Known for being China’s most developed province, Jiangsu Province lies just north of Shanghai. It offers landscapes abundant with lakes, rivers, and canals making for an extremely fertile area. The province is known for its charming water towns, giant Chinese gardens, and historic sites. These sites date back to the first dynasty period. With an abundance of low-cost buses reaching all parts of the province and hostel available in all cities, Jiangsu Province makes for one of the best areas for backpackers. Here are seven budget-friendly sites to visit in Jiangsu Province.
Visit The Confucius Temple
Located in Nanjing City in the southern part of Jiangsu Province is the Confucius Temple. It was the place of worship for the great philosopher Confucius. Also known as Fuzimiao in Chinese, the temple was constructed during the Song Dynasty. It also has been rebuilt several times after suffering repeated damage. Additionally, the temple was built on the southern bank of the Qinhaui River. This is considered the companion pool for the temple. Also, as the temple is well lit with bright colors; viewing the temple from the river at night is a magnificent sight.
The complex includes a set of halls laid out symmetrically. The Dacheng Hall lies in the center where you’ll find the largest statue of Confucius in China. Along with the statue is a collection of 38 vivid panels made from jade, gold, and silver. It describes the life of Confucius. The outside of the hall includes a bronze statue of Confucius along with several smaller white statues. These statues are of his eight disciples. At the entrance to the temple, you’ll walk under the towering arch of Tian Xia Wen Shu. It demonstrates the ancient architecture used for screens and decoration. Entrance to the main hall is less than $5 and well worth the price.
Take A Ride In Zhouzhuang Water Town
The most popular and developed water town in China is Zhouzhuang located between Shanghai and Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. The town is built along canals, ponds, and lakes. It has a history dating back more than 900 years to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Since the roads are too narrow in the town the only way to get around is by walking or taking a boat. The town offers boat rides on small rowboats giving views of charming historic bridges and buildings. Also, there are more than 1000 old houses within the water town. A hundred of these have courtyards and many include arch gateways constructed with carved bricks.
About 14 of the bridges were built over 150 years ago during the imperial era. The three most popular are the Twin Bridges, Zhenfeng Bridge, and Fuhong Bridge. One of the main features in the town is the Chengxu Taoist Temple built during the Song Dynasty. It is one of the most famous Taoist temples covering an area of 1,800 square yards. Boat tours can be found taking you to 15 different sites for less than $14. The other option is to simply take boat taxis for $10 which holds up to 8 people. Night tours are also offered at a lower price giving views of the old town lit up with the stars.
Explore The Shanjuan Cave
Known as one of the greatest caves in the world is the Shanjuan cave in Jiangsu Province. Located southwest of Yixing, it is the earliest cave tourist attraction in China. The cave features a boat ride which is brightly lit showing vibrant colors and a laser display. There are four main sections with a stream running from a waterfall at the base. Referred to as “holy trace forever” and “fairyland in the realm of sensuous desire,” the cave is also known for its patriotic education base.
The cave covers an area of 5000 square meters giving a sensation of an underground palace. The upper cave gained a reputation for being misty and mysterious. Also, being about 70 meters in length there are numerous stones of interesting animal-like shapes on the walls and between the stalactites. Also, as you exit the cave, there is a ceramic demonstration utilizing the unusual clay found inside the cave. General entrance tickets are reasonable at $11 with an option for the gondola tour for an additional $9. People backpacking can find low priced hostels in Shanghai and take the bullet train for an enjoyable day trip.
Make A Visit To Jinshan Temple
Located in the city of Zhenjiang in Jiangsu Province is the Jinshan Temple also known as the Golden Temple. It was built over 1,600 years ago during the Jin Dynasty. Also, the temple has been involved in several folk legends throughout Chinese history. The Jinshan Temple was originally called Zexin Temple or Flying Dragon Temple. However, it eventually was given the name of Golden Temple after substantial amounts of gold were found on the mountain. The temple complex is composed of several temples and Buddhist halls stretching across 48 acres with flowing water.
The walls inside the temple are gold and yellow acting as a symbol of the imperial family in ancient China. The handwriting of the Chinese Emperor Kangxi wrote four characters during his visit stating, “a Buddist temple between the river and sky”. The complex also features a tower that can be climbed. It offers views of the entire Jinshan Mountain and the city of Zhenjiang.
Additionally, the area includes several other noteworthy scenic spots in Jinshan Park. This includes the Ancient Fahai Hollow, the White Snake Hollow, and the Lotus Pavilion. Visiting the temple is less than $8 per person and backpacker hostels can be found throughout the city of Zhenjiang.
Lingshan Grand Buddha
The largest bronze Buddha statue in the world is the Lingshan Grand Buddha. It is located at the southwest tip of the city of Wuxi about two hours west of Shanghai. Standing at 88 meters the Lingshan Scenic Area is a Buddhist wonderland covering 74 acres. The statue is composed of 1,560 pieces of bronze board and weighs over 700 tons. Once completed it became a prominent symbol of Wuxi City. Along with the statue, you can find several other attractions. This includes Brahma Palace, Five Mudra Mandala, and Nine Dragons Bathing Sakyamuni among others.
Also, the Brahama Palace offers magnificent architecture with a soaring dome. It showcases elegant murals, oil paintings, and woodcarvings from Dongyang artists. Every day, the palace includes performances called “Ode to Auspice” in the theatre room which holds 1,500 people.
Additionally, the Nine Dragons Bathing Sakyamuni temple is a sight to see. There are nine amazing dragon statues in a circle. They spit out water 10 meters high into the bath of the sacred Buddha in the center. The temple which essentially is a fountain includes Buddhist music to accompany the Golden Buddha in the center; pointing one hand at the sky. Also, depending on the weather, you may see a rainbow above the water. Additionally, visitors can taste the holy water which is supposed to bring good luck. Hostels and budget hotels can be found all over the city of Wuxi making this a great backpacker destination.
Humble Administrator’s Garden
The largest and most famous garden of Suzhou is the Humble Administrator’s Garden; classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its unique design and otherworldly beauty, the garden carries many honors. For example, it’s designated as one of the Cultural Relics of National Importance. Also, it is a Special Tourist Attraction in China. It is one of China’s four most famous gardens covering over 13 acres of land along the Yangtze River.
The garden consists of endless pools, winding paths, sheer hills, old trees, green bamboos and various types of flowers. This then makes for one of the best places in China to visit. Also, wandering through the garden is much like walking through a maze of pavilions and bridges over pools with islands. The best time to visit the garden is in the spring when flowers are in full blossom. Additionally, backpackers should consider visiting on weekdays to avoid the crowds on the weekends. The entrance runs less than $10 and the city of Suzhou provides many backpacker hostels.
The Penman Gate
Located in the southeast end of Suzhou of Jiangsu Province is the Penman Gate. It is the only existing water and land gate in China. Originally built during the Warring States Period and estimated to be nearly 2,500 years old. The gate is composed of two water passages and three land passages. It runs next to the oldest section of the Grand Canal also built around the time the gate was constructed.
Nearby, you’ll find a 1,000-year-old pagoda named Ruiguang Pagoda which is the earliest pagoda in Suzhou. The Wumen Bridge is another attraction in the area built in 1084 and is the highest ancient bridge in Suzhou. The bridge is made of stone and offers beautiful views of the area including the high pagoda in the distance.