Yángzhōu, near the junction of the Grand Canal and the Yangzi River, was once an economic and cultural centre of southern China. The city grew rich from the salt trade, attracting merchants and artisans from all over, who set up residences and gardens here.
Like most of China’s cities, modern-day Yángzhōu has lost much of its charm to development and many of its once-thriving canals have been paved over. Nevertheless, with its wide leafy streets and beautiful gardens, it’s a worthy escape from Jiāngsū’s bigger centres, Nánjīng and Sūzhōu. The main tourist sight, Slender West Lake Park, is overrun with tour groups but the other places remain quiet enough. Yángzhōu has enough to keep visitors busy for a couple days or can be visited on a day trip from Nánjīng.