Nanning Wuxu International Airport serves both domestic and international flights, though the latter feature is only offered on a few destinations on a non-daily basis. Since Nanning City is China's gateway to Southeast Asian countries, the local government is putting a lot of emphasis on connecting Nanning to the capitals of every Southeast Asian country.
There is a shuttle bus every half hour to/from Chaoyang Lu in front of the Minhang (CAAC) Hotel and next to the Yinhe Hotel close to the railway station. ¥20, 45 minutes. Taxis are also available. Fixed price to downtown is ¥100. A taxi from the airport to Langdong bus terminal will cost ¥120-130, but it is still possible to bargain for ¥100-110. The drivers might refuse to use the meter but the price is not exorbitant as it may even cost more with the meter.
The railway station is at the northern end of Chaoyang Road just north of the city center. There are trains from
- Beijing - 28 hours
- Guilin - 5-6 hours
- Guangzhou - 11 hours
- Kunming - 10 hours
- Pingxiang - at the border to Vietnam, 3½ hours
- Hanoi, Vietnam - Sleeper through the borders. You'll travel around 4 hours till the border, where you first will conduct formalities to exit Vietnam and later go through Chinese Immigration. Then, you will travel another 4 hours until you reach your destination.
Nanning has three major bus terminals:
- Langdong (埌东) bus terminal is on Minzu Dadao (民族大道; Mínzú Dàdào) to the east of the city centre amongst all the new skyscrapers. Yunde (云德; Yúndé) buses from Hanoi arrive at Langdong Bus Station. Buses for Hanoi are ¥150, which includes drinks, a lunch at Pingxiang and insurance. It is possible to opt out of insurance, which costs ¥2, if you tell the ticket-seller. This is a through-service, which will bring you all the way to Hanoi, though it does involve a change of buses and other vehicles in between. Buses leave Langdong at 8:40AM, 9AM and 10AM. The journey takes 7 hours. There are also direct buses to Nanning from Haiphong and Ha Long Bay.
- Jiangnan bus terminal is on Xingguang Dadao way south of the city center. Buses from the south, Pingxiang near the Vietnam border (arrivals roughly hourly, 2.5 hrs, ¥60), and Yangshuo (via Guilin) operate from Jiangnan. Bus 41 (¥3, 20 minutes journey) connects Jiangnan to Chaoyang Road in the city centre. Catch them from the square in front of the terminal. Alternatively a taxi will take you for ¥5-10.
- Beida bus terminal is on Beida Beilu, just north of the Nanning train station. While not as busy as Langdong and Jiangnan terminals, there are a number of buses which arrive here from major cities in southern China. Several bus routes connect Beida to the city centre, including bus 76 to Langdong terminal, 204 to the train station and Chaoyang Square, and 207 to Jiangnan terminal.
Local buses serve the city, and are either ¥1 or ¥2 per trip, depending on whether the buses have A/C or not. Buy a bus map of the city for about ¥5 for the routes around the city, which doubles as a city map.
Taxis are also convenient for getting around the city, and most rides within the city should cost under ¥20. Fares start at ¥9 for the first 2 km and are based on time and distance afterwards.
- Guangxi Autonomous Region Museum (广西壮族自治区博物馆; Guǎngxī Zhuàngzú Zìzhìqū Bówùguǎn), 34 Minzu Avenue (民族大道34号; Mínzú Dàdào) (On the intersection with Gucheng Road, across from Mengzhidao Department Store). T-F 09:00-17:00. The only national-level museum in Guangxi, it has quite an eclectic exhibition. The museum's large collection of pottery and porcelain is displayed on the first floor, while on the second floor, there are exhibits on the early culture of Guangxi, including a collection of bronze drums, prehistoric tools and metalwork. There is also an open-air exhibition, with performances, and has houses of some of the minorities. An audio guide may be rented out for ¥10 (¥200 deposit required). Free.
- South Lake (南湖; Nánhú), Gucheng Road (古城路; Gǔchénglù). 8AM-5PM. Lake in the southeastern part of town surrounded by a park including bonsai and orchid gardens. Free.
- White Dragon Park (百龙公园; Báilóng Gōngyuán), Renmin East Road (人民东路; Rénmín Dōnglù).
- Yiling Rock (伊岭岩) (From the Anji Bus Terminal, take a bus to Wuming). Karst caverns located 18 km north of Nanning in Wuming County.
- Guangxi University (广西大学 or XiDa 西大 for short) (On the west side of the city on DaXue East Road (or East University Road) 大学西路). An example of a good provincial university with several 10s of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. Includes classroom buildings, dormitory buildings, and large administration buildings on a very large and beautifully landscaped campus.
- The People's Welfare Plaza (Minsheng Plaza 民生广场) (Runs along the river for about a mile on top of Jiangbei Road 江北大道 near the center of town). A landscaped concrete, tile, and terrazzo plaza running along the river. Often is the site of small musical and dancing groups, skateboarders, children, and strolling couples.
- Nanning People's Park (南宁人民公园). Includes a large area devoted to amusement park type rides, as well as quieter areas for picnics, game playing, or walking.
- Nanning South Lake Park (南湖公园).
- Shishan Park (Lion Mountain Park 狮山公园).
- Nanning Shimen senlin Park.
- Nanning Zoo (南宁动物园) (On Daxue East Road 大学东路, west of the city center). A rich collection of African and Asian animals, as well as reptiles, birds, and fish, all in well-maintained settings. (No Pandas.) Admission includes an hour-long performance of dancing bears, bicycling monkeys, elephants, and acrobats. ¥50.
- Nanning Bird and Flower Market (at the intersection of Xiangzhu Ave 廂竹大道 and Nanwu Road 南捂路 adjacent to the Guangxi Medicinal Botanical Garden 广西药用植物园, northeast of the city center.). An eclectic mix of flowers, shrubs, pot plants and all thing floral, as well as a vast array of birds, fish, and other pets. Thrown into the mix is an assortment of household goodies to brighten up an otherwise dull abode: furniture fashioned from tree stumps, traditional Chinese tea sets, carvings, wall hangings, etc. This is an amzingly interesting place to while away an afternoon, and get some truly good-value items. This place is packed out on weekends, and is a notorious place for pick-pockets, who cleverly razor-slash pockets and bags to retrieve any valuable carelessly stowed. Keep money, mobile phones and any valuables securely in zippered compartments inside bags.
Though the older people speak Cantonese (广东话 guǎngdōnghuà), the younger generation mainly speak Mandarin (普通话 pǔtōnghuà). Nanning is regarded as one of the most successful cities in China in terms of popularizing Mandarin or 'common language'. So it is a very good place to learn Putonghua for foreigners. Universities offering Chinese courses are many, including Guangxi University for Nationalities and Guangxi University. However, be aware that Nanning people, like virtually all Chinese in the south, have a non-standard pronunciation for many of the basic sounds of Mandarin (which comes from the northern Han people).
Note also that Nanning, as the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, embraces the Zhuang ethnic language, and virtually all public building signs in Guangxi display the Zhuang written text alongside Chinese. It is not to be confused with pin yin, the anglicised phonetic transliteration of Mandarin.
As a regional capital, Nanning has a lot of work opportunities compared to other cities of Guangxi Province. The booming import and export business exchanges between Guangxi and Vietnam means that there is a big demand for people who can speak both Chinese and Vietnamese. Also, if you are a native English speaker, teaching jobs are also abundant. However,if you do plan on teaching, be aware that government regulations have tightened considerably, post-Olympics, and to gain employment you must be under 60, have two years teaching experience in China already; have a minimum Bachelors degree, and preferably, additionally, ESL/EFL certification. Although, with the demand for teachers far outstripping supply, those who don't meet these qualifications can still find teaching work (just without the comfort/legality of a working Visa).
- Chao Yang Road, 朝阳路; Chao Yang Lu. The main shopping street lined with department stores, like Nanning Department Store and Parkson, and also Walmart, in addition other intentional brands and local brands. It is also a nice place to go people-watching, as people from all walks of life can be seen here: youngsters, street performers, roadside vendors, etc.
- Underground Mall (Runs for several city blocks under XinHua Road 新华街 near the center of town.). And underground shopping mall that is always busy, particularly during the hot summer months. Primarily composed of small clothing shops but also includes food outlets and other small stores of a variety of types.
- Heping Market (和平商场). Located a block west of the north Nanning Department Store (百货大楼), Heping Market has 4 crowded stories of small vendors selling electronics, kitchenware, makeup, clothing, and fabrics. Expect low prices and few (genuine) name brands.
- The Mixc (万象城). Located on the east side of town, on Minzhu Avenue, the Mixc is a new, 7-story mall featuring high-end, mostly foreign brands. Uniqlo, Parkson, and H&M are the anchor stores. There is plenty to eat on all levels, as well as an ice rink and a movie theater. Expect prices to be on par with the West.
Zhongshan Rd (中山路) is Nanning's food street, with a vast assortment of street stalls serving many kinds of Liang Guang (literally, the two Guang provinces, Guangxi and Guangdong) foods, as well as food from neighbouring provinces, such as Hunan and Yunnan. It is diagonally opposite the Wanda Plaza, home of Wal-Mart. Throughout the city there are many good-value restaurants. Few have English menus. The newly developed eastern end of the city (around Langdong, and the APEC Exhibition Centre) has lots of up-market restaurants, cafes and coffee lounges.
There are dumpling stalls and small eating houses all over the city. Fresh, tasty and very cheap. Zhongshan Rd food stalls are also worth a try. Try the local rice noodle soup, laoyoufen (老友粉; literally old friend rice noodle). It is traditionally made with pork based broth, pickled bamboo shoots, fermented soy beans, and other typical Chinese spices. It is an acquired tasted due to the pickled bamboo shoots.
- Nanning night food market, Zhongshan Rd (15 minute walk south from the train station). This is a 300 meter long stretch where you will find a vivid display of various exotic dishes ready to be served.
About 90% of the restaurants in Nanning would fall into this category.
- Little Fat Sheep (Xiaofeiyang), Dongege Rd and Henyang Rd. Chain serving traditional hotpot, with lamb the meat of choice.
- Old Chengdu, Youai Rd (just off Dongge Rd in the south). Sichuan hot, spicy food.
- Mao's Home (Mao Jia), Youai Rd (at the Henyang Rd intersection, in the north west). National chain serving Hunan spicy food.
Anything in/around Langdong or the Five Elephant Plaza (financial district); the YongJiang Hotel, by the river, has an excellent buffet, with fresh seafood, and good quality meat BBQs.
Many popular bars are to be found along Minzu Da Dao, the long avenue that runs from east to west through the city, bisecting South Lake. Many have a cover charge, and offer a variety of international as well as domestic beers, in addition to the standard supply of liquors. The '100' bar area (near the city library) has a cluster of up-market bars and coffee lounges, many featuring live music. A number of more intimate, low key bars and pubs can be found in the university district in the north west of the city, around University Road (Da Xue Lu) and Mingxiu Road.
Around the square in front of the station are several hotels offering bargains for rooms and dorm beds with dorm beds starting at ¥15.
- Jingtong Business (Nanning Dongge) (精通商务酒店 (南宁东葛店); Jīngtōng Shāngwù Jiǔdiàn (Nánníng Dōnggédiàn)), 100 Dongge Rd, Qingxi District (青秀区东葛路100号; Qīngxiùqū Dōnggělù Yībǎihào) (3km to centre). Ordinary rooms, business rooms and luxus rooms ranging from 15m2 to 20m2. Business and party facilities. Recently renovated with large and bright rooms. Good service. Doubles from ¥330 but seen discounted to ¥128.
- March Flower Hotel (三月花大酒店; Sānyuèhuā Dàjiǔdiàn), 119 Dongge Rd, Qingxiu District (青秀区东葛路119号; Qīngxiùqū Dōnggělù Yībǎishíjiǔhào) (2.5km to centre, bus 1, 12, 16). Three star business hotel close to park and lake with nice view. Well designed hotel with well equipped rooms. Rooms including ordinary, business and luxury. Rooms ranging from 15m2 to 25m2. Free internet in the rooms. Business facilities. From ¥288, seen discounted to ¥128.
- Yingbing Hotel (directly infront of railway station, on the right side of Chaoyang Rd if looking away from station), ☎ +86 771-2116288, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Huge budget hotel with long corridors of rooms. Rooms are small but adequate. English-speaking staff on 24 hour duty and a comprehensive list of train and bus connections. All rooms have loose ethernet cable hook-ups. There is currently (June 2011) building works going on in the eastern side so expect to be woken up early. Twin rooms from ¥80, rooms with a computer ¥100.
- Nanning Civil Aviation Hotel, 82 Chaoyang Rd (near the railway station, in front of the bus stop to the airport), ☎ +86 771 2099000. Rooms with air con, electronical lock, cable TV and internet. Discounted rates from ¥168.
- Wan Xing Hotel, There are two branches of this hotel, 47 Minzhu St and 41-2 Beining St (a 5-minute walking distance separate the two, both are about 2km from the train station). Excellent, clean and elegantly-decorated rooms that have air-conditioning and come with ensuite bathrooms are available. Chinese breakfast that is adequate, though not something that you would wake up especially for. Counter staff speak some amounts of English and accept international credit cards. From ¥198.
- Yin He Hotel, 84 Chaoyang Rd (right in the centre of town just south of the railway station and next to airport bus terminal), ☎ +86 771 2116688, fax: +86 771 2420303. Some rooms newly renovated. Rooms from ¥388, better ones from ¥470.
- Jinyue Hotel, 59 Xinmin Rd (about 20 minutes walk or 10 minutes by taxi from the railway station, access to hotel is from a ramp from Minzhu Rd opposite post office). Oldish business hotel with recently upgraded rooms in 2006. Clean and comfortable rooms, all with bath, telephone and TV. From ¥388.
- Marriott, 131 Minzu Ave, Qingxiu District (in the eastern area of the city's CBD district, opposite the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center), ☎ +86 771 5366688, fax: +86 771 5366699. Excellent Chinese and Western cuisine. Hotel staff are excellent. Good for families and business people. Halal food available during China-ASEAN Expo period. Grom ¥768.
- Best Western Premier Red Forest Hotel, 127 Minzu Ave (near the Guangxi Exhibition hall, and generally within the business district). This five-star establishment offers excellent rooms at a reasonable rate. Higher rooms also offer a great view of the city, as rooms are furnished with floor-to-wall windows. Hotel amenities include an indoor pool and gym, and hotel staff are attentive and efficient. Doubles from ¥488.
- Guangxi Wharton International Hotel, 88 East Minzu Ave (in the Landong Development Area). The hotel is nice and centrally located. If you have a family, ask for a suite. There are a pool and a gym on the premises and a few restaurants inside as well. The Chinese restaurant in the basement (the Shenzhou Food Street") offers the best value. About US$120 for a nice sized room.
Chinese cities are generally speaking very safe and Nanning is no exception. But petty robberies are quite common. On buses, be extra-careful about your mobile phones and wallets.
Avoid swapping your phone or buying iPhone 4 offered for sale for 2000 Yuan by men from Tajikistan around the train station. On the street they offer you to inspect a real (non Chinese copy) working iPhone 4 with a SIM card in it. If you decide to buy it they probably take your money and the iPhone 4 to take the SIM card out. Thereafter you most likely will get a working Chinese iPhone which is far from the real one.
- Vietnamese Consulate, 27th Floor, Yahang Wealth Center, No 55 Jinhu Road (you can either take a taxi there (¥15 one way) or the local bus 6 (¥2) bound south away from the railway station (the north-south part of the T junction), so get on at the train station on the same side of the road as the station, and get off at the second stop after you cross a big (100m long) bridge over the river, on the left as you go over the bridge is Guangxi Investment Building, with a large G logo on the top. Go down the street to the right of the Guangxi Investment Building, then take the first right. The consulate is in last building on the right, above Bank of China. Take the lift in the lobby to the right of the bank to the 27th floor. Coming from the bus station, you also take bus number 6. Buses 11, 29, 34, 39, 43, 79, 87, 206, 601, 603 also serve the consulate), ☎ +86 77 1551 0562, fax: +86 77 1553 4738. Visa office hours are M-F 8:30AM-noon and 2:30PM-6PM, but they can be late to return from the lunch break, your passport with visa can be collected from 5PM, this means the earliest you can leave to Vietnam is the next morning, factor on spending at least two nights in Nanning getting your Vietnamese visa. The consulate issues Visas for Vietnam. Make sure you take a recent passport photo with you as they do not have a machine at the consulate. Prices can vary according to nationality, and depend on your desired processing time: three days (standard)¥380, two days ¥480, one day (drop off in the morning, collect after 5PM) ¥580.
- Cambodian Consulate, 2F, Nanfeng Tower, 85 Minzu Ave (市民族大道85号南丰大厦2楼), ☎ +86 771 5889892, fax: +86 771 5888522.
- Thai Consulate, Room 2212, Guilin Tower, 1 Wenxin Rd (市文信路1号桂林大厦2212室), ☎ +86 771 5506698, fax: +86 771 5506628.
- Northern Vietnam — within striking distance
- Beihai — from Langdong or Jiangnan bus station, it is about 3 hours
- Kunming — there is a train there, reportedly a sensational ride through isolated mountainous country
- Guilin and Yangshuo — famously scenic tourist area, only a short distance from Nanning (about 5 hrs by direct bus, train)
- Detian Waterfall — with a 75 meter drop, on the Chinese-Vietnamese border, It is about 4 hours from Nanning.