Nanjing completely shatters the stereotype of the grey, industrial, and polluted Chinese city that many Westerners mistakenly hold in their minds. In fact, this city is known to be one of the greenest and most beautiful cities in China, with many of the country’s population striving to live here. Even a quick glance at a map reveals a great deal about the city, considering the amount of green areas rival that of the city itself. Nanjing contains an abundance of parks, lakes, and scenic areas in and around the city that are all worth visiting.
Perhaps most notably, Xuanwu lake and Purple Mountain are two massive green areas located right beside the city centre, making it incredibly easy to get a quick escape from the urban sprawl. Xuanwu lake provides the opportunity to rent various boats and kayaks, walk through the large bonsai exhibition, and relax in the many grass fields. Right beside Xuanwu lake is the famed Purple Mountain, which is known for its coniferous forests and the golden-purple clouds which envelop its peaks at dawn and dusk, hence its name. Purple Mountain is also home to the Linggu Temple, Ming Xioling Mausoleum, Observatory, and Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, all sights worth visiting (but keep in mind, Purple Mountain will take you an entire day at least!).
A few kilometers west of the Xinjiekou area (downtown) lies the Stone City Ruins park, which is peaceful and contains the remnants of the stone city walls built by the Chu kingdom sometime between 475-221 BC! A short walk south from the Stone City Ruins park will bring you to Mouchou lake, which was named after a legendary woman known for her beauty, versatility, virtue and loyalty. The lake is quite large, beautiful, and easily accessible by taking the metro to the Mochou lake station. Directly south of the Fuzimiao tourist area, across the Quinhai river, sprawls the Yuhuatai scenic spot, a personal favourite of mine. Here you can hang out at the Terrace of Raining Flowers, wander along a pleasant mountain dotted with pine and cypress trees, and pay your respects to those who gave their lives for the betterment of China at the Yuhuatai revolutionary martyrs’ memorial hall and cemetery. If you’re willing to travel a bit further out of the city centre, there are a number of other scenic green spots worth checking out, like the Laoshan national forest park, Mufushan scenic area, Niushoushan scenic area, Fangshan scenic area, Jiangjun mountain, and of course the two natural hot springs of Tangshan and Tangquan. The choices are (almost) endless!
This being said, the environmental situation in Nanjing is not perfect. Air pollution remains a problem, albeit one that fluctuates. On most days, the air pollution in Nanjing is similar to that of London’s and Paris’, although it can worsen to Hong Kong-like levels on certain days. The good news is the city is taking steps to combat its environmental challenges through the implementation of green initiatives. First and foremost, something you will notice is the majority of city streets, big or small, are lined with rows of trees that simultaneously work to clean the air while offering shade from the beating sun. Moreover, the city is planning on building a number of “green towers”, office blocks, homes and hotels decked from top to toe in shrubbery and plant life. On top of these initiatives, Nanjing has also been in the process of implementing a low-carbon travel public service platform, offering green credit and green store functions in the My Nanjing app. So far, the platform has reached over 2 million participants in total. The future for Nanjing is bright, and also very green!
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