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Nanning Travel Guide

Nanning's mixture of natural beauty and ethnic flavor is great for travelers who want to get away from bustling cities, but still want their conveniences. Full of colorful sights and lush parks, Nanning is a park city that will dazzle any visitor.

Towering buildings and chaotic traffic are all too common in modern China, which makes a trip to Nanning all the more pleasant. Given that Nanning is capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the same region that's home to the legendary Guilin and Yangshuo, you can bet Nanning has some spectacular scenery. Set in a subtropical climate with palm trees lining the streets and parks, the city enjoys year round sun and with 40% of the city covered in green space, the locals boast with pride that their city is half-park and half-city.

The city's long history begins with the Bai Yue, a group who were the first inhabitants of the area. Development began in earnest when the Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a united China, incorporated the region into his empire. The Zhuang ethnic minority makes up the bulk of the population, but with over 30 ethnic groups, the city is an eclectic mix of colors and cultures.

The Guangxi Minzu Wenwu Yuan, inside the Guangxi Museum, is the best place to get aquick introduction to thecultural richness of thesegroups without leaving the comforts of the city. In front of the main gate stands a replica of a large bronze drum, the earliest bronze drums date back over 2,700 years and were used by the ancestors of the Zhuang as instruments for their elaborate dances, religious ceremonies,and ancestral worship rituals and during times of war. There are 320 beautifully cast drums inside the compound, with the largest one about 165cm in diameter, 67.5cm-high and weighing in at over 300kg.

A variety of artifacts are held within the Wenwu Yuan, such as raised huts built on stakes belonging to the Yao ethnic minority, and drum towers and roofed bridges built by the Dong ethnic minority. There are also workshops where visitors can really get a hands-on experience in the day-to-day life of these people. Give making cooking oil a try or spend some time de-husking rice. After a day of insights into the lives of the various ethnic groups, stop by the various restaurants in the Wenwu Yuan and try out their delicious snacks.

White Dragon Park, which is also called People's Park, is a nice getaway not far from the city center. About a 10-minute walk from Minzu Square, this park is situated on the side of Wangxian Po, a small hill that's the highest point in Nanning. From the main gate, there's a 10m wide, 141-step stairway leading to the top of the hill and what's left of an old fort and cannon. The base is made of and was built in 1917 and the cannon was built in 1890 by Krups, the famous German armaments maker.

South of the hill is White Dragon Lake, a small lake surroundedby lush palms and sweeping trees. A small island sits in the middle of the jade green lake and is connected to the shore by two charming bridges. The colorful bridge on thewest side of the island features nine bends and on the north end of the island is a bridge with three elegant moon arches.

Yilingyan is about 30km north of Nanning and is surrounded by the same karst mountains that made Guilin and Yangshuo famous. The main attraction at Yilingyan is the massive cave complex, which was originally an underground river.

The shell shaped cave has three levels and burrows 45m below ground at its deepest. With an assortment of rock formations that were formed over thousands of years, the stalactites and stalagmites are eerily lit up and make for a unique visual treat. The whole cave site has an area of 4km² and is over 1km long, you won't need to worry about getting lost though, the cave pathways are clearly marked.

Following the Zuo River downstream, about 30km from Nanning, is the village of Yangmei, a perfectly preserved Qing dynasty village. The village was once prosperous thanks to its convenient location for trade, three sides of it are fronted by the river. Over 700 years old, the buildings reflect the wealth that once flowed through the streets and onto the waiting boats at the river's edge. The preserved Qing Dynasty Street showcases Guangxi's best remaining architecture from that period. Ornate roofs and eaves decorated with dragons and phoenixes jut out at every corner. More than just the buildings have been preserved; the village retains its rustic turn of the century atmosphere. The rustic village is more than a tourist attraction; it's a living set for many films that use it as a backdrop for period architecture.

For those with some extra time, a trip to the cliff paintings at Huashan Yanbihua in the Zuojiang Scenic Area offers a glimpse into Guangxi's distant past. About 160kmaway from Nanning in Ningming County, there are over 1,800 paintings on a 260m high cliff. The paintings stretch over 40m and were painted by the ancestors of the Zhuang over 2,000 years ago. The largest figure is 3m tall mounted chief wearing ceremonial feathers and waving a dagger, he's surrounded by dancers, riders on mystical beasts and a bronze drum and drummers. These paintings are significant, not only because of their age, but also because there are very few paintings of this type in China. The composition of the ink used in these paintings continues to baffle researchers because they have remained bright and vibrant despite 2,000 years of weathering from the sun and rain. How the painters were able to scale the cliff to do their art also remains a mystery.

Nanning Memorable Experience

Taking an underground journey through the underground cave complex at Yilingyan and exploring the karst formations that rise high above the ground.

Strolling through the ancient stone cobbled lanes of Yangmei Village and getting a sense of what life was like centuries ago in a village that has stopped in time

Top Nanning Tours

10 Days Guilin & Vietnam Tour

  • Tour Code: GL-0108
  • Days: 10
  • Destination: Guilin-Yangshuo-Nanning-Hanoi-Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City

From USD

Summary: Extend your China tour for glorious landscapes to Vietnam and explore the exotic cities..