Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu Province and sits on the banks of the Yangtze River, around 200 miles inland from Shanghai. The name Nanjing actually means 'southern capital' and the city has a long and rich history, having been China's capital over several dynasties. It has many historical sites, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ming Tombs, and is an important commercial city, with a population of some 5 million people.
This great river, a tributary of the mighty Yangtze, is the lifeblood of the city and features many interesting sites, such as the Confucius Temple, along its banks. Cruising the river on the gaily painted boats is a must.
The city walls date from the 1300s and took 200,000 workers 21 years to build. The southern gate, or Gate of China, is one of the most impressive parts of the defenses.
This is the inspiration for the Forbidden City in Beijing. Here, some bridges, carvings and megaliths still remain.
This pretty peak is home to the tombs of three Chinese emperors.
The hot springs at Tangshan Regalia is a great place to relax and unwind.
Situated on Lion Mountain in northwestern Nanjing, Yuejiang reaches a height of 52 meters over seven floors, and commands extraordinary views over the Yangtze River. It was built in the 14th century by the ascendant Ming dynasty as they rose to the Chinese throne, and for centuries was totally off limits to public visitors. But not any more. Now, you can marvel at the craftsmanship that went into the tower, see inscriptions made by imperial hands, and savor the gorgeous views across the city.
Probably Nanjing's most interesting neighborhood, Fuzimiao is an odd hybrid, being part Confucian temple, part seat of learning, and partly a commercial and entertainment hub. Highlights include the 11th century Confucian temple, with its hulking bronze of the great man himself and ornate jade panels depicting his life and teachings. However, try to see the museum dedicated to China's arduous imperial examinations, and stick around for some snacks, drinks, and general socializing in the nearby eateries.
Nanjing was once the capital of China - and the Ming era walls prove just how magnificent the city must have been. Although the original fortifications stretched for 30 miles, around 18 miles are still extant, and in remarkable condition. And they are also massive, at 14 meters wide and 21 meters tall in parts. It's hard to imagine any attackers breaching them, at least with bows and arrows and swords. Handily, the walls survive in six sections, averaging about 3 miles each, so you can bit off a chunk to investigate whenever you wish.
Nanjing has had a few moments of glory since the end of the Ming dynasty, and the Chinese Republic was one of the high points. That's mainly because the city interred Dr Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of post-imperial China, who sought to introduce democratic principles in the 1910s and 20s. His mausoleum has its own large park in south-central Nanjing, and is approached via a grand 480 meter long staircase. If you want to understand modern China, visiting is a must, if only to see the respect with which the good doctor is held by modern-day citizens of a very different country to the one he imagined.
A few years after Dr Sun Yat-sen died, Nanjing had another infamous moment in the limelight, when the Japanese arrived and perpetrated the "Rape of Nanking." The city has erected a fitting memorial to the hundreds of thousands of civilians who died when the Japanese army swept through the town's defenses. Some of the details are grisly in the extreme, but sobering and important, so be prepared. It's a poignant place, with haunting exhibits like skeletons of the victims - and one that provokes thought and reflection in all who visit.
Nanjing's winter can be cold and summer hot, but visit in the fall and you will enjoy cool, dry weather and the best of the Osmanthus blossoms.
Nanjing Lukou International Airport is around 25 miles from the city center and has regular international flights from southeast Asia and Germany. There are good domestic connections from other major Chinese cities. The subway into town takes 30 minutes and costs ¥6, while a taxi will cost upwards of ¥100.
Nanjing has excellent rail connections, including a bullet train from Beijing and frequent daily services from Shanghai. The fare from Shanghai is ¥46.5 on the standard train, which takes almost 4 hours, or ¥134 on the 90-minute bullet train.
Nanjing is well-connected by road from Shanghai on the G42 or from Beijing on the G2.
The city has good bus links from other Chinese cities, which arrive at the Zhongyangmen bus station. The fare from Beijing is ¥393.
Fuzimiao International Youth Hostel on Pingjiangfu Road is close to the Qinhuai River and has accommodation from ¥50. The Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Towers on Hanzhong Road has luxury rooms in the city center from ¥500.
Xuanwu District - is a busy but pretty district with lots of green space and is home to major sites like the Ming Tombs and Xuanwu Lake.
Qinhuai District District - is sited along the banks of the Qinhuai River and is home to the Confucius Temple.
Gulou District - is one of the city's main shopping areas, especially along Hunan Road Commercial Street, which has lots of fashion boutiques.
Nanjing has an excellent metro system, with single journey tickets costing from ¥2. City buses charge a flat fare of ¥2.
Taxis are reliable and tipping is not expected, but few drivers will speak English, so have your hotel staff write down your destinations for you in Chinese. Meter drop is ¥11 and then ¥4.20 per mile.
Car rental is from around ¥170 per day but do remember that you need a Chinese driving license to drive in China. Renting a car with a driver is another option.
Head for Xinjiekou for fashion shopping and the city's major department stores. The streets around the Confucius Temple are good for souvenirs and crafts.
A quart of milk in Nanjing is priced at ¥13.80, and a loaf of bread is ¥6.20
Try one of the noodle restaurants on Qingdao Lu, where a huge bowl of steaming broth and noodles will cost around ¥15. Tairo in the 1912 district does good Japanese teppanyaki for around ¥120.