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Cultural Imperialism; Fried Chicken Takes Over China
Ellen’s at Night, Shepherd’s Delight?
Importing la Vie Française to Nanjing
The Love Story of a Chinese Century: Sanmao and Hexi
Cultural Imperialism; Fried Chicken Takes Over China Fried chicken and beer is now all the rage in China; and it’s all because of the Koreans. Admittedly, both the food and the beverage have been around for a while. However, pairing the two during meetings with friends is now the in-thing to do after a South Korean TV drama has created an unprecedented craze about the combo that is now entering into Chinese mainstream culture. Read the Full Story
Ellen’s at Night, Shepherd’s Delight? Ellen’s at night is one of those infamous places many tend to steer clear of, but what about Ellen’s by day? It felt strange disembarking walking into a place that looked more like a ‘pirates cove’ than a bar/restaurant; in tune with its reputation for the rough and rowdy after 10 pm. Read the Full Story
Importing la Vie Française to Nanjing Nine years ago Hu Ya opened up the first French restaurant in Nanjing; now the owner of one of Nanjing’s most longstanding establishments is venturing into the bar scene. On the checklist of foreign cuisine in Nanjing Les 5 Sens is undoubtedly a top contender. Opened in 2005 by two Chinese ladies and a French chef it has been a steady success. Read the Full Story
The Love Story of a Chinese Century: Sanmao and Hexi Hardly a Nanjinger does not know the tragic love story of Sanmao and Hexi. The Chinese writer, who partly grew up in Nanjing, would have been 71 this month. Local students are currently bringing her story to the stage.  Read the Full Story

Hello Nanjing - The premier expat social network for pleasant living in Nanjing Jiangsu, China

Introduction to Nanjing

Located on the south bank of the Yangtze River, Nanjing (南京 , aka Nanking) is the capital of Jiangsu and also the province’s political, economic, cultural, and industrial center. Situated between the status-driven punters in Shanghai and the rigid power circles of Beijing, Nanjing is one of China’s most pleasant cities in which to live: it’s a big student town (over 20 universities and colleges) with a highly educated local population and an atmosphere that is civilized, modern, and international.

Nanjing for tourists

Serving as the the nation's capital during the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644), and between 1911 and 1937 (as the capital of the Republic of China), Nanjing holds a very important place in Chinese history, and it’s tourist attractions reflect this. In addition to some Ming dynasty attractions, tourists might also peruse relic that remind that Nanjing was the seat of the Taiping Rebellion, and also the site of one of history's most brutal massacres.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit, summers are scorching. For more information about tourist spots in Nanjing, check out our Nanjing sightseeing guide.

Nanjing for expats

Expats here can be divided into four categories, listed in order of status (highest to lowest):
  • White-collar expats: mainly European and American, these folks typically work at mega-corporations and enjoy massive salaries (compared to local wages). Their kids generally study at international schools.
  • Mandarin students: these young folk typically come from good families who can afford to cover the substantial costs of overseas study (tuition, accommodation, spending money). Foreign students come from all over the world: you’ll find substantial pockets of Africans, Europeans, North Americans, etc.
  • English teachers: typically between the ages of 25-40, Nanjing has a ton of teachers that tend to frequent the city’s handful of expat bars (ie Blue Sky, Castle Bar, etc).
  • Global Generation: a growing sector of people who have chosen to make Nanjing their home; raising a family and starting their own business.

Nanjing’s modern history

Nanjing has been the capital of China for 6 different dynasties, first in AD 211 and last in 1949. Here is a quick overview of its modern history:
  • 1839 Opium War: the war began when local official Lin Zexu burnt twenty thousand boxes of opium. On a battleship off the coast of the modern-day Xiaguan District, the Qing rulers, under threat by Britain troops, signed the notorious Nanjing Treaty. Essentially, this ceded Hong Kong away from China, and led to numerous colonial invasions over the next half-century.
  • 1853-1864 Taiping Rebellion: during this uprising, peasant groups rebelled against their Qing rulers and established the ‘Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in Jinling’. Their run on top was short-lived, however, as the Qing bastards reclaimed rulership in 1864. Today, remnants of the rebellion can be seen in Xuyuan Garden , where ruins of the ‘Palace of the Heavenly King of Taiping’s Heavenly Kingdom’ can be seen.
  • Revolution of 1911: this was a bourgeois revolution in which Dr. Sun Yat-Sen led an overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, which heralded the birth of the Republic of China. Today, a memorial hall in the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen houses a statue of Dr. Sun sculpted out of white marble.
  • Kuomintang rule of 1927-1949: under the leadership of Chiang Kaishek, a counter-revolutionary coup seized power from Qing rulers until the Kuomintang retreat to Taiwan in 1949.
  • Nanjing Massacre of 1937: also known as the ‘Rape of Nanking’, this refers to a six-week period during which Nanking (then the capital of the Republic of China) was captured by the Japanese Imperial Army. After the capture, it is estimated that more than 20,000 women were raped, while over 300,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered.

Orientation

Nanjing is made up of 13 divisions: 11 districts and 2 counties. In essence, the districts comprise the urban area of Nanjing, while the counties are rural areas that are governed by the city.

Refer to the map:

City core

The city core runs the breadth of the subway line, and is most dense between Gulou and Xinjiekou Stations. Taking a taxi from the northernmost station (Maigaoqiao Station) to the last one on the opposite station in the southwest (Olympic Stadium) will take around 30 minutes and cost between 30-40 RMB.

Logistics

Getting in

By Air

Although there are no flights to Shanghai, Nanjing’s airport (located in Lukou) offers flights to most other major cities in China, and also some international flights as well.

The airport is quite far from downtown, and is best reached either by taxi (around 100 RMB to the center of the city, plus a 20 RMB highway toll) or airport coach (25 RMB to four different locations downtown). In either case, the drive takes roughly 30 minutes.

By bus

Four buses per day run from Shanghai’s Pudong Airport to Nanjing (with stops at Nanjing Airport and Zhongyangmen (Nanjing’s southern wall). From Shanghai the fare is 136 RMB, while the price from Nanjing to Shanghai costs 152 RMB.

The drive takes between 4-5 hours (less at night, when there’s less traffic).

If you want to shave an hour off that time, take a train to Suzhou and then catch a bus from there.

By train

Most people get to and from Nanjing by train: it’s fast, reasonably priced, and comfortable. To Shanghai, the trip takes between 73 minutes and 2.5 hours on the fast train, 4 hours on the slow one (totally not worth the few kuai you’ll save).  

By car

The highway between Shanghai and Nanjing is quite good, and traffic is typically reasonable until you begin to approach Shanghai. Factoring in the cost of tolls and gasoline, the total trip will set you back around 700 RMB – if you’re traveling alone, it might be more prudent to take the train.  

By boat

Not really an option, as most boats on the Yangtze are for cargo. However, one service offers runs downstream to Wuhan, but the train is a much better option.

Getting around

By bus

There are many buses in town, which typically charge 1 RMB for non-A/C and 2 RMB for A/C buses. Exact fare is required and is paid into the machine next to the driver.

By subway

The Nanjing subway system at present consists of two lines that largely run east-west and north-south across the city. A third line is under construction with many more to come over the next 3 or 4 years.

If you take either the bus or subway regularly, a prepaid pass (available for sale in most subway stations) gets you 20% off buses and 30% off trains.

By taxi

Taxis are a great way to get around Nanjing. Typically, most runs within the city core will cost no more than 15 RMB – anything more is likely a scam. The fare starts at 9 RMB and drivers should always use the meter.

For newbie’s: tipping is not done in China, and in many cases, if you attempt to let the driver ‘keep the change’, they will likely refuse, and perceive it as an insult. In sum, don’t bother.

By bicycle

Most streets have special lanes exclusively for bikes, so it’s fairly easy to get around. Conversely, bike thefts are a big problem in Nanjing, while most bike lanes are absolutely packed with punters.

Nanjing Universities

Nanjing is a massive student town with heaps of universities where tens of thousands of bright young locals (and a few thousand Mandarin-hungry laowai) hit the books every semester.

In addition, ‘study abroad’ programs are big in this town, which has attracted a large number of foreign language instructors (apart from English, there are smatterings of Italian, Spanish, and French teachers here as well).

Dangers

Nanjing is a pretty damned safe city, which gives the pleasant sensation of being able to keep your guard down 24 hours a day, regardless of how drunken and incoherent you are.

Locals are typically warm and gracious, and many speak English. At worst, expect to be the target of a desperate migrant pickpocket, or perhaps a bike thief.

In terms of assaults on foreigners, these are usually caused by other foreigners! 

That said, there is a seedy side to Nanjing that is basically made up of a drug scene (far less prevalent than in Shanghai, but still out there) and prostitution. If that’s your scene, erm…

Conclusion

Nanjing is (in this writer’s opinion) China’s most pleasant city for expats – locals are chill, prices are decent, and it’s quite easy to get connected within the vibrant and welcoming foreign community.

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Deliciousness Delivered
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Element Fresh

I used the delivery coupon for a free appetizer from Element Fresh, along with a seasonal salad,...

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I would like to check it out.

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Certainly is! Email Simon at the address above to check the exact details

Great experience!
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BenQ Hospital

Went to the international medical center @ BenQ for the first time today. It has a really...

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