Beijing Getaways: Nanning 南宁
Southern Gateway: Nanning offers culture, convenience and a comfortable climate
Nanning, capital of the southern Chinese province of Guangxi, is a clean, attractive, modern city with a sub-tropical climate.
Bordering Vietnam to the south, and close to Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou, Nanning's attractions and reasonably priced hotels make it a comfortable and convenient place to spend a couple of days en route to south-east Asia or other southern Chinese locations.
Located south to the Tropic of Cancer, Nanning has a humid, monsoon climate with plenty of sunshine and rainfall. Winter is relatively short while summer is long, with a mean yearly temperature above 21°C.
April, May and October are the best months to visit, with warm temperatures and low rainfall.
Summer months can be very humid with high rainfall. Nanning's climate gives the city a plentiful population of evergreen trees and exotic flowers, leading residents to refer to their home as the "Green City."
Nanning's main language is a Cantonese dialect known by local as "Nanning Hua." Though older people speak this dialect, the younger generation mainly speak Mandarin (putonghua). Nanning is regarded as one of the most successful cities in China in terms of popularizing Mandarin or China's "common language."
Study Chinese in Nanning
For this reason Nanning is a very good place for foreigners to learn standard putonghua. Many Nanning universities offer Chinese courses, including Guangxi University for Nationalities and Guangxi University.
As a link between Guilin / Yangshuo and Beihai, Nanning has its own diverse range of attractions. In the south-east of the city, South Lake is a large expanse of water encircled by sub-tropical vegetation, numerous pavilions and towering skyscrapers.
The South-lake Park, in the southeast of the city, is a park of sub-tropical scenery. Further afield other sights worth checking out Further afield are De Tian Waterfall, beautiful Mt. Qingxiu and Mt. Daming, tranquil Yangmei Town, and the mysterious Huashan Mural.
Nanning is also a good place to try out some local dishes. The city's cuisine shares many similarities with Cantonese food, with an emphasis on freshness, crispiness and nutritional value. A wide array of restaurants offer local specialties such as game dishes, seafood, and ethnic cuisine.
The ethnic restaurants serve dozens of dishes including Dong tea, Zhuang glutinous rice cake, and Yao bamboo chicken. Lemon duck (ningmon ya) is one dish certainly worth sampling, a zestier, spicier variation on Beijing Duck usually served up with a delicious soup.
Nanning offers keen shoppers a wide variety of local products, with everything from tropical fruits and ethnic handicrafts to traditional medicines and luxury goods on offer. Lychee, banana, pineapple and mango are widely available, sweet and succulent, and usually very cheap. Yangmei Ancient Town on the outskirts of Nanning boasts "three treasures" supposedly popular with visitors - preserved salted vegetables, fermented beans, and ground rice cake.
Leather products are also varied, well-made and reasonably priced, with handbags, luggage cases, belts and shoes widely available.
Chao Yang Road is the main shopping street of Nanning, with several department stores and a Wal Mart. This is also a nice place to sit outside and people watch, with the whole Nanning demographic from babies in prams and trendy teenagers to street performers and elderly bargain hunters enjoying the sunshine and leafy shade.
The night market on Xiguan Road is also worth checking out.
Getting around Nanning is relatively painless. Local buses serve the city, and most are priced at RMB 1.20 per trip. Purchase a bus map of the city at around RMB 5 for the routes around the city, which doubles as a city map. Bus 301 also serves the Wuxu International Airport, and costs RMB 3 for the 1 hour ride. Taxis are also a convenient way of getting around the city, and most rides within the city should cost less than RMB 20.
Those heading for Vietnam can either opt for the direct bus (leaving from Langdong bus station (7 hours to Hanoi), or the train to Pingxiang on the Vietnamese border, from where you can catch a local Vietnamese bus to Hanoi. There is a Vietnamese consulate in Nanning at 109 Minzu Dadao. There are also regular flights from Nanning to Hanoi with various airlines.
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