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11 Unique Sights in Changzhou: China’s Hidden Gem City

Many people come to China to visit its more famous cities Shanghai and Beijing, but perhaps they are missing out on one of China’s most underrated cities. Located to the northwest of Shanghai is Changzhou, a hidden gem in China’s Jiangsu province.

Previously known as Yanling, Lanling, and Jinling, the city has now earned itself the nickname “Dragon Town” with its captivating reputation. What makes Changzhou so special is its 2500 years of history that offers its visitors traditional Chinese culture with a modern-twist.

Since Changzhou is only 55 minutes away from Shanghai by train, you can easily check both cities off your bucket list in one trip.

Aside from having the world’s tallest wooden pagoda and an amusement park that is nicknamed the “Eastern Jurassic Park,” here are 11 sights and activities you absolutely must experience while visiting Changzhou.

Hongmei Park: Also known as Red Plum Park, is a spacious, family-friendly park filled with gorgeous lakes and gardens. There is the option to pay for a small motorboat that will take you around the lake. If you’re hungry, you will find vendors in the park that sell delicious Chinese snacks such as candied hawthorn fruit on a stick.

Yancheng Garden: Filled with Chinese-style pagodas and houses along the glossy river, you will experience a part of China that has maintained its tradition over the years and has managed to dodge modernization. Nearby is also Yancheng Cultural Street where you can get a taste of traditional Chinese dishes. There are also cute little spas and a Seasons Boutique Hotel if you wish to stay in this gorgeous area.

Guanyin Pagoda: This pineapple-shaped pagoda is dedicated to Guanyin, a goddess of mercy. Guanyin is all over the pagoda with golden statues and exterior paintings depicting her showing mercy to people. What’s even more fascinating is the interior of the pagoda. There are both giant and small golden statues of Guanyin all around the inside.

Dinosaur Park: Also known as the “Eastern Jurassic Park,” is like taking a trip back in time. From entertainment for the kids to thrilling rides for adults, the park tailors for those of all ages. In the middle of the park is a dinosaur museum that features real dinosaur fossils and an entire section dedicated to dinosaur-themed arcade games.

Tianning Temple: This Buddhist temple is a must-see. Standing 13 stories high, it is the world’s tallest wooden pagoda. Atop the pagoda is an enormous bronze bell weighing over 66,000 pounds that can be heard from over three miles away. The beauty and size of this temple is a show-stopper.

Yancheng Amusement Land: This particular amusement park reproduces the political, military, economic and cultural situations in Changzhou’s Spring and Autumn Period. Besides this, it is a fun-packed amusement park filled with out-of-the-box roller coasters, a water park and a lengthy haunted house that will require you to wear rain boots (don’t worry these are provided). Making your way through the entire park can take up your whole day, so make sure to plan accordingly.

Eat Sesame Bing: This delicious gem is a Changzhou local specialty featuring a small round cake of flaky pastry studded with sesame seeds. The fillings between the pastry layers have two different flavors – sweet and salty. The sweet version is pleasantly filled with sugar syrup, while the salty version has a thin layer of preserved vegetables. Sesame Bings can be found at Xiao Chi Jie (Snack Street).

Drink a latte at Mahoo Cafe: Located in Wujin district is a dimly lit cafe with decorations that brightly and boldly juxtapose. If one were to try to decorate their living room the way Mahoo does, they would have a clashing disaster. The cafe features plaid pillows with bright pastel colored flowers in the background. There is also a running theme of teddy bears throughout the cafe. The spoon dish on the table consists of a teddy bear laying on its side, while the steamed milk art on top of your latte will be in the shape of a teddy bear’s face. Oh, and did I mention that there is a toy train that follows the train tracks around the entire top ceiling of the restaurant?

Stay at Salt Lake Resort: Located in Jintan, Changzhou is a resort that provides guests with both a comfortable and culturally immersive experience. The resort itself offers activities such as Chinese paper cutting and copying of Buddhist style text to introduce guests to Taoism. Surrounded by a relaxing lake and mountains, this resort is one of Changzhou’s most precious hidden gems.

Stroll the Ancient Canal + Create a Changzhou Comb: Running alongside the Grand Canal are little craft shops where you can make a Changzhou comb before or after walking the canal. The hand-painted combs have a history of 2000 years in Changzhou and were originally made for use by royalty. The Ancient Canal itself is a part of China’s famous Grand Canal and gives visitors the chance to walk alongside the river and view Changzhou ancient historical sights.

With a history of 2,500 years, it would be impossible to learn all of Changzhou’s history in one trip. However, these 11 Best Things To Do in Changzhou are an exceptional introduction. Whether it’s a visit to the Dinosaur Park or a sip from Mahoo Cafe’s finest latte, you will leave feeling a special connection to this often overlooked city.

Asia Insider Tips

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China’s Southern Capital

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Just a few hours train ride away from Shanghai… Nanjing awaits. Recognized as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Nanjing is nestled on the delta of the Yantze River and boasts the perfect mix of a modern city with hundreds of years of history.

Nanjing might not be one of every traveler’s radar. With big cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and many others, China is busting its seams with cities to explore! But after visiting this gem of a city thanks to Cathay Pacific and an utterly easy flight thanks to Cathay Dragon, I have no doubt that Dame Travelers will fall head over heels for it’s understated charm and history.


Nanjing’s rich and deep history begins in ancient times, as long ago as half a million years ago. (Yep, you read that right, half a million years!) Because of it’s perfect location along the Yangtze River and halfway down the Chinese coastline, Nanjing has been the capital of China for over ten dynasties and regimes… making it the perfect place to gain a greater sense of China’s deep history and vivid culture.

Should you find yourself exploring Nanjing, here are thirteen of our favorite unique sights to see in China’s southern capital!

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Confucius Temple

During the Song dynasty, this temple was built along the Qinhuai River almost a century ago! The original temple may have been destroyed in World War Two, but what was reconstructed (and built out) is a sight to behold. Today, visiting the Confucius Temple houses the largest statue of Confucius in the world. The spanning, enormous space is also home to an outstanding collection of panels of jade, gold and silver that detail Confucius’s life and legacy. The area surround the Confucius Temple is almost worth separating into it’s own category for this list! Quaint riverboats, footbridges and the babbling Qinhuai River (known as the “mother river”) line the outside of the temple. It’s a gorgeous relic to an amazing philosopher deeply tied to China’s history and culture.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Ming Tomb

An awe-inspiring sight with such thoughtful intent and rich history behind it. The tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, has been buried here for over 600 years. Walking through the Sacred Path leading to the tomb is simply breathtaking. I can only imagine seeing it through the various seasons of the year! The half mile walking path where four pairs of stone warriors and twelve paris of mythical creatures serve as guards for the emperor’s tomb feels so sacred. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an iconic sight of China’s history.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Plum Blossom Hill

Nanjing’s flower, the plum blossom bursts with vivid color and fragrance each spring on the Purple Mountain. It’s a sight to behold! The 35,000 trees bloom a spectrum of purples, pinks, oranges and magenta that are a feast for the eyes. Seeing the Plum Blossom Hill in its prime with traditional music and dance feels like a scene of ancient China bursting into life.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Bao’en Temple

This museum is built on the original site of the historic Porcelain Tower (which is one of the seven wonders of the medieval world) on the south bank of the Qinhuai River. Besides the stunning architecture and exhibits, it’s amazing to know that a few years ago archaeologists found a golden box with a piece of Gautama Buddha’s skull on the site! After finding it, donations starting pouring in to rebuild the tower and modernize its inside. The galleries will leave you breathless!

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Usnisa Palace

The 197-acre area Usnisa Palace is located in is now open to visitors. And it is filled with architectural details that will make you swoon. From opulent stonework, murals, paintings, etchings and so much more… no stone was left unturned in this palace. Favorite spots include the Thousand-Buddha Hall, a 360 degree panorama of luxury and elegance and showcasing towering Buddhas above, and the sprawling Sakyamuni statue, rotating slowly on a lotus shaped pond. Elegance and opulance abound!

Nanjing Impressions

This restaurant is best known for it’s tiny bites and traditional Nanjing culinary treats. These street side snacks are pretty much the perfect mid day bite to grab on the go. It’s really no wonder why it’s been listed as one of the “Top 10 Restaurants in China”!

Nanjing is known as the birthplace of Peking Duck. And thank goodness for that! Make sure to tuck in to some famous Nanjing Salted Duck. Other local delicacies include dishes that include river fish, shrimp and crab.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Nanjing Niushoushan Cultural Park

This is a relatively new sight to see in Nanjing! Niushoushan Cultural Park is so gorgeously landscaped and features many sacred artifacts of the Niushou Mountain (an ancient Buddhist site). Explore the Pagoda of Hongjue Temple, the nine story tall Usnisa Pagoda and finally the Usnisa Temple – a monetary with monks and a meditation hall. Make sure to visit the stunningly ornate and intricate Buddhist place which is six floors underground and built into the side of the mountain! It’s truly a gem.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Rain Flower Terrace

Home to a ton of historical monuments and flanked by nature in its purest form, the Rain Flower Terrace is irresistible. It’s an excellent place to find some peace and mindfulness in your busy travel schedule. Budding flowers and the laughter of the children in the amusement park nearby will make you feel close to all that is good in life.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Frenzy Fountain

New to the Nanjing restaurant scene, this fabulously pink and Instagrammable restaurant serves up delicious Western cursing and features a cute little tea house. It’s a ‘grammer’s delight!

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

 Dinner on the 1912 Block

Right by the famous Nanjing Presidental Palace, this famous bar street is a great peek into local nightlife. Named after the year when the Republic of China was founded, it’s an awesome place to grab a bite or a drink with friends.

Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall

After learning about the horrific stories of the Imperial Japanese Army occupying Nanjing and the atrocities that followed, visiting the Memorial Hall is a commemorative way to honor the city’s history. Built on the “pit of ten thousand corpses,” where thousands of bodies were buried, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall gives homage to the significant and horrifying six-week Japanese invasion. The hall’s collection of historical letters, documents, art, photographs and testimonies will leave you utterly moved.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital 13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Zhonghua Gate and Nanjing’s City Wall

The remnants of the Ming dynasty’s 14th century city walls remain towering and aged. The wall, that was ordered to be built by Emporer Zhu Yuanzhang when invaders were rumored to invade Nanjing. Made of more than 300 million bricks and soaring up to 39 feet high, the Nanjing City Walls are some of the longest in the world.

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

Lao Mengdong Area

A photographer’s delight! The Lao Mengdong Area is a gem. The block-paved streets and ancient walls, textures, buildings and restored boutiques and restaurants will make you go absolutely snap-happy. The weaving back-allies, hanging red lanterns and etched carvings that line the walls of the homes and buildings will set you heart pitter-pattering.

Jiming Temple

The Jiming Temple is one of the most famous temples in Southern China. The sky-high tower, built in 527, became known for its strict vegetarian diet ordered by monks who lived and worked there. Be sure to visit the vegetarian restaurant close to the temple! The climbing stairs, colorful pagodas and blooming lotuses that lead to the temple area will make you immediately imagine ancient China in its heyday.


Nanjing, the southern capital of bold and beautiful China, is the perfect location to gain a deeper understanding of China’s sprawling and ancient history and radiant, lively culture. 

Have you ever visited Nanjing?

 

Trip sponsored by Naning Tourism.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own

 

 

13 Unique Sights To See In Nanjing: China's Southern Capital

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Asia Photography Stories

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

The most quiet and still of places still echo their history. In the peace and tranquility of a sleepy morning, the remnants of a place’s ancient past are like passing shadows. You can imagine the people’s feet walking down the same path as your own. You can fathom the centuries of sweat and laughter and joy that filled the air. The unwritten bliss of travel is the ability to imagine how tiny and fleeting your imprint in a place’s history truly is. Suzhou’s quiet channels, ancient gardens and aged alleyways are just the place to remind yourself just that. Suzhou is a gem hidden and distilled in its ancientness. Suzhou is lost in time.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Lovingly called “the Venice of the East,” Suzhou is known for its ancient pagodas, temples, stone bridges, still canals, flowing water, and architecture that could send anyone into a frenzy of imagination. Just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, the city is located on the banks of the Yangtze River Delta, which fills the Grand Canal with peaceful waters. It’s the perfect, easy trip away from the city. With Cathay Pacific’s seamless flights from the US to China, visiting Suzhou is so a no brainer. Every step of the journey to Suzhou, from Cathay Dragon‘s comfortable flights to bullet trains and everything in between, reaps the benefits of our modern society. Although, I, like anyone, found myself lost in nostalgic, romantic notions of what Suzhou might have looked like in its beginnings.


 

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

The modernization of many Asian cities have pushed the continent towards new heights. In many ways, China leads the front in progressive invention. The shiny, skyscraper-dotted, modern cities of the east are expected when visiting beautiful China. But to catch a glimpse of the old world in its modern age is a treat for the eyes and a feast for the imagination. Suzhou, although sparkling with modern amenities, flexes its deeply rooted history in its untouched beauty.

Suzhou shimmers in its frozen in time feeling. Lingering in the Shan Tang Old Street, you will see Qing and Ming dynasties’ architecture in between shopping stores and delicious foods. While boating through the canals and winding waterways, you will feel its ancient charm and sacred, historic tea houses and private houses. In between hearing the folklore of King of Wu seeing a mighty, white tiger atop a mountain, you will soak in the wear and age of a thousand year old pagoda. You will imagine the stories and whispers of the people who encompassed the city for centuries. You will get lost in the peace and tranquility of the Humble Administrator’s Garden’s koi ponds, twisting pathways and quiet pavilions. And in between all of these moments and sights you will be bombarded with the overwhelming realization that you are so young and so small in juxtaposition to Suzhou’s history.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Suzhou Cultural Highlights

Boat Ride On Suzhou’s Canals – Prepare to be enchanted. Boating through the winding, peaceful waterways of Suzhou gives you the full experience of the “Venice Of The East.” The old, narrow passages recall an ancient time we can only experience with a vivid imagination and a beautifully preserved place as this.

Humble Administrator’s Garden – What might be the most perfect Chinese garden. The whimsy, the mystery, the restfulness that comes when slowly walking through the pristine gardens is a lot like a meditative moment to savor. Each unfolding scene reveals a moment preserved with great intention, giving you a moment to breathe, be still and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Tiger Hill Garden – A legend best heard by a local who can truly bring it to life. According to the folk stories of ancient China, in 496 B.C., three days after the King of Wu buried his father atop the hill, a white tiger appeared and guarded the tomb. So moved by this moment, the thousand year old leaning Yunyan Pagoda stands as a relic to the story. Below the towering pagoda, sits the Sword Pool, believed to be the spot where the king’s sword rests. There’s a reason that the ancient poet Su Dongpo says “to visit Suzhou and not see Tiger Hill would lead to a lifetime of regret.”

Dongshan & Taihu Lake – Tea lovers, this is for you! For more than a thousand years, Biluochun Tea has been sipped and enjoyed. It’s one of the most famous and requested green teas in China! Seeing a harvesting of the tea leaves is a great way to feel more connected to your favorite drink.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Shan Tang Old Street – A great spot to shop while traipsing through architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Mixing the old world with the new world in a few city blocks.

Pingjiang Road – The perfect vantage point to enjoy passing boats, traditional Chinese music, tea houses and boutique shops.

Suzhou Museum – One of Suzhou’s most popular attractions, located right by the Humble Administrator’s Garden. The Suzhou Museum is free and open to the public to see some of the most ancient ceramics and woodcarvings. Don’t forget to take in the absolutely stunning lotus pool in the center.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Boat Trip To Visit The Village Of Tongli – A preserved water town with more than a thousand years of history. (Have you noticed that Suzhou is rich in ancient history yet?!) For years the Ming and Qing dynasty pavilions, temples, gardens and towers were kept away from the public. Not until recently has “the Oriental Venice” become a wonder to see for ourselves. Find yourself here and prepare your imagination to flourish!

Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theater – The unique, theatrical art that originated from Suzhou features bright costumes, graceful movements and a unique timbre of sound.

No. 1 Silk Factory – Suzhou’s famous fine silk production once dominated the world with its luxurious texture. The secret process to create such soft and opulent silks was under lock and key. It was once so important that it was punishable by death to reveal the secret! Today, we’re able to sideline that punishment. Tour the silk factories and learn the process of silk making, hand weaving and silkworm raising.

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler

Lost In Time In Suzhou, China | Dame Traveler


Lost in time, Suzhou remains untouched, and yet, quietly knows of its age and wear. Rolling, winding canals and waterways and the looming, overhanging trees. Quiet alleys, slow boats floating through canals. Suzhou is not to be forgotten. Find yourself lost in time there.

 

Trip sponsored by Suzhou Tourism.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Asia Journal Solo Travel

Life in China by Dame Traveler Sydney of Coconut Curl

Each day in China is an adventure. Every day is filled with exciting new experiences while I try to navigate my way through my new home. Trips to the grocery store turn into games of charades whenever I have a question for a salesperson. I can’t say I was prepared for the amount of staring I would receive while on the subway, but it’s all a part of adjusting to life abroad. I live in a city where you can find a Starbucks next to a traditional Chinese medicine shop. While drinking my morning latte I can also buy fresh produce until the freeway pass. This city combines international ways and traditional customs seamlessly. Adjusting to life in China has been a journey, but with each day I’m beginning to feel more at home.

I currently live in Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province of China. Shenzhen was once a small market town named, Sham Chun Hui, but in 1979 it was named China’s first Special Economic Zone. Since, foreign investment has poured in and the economy has flourished. I moved to Shenzhen to teach basketball and I have been living here for two months. I made the move to China because I had lived here for a month during college and I fell in love. I always dreamed of moving back, so I jumped at the opportunity to return.

In China, I stick out like a sore thumb and I always have multiple sets of eyes on me. It’s an uncomfortable feeling knowing that people are looking at you thinking, “Why is she here?” and “Where did she come from?” I am now aware of how foreigners feel in the United States, or elsewhere while trying to make a home abroad. I am tuned in to how uncomfortable it feels to know that you aren’t native to where you live. Right now, the most comforting thing anyone can is exchange a smile with me. Remember, next time you see someone that might be lost or new to your neighborhood, just glance over and offer a smile, it goes a long way.

My patience has grown exponentially since arriving Shenzhen. Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn. On top of that, I do not pick up language well. Outside of Hong Kong, people in China primarily only speak Chinese. It can get frustrating not being able to communicate the simplest things, like asking for directions. I’ve learned to be patient with others while trying to communicate, because it’s not their responsibility to accommodate me. As I am trying to learn that language, I remember that with everything in life, when trying something new you have to be polite with yourself.

“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover just how capable you are”

I am now aware of how incredibly capable I am. This experience marks two first for me, living abroad and living alone. Of course, I miss my friends and family, but I have realized with each day that I am fully capable of taking care of myself and thriving abroad. I feel myself growing stronger and more confident each day that I navigate my way through life in Shenzhen.

To all of my Dame Travelers, I urge you to take that solo trip you have been thinking about or go live in that country you have always dreamed of. It’s true that you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have left.

Will it be tough? Yes. Will you miss your family? Yes.

But,

Will it be liberating? Absolutely! Will it make you stronger? Undoubtedly!

With each day you will grow. You will experience new things, new foods, new places, and new people. You will look back on the time you spent contemplating whether to go or not, and realize that there was nothing to be afraid of and that you were completely capable all along.Save

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