Tianyi Pavilion is the oldest surviving private library in China. Originally constructed in 1516, its owner, Fanqin, was the Minister for War during the Ming Dynasty. It is well preserved and some parts have been beautifully restored for the benefit of visitors. Chinese history enthusiasts should certainly visit the pavillion. It also houses an amazing collection on mah jong sets.
Practically adjoining the Tianyi Pavilion is Moon Lake. Moon Lake is 96.7 hectares of water and parklands with many beautiful gardens and walkways. In existence for nearly 1400 years, the lake is surrounded by many old pavilions and buildings. Moon Lake is a great place for a picnic, stroll, or a paddle around the lake in one of the boats available for hire.
The Drum Tower
One of the unusual sites in Ningbo that marks the entrance way to Gu Lou is the Drum Tower. Located on Zhongshan Road (yes, every city in China seems to have one) it is directly opposite the junction with Zhenming Rd. The area at the base of the Tower is part of the original old city wall from the Tang Dynasty. During the Ming Dynasty a pagoda was built on top of the wall. It was named the Drum Tower, because every day at dusk a large drum placed in the tower was beaten to give the correct time. This was a common Ming Dynasty practice, and similar towers are found in many in other cities in China. The drum has since been replaced by a clock tower the juts from the top of the Ming pagoda.
Seven Pagoda Temple
Located on Baizhang Road, the temple is named for the seven mini pagodas that line the street in front of the temple. Built in 858 AD, it is a beautiful Buddhist temple with many historical buildings and carvings. Seven Pagoda Temple is regarded as one of the major Buddhist temples in East Zhejiang.
Zhongshan Square (Park)
This is another of one the many beautiful parks in Ningbo. Located behind Gu Lou, it consists of Zhongshan Square and lovely scenic parklands, which houses a lovely tea house, gazebo and the former residence of general Zhang Cangshui, a local hero at the end of the Ming Dynasty. His tomb is located at West Lake in Hangzhou.
It is not possible to visit Ningbo without a stop at Laowaitan. It has almost everything a tourist could want: history, restaurants, bars, river views (beautiful day or night), and a 200 year old church. The church alone is worth the visit. Laowaitan is also the home to two modern venues well worth visiting. Ningbo City Exhibition Hall, features an exhibition featuirng Ningbo’s past, present, and future. Alongside the Exhibition Hall is the Ningbo Museum of Art, with some simply beautiful...
West of Ningbo
Liang Zhu Cultural Park
The story of the butterfly lovers is known throughout China. Yangshuo, in Guangxi Province, has a butterfly cave dedicated to this famous couple, but Ningbo’s Gaoqiao Town stakes its claim as the home of this moving story. This “Romeo and Juliet” story of China dates back nearly 2000 years. If you do not know the story, then a visit to this cultural park will answer all of your queries.
Hermudu Relics Site
This fascinating site features a Neolithic man dating back to 7,000 years ago. Although not very well promoted and a little difficult to reach, it is well worth the trip to see the innovation and skill of these Chinese ancestors. There is an English language video which describes the site, and a museum. There is also the opportunity to walk around part of the archaeological site, and witness the reconstruction of the lifestyle of these people.
China Jade Garden
Not far from the Hermudu site is China Jade Garden. This attraction, which contains some wonderful jade carvings, features the Xiyin Temple, made solely of jade stone with magnificent jade Buddhas. The Garden also contains a smaller version of the Beijing Temple of Heaven, called the Southern Temple of Heaven.
Siming Mountain and Siming Lake
If you enjoy peaceful mountain scenery and tranquil water lakes, then this is an ideal stop. In good Chinese tradition, Siming Mountain is also called “East Zhejiang natural animals and plant Museum” and it lives up to this grand title. The Siming area also marks a famous Taoist site, and Tuoshan Dam, a water conservation program, is nestled within these mountain ranges. Siming Lake is a panoramic vista displaying the tranquility of nature.
Five Dragon Pools
Simply put, China is the land of the dragon and it pervades every part of history and culture. Five Dragon pools is an excellent example of this old dragon worship. Not only are there lovely creeks and waterfalls and of course, the five wells, but there is also an altar that was dedicated to dragon sacrificial offerings. There is also a 400 year old temple dedicated to both the God of War and the Dragon King.
Xikou National Scenic Spot
Easily accessible by bus from Ningbo, Xikou is located near Fenghua about 35 kilometres from Ningbo. A four star national tourist site, Xihou is the birthplace of Chiang Kai-Shek, and another centre of Chinese Buddhism. Xikou has every right to be proud of its picturesque scenery and landscape. There is a lovely combination of mountain, springs, plentiful small streams and waterfalls. Historical sites include the tomb of Chiang Kai-Shek’s mother, the Xikou museum, the Wuling Gate Tower and the Xuedou Temple.
Qiantong Town’s history dates back more than 800 years and many of its old streets and buildings constructed during the Ming and Qing Dynasties are well preserved. It is located about 10 kilometres from Ninghai, which is easily accessible by bus from Ningbo. Most of Qiantong’s families have the surname of Tong.
Nanxi Hot Spring Resort
Nanxi hot spring, and the surrounding Forest Park, also near Ninghai, form a national scenic and a protected forest area which feature mountain scenery, lovely crystal clear streams, nine waterfalls, and of course, dense forest landscapes.
Songlanshan Seaside Resort
This picturesque seaside resort is located about 8 kilometres from Dancheng and is easily accessible by bus from Ningbo. There are many quaint local folklore stories about the naming of Mount Songlan from which the beach resort takes its name. It is easy for everyone to find a way to relax here with its sandy beaches, coastal cliffs, caves, and fishing. To quote the government tour guide “Over the blue sea, the nine isles are scattered like a string of pearl necklace.” How could anyone resist a description like that?
Xiangshan Movie & TV Town
Also located in Xiangshan County, this destination is well worth visiting if you are fascinated by those historical Chinese romance movies. A complete reconstruction of an ancient town and gardens are here for visitors to envision the China of the past.
Chinese Fishing Village
Located further south near Shipu Fishing Port, is one of China’s major fishing ports. It has also been used for a number of 1930s Chinese films depicting the life of Chinese fisher-folk. The Chinese Fishing Village is China’s biggest seashore tourism project and contains not only the village theme park itself, but encompasses Fishing Culture Folk Custom Street, Song Dynasty Beach, Folk Town, Shipu Fishing Port, Shipu Ancient Street, and Underwater Paradise.
Dongqian Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in Zhejiang, and is actually four times bigger than its more famous counterpart, West Lake in Hangzhou. Work on the lake dates back more than 1200 years. In fact there are many similarities between Dongqian and Hangzhou’s West Lake. West Lake houses the tomb of Yue Fei a national hero, while Dongqian Lake has King Yue’s Temple, built in 1234 in memory of Yue Fei. Also like West Lake, Dongqian has a central dike linking the centre of the lake to the mainland, although at 1.8 kilometres, Dongqian’s is much longer. The lake is about a 30 minute bus trip from Ningbo. Regular ferry boats take you to the central dike where you can walk out or catch an electric cart. The walk, however, is very pleasant and picturesque.
About 10 kilometres from Ningbo, Chicheng is an historic town currently being restored and protected by the Ningbo municipal government as part of its city development plan. One end of the town has a large, interesting and somewhat humorous look at life of scholars preparing for and sitting government examinations. If you like old Chinese dwellings or are interested in Chinese history, then Chicheng is worth a visit. Regular buses leave from South Bus Station.