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River romance

Updated: 2010-12-01 10:14
By Liu Lu ( China Daily)

River romance

The Qinhuai River shimmers with color created by boats cruising the waterways and is a must-see for a Nanjing visitor. [Photo For China Daily]

Nanjing's waterways provide a sublime backdrop for any traveler passing through the old southern capital

With the arrival of the harvest season, with its clear, crisp autumn climate, November is the perfect time to explore one of China's most beautiful and historically important cities. Nanjing, the capital of East China's Jiangsu province, is located on the Yangtze River and is only a 73-minute train ride from Shanghai, making it an accessible destination for people who want a weekend excursion. And with the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway opening next year, travel times will be cut even further.

Nanjing is famed for its rich culture, long history and beautiful landscape and is known as "the Capital of Six Dynasties" because it was the seat of power for many emperors.

In fact, the city's name means south (nan) capital (jing).

Most visitors start their outdoor excursion at Xuanwu Lake, a favorite with locals because of its convenient location and picturesque scenery.

The area is just north of Nanjing's downtown area, admission is free and can be reached from the Xuanwumen Station on Metro Line 1.

The lake is dotted with a cluster of medium-sized islands and once acted as an imperial navy training area. It was also the playground for the super rich. The tree-lined causeways and bridges connect the islands and this network of roads are perfect for a bike ride or a casual stroll.

Fishing and boating are some of the leisure activities in this area and paddle boats can be rented. A nearby amusement park and zoo offer alternative entertainment options.

Next stop on the Nanjing tour is Purple Mountain, which is only a short ride away in a taxi. Two of Nanjing's historical treasures are located on the mountain - the Ming Dynasty Tombs and the Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, a founder of modern China.

Another worthwhile destination is the Confucius Temple, one of the most thriving tourist sites in the city.

The Confucius Temple is not only a place to discover more about the great sage, but it is surrounded by shops, teahouses, cafes and restaurants housed in buildings boasting the architectural style of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

In front of the Confucius Temple, the 10-kilometer long Qinhuai River flows slowly and is regarded as the mother river of Nanjing. The river is adorned by floating lights, which are made up of lanterns carried by boats cruising up and down the waterway.

The river is renowned as a place for romance and has been the backdrop for many Chinese novels and TV dramas. A boat-tour is thoroughly recommended.

While maintaining its ancient glamour, Nanjing has also demonstrated its vitality and modernity.

The Nanjing 1912 restaurant and bar area is another entertainment hub worth checking out. Located near the Presidential Palace, the bars and eateries are housed in buildings designed in the same style as the government offices used by Sun Yat-sen.

Nanjing South Station will be one of the 24 stations on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway.

With historical and cultural relics, as well as spectacular landscape, Nanjing is one of the best cities to visit for both the veteran China traveler and new arrivals to the Middle Kingdom.

If you go

Transportation

Nanjing's Lukou International Airport is about 35 kilometers from the city center and serves regular flights to and from all major Chinese cities.

Due to the close proximity between Nanjing and Shanghai, train travel is best and there are many daily departures to and from Shanghai. It takes four hours on slow train and as little as 73 minutes on the new express G train.

Weather

November 16-6C

December 9-0C

January 7-1C

February 8-0C

Hotels

Crowne Plaza Nanjing

Jinling Hotel Nanjing

Sheraton Kingsley Hotel & Towers

International Conference Hotel Nanjing

Nanjing Fuzimiao Youth Hostel

Where to shop

Xinjiekou

Hunan Road

Confucius Temple Market

Chaotiangong Antique Market

Jiangsu Cultural Relics General Store

Souvenirs

Cloud pattern brocade (a traditional jacquard silk craftwork in Nanjing)

Rain flower pebble (agate-like stones)

Velvet (a traditional silk weaving artwork in Nanjing)

Jinling gold leaf (a traditional artisanship)

Folding fan (bamboo folded fans, mandarin fans and bone fans)

Local dishes

Duck Blood Soup

Dou Fu Nao (Tofu pudding)

Gan Si (Shredded bean-curd sheets)

Fried Spring Onion Pancake

Salted duck (a dish with more than 400 years of history)

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