8 Things to Do on a Saturday Afternoon in Nanjing

8 Things to Do on a Saturday Afternoon in Nanjing
By Sarah Meik , eChinacities.com

Sometimes as visitors or as residents of a city we find ourselves with unexpected pockets of time. Here’s a guide to how to pass a pleasant few hours in the southern capital.

Walk Across the Yangtze River Bridge

Well over 4,000 meters long, the Yangtze River Bridge is one of the longest bridges in China, and was the first to ever connect Beijing and Shanghai by rail. Completed in 1968, visiting this bridge is like taking a walk back in time to the Cultural Revolution. The bridge has large statuettes of revolutionaries on either end, and the cement railing along the bridge is decorated with tiles depicting the “at that time” Chinese dream of industrialization.

But that’s just the bridge! On a beautiful day the view of the river itself is breathtaking. And it’s nice to spend a few moments watching barges and fishing boats slowly drift by, 70 meters below. There are also parks to visit on either side of the bridge.

Yangtze River Bridge | Photo: Marc van der Chijs

Visit the Nanjing Library

Did you know that the Nanjing Library is actually the third largest library in all of China? That’s right. And they even have an English, or “Foreign” book room, filled with a random collection of coffee table books, college textbooks, and classic novels. They even have a Foreign Periodicals room, where a foreigner can thumb through approved foreign media.

They usually allow foreigners to peruse the books, however, if you want to take one home you must pay the 400 RMB fee for a library card and you’ll need your passport. The fee is much lower if you’re just interested in Chinese books.

The library is located just across the street from the Presidential Palace, and the 1912 plaza -which are also 2 good things to do with your afternoon in Nanjing.

Xuanwu Hu

Xuanwu Lake is a beautiful place day or night. Enter the main gate and rent paddle boats for 35 RMB an hour. Play games and go on rides with the young kids, just next to the docks. Walk down the paved road and find everything from pool, to golf, to kite flying. Or just walk with a couple friends and find a nice shady place to hang a hammock and play some cards.

Nanjing Library | Photo: wcam

Hongshan Zoo

The Hongshan Zoo of Nanjing is truly a fun place to be. This particular zoo boasts many different varieties of animals, including pandas, kangaroos, and zebras. There is also a small amusement park for adults and children, as well as a petting zoo. There is also usually a traveling show, or circus of some kind that performs throughout the day. To get there, take the Metro, the zoo has its own stop. (Admission varies depending on what one wants to see, starting at 10 RMB for children and 40 for adults).

Nanjing Foreign Language Book Store

Right across the street from the massive Nanjing Library is the Xinhua Foreign Languages Bookstore. Although more a store for the Chinese speaker studying Chinese, this bookstore still offers lots of interesting reads for the native speaker. There are of course textbooks for college students but you can find western literary classics, a Lonely Planet travel section, and an area that has some contemporary books.

It’s also a good place to start if a teacher is looking for materials for their ESL classes.

Purple Mountain

Oh, Purple Mountain. There are so many things to do on Purple Mountain. One could take a hike up the paved trail to the top, reaching the observatory. The walk takes a little less than an hour for the average hiker. Or they could take it easy and ride the tram to the top (one way/return RMB 15/25). You can get there via bus, route 20 from the Drum Tower.

If there are children involved, right next to the paved trail head, there is Bai Ma Park, an inexpensive place with lots of activities for children. There is also a peacock garden, a pagoda, and a collection of statues from the Song Dynasty.

Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum

Sun Yatsen’s Mausoleum
The Father of Modern China is buried in Nanjing. One day in 1912, he was hunting with some friends where his mausoleum now stands. He was so impressed with the landscape he is quoted as saying,”I wish I could be bestowed a piece of land by the people and be buried here after my death.” 13 years later, he said this again on his death bed, and now we all have this beautiful park/mausoleum to enjoy in his honor. (Admission is RMB 40).

Nanjing Museum

The Nanjing Museum is a terrific place to see Chinese history up close. The museum has several different exhibits on everything from Ming Dynasty clothing, to artifacts from the Neolithic period. The Museum is organized, clean, and modern, and most things are labeled in English and Chinese. They also have English tour guides to help you through the somewhat sprawling Museum.

The Museum is also in a very large plaza where you find trails, gardens, statues and a dirt market where you can find everything from remote control helicopters to fake artifacts. (Admission is RMB 20)

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