Must see attractions in Jiangsu

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nanjing

    Linggu Temple Scenic Area

    This expansive temple complex contains one of the most historic buildings in Nanjing – the Beamless Hall (无梁殿, Wúliáng Diàn), built in 1381 entirely out of brick and stone and containing no beam supports. Buildings during the Ming dynasty were normally constructed of wood, but timber shortages meant that builders had to rely on brick. The structure has a vaulted ceiling and a large stone platform where Buddhist statues once sat.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nanjing

    Sun Yatsen Mausoleum

    An astonishing sight at the top of an enormous stone stairway (a breathless 392 steps), Sun Yatsen's tomb is a mandatory stop for most visitors. Reverentially referred to as guófù (国父, Father of the Nation), Dr Sun is esteemed by both communists and Kuomintang. He died in Beijing in 1925, and had wished to be buried in Nanjing, no doubt with far less pomp than the Ming-style tomb his successors fashioned for him. Within a year of his death, however, construction of this mausoleum began. Admission is ticketed; bring your passport to collect a free ticket.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nanjing

    Nanjing Museum

    This fabulous museum has three dramatically modern exhibition blocks alongside a traditional, temple-style hall. Exhibits range from 20th-century brush-and-ink paintings to ancient calligraphy (including sutra scrolls from Dunhuang) and a magnificent Han-dynasty jade burial suit. Don't miss the Gallery of the Republican Period, a kitschy underground recreation of Nanjing in its 1930s heyday, complete with working cafes, post office and (stationary) steam engine. The adjoining Digital Gallery has a handful of interactive exhibits suitable for kids.

  • Sights in Tongli

    Tónglǐ Old Town

    This lovely old town, only 18km southeast of Sūzhōu, boasts a rich, historical canalside atmosphere and weather-beaten charm. Many of the buildings have kept their traditional facades, with stark whitewashed walls, black-tiled roofs, cobblestone pathways and willow-shaded canal views adding to a picturesque allure. The town is best explored the traditional way: aimlessly meandering along the canals and alleys until you get lost.

  • Sights in Suzhou

    Garden of Cultivation

    This small but perfectly formed garden is often overlooked by visitors who are drawn to Suzhou's larger and more famous gardens. Its simple layout makes use of rockeries, water features and covered corridors, while some of the living quarters are decorated with furniture, creating an intimate atmosphere.

  • Sights in Zhouzhuang

    Shen’s House

    Near Fu’an Bridge, this residence of the Shen clan is a lavish piece of Qing-style architecture boasting three halls and more than 100 rooms. The first section (in front of the ticketed area) is particularly interesting, as it has a water gate and a wharf where the family moored their private boats. You can picture the compound entirely daubed in Maoist graffiti c 1969 (note the crudely smashed carvings above the doors).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Suzhou

    Pingjiang Lu

    On the eastern side of the city, this canalside road has whitewashed local houses sitting comfortably side by side with teahouses and trendy cafes selling overpriced beverages. Duck down some of the side streets that jut out from the main path for a glimpse at local life. It's a lovely place for a stroll, particularly in the early morning or on weekday evenings.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Suzhou

    Pan Gate Scenic Area

    This quiet part of Suzhou is lovely, with a section of the city wall straddling the outer moat in the southwest corner of the city. Dating from 1355, the gate backs onto a delightful scenic area, dotted with old halls, bell towers, bridges, pavilions, lake, temple and the crumbling Ruiguang Pagoda, constructed in 1004.

  • Sights in Nanjing

    Zhōngyāng Gate

    One of the original 13 Ming city gates, located in the north of town. The name means 'Central Gate'.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nanjing

    Ming Xiaoling Tomb

    Zhu Yuanzhang (1328–1398), the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty (also known as the Hongwu Emperor), was buried in the tomb of Ming Xiaoling; he was the only Ming emperor buried outside Beijing. The area surrounding the tomb is the Ming Xiaoling Scenic Area. A tree-lined pathway winds around pavilions and picnic grounds and ends at scenic Zixia Lake, ideal for strolling. A combo ticket for the tomb and the Linggu Temple Scenic Area is ¥100.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nanjing

    Qixia Temple

    This sacred site on Qixia Mountain (栖霞山, Qīxiá Shān), 22km northeast of Nanjing, was founded by the Buddhist monk Ming Sengshao during the Southern Qi dynasty, and remains an active place of worship. Long one of China’s most important monasteries, today it’s still one of its largest Buddhist seminaries. The mountain's maple trees are a major draw in November when the hills are splashed in crimson and bronze.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Suzhou

    Tiger Hill

    In the far northwest of town, Tiger Hill is a major drawcard for Chinese tourists, and the beacon that draws them is the leaning Cloud Rock Pagoda (云岩塔, Yúnyán Tǎ) atop the hill. The octagonal seven-storey pagoda was built in the 10th century entirely of brick, an innovation in Chinese architecture at the time. It began tilting over 400 years ago, and today the highest point is displaced more than 2m from its original position.

  • Sights in Suzhou

    Shantang Jie

    This picturesque canalside street has been in use for more than a thousand years, having been built in the Tang dynasty (around 825–826) to transport Suzhou’s upper classes to Tiger Hill for leisurely outings. Nowadays it is pedestrianised and makes for a wonderful way to stroll or boat to Tiger Hill. Shantang Jie is very similar in feeling to Pingjiang Lu, with whitewashed buildings backing directly onto the canal and quaint lantern-decorated bridges.

  • Sights in Nanjing

    Yangzi River Bridge

    Opened in 1968, the Yangzi River Bridge is one of the longest bridges in China – a double-decker with a 4.5km-long road on top and a train line below. The odds are that you’ll probably cross the bridge if you take a train from the north. Your ticket includes lift access to the viewing platforms, where you can admire the stirring socialist-realist sculptures and city views from up high.

  • Sights in Nanjing

    Meiling Palace

    Named by Life magazine in 1937 as 'the most powerful woman in the world', Song Meiling (aka 'Madame Chiang') was the First Lady of the Republic of China (1948–1975). An accomplished politician and painter, Meiling was actively involved in politics for much of her life, acting as English translator and adviser for her husband, Chiang Kaishek. The complete furnishings, English explanations and unique focus on an extraordinary woman make this museum a particularly special find in China.

  • Sights in Suzhou

    Blue Wave Pavilion

    Originally the home of a prince, the oldest garden in Suzhou was first built in the 11th century, and has been repeatedly rebuilt since. Instead of attracting hordes of tourists, the wild, overgrown garden around the Blue Wave Pavilion is one of those where the locals actually go to chill and enjoy a leisurely stroll.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Nanjing

    Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre

    In the city’s southwestern suburbs, the disturbing exhibits in the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre document the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against the civilian population during the occupation of Nanjing in 1937. They include pictures of actual executions – many taken by Japanese army photographers – and a gruesome viewing hall built over a mass grave of massacre victims. At times it feels overwhelming but visitors will begin to fathom the link between the massacre and the identity of the city.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Suzhou

    Garden of the Master of the Nets

    Off Shiquan Jie, this pocket-sized garden is considered one of Suzhou's best preserved. Laid out in the 12th century, it went to seed and was later restored in the 18th century as part of the home of a retired official turned fisherman (hence the name). In the 1920s, the famous painter Zhang Daqian and his brother Zhang Shanzi lived here with their pet tiger. A striking feature of the garden is the use of space: the labyrinth of courtyards, with windows framing other parts of the garden, is ingeniously designed to give the illusion of a much larger area.

  • Sights in Suzhou

    Suzhou No 1 Silk Factory

    This museum and working silk factory was established as a state-owned silk factory in 1926. The highlight of the museum is seeing its massive, 80-year-old silk-spinning machines in action, weaving together impossibly thin threads of silk (eight cocoons are needed to make a single usable thread). If you're lucky, there'll also be live silkworms on display.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Suzhou

    Suzhou Museum

    This stunning museum, one of only two in mainland China designed by IM Pei, is a modern interpretation of Suzhou architecture, with its confluence of water, courtyards and a distinctive grey-and-white motif. Although the impressive architecture steals the show, the collection contains a fascinating array of jade, ceramics and textiles, mostly labelled with informative English captions.