Nanjing

Nanjing (南京; Nánjīng), historically also Nanking, is the capital city of Jiangsu Province in China. It is situated in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and is the central city of the lower Yangtze Basin.

Understand

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 7.0 8.8 13.4 20.3 25.6 28.8 31.9 31.7 27.3 22.2 15.9 10.0
Nightly lows (°C) -1.1 0.6 4.8 10.6 15.9 20.7 24.6 24.2 19.2 12.9 6.1 0.4
Precipitation (mm) 37.4 47.1 81.8 73.4 102.1 193.4 185.5 129.2 72.1 65.1 50.8 24.4

Source:w:Nanjing#Climate_and_environment

Nanjing is a renowned historical and cultural city and was the capital of several dynasties over the course of Chinese history. Its name means "southern capital" (Beijing is "northern capital"). It has many historical sites including the Ming tombs that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was most recently the capital of China under the Kuomintang, from 1927 until their retreat to Taiwan in 1949. With a current urban population of approximately 5 million people, Nanjing is an important center for commerce and trade in Eastern China.

Get in

The Sun Yat-sen mausoleum, one of Nanjing's many historical sites

By plane

Nanjing's Lukou International Airport is 35 km from the city center and has connections to most Chinese cities as well as a few international flights from Japan, South Korea, South East Asia, Los Angeles and Germany. There is also an evening flight every day from Shanghai Pudong International Airport for international connections.

There is a new subway connection between the airport and Nanjing South Railway Station called the S1 line which takes half an hour and costs ¥6. Be prepared for a rather long walk between lines 1 and S1 at the South Station interchange. A taxi ride to the downtown area will take the same time but cost around ¥100.

There are two express-bus routes from the airport to downtown Nanjing - one terminates at the North Railway Station and one terminates at the South Railway Station and connect with the subway and local city buses. The services run at 30 minute intervals, it takes more than an hour to arrive at the North Railway Station. A one-way ticket costs ¥20 and can be purchased from the kiosk outside the arrivals hall.

If you're flying into Shanghai then it is best to catch a high speed G train from Shanghai Hongqiao train station that takes 75 minutes and costs ¥139.50 (2nd class). There is a slower bus that runs four times a day from both Shanghai airports; it starts at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, makes a stop at Hongqiao Airport and then goes on to Nanjing Zhongyangmen. It costs ¥136 from Shanghai and the trip takes about five hours.

By train

Also see High-speed rail in China

There are two main train stations,   Nanjing Station (referred to locally as Nanjing North, situated on the north shore of Xuanwu Lake and is also very close to the Zhongyangmen long-distance bus station) and   Nanjing South Station. Both are very large and look more like modern airports, serving many destinations with high speed rail links. Both are designed to have arrivals come through the basement and departures from the second floor. Nanjing South is the main station for long-haul high-speed trains to Beijing, Shanghai, Xuzhou, Zhengzhou, Jinan, Tianjin, Wuhan, Hefei and other destination. For destinations like Zhenjiang, Danyang, Changzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Kunshan, you may find Nanjing (North) Station is more convenient. A trip to Hefei takes around one hour, and Wuhan 3.5 to 4 hours. A ride to Beijing usually take 4 hours on a G-series bullet train.

From Shanghai here are many daily departures to and from Shanghai Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Station, which is 75 minutes away by High Speed train ( ¥139.50 for 2nd class and ¥230 for 1st class) and depending on the route, trains stop at Wuxi and Suzhou. Beijing is about 4 hours away by High Speed train.

The slower "conventional" trains (which include overnight services to nearly everywhere in China) all use the older Nanjing Station.

  Zhonghuamen Station (adjacent to Zhonghuamen metro and bus stations, formerly called Nanjing South, changed its name to Zhonghuamen Station to prevent duplicate the name with the new high-speed Nanjing South station opened in June 2011) is to undergo a major redevelopment and most long-distance overnight services will depart from here in the future. Although it's only a tiny station with a few services a day, the majority of services between Nanjing and Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) will stop here so it's worth booking a ticket to Zhonghuamen to avoid a slow 45-minute ride around the eastern suburbs to the main station. The south station is located about 1 block east of Zhonghuamen subway station so onwards connections are easy and usually quicker than from the main station. (Note: as of 2015, Zhonghuamen Station does not seem to have any service; it is not in the schedule systems).

Nanjing West Station, which you may see mentioned in older guidebooks, has been closed permanently. The former terminal station just west of the downtown area was built in 1908 and it will be converted into a railway museum.

By bus

Nanjing is well connected to Shanghai, Hangzhou and most destinations within Jiangsu, Anhui and northern Zhejiang provicnces by bus as well as longer overnight sleeper services to Beijing (12 hours) and Guangzhou (24 hours). Most services depart from Zhongyangmen bus station, a large, clean modern terminal in the north of the city approximately 10 minutes walk to the west of the main train station. The station has English signange and announcements but the ticket clerks generally cannot understand English. Some services into Anhui province depart from Nanjing South (Zhonghuamen) station, which is adjacent to Zhonghuamen metro station. There are also bus stations serving nearby destinations at Hanzhongmen, Nanjing East (to the north of Purple Mountain) and Nanjing North (on the west side of the Yangtze River) although they are less useful to travellers.

By road

Also see Driving in China

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 boat

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.

There are also frequent ferry services across the river, in particular from Zhongshan Wharf (near Nanjing West Railway Station) to Pukou.

Get around

If you're staying more than a few days it's worth buying a Jinlingtong (also known as IC-tong). These are available from any subway station, most bus termini and from any branch of Huaxia Bank (look for an information window displaying the letters 'IC'). The card costs ¥75 and contains ¥25 refundable deposit and ¥50 credit, and can be topped up at the aforementioned locations. The card can be used on the subway, all city buses (but not all suburban buses), cross-river ferries, taxis (although drivers are reluctant to accept them and may tell you the scanner is broken) and in some Suguo convenience stores.

By taxi

Taxis are a great way to get around and most trips will cost less than ¥25. The cab driver should start the meter as soon as you are picked up (all meters start at ¥9 + ¥2 service fee); if the cab driver doesn't start using the meter and if you don't say anything they may assume you don't know any better and overcharge you. 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. Tipping is not expected in cabs in China, so the price on the meter is the price you should pay along with a two yuan gas tax fee (There is an additional receipt for this fee.). 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 but please a driver by insisting that they accept additional 'free' money. As with anywhere else in China, you are very unlikely to get a driver who speaks any English, so unless you speak Mandarin, remember to get your hotel's business card, and get hotel staff to write down your destination names in Chinese to show your taxi driver before you set off.

By subway

Inside Nanjing Metro

The Subway is a clean, cheap, safe and fast way of getting from A to B quickly — the system has 5 lines (with many others under construction) and covers most of the central city, and links two railway station and the airport. The lines are as follows:

Trains run from approx. 5am to 11pm. Single-journey tokens cost between 2 and 9 yuan depending on distance and can be purchased from vending machines in the station. Stored-value tickets are also available (see above) and give a 5% discount. As in most Chinese cities, you need to scan any luggage / bag in an X-ray machine before entering the metro.

By bus

Buses are handy for getting around - particularly places that are inaccessible by subway, although Nanjing's bus system feels a little aged compared to Hangzhou and Shanghai and has no English information. Google Maps displays bus services for Nanjing and some tourist maps such as those sold around the train station will have bus routes. However, as metro construction advances, bus lines are constantly re-organized to fit changed demands, so that any printed information you receive may be outdated.

Buses running within the city proper will carry a route number displayed on a red placard below the front windscreen next to the entrance door. Low-numbered routes (1-100) follow major thoroughfares and link major shopping, residential and transportation hubs. 3-figure route numbers follow indirect routes and run around quieter residential streets and are less handy for travellers, but can be an interesting way of seeing Nanjing's ordinary working-class neighbourhoods. Routes displaying the Chinese character for 'you' (travel) are primarily aimed at tourists and link all the major tourist sights. Routes numbered '8XX' e.g. 801, 806, 813 etc. are night buses which run approximately twice an hour between 11pm and 5am when the regular service ends. Buses heading to surrounding suburban towns depart from hubs on the edge of downtown such as Nanjing Train Station (North/East), Changjiang Daqiao (Yangtze River No.1 Bridge - going north-west), Hanzhongmen (West) and Zhonghuamen (South/East). These services display the name of the suburb/town that they serve in Chinese characters and have no route number.

Fares are a flat 2 yuan on numbered services except for some routes which run older non-airconditioned buses which charge 1 yuan - no change is given so have some coins ready. For suburban routes, fares are charged by distance and a conductor collects the fares. There's a discount of 20% for IC card users. Note that many bus stops are some distance apart (often 3-4 blocks) so keep an eye out for your stop and an ear out for the stop's name on the PA announcements (which are only in Chinese). If the bus is quiet then press the buzzer next to the door to signal to the driver that you want to alight.

By bicycle

Nanjing is fairly cycle-friendly with segregated bike lanes on most busy roads - however there are a lot of bikes on the road so care should be taken. Generally, the pace is quite slow, and some of the hills in the central-west part of the city can be tiring to climb (but fun and a little scary to descend). Although it's possible to cycle up the Purple Mountain, it should be tackled in the early morning as the roads will be crammed with fast-moving bus and taxi traffic for most of the day, and the roads are narrow with no bike lanes. The bike/pedestrian path around the edge of Xuanwu Lake is a popular place for cyclists, as well as a popular racing ground for local motorcyclists - take care on the many blind corners.

Bikes can be rented from most youth hostels - but ensure that the tires are pumped up and the brakes work before setting off.

Buying a bike is relatively easy and cheap - the cheapest option is to get a good quality used (possibly stolen) bike from the bike markets around Tangzi Jie (behind the Sheraton hotel) for ¥100-200. However, buying a bike at a low price on Tangzi Jie sends a wrong message to thieves and it is a sure way to make criminal activities worse — and if that doesn't trouble your conscience, consider that if your "second-hand" bike is found by its real owner, you will lose it. The cheap bikes sold in department stores and supermarkets are very poor quality and shouldn't be relied upon. For higher-quality, higher-performance bikes: Giant, Trek and Specialized all have stores in Nanjing. Remember to carry a strong lock - bike theft is common.

See

The city pass can be bought for ¥100 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.

The Nanjing Confucius Temple (夫子庙)
The Nanjing Massacre Memorial is a chilling reminder of Nanjing's place in history during World War II
Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge

Purple Mountain 紫金山

Some say that Nanjing is all about Tombs. 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, or you can walk. The area is home to the tombs of three very important emperors:

The Sifangcheng Pavilion of the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum

The site's third turtle - the least known of the three, but the biggest and most mysterious - was found in a nearby ravine in the late 20th century, and is now installed in the Red Chamber Culture Park (红楼艺文苑, Honglou Yiwen Yuan), which is located just east of the main Ming Xiaoling complex, and can be visited on the same ticket.

A Purple Mountain pass might be worth buying if you plan on visiting 2 or 3 of the parks on the mountain. The Purple Mountain pass can be bought for ¥100 at the entrance to Sun Yat-sen's Memorial (and possibly at any of the other parks on the mountain) and provides you with entry to nine parks.

Outside the city

Do

Work

All of the universities and various other schools hire language teachers. See Teaching English for ideas on how to find a job teaching English overseas.

Locally, jobs - including frequent requests for native speakers of less widely taught languages such as Italian and German - are often advertised on the bulletin board at Skyways; see the "Eat" section for its location.

Buy

A shopping street near the Confucius Temple (Fuzi Miao)

Eat

Xiaolongbao (left) and Duck blood and vermicelli soup (right)

Local specialties include xiaolongbao (小笼包), thin skinned dumplings filled with soup and meat, that are served steaming hot in baskets and tangbao (汤包), which are similar, but much larger and filled with crab meat and soup. The soup in these is drank with a straw. Restaurants serving these can be found all over Nanjing usually in small hole in the wall restaurants or dining halls (餐厅) for cheap. You'll usually be able to find them served alongside yaxue fensi duck blood noodles (鸭血粉丝) another local specialty.

Budget

Mid-range

  • Skyways Bakery location 1, Shanghai Lu (just South of Bejing Xi Lu),  +86 25 8663 4834.
  • Skyways Bakery location 2, Xianlin Location: A18, Yadong Commercial Plaza, 12 North Xianyin Road (From subway Line 2, exit Xueze Lu Subway station. Walk west 1 block to Xianyin Bei Lu, turn right. Walk along Yadong City complex about 2 blocks, and Skyway will be on your left.),  +86 25 8579 1391.

Splurge

Drink

Other popular expat drinking spots include

Sleep

Many accommodation providers, especially those in the sub-¥180/night category, do not accept foreigners. The yellow-exteriored 7 Day Inn chain, for example, will not accept foreigners in Nanjing even though this hotel chain is a good option in the ¥160/night range in most other Chinese cities. As in most Chinese cities, with the possible exception of luxury hotels WiFi is usually just available in coffeeshops, but rooms over about ¥130/night normally come with wired internet where the cable is supplied.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Good news! Nanjing is now officially the safest city in China - this was the honour of Hangzhou until a recent rise in hotel robberies put Hangzhou in the headlines. This doesn't mean there are no risks. Pickpocketing is a problem in Fuzimiao as well as on crowded buses, the subway and around the main transport hubs. Because Nanjing has a relatively small number of foreigners for a city its size, the common scams seen in Shanghai and Beijing are almost non-existent, however you may still see the occasional dodgy salesman selling counterfeit goods in Fuzimiao.

Be careful if taking the bus to the airport from Zhonghuamen bus station as many touts claim to be the official bus service, however there is a strong risk of being overcharged or driven to a location several kilometres from the actual airport. The official bus departs from Gate 7 and tickets should be paid for at the gate. Bus Tickets are ¥20 as of March 2010. The fee remains the same in July 2012. Also be careful of fake taxis operating from the bus stations and occasionally the railway station - always use the official taxi stand and ignore any taxi touts.

Although traffic is slightly calmer than most Chinese cities it can still be much more manic than most Western countries - take the usual precautions when crossing the road and also remember that right turns on a red light are sometimes legal in China(however in Nanjing most of the case there should be a dedicated right turn signal for right turn lane) so people driving across the crosswalk while the 'walk' sign is showing aren't actually breaking the law. Also be careful of motorbikes and bicycles driving on the pavement.

Many older Nanjingese may have a resentment towards the Japanese because of the events during World War II. If you are Japanese, don't let this put you off visiting as the locals will still be very welcoming, however it's recommended not to appear too conspicuously Japanese and keep any opinions to yourself. Younger Nanjingese are more open and will often be more than happy to discuss the war.

Go next


Routes through Nanjing

Beijing Bengbu  N  E  Zhenjiang Shanghai


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