The affluent capital of Jiangsu rivals Beijing for ancient tombs, palaces and historic monuments. 

Nanjing, meaning Southern Capital, was one of the four great capitals of ancient China, and its urban landscape is crammed with history. The city was the nerve centre of six dynasties from AD 229, and capital of the Republic of China between 1912 and 1949. Located 300km (186 miles) northwest of Shanghai beside the Yangtze River, is now the capital of the affluent Jiangsu province.

A relaxed city with a large university contingent but a relatively small population (by Chinese standards) of seven million, Nanjing’s modern development has lagged behind neighbouring Shanghai and Hangzhou. However, the hosting of the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games in August 2014 has inspired a citywide infrastructure boom.

Nanjing rivals Beijing for ancient tombs, palaces and historic monuments, and is also home to hot springs, some of China’s top universities and tasty local cuisine. Newer icons, such as the 450-metre (1476ft) Greenland Tower – the world’s 10th tallest skyscraper – are part of Nanjing’s plan to establish itself as a modern centre for architecture and the arts, while preserving the historical sites that commemorate its colourful, and at times brutal, 2,500-year timeline.


When to go

Spring (mid-March to May) and autumn (September to early November) are the best times to visit Nanjing, when the temperature is mild with low humidity. Surrounded by heat-trapping mountains, Nanjing is known as one of China's three 'furnace cities,' and it swelters during summer, while winter can dip below freezing.

Visa requirements

Singaporean citizens can visit China for a period of 15 days without a visa, while most other nationalities require a visa in advance. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months and that you have a return or onward ticket.


China's currency is the yuan (Y), also known as renminbi, or colloquially as kuai. International credit cards and bank cards (Cirrus, Plus, Visa, MasterCard, American Express) can be used to withdraw local currency from ATMs, which are found throughout the city.


Nanjing Lukou International Airport is a 35km (22-mile) drive from downtown Nanjing, via a new expressway. Three new subway lines are set to open in 2014, including an Airport Express, bringing the total to five lines.

Health and safety tips

Nanjing is a relatively safe city, but petty crimes such as pickpocketing do occur in crowded areas like train stations, markets and busy streets. There is very little violent crime against foreigners, but tourists should be aware of scams that generally begin with a request from the scammer to practise their English or visit a student art exhibition. Avoid unlicensed cab drivers or motorcycle taxis.

In case of Health concerns: International SOS Nanjing Clinic, G/F, Grand Metropark Hotel

Emergency details

Singapore Embassy :

The nearest Singapore Consulate is in Shanghai at 89 Wanshan Road (tel: (86) 21 6278 5566).

Police :

Dial 110 in an emergency.


Basic greetings
English Mandarin
Hello Ni hao
How are you? Ni hao ma?
Fine, thanks Hen hao, xie xie
Goodbye Zai jian
Excuse-me! (to get attention) Qing wen!
Thank you Xie xie
Yes Shi de
No Bu shi
OK Hao de
What's your name? Ni jiao shen me ming zi?
My name is… Wo jiao…
Nice to meet you Jian dao ni hen gao xing
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Nin zai shi yong Facebook/Twitter ma?
Where’s an internet café? Wang ba zai na li?
Where can I get a taxi? Wo ke yi zai na li zhao dao chu zu che?
Where is the bus/train station? Qi che zhan/huo che zhan zai na li?
A one-way/return ticket to… Yi zhang dao…de dan cheng/shuang cheng piao
Do you have a room for one/two? You yi/liang ren de fang jian ma?
When's check out? Ji dian tui fang?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Ni neng tui jian yi jia hao can guan/jiu ba ma?
A table for two, please Qing gei wo liang ge ren de zhuo zi
A menu, please Qing gei wo cai dan
The bill, please Qing gei wo zhang dan
Where's the toilet? Xi shou jian zai na li?
Help! Jiu ming!

  Destination content brought to you by Insight Guides

Gate of China

Zhonghuamen, Zhonghua South Road

The 30km (19-mile) crenulated wall that once encircled Nanjing is said to have been the longest ancient city wall in the world and the remnants of the broad fortification are well preserved. The castle-style Gate of China (Zhonghuamen) was the southern gate into the city. You can explore provisions depots and a small exhibition at its base, and walk along the top of the ramparts for excellent views of Nanjing’s historic buildings and its evolving skyline.

Nanjing Municipal Museum

No. 4 Chaotiangong

Next to Zhongshan Gate, within the historic ochre-walled Chaotian Palace, the Nanjing Municipal Museum contains an extensive collection covering 5,000 years of history. Artefacts include ceramics, jade objects, lacquerware, textiles, bronzes, porcelain items and stone figures from Nanjing and elsewhere in Jiangsu province. The facilities are state-of-the-art, and well labelled in English.

Martyrs Memorial

Yuhuatai Park, entrance on Yuhua East Road

Within Yuhuatai Park – where, according to legend, Buddha made flowers rain from the sky in the 4th century – the Martyrs Memorial honours the Communists and their supporters who died in 1927 at the hands of Nationalist troops. Giant 1950s socialist realist statues are dotted across hillsides that once served as execution grounds. Look out for the Chairman Mao memorabilia exhibition adjacent to the park’s main monument.

House of John Rabe

1 Xiaofenqiao, Guangzhou Road

Adjacent to the beautiful campus of Nanjing University is the little-known House of John Rabe. Nicknamed the ‘Good German of Nanjing’, this Siemens employee helped shelter more than 600 Chinese refugees during the Japanese invasion. The three-storey cottage where he lived, protected the refugees and wrote the famous Diaries of John Rabe, is now a museum detailing the horrors of pre-war Nanjing.

Memorial to the Nanjing Massacre

418 Shuiximen Dajie

The Memorial to the Nanjing Massacre is a sombre reminder of the 1937 ‘Rape of Nanking’, when the occupying Japanese force massacred swathes of the local population while stepping up its pre-war invasion of China. The well-curated museum contains photographs, maps and eyewitness accounts documenting the arrival of Japanese troops in December 1937, the burning and looting of houses and historical relics, and the slaughter of up to 300,000 Chinese that followed. Most poignant of all is a viewing hall overlooking a mass grave, one of many wan ren keng (pit of ten thousand corpses).


Antique Market


At the Antique Market, outside the Nanjing Municipal Museum, Chinese antique collectors and enthusiasts set up on the street or at their own small stalls. Sift through the bric-a-brac to find some genuine treasures – and don’t forget to haggle.

Budget $

Aqua City Mall

1 Jiankang Road

The Aqua City Mall, in the Xinjiekou CBD, is a short stroll from the Confucius Temple area. It feature seven floors of fashion, restaurants, coffee shops and convenience stores, including a branch of local dining institution Nanjing Daipaidong, Starbucks, a Market Place supermarket, and a movie cinema.

Budget $$

Deji Plaza

18 Zhongshan Road

Located in the northeast corner of central Xinjiekou, the upscale Deji Plaza mall is filled with luxury brand boutiques from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Gucci, Dior and Prada. There’s also an IMAX cinema, plentiful restaurants and cafés to relax in, and even an in-mall ice rink.

Budget $$$

Nanjing Yuhua Stone Museum and Gift Shop

Yuhuatai, 215 Yuhuatai Road

Yuhua Shi, literally Rain Flower Stone, is a famous geological speciality of the city formed some two million years ago and you can learn more about these distinctive stones at the Nanjing Yuhua Stone Museum. Highly patterned and brightly coloured, these agate stones make one-of-a-kind fashion accessories. The museum gift shop sells loose stones, bracelets and necklaces.

Budget $$


Element Fresh

1/F, Nanjing IST Mall, 100 Zhongshan Road

Element Fresh is an American-style café serving all-day breakfasts and Western- and Asian-inspired mains, along with good coffees, smoothies and fresh juices. A good place for breakfast ahead of a day of sightseeing, or for a coffee or juice to recharge during the day.

Budget $$

Fuzimiao Dining Street

Gongyuan Street, near Confucius Temple

The bustling streets around Confucius Temple, known as Fuzimiao Dining Street, are dotted with stalls selling popular local snacks such as spicy dried tofu, dumplings, tea eggs and fried pancakes, as well as restaurants and teahouses housed in traditional Chinese buildings. Be sure to try the signature local appetiser, Nanjing salted duck.

Budget $

Lion’s Bridge Dining Street

Hunan Road

Follow the crowds to pulsing, neon-lit Hunan Road. Beneath a ceremonial stone-gate entrance, the pedestrianized Lion’s Bridge Dining Street is packed with local Jiangsu-style eateries, plus restaurants and cafés serving numerous cuisines from around China and beyond – including decent Thai, Indian and Italian restaurants.

Budget $

Nanjing Impressions

No. 2, Lion’s Bridge Dining Street

Nanjing Impressions is well loved for its authentic local fare, reasonable prices and unique market-style ambience. The buzzing dining room harks back to the Qing dynasty, with chefs and waiters wearing traditional dress and Chinese opera singers adding to the lively atmosphere. Diners can order directly from the chefs at multiple open kitchens. Be sure to try the signature steamed dumplings filled with duck meat and shredded tofu in chicken broth.

Budget $$


78/F, InterContinental Nanjing, Zifeng Tower, 1 Zhongyang Road

Located on the 78th floor of Nanjing’s Zifeng Tower, Prime offers contemporary Mediterranean fine dining, with a focus on French and Italian dishes and premium imported steaks and seafood. The alluring hotel restaurant also features a classic martini bar, cigar lounge, and a wine and Champagne lounge, all with spectacular sky-high views across the city.

Budget $$$

South Beauty

Building 17, Nanjing 1912 Leisure District, 72 Taiping North Road

South Beauty is a popular high-end chain with restaurants across China, offering a finely executed menu of spicy Sichuan dishes in a sophisticated designer setting. The Nanjing branch is located in the Nanjing 1912 Leisure District, a popular entertainment enclave filled with restaurants, bars and cafés in repurposed heritage buildings.

Budget $$$


Fraser Suites Nanjing

116 Lushan Road

A pleasant serviced apartment option in the Hexi New Town, Fraser Suites Nanjing offers comfortable and spacious one- to three-bedroom suites with home theatre systems, mini kitchens and balconies. There are a variety of recreational facilities including a swimming pool, gym, indoor squash and badminton courts, plus a mini cinema.

Budget $$$

Holiday Inn Nanjing Aqua City

1 Jiankang Road

A contemporary hotel offering excellent value for money, Holiday Inn Nanjing Aqua City is conveniently located in the Xinjiekou CBD, a short stroll from the Confucius Temple bazaar. The hotel also connects to Aqua City Mall, which is packed with endless shopping and dining options and a cinema. Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, fitness room and spa. Book an executive room to enjoy the perks of Executive Lounge access, including complimentary breakfast and evening cocktails.

Budget $

InterContinental Nanjing

1 Zhongyang Road

Located in the 450-metre Zifeng Tower, currently Nanjing’s tallest skyscraper, InterContinental Nanjing offers a smart design and high-tech comforts. The 433 rooms are located between the 49th and 71st floors ensuring spectacular city views.

Budget $$

Kayumanis Nanjing Private Villa & Spa

No. 12, Hot Spring Road, Tangshan Town

The Kayumanis Nanjing Private Villa & Spa is a spectacular retreat set in the forested hills and tea plantations at the foot of Tang Mountain, outside Nanjing city. The contemporary design resort features all-villa accommodation, with spacious glass bungalows serviced by personal butlers. Each residence steps out to a private walled courtyard featuring a Jacuzzi filled with natural spring water from the surrounding mountain hot springs.

Budget $$$

Nanjing Jasmine International Youth Hostel

7 Hequn Xinchun, Shanghai Road

The conveniently located Nanjing Jasmine International Youth Hostel is housed in a 60-year-old villa with a lovely garden filled with rosebushes and a 100-year-old snow pine. A warm and welcoming place with clean, basic rooms ranging from mixed dorms of four or six beds, en suite twin rooms to double-bed rooms with shared bathroom, all equipped with free Wi-fi. Movie nights, bicycles for rent and table tennis are fun extras.

Budget $

Regalia Resort & Spa Nanjing Qinhuai River

Nanjing 1865 Park, E5, No. 388, Yingtian Street

The Regalia Resort & Spa occupies a secluded spot within the 1865 Art Zone beside Qinhuai River and facing the Ming City Wall, around 10 minutes’ drive from downtown Nanjing. The four-storey boutique hotel houses 37 guestrooms, each equipped with under-floor heating and a generous bath/mini pool. The Chinese-owned brand sports a Thai-influenced design giving it a relaxed resort ambience, enhanced by the soothing river views.

Budget $$

Jinling Lantern Fair

1st to 15th day of the first lunar month

Believed to have been decreed by the first Ming Emperor in the 14th century, the spring lantern fair celebrates the Lunar New Year with coloured lanterns and cultural festivities around Confucius Temple.

Nanjing Cherry Blossom Festival

Late March

Xuanwu Park becomes a sea of blooming cherry blossoms in late March. Similar to sakura festivals in Japan, visitors flock to the park in the centre of downtown Nanjing to enjoy the natural spectacle.

Nanjing International Jazz and World Music Festival


One of China's premier events for jazz and world music. More than 30 bands and musical acts from around the globe perform concerts in indoor and outdoor venues across the city.

Nanjing International Plum Festival


The plum blossom is the city flower of Nanjing. Plum Blossom Hill (Meihuashan), a 100-hectare (250-acre) park on Purple Mountain, is home to some 35,000 plum trees. The International Plum Festival also features folk performances, exhibitions and a lively bazaar.

Yuhuashi Art Festival


Rain flower patterned agate (Yuhuashi) is a popular Nanjing souvenir. An annual art and cultural festival is held at Yuhuatai (Rain Flower Terrace) involving an exhibition of precious agate stones and cultural performances.


Begin by exploring the Presidential Palace (292 Changjiang Lu), where Sun Yatsen was sworn in as the President of the Republic of China in 1912. The imposing complex with its maze of courtyards originated in the Ming dynasty and contains the China Modern History Museum.

Just across Daxinggong Square is the Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, a contemporary piece of architecture clad in travertine stone with a glass roof. Refuel with a coffee next door at Nanjing 1912. This popular entertainment enclave is packed with restaurants, bars and cafés.

Stroll north to the ancient Drum Tower (Gulou), dating from 1382. Bizarrely, the small tower now sits on a traffic island in the middle of a busy roundabout.

Stretching east of Gulou is the leafy campus of Nanjing University, which has some fine historic buildings and is surrounded by lively streets filled with student cafés, eateries and bookstores. Adjacent to the university entrance is the little-known House of John Rabe, a Siemens employee who helped shelter more than 600 refugees during the Japanese invasion. His cottage is now a museum detailing the horrors of pre-war Nanjing.

Rabe’s house is a sombre scene-setter for the haunting Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum near the old Jiandong Gate. You could spend a half-day exploring this compellingly exhibition documenting the arrival of Japanese troops in December 1937, and the subsequent slaughter of an estimated 300,000 Nanjing inhabitants. Most poignant of all is a viewing hall overlooking a mass grave, or wan ren keng (pit of 10,000 corpses).

Places to visit:
Presidential Palace, Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum, Drum Tower, House of John Rabe, Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum


Next to Zhongshan Gate in the eastern part of the city, within the historic ochre-walled Chaotian Palace, the Nanjing Municipal Museum is well worth a visit. Its extensive collection covers ceramics, jade, lacquerware, textiles, bronzes, porcelain and stone figures from Nanjing and elsewhere in Jiangsu province. Nanjing itself is like a living museum – southwest of the Museum you can spot the scattered remains of the Ming Imperial Palace in Wuchaomen Park.

From here, catch a cab to the Martyrs Memorial in Yuhuatai Park, where giant 1950s socialist realist statues are dotted across hillsides that once served as execution grounds. Keep an eye out for the Chairman Mao memorabilia exhibition adjacent to the park’s main monument.

Hop in another cab to the steps of the Old City Wall Museum at Jiafeng Gate. During its Southern Capital days, a 30km (19-mile) crenulated defensive wall encircled Nanjing and is believed to have been the longest ancient city wall in the world. The handsome, broad ramparts are well preserved, with several intact sections to the north and south that you can walk along, enjoying excellent views of Nanjing’s historic buildings and its evolving skyline. The pretty Xuanwu Park below is a pleasant place for a stroll.

Another popular spot for wall-walking is the castle-style Zhonghua Gate (Gate of China) in the south. Time your visit during the late afternoon for wonderful sunset vistas.

Places to visit:
Nanjing Municipal Museum, Martyrs Memorial, Old City Wall Museum, Zhonghua Gate

Romantic getaway

No visit to Nanjing would be complete without venturing to Purple Mountain (Zijin Shan), which rises just beyond the city walls. If your idea of a romance includes a little adventure, a lot of culture and a bit of physical exertion, then strap on your walking shoes and head to Nanjing’s picturesque, eucalyptus-clad slopes, which are ideal for peaceful hiking. You can spend a whole day here exploring the relics and delightful natural landscapes.

Purple Mountain’s most popular attraction is the pagoda-style Sun Yatsen Mausoleum, which covers a monumental eight hectares (20 acres). Though born in Guangdong province, the father of modern China wanted his final resting place to be in Nanjing, amid the Purple Mountains. A sweeping 392-step stone staircase leads to his engraved tomb, but if you don't fancy the climb, you can opt to be carried up in a vintage sedan chair.

Sharing the mountain with Dr Sun is the Tomb of China’s first Ming emperor, Hong Wu (1327–98). The atmospheric remains of the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum are accessed via the Sacred Way, a stately roadside parade of life-sized stone lions, elephants, camels and mystical creatures. 

Also on the hilltop is the Purple Mountain Observatory, which has a museum containing old and new astronomical instruments. The chair lift to the observatory provides a splendid view of the city, and is one of the lesser-known, and wonderfully romantic, highlights of a visit to Nanjing.

Places to visit:
Purple Mountain, Sun Yatsen Mausoleum, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Purple Mountain Observatory