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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > February 2016 > The Garden of China Jiangsu

The Garden of China Jiangsu

Known for its fertile plains, enchanting gardens and historic architecture, the Chinese province of Jiangsu offers an insight into the country’s culture and natural beauty
The Five Pavilion Bridge is a centrepiece of Shouxihu (Slender West Lake) in the city of Yangzhou – situated on China’s centuries-old Grand Canal

Home to almost 80 million people, the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu has an eventful history that spans more than three millennia. Every hilltop temple and ancient city tells its own story, and the people of this prosperous land are happy to share the tales of the emperors, poets and religious fgures who have walked the narrow streets and muddy canals in times gone by.

Both the Yangtze River and the Grand Canal, the oldest part of which dates back to ffth century BC, run through this land, enabling Jiangsu to secure strong trading links – its produce, including silk, rice and vinegar, was easily transported throughout China for hundreds of years. As such, the province has attracted merchants and visitors from far and wide since the dawn of its history.

As you’d expect from somewhere so rich in heritage, its culinary traditions are plentiful and diverse. River fsh and shrimp feature strongly in many dishes, while xiao long bao, a delicate soupflled dumpling the area is famed for, is a staple on restaurant menus throughout the region.

A temperate climate, friendly locals and a treasure trove of antique relics complete the picture, while rich plantlife adds colour to the province’s palette, making Jiangsu perfect for the adventurous traveller eager to uncover China’s distinctive culture.


As the former home to many signifcant fgures in the country’s history, Nanjing has earned its place in the heart of the Chinese people, and today it is a powerhouse behind the progress of contemporary China

The capital of Jiangsu is a grand city with elegant tree-lined boulevards, fantastic restaurants and a wealth of historically important museums. As well as showcasing buildings from times gone by, Nanjing has been pivotal in shaping China. It was the birthplace of the Chinese Republic, and Sun Yatsen – political revolutionary and father of modern China – set up his frst government here. As such, the city was the nation’s capital for much of the Republic of China period, between 1912 and 1949.

Get an overview of this important era in history by visiting the Presidential Palace. Tis site has played host to various emperors and presidents for 600 years, and has been well maintained to look exactly as it did when the dignitaries used it. Tere is also a tranquil Qing dynasty garden, containing the Mandarin Duck Pavilion. With a double roof, it looks like two buildings from far away but is, in fact, only one.

A night view of the Qinhuai River, in the southern part of the city. RIGHT, FROM TOP Osmanthus-flavoured lotus root stuffed with sticky rice, a Nanjing speciality; colourful steamed buns
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