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Travel Report: Cool Spots Around Ningbo.

The Drum Tower Ningbo China.

Cool Spots Around Ningbo.

August 2017. There’s no doubting what a clean, handsome and highly walkable city Ningbo is. Wherever you find yourself in the centre, it won’t be too long until you catch sight of the soaring Drum Tower poking above the trees and low-rise buildings. Dating back to the Tang Dynasty, this is the only remaining part of what used to be Ningbo’s grand city gate. Crane your neck up to see the 6-metre romanesque bell tower, added during The Republic era.  

Gongyuan Road Ningbo Zhejiang province China

Gongyuan Lu Commercial Street, Ningbo.

From the Drum Tower, we were perfectly placed for a stroll down the wonderfully pedestrianised Gongyuan Lu. This commercial street features predominantly traditional grey-slate buildings. Many of them have been converted into cafes, restaurants, stores and ice cream shops.

Gongyuan Lu Shopping Street Ningbo China.

Gongyuan Lu Commercial Street, Ningbo.

Cool Spots Around Ningbo.

If you’ve spent some time in China, Gongyuan Lu might fail to impress. After all, many Chinese cities have these kinds of shopping streets. First timers however might just fall in love! Gongyuan Lu is famed for its yummy coconut ice cream. Follow the road away from The Drum Tower all the way down to its northern end for access to Zhongshan Square, a spot where Ningbo’s senior citizens congregate to play cards and listen to traditional live music.

Zhongshan Park Ningbo China.

Zhongshan Park, Ningbo.

From Zhongshan Square, our self-guided Ningbo walking route took in the adjoining Zhongshan Park, largely deserted thanks to the considerable afternoon sunshine. Expect the usual array of gazebos, benches, sculptures and a meticulous array of plants and flowers. 

Moon Lake Park.

Moon Lake Park Yuehu Park Ningbo China.

Yuehu Park, Ningbo.

Moon Lake Park, also known as Yuehu Park, is the largest green space in Ningbo’s city centre. Despite my status as a somewhat weathered Chinese park veteran, it was well worth a wander. There are stone pathways, pretty rock gardens and a handful of wood-stone mansions once home to prominent Ningbo artists, writers and scholars.

Yuehu Park Moon Lake Park Ningbo China.

Moon Lake Park (Yuehu Park), Ningbo.

The entire park is absolutely spotless and lovingly maintained by a team of dedicated workers and volunteers. This guy was carefully applying a new coat of paint on one of the entrance signs.

Tianyi Pavilion.

Tianyi Pavilion Ningbo.

Cool Spots Around Ningbo.

From Moon Lake Park’s northwestern end, it’s a short walk to the fascinating Tianyi Pavilion. Inside this pretty complex of gardens lies China’s oldest existing library. Founded in 1561, a number of the country’s most ancient books still live here behind glass cases. In its heyday, the library held around seventy thousand books. Today you can visit by buying a ticket (30RMB) on the door. 

Cool Spots Around Ningbo.

Jiaoqu Yaohang Street Catholic Church Ningbo China.

Jiaoqu Yaohang Street Catholic Church, Ningbo.

There are some impressive churches dotted around Ningbo. But the one that really caught my eye was the towering Jiaoqu Yaohang Street Catholic Church. Sadly it was closed on the day of my visit, hence I had to make do with admiring the exterior. Tie the church in with a visit to Tianyi Square, just across the road. 

The Yong River Ningbo.

The Yong River, Ningbo.

Visitors to Ningbo should put an hour aside for a walk alongside The Yong River. If only to marvel at its ominously muddy colour. The skyline is impressive in parts. Moreover, you could use it as a walking route to Laowaitan, Ningbo’s lively nightlife neighbourhood.

The Yong River Ningbo China.

Cool Spots Around Ningbo.

For more on my time in the city, check out my other articles from Ningbo.

For more on the region, have a look at my travel reports from around Zhejiang Province.

Like these? Then why not leaf through my many other reports from across China.

I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • Memo

    Makes me regret not having gone there. Would love to see the interiors of some buildings.

    June 9, 2020 - 1:18 am Reply
  • Eromonsele Emmanuel

    I like the connection between the old and the new. The peculiar Chinese architecture mixed with glass covered high rise buildings and art and gardens in the same premises. Must be worth a stroll indeed.

    June 9, 2020 - 2:18 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading, Emmanuel.

      June 9, 2020 - 9:14 am Reply

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