and don't mind having to hunt down a server, this is a great place. Wireless access here if you have a China Mobile or China Unicom account. At least ¥50 per person for tea and a pastry, but you should probably plan on ¥80, with a full breakfast or lunch even more.
If you have some time to explore, check out a few other options in Nanjing, including the two restaurants in the upscale shopping area of Deji Plaza on the 7th floor as well as a cafe on the 3rd floor. All three are good stopping points after a hard day's shopping at Louis Vuitton, or just before hitting the arcade or cinema. Near the New Cafe on Qingdao Lu is a small German cafe inconspicuously tucked away. Very good coffee in a cozy Bavarian/Thuringian environment. Expect to pay at least ¥25 for a good cup of coffee (which is the same as anywhere in Nanjing). Also worth checking out is a restaurant on the outskirts of Confucious Temple that offers a 14 course dinner; it might best be described as Chinese tapas. This is a very good way to sample dishes that you might not want to purchase entree-sized portions of anywhere: coagulated duck's blood soup, tofu, and so on. A fun way for more finicky groups to experience real Chinese food.
Xinjiekou is Nanjing's fashion district, the cosmopolitan, fast-paced heart of the city bathed in neon. It's the closest thing Nanjing has to Tokyo or Times Square. All the major retail is centered on this area, which despite its complexity is only a couple of square blocks in size. There are giant department stores including Wal-Mart, Watsons, Suning, and "Fashion Lady" -- a bewildering, subterranean complex of clothing boutiques and vendors that looks like a video game come to life. On the outskirts of Xinjiekou are some higher-end establishments selling everything from single-malt scotch to MINIs. The eight-floor Deji Plaza has a number of retailers such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Ermengildo Zegna, Coach, Guess, Versace, Vasque, Crocs, Toys R Us and so on. At DongFang Shopping Centre there's Gucci, Fendi, Celine and so on. While you might be able to get away with haggling at the Fashion Lady don't expect any in Deji Plaza.
Hunan Road is a slightly more low-key version of Xinjiekou running between Xuanwu Lake and Zhongshanbei Lu - it has most of the same stores including the Phoenix International Bookstore which has a whole floor of English-language books. There is also a small pedestrianised street running south from Hunan Road which is lined with pretty much every variety of restaurant imaginable, including the usual KFC and McD's, several cheap jiaozi and noodle places, some more upmarket Chinese places and a handufl of international restaurants (mostly Thai and Indian).
The area around the Confucius Temple in the south of the city has a lot of shopping, especially clothing and tourist items. It is a maze of tiny individual shops, and fun to explore even if you are not buying. If you are interesting in buying, haggling over prices is the name of the game here. If you are skilled in the art of bargaining you can easily get an asking price of ￥380 reduced to ￥80 without breaking a sweat. The streets outside the temple area provide more shopping opportunities, as does the underground mall. The entrance to this mall is sandwiched between two shops but the neon lights provide a clue. This is a Nanjing shopping experience you will want to return to again and again. Opposite Confucius Temple there's Aqua City Shopping Centre with retailers like H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, Mango and so on.
While you are there, take a stroll through the temple, and over the historic bridge which offers great photo opportunities. If it's a cup of tea that interests you check out the little gold-roofed floating tea houses on the canal.
 Night Life & Entertainment
Night life in Nanjing is very much alive, and you can find the epicenter in Nanjing's 1912 District, which is comparable to Shanghai's Xintiandi District. It is roughly a city block of two and three-story buildings, with paved courtyards between. Almost all are restaurants, bars or nightclubs, with a few spas and upmarket clothing shops in the mix. Many of the buildings look like they might have been around since 1912, and the newer ones match the style of the older ones. The location is great; right downtown just west of the Presidential Palace. There is underground parking for cars and extensive outdoor parking for bikes and motorcycles on the north side of the complex.
The area around Shanghai Lu, which runs between Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University, has quite a few expats - mainly foreign students or English teachers from the two universities - and some places that cater to them. On Shanghai Lu near Guangzhou is "Blue Sky", an Aussie-owned bar with good music and a free pool table. Moving north from there is the Behind-the-Wall Cafe with reasonable Mexican food and drink. You can find good music just off Shanghai Lu, and one location for good Italian food and drink (Jack's), is on the last corner before Beijing Lu.
The Castle Bar on Zhongyang Lu (close to the Gulou intersection and right next to McDonalds) is Nanjing's most popular student/expat dive and is most crowded (and smokey) on Friday and Saturday nights. Entry is free and drinks are cheap (Y15 for a bud, Y10 for a tequila) and has live music on Saturday nights.
 Sports & Recreation
 Excursions & Day Trips
- Purple Mountain or Zijin Mountain (紫金山), (From Nanjing take bus 9 or Y1). Contains the tomb of the first Ming Dynasty emperor and his consorts, the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (leader of the 1911 revolution), the tomb of Sun Quan from the Three Kingdoms period and other impressive historical stuff. Plan an entire day just exploring the mountain and surrounding areas. The park has a shuttle "train" you can ride and is included in the price of certain tickets. There is also a cable car going up the hill for ￥25 one-way and ￥45 round-trip. If you have the right shoes, feel free to walk back down (or up) the hill. ￥100 (approx.).
Note: If you are staying in Nanjing for an extended period of time and want to visit a number of scenic parks then it may be worth buying a Purple Mountain pass for ￥100 and/or a city pass for ￥120. The Purple Mountain pass can be bought at the entrance to Sun Yat-sen's Memorial (and possibly at any of the other parks on the mountain) and provides you with free entry to nine parks on the mountain. If you are going to visit more than 2 or 3 of the parks on the mountain you will save money with the pass. The city pass can be bought at the entrance to any of the big parks in the city, such as the zoo or Yuhuatai Memorial Park and provides you with free entry to 21 different locations. You need to provide a passport photo for each pass and they are valid for one calendar year.
- Sun Palace. Between Xuanwu Hu and Purple Mountain is a hotel resort with an indoor waterpark and a nice wavepool (activated on the even hours), and a lazy river around the perimeter, a fantastic children's area, a high-dive, and of course some great slides. ¥60.
- Xuanwu Hu. One of Nanjing's lakes has three islands in the middle all linked by causeways, complete with a amusement park for kids, a small zoo, and lots of great views of the city and Purple Mountain. Paddle boats can be rented as well. The picturesque nature of this lake is a nod to the high esteem held within China of Nanjing's beauty.