Jiangsu On a Budget
SightsNajiang, the capital of the province, is best known for sights including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Dr. Sun-Yat Sen's Mausoleum, as well as the Qinhai River and Confucius Temple. Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty (Mingxiaoling) is one of the biggest imperial tombs in China, lying at the southern foot of the Purple Mountain. It is renowned for its magnificent size and unique design. Dr. Sun-Yat Sen's Mausoleum is also impressive, with admirable architecture and scenery memorializing the resting place the father of the Republic of China. The Confucius Temple, dedicated to the ancient Chinese philosopher, sits on the banks of the Qinhar River, a branch of the Yangtze. The Nanjing City Wall and Zhonghua gate are also worthwhile.
Suzhou is very much known for its gardens, water towns, historic sites, and scenery. Of the gardens, The Humble Administrator's Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and counted among China's famous classical gardens. It is the largest garden in Suzhou and is exemplary of Chinese landscape design with interlacing bridges, pavilions, bonsai, and a teahouse. The Lingering Garden is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the Master of the Nets Garden and the Lion Grove Garden. Tiger Hill is also a place of enormous importance historically and culturally, known for the Yunyan Pagoda (also called Huqiu Tower). This thousand-year-old landmark signifies the burial place of a king whose tomb is embedded in the legend of a white tiger who guards it.
RegionsSome of the province's major cities include the capital of Nanjing, Suzhou, and a number of ancient water towns like Zhouzhuang, Tongli, and Luzhi. Nanjing is a renowned historical and cultural city and was the capital of several dynasties over the course of Chinese history. Some of its most popular features include the Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty, Linggu Temple, Confucius Temple, and Purple Mountain. Suzhou is famed for its beautiful gardens and traditional waterside architecture, featuring elaborate canals and bridges. Located on the Yangtze Delta, the city consists largely of waterways making Suzhou a kind of "Venice of the Orient." It is also a hub for scholars, artists, and skilled craftsmen. The water towns of Jiangsu province are some of the oldest and most charming in the world with little bridges over murmuring brooks and rustic cottages along stone-paved streets, all amidst narrow canals which are important to local culture. Zhouzhuang, a landmark water town that dates back to the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, is one such place where the winding canals are essential to everyday life. Other cities include Changzhou, Xuzhou, Wuxi, and Zhenjiang, amongst a few more.
ActivitiesBeyond the major sights of the Jiangsu Province, there are also a number of ways to experience the local culture. Traditional performances are held in almost any city, while visitors can experience first-hand authentic day-to-day life in old villages like the water town of Zhouzhuang. Other activities include indulging in the local cuisine, as well as shopping which ranges from department stores and shopping centers to smaller local markets. Museums are also a good way to gain insight into the local art, history, and culture. The Suzhou Silk Museum, for example, invites guests to watch the artisans hard at work, beginning with harvesting the silk (from silkworm to cocoons), and moving on to preparing the silk and spinning the thread.
Food and DiningJiangsu cuisine, sometimes abbreviated Su cuisine, is one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine. It is characterized by soft textures, and an abundance of fish with the province's proximity to waterways. Ingredients, flavors, and presentation of each dish also depend highly on the seasons. This style of cooking can also be subdivided into slight variations. Nanjing cuisine, for example, emphasizes an even taste and matching color, with dishes incorporating river fish, shrimp, and duck. Suzhou cooking focuses on the selection of material, a stronger taste than Nanjing cuisine, and a tendency to be sweeter than the other varieties. And then there is Wuxi cuisine, characterized by the addition of sugar and soy sauce. Its proximity to Taihu Lake also makes popular the "three whites"-white bait, white fish, and white shrimp. Some notable dishes include braised spare ribs, fried gluten balls, ji-yu (a freshwater fish) soup, and ji-yu with fried shallots. An overall fertile region, Jiangsu cooking also boasts local ingredients with yields of rice, wheat, maize and other crops which include soybeans, peanuts, tea, peppermint, spearmint, apples, pears, peaches, loquat, gingko, and herbs.
TransportationBy plane, Nanjing Lukou Airport is international, with many domestic flights and also flights to and from cities including Hong Kong, Macao, and Seoul. The next nearest largest international airport is probably Shanghai to the south, just outside of the province. Between the two, Nanjing and Shanghai have a number of domestic and international flights.
By rail, high speed CRH trains connect Hangzhou and Shanghai to cities in Jiangsu including Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, and Nanjing.
Jiangsu is also well connected by highways and expressways. Every day, there are plenty of buses that depart from major cities like Nanjing, Suzhou, and Wuxi, heading for Shanghai, Hangzhou, Zhouzhuang, and Tongli.
Due to an extensive network of lakes, rivers, and canals, it is also easy to navigate by boat. The most famous bodies of water include the Yangtze River, the Grand Canal, as well as about 300 lakes, among which Taihu Lake and Hongze Lake are best known.