Nanjing Attractions:
Sightseeing in Nanjing

Nanjing has an exceedingly long list of places that are supposedly tourist attractions. Most of them are way overpriced and are not special in any way. The sights scattered around Purple Mountain (Zhong Shan) are really the only must-see attractions in the city, and even they aren’t particularly interesting. However, there are a few lesser frequented sights such as Jiming Temple, Xuanwu Lake and the Yangtze River Bridge that have some appeal to them.


A rant: Nanjing is not a first-tier tourist city in China. Chances are that any tourists coming here will already have traveled to places like Beijing and Xian. So charging exorbitant prices for attractions that are cheaper (and more interesting) in the major tourist cities is ridiculous. ¥35 for the ho-hum Confucius Temple in Nanjing vs ¥25 for the exquisite Lama Temple in Beijing? It doesn’t add up.


Addendum to the rant: At the end of 2010, admission to Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum became free (previously ¥70) and the admission fee for Linggu Temple was halved (to ¥35). Credit due here for making some Nanjing attractions more in line with other tourist attractions in China in terms of pricing.

Purple Mountain Attractions

Purple Mountain (Zijin Shan) (紫金山)
Standing on the eastern side of Nanjing’s city, Purple Mountain plays host to most of Nanjing’s tourist attractions which are described in detail below. However, it might also be worthwhile spending some time walking the mountain’s numerous hiking trails… (Read More…)
Directions: Take Bus 20 from the Drum Tower or Bus Y3 from the train station.

Ming Xiaoling Tomb Scenic Area (明孝陵)
This UNESCO World Heritage sight is the final resting place of Zhu Yuanzhang, first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Construction of the tomb began in 1381 with the Emperor firmly at the helm of the project… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥70 (¥150 combined ticket) Open: 7-18.
Directions: Take Bus 20 from the Drum Tower or Bus Y3 from the train station.

Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum (中山陵)
The burial site of the father of the Republic of China, now called a ‘scenic spot’, is an epic construction to rival the opulence of the Ming Dynasty tomb to its west. An international competition was held to find a blueprint for… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥80 (¥150 combined ticket) Open: 7-18.
Directions: Tourist Bus Y3 from the train station stops at the Mausoleum.

Linggu Temple Scenic Area (灵谷寺)
The Linggu Temple Scenic Area is the quietest and most serene scenic area on Purple Mountain. Basically a collection of buildings scattered across the natural scenery of the mountain… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥80 (¥150 combined ticket) Open: 7-18.
Directions: Tourist Bus Y3 from the train station stops here.

Other Tourist Attractions in Nanjing

Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao) Area (夫子庙)
Centered around the Confucius Temple, this lively area is a blur of restaurants, market stalls and activity. It’s well worth wandering around the district, including some of the quieter back alleys. The temple stands… (Read More…)
Directions: Take the exit to Zhonghua Lu from Sanshanjie subway station and walk south. Turn left into Zhanyuan Lu and keep going straight.

Taiping Heavenly Kindgom Museum (太平天國历史博物館)
Nearby the Confucius Temple is this museum housed in a Ming Dynasty Garden complex. At the zenith of the Taiping Rebellion, Nanjing was a stronghold and several of the Taiping leaders resided here… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥15. Open: 8-17.
Directions: Sanshanjie subway station, Zhonghua Lu exit.

Nanjing City Walls
The Nanjing City Walls, the majority of which is still standing, were the longest city walls in the world at 33km. They were built under Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, from 1366-86 and were constructed on old Tang Dynasty walls in the south and west while the eastern and northern sections were newly built… (Read More…)

Zhonghua Gate Castle (中华门城堡)
This imposing gate at the southern end of the City Walls, right on the Qinhuai River is the best spot to climb the wall due to the fascinating construction of the gate. Built on the remains of the old Tang Dynasty south gate… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥25. Open: 9-17
Directions: 15 minutes walk south of Sanshanjie subway station.

Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall (南京大屠杀纪念馆)
There are surprisingly few reminders of the Japanese invasion of Nanjing around the city. In fact, this museum is about the only place where the Rape of Nanjing is recounted in detail… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥10. Open: 9-17.
Address: 418 Shixuimen Dajie (水西门大街418号).

Presidential Palace (总统府)
The Palace of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom once stood on this site and served as the residence of the leader of the rebellion, Hong Xuiquan. The palace was destroyed and what stands today is a recreation… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥50. Open: 8-17 (7:30-18 from April 1st – Oct 31st).
Directions: On Changjiang Lu, just east of Taiping Bei Lu.

Jiming Temple (鸡鸣寺)
This unassuming temple, almost tucked away just inside the City Walls along the southern shore of Xuanwu Lake, is one of the nicest attractions in Nanjing. A colorful cluster of buildings built on a hill… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥5 (another ¥5 to climb the pagoda). Open: 8-17.
Directions: The Jiming Temple is just inside and a little east of Jiefang Gate.

Xuanwu Lake Park (玄武湖景区)
Nanjing has a number of parks that aren’t really worth visiting due to over-pricing and being boring. Xuanwu Lake Park is the exception. The park is made up of five small islands connected by land bridges… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥30 high season; ¥20 low season. Open: 7-21.
Directions: Xuanwumen subway is right at the entrance to the park.

Nanjing Museum (南京博物院)
The Nanjing Museum might be worth a visit if you have spare time on your hands or if you particularly enjoy museums. It has a good reputation and is very large… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥20. Open: 9-17.
Directions: 321 Zhongshan Dong Lu (just inside Zhongshan Gate).

Wuchaomen Park (Ming Palace Ruins) (午朝门公园)
This park is located on the site of the former palace of the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. Built from 1366-84 it was apparently a very impressive palace but fell into disrepair when the capital was moved to Beijing… (Read More…)
Admission: ¥1. Open: 6:30-22:30.
Directions: On the corner of Zhongshan Dong Lu and Ming Palace Rd.

Yangtze River Bridge (南京长江大桥)
Opened at the end of 1968, this bridge is the longest road and rail bridge in the world. The dual road and rail component of the bridge measures over 1.5km, while the bridge approach adds another 3km to the length… (Read More…)
Directions: Bus 132 from Guangzhou Lu (about 20m west of Zhujiang Lu subway, heading west) goes across the bridge.