In Nanchang, you don’t have to stick around the city feeling progressively bored on weekends. Much like Zhejiang’s West Lake district, the area around Xiang Hu (Elephant Lake) has been developed extensively in recent years, providing more opportunities for tourism in the area. There’s the unique park that is an example of native ‘Nuo’ (傩) culture, and the ancient streets around the similarly antiquated Shengjin Pagoda (绳金塔). If you can’t think of anything else to do on holidays or weekends, these few places are definitely worth checking out.
Elephant Lake. Source: weather.com.cn
1) Elephant Lake Scenic Area象湖风景区View In Map
The wedge-shaped Elephant Lake is to be found to the southwest of Nanchang, which reaches the General’s Gate in the north, and stretches down as far south as the city’s outer ring road. Elephant Lake is roughly twice the size of Hangzhou’s West Lake, and there’s a small island plonked right in the middle of it, split into two embankments. On the north-east, there’s a wide plaza; on the south-west, there’s a cluster of ancient buildings. The island has an area of around 1.9 hectares with an area in the centre – acting as the ‘city centre’ of the island – with many replica ancient buildings evocative of the bygone literati days of mist-shrouded pagodas, poets sitting by the shore, and wine-drinkers reveling in their inebriated haze. The two embankments – one short, one long – have a series of man-made troughs built into them, with bridges spanning the holes. On these bridges you can find some carved statues of historical persons of note, with brief explanations of their importance. Also of interest is the statue of Guanying (the famous Chinese war general) which stands in Guanying Square, and the nearby Longevity Palace (万寿宫) and accompanying pagoda tower, which honour Jiangxi through Master Fu, the ancient Buddhist master. If you want to want to cover the whole area by bicycle, it will take a long time indeed; we advise renting a bike for the day.
Admission: Free (Longevity Palace costs 5 RMB)
Add: Fuhe Nan Lu, Nanchang
Opening times: 07:00-18:00
Getting there: Take bus 230 or 601 from Nanchang city centre.
Slightly phallic ‘Nuo’ statue. Photo: blog.cina.com.cn
2) Nuo Culture Park傩文化公园 View In Map
This is more than just a park really: it’s a place of leisure, fun, performances, shopping, exhibitions and research. You can see the highly unique Nuo dance performances, activity places, inside the park there are statues, mask shows and plays, and places selling Nuo handicrafts. The park itself is 100,000m², with over 50,000 of that being green space, so it’s a perfectly pleasant place to come and stroll and take in the scenery. There are museums inside the park too: one dedicated to Nuo mask culture, another to the history behind Chinese masks in general, and one to masks found in other parts of the world (enough mask museums for you??), and a museum about Gods and deities, and one too about the construction of wrought copper Nuo masks. If it seems like there’s only masks and/or museums dedicated to masks here, you are absolutely right, but if you are a fan of both or either, you’ll have a blast here!
Admission: 20 RMB
Add: Wolong Shan Scenic Area, Honggutan New District, Nanchang
Getting there: Take bus 209 or 235 and get off at Wolong Lu Bei Kou.
Shengjin Pagoda. Photo: blog.sina.com
3) Shengjin Pagoda 绳金塔View In Map
Located on the east of Shengjin Ta road in Nanchang’s Xihu District, outside of the original city’s Jinxian Gate, Shengjin Pagoda was originally built during the Tang dynasty, and therefore has over one thousand years of history. Imagine that! It’s lived through wars, civil strife, and plenty of natural disasters, so needless to say, has received a few licks of paint over the years to keep it looking fresh, young and enticing to tourists. The pagoda is a good display of a traditional Chinese wooden structure, and stands just over 50m tall. There are seven scalable floors, and the pagoda is octagonal in shape, like many other Chinese pagodas. Interestingly, on each floor there are four real doors and four fake doors, presumably to confuse attackers, and help protect any defenseless monks sheltering inside (this is before the days of the Shaolin Warrior Monks remember!) and from the top you get an awesome view over Nanchang, providing it’s not too misty. The best time to come is Sept-Oct because the annual fair is held in the pagoda park: there’s lots of food and drink and a lively atmosphere prevails.
Admission: 10 RMB
Add: No.1 Zhanqian Xi Lu, Xihu District, Nanchang
Getting there: Take bus 5, 9, 18, 26, 206, 219, 225, 230, 233, 305 or 602.
Tengwang Pavilion by night. Photo: cntwg.com
4) Tengwang Pavilion滕王阁View In Map
Considered the architectural emblem of Nanchang, it’s one of the “Three Southern Pavilions” of Chinese history, along with Hubei’s Yellow Crane Tower (Huang He Lou 黄鹤楼) and Hunan’s Yueyang Tower (岳阳楼). Tengwang Pavilion (or Tower) was made famous by the poet Wang Bo who wrote about it back in the days when you could make a living as a poet. Altogether the pavilion is made up of five floors. On the first there is an homage to Wang Bo, in the form of some calligraphic renderings of his poetry, and a ruddy great marble relief of the man himself, and some propaganda aiming to distinguish the man from myth. On the second floor is a large detailed mural painted by Qin Zhiming, and dedicated to the leading 80 historical figures in Jiangxi. This floor, along with the main theme on the fourth floor, aims to represent the essence of Jiangxi’s scenic mountain and river culture. The next floor (3rd) is a corridor around the rest of the floors, and an important floor in itself: hanging off the eaves off the third floor are huge gold plaques with different themes around the main theme. The fifth floor provides an outdoor viewing platform for some views over Nanchang.
Admission: 50 RMB
Add: No. 58 Fanggu Jie, Rongmen Lu, Nanchang
Opening times: 07:30-17:30
Getting there: Take bus 游1, 游2, 2, 7, 8 or 26.
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Keywords: things to do in Nanchang parks in Nanchang pagodas in Nanchang Nanchang museums daytrips from Nanchang
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