Ningbo Travel Guide
Serving as an important port in Eastern China for centuries, things are much the same these days, as it currently ranks as one of the busiest ports in the world.
Despite being an important industrial and logistics centre, there is much to see here, from its many interesting museums to the oldest library in China.
Come check out our Ningbo travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Ningbo, China.
Kick off your visit to this prominent Eastern Chinese city with a visit to the Ningbo Museum. A stunning building built in the modernist style using recycling stone from surrounding villages and towns, it contains exhibits highlighting the history, customs, and art of the Ningbo area.
As you make your way through this museum, you’ll learn about life during this settlement’s early days, its vital role in trade with foreign powers, and the creativity of this city’s top artists. While the captions on some of the displays may be lacking, the magnificence of them will make up for it; besides, Google Translate should be able to decipher what most of what they are saying.
Next, make your way over to the Tianyi Library. While it may seem unassuming at first glance, you will be walking into the oldest library in China still in continuous use. Founded in the 16th century during the Ming Dynasty, it has been preserving ancient texts for more than 350 years.
This place gets its name from the Chinese term for the water elemental, a step which they believed would guard this structure against fires. It didn’t protect this collection from sticky hands, though – the British raided it during the Second Opium War, and local thieves took their share as well.
While it peaked at 70,000 books, the collection dwindled to less than 20,000. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, donations from around the country have restored its holding to 30,000.
Before leaving check out the garden and bamboo forest in the surrounding pavilion, which are both peaceful places to chill out and gather oneself after coming in off the busy streets of Ningbo.
Fans of religious infrastructure will have a pair of places to check out on a trip to Ningbo, Tiantong Temple is the first of these, as its scenic location at the foot of Taibai Mountain makes its traditional Chinese architecture stand out more than it otherwise would.
Situated 25 kilometres outside the city of Ningbo, it is an easy and worthwhile day trip to make, as its bell tower and Buddha statues are of exceptional quality. As you walk outside as incense burns in the air, walk the paths up the mountain, it is will lead you through fragrant forests of pine that will offer magnificent views of the area below.
That isn’t the only Buddhist hall of worship worth seeing while in the Ningbo area, as Asoka Temple also has impressive architecture that demands to be seen. Named after the Indian king who converted to Buddhism in the 3rd century BC, an act which greatly enhanced the influence of this religion in that country and facilitated its spread to China, this beautiful hall of worship is located at the base of a mountain also named Asoka on the east side of Ningbo.
Built in the Western Jin Dynasty almost 1,800 years ago, this ancient structure boasts a variety of halls, pagodas, gardens, among other points of interest here.
Those looking to get out in nature in the Ningbo area will want to plan a day trip out to Wulong Pond. As unimpressive as that makes this place sound, it is actually an inviting place for swimmers, as a waterfall crashes down the side of a mountain into a gorge of crystal clear water.
Given how humid Southeastern China can get in the summer, a day spent swimming, picnicking, and hiking in this peaceful park. Easily reachable from the city on a local bus, it is popular among locals, so be sure to go during the week to duck the crowds. Note there is a sizable admission fee, but even considering this, it is still a good value, as the funds are used to keep the park clean.
After the day’s work is done, Ningbo locals flock to Tianyi Square to relax with family and friends. Surrounded by European style buildings including a Gothic-style church, it is easy to see the influence that traders had on this city over the years. Be sure to check out the rhythmic fountain, which puts on shows at regular intervals.
After a long day of sightseeing, grab some traditional Chinese street cuisine by paying a visit to Nantang Old Street. Spanning eight blocks, you’ll find food stalls cooking up all manner of local favourites, especially after dark.
Need some souvenirs before heading home? Stop by some of the shops here as well, as there are numerous ones that sell unique local handicrafts.