Did you know that Chinese port city Ningbo is the hometown of Tu Youyou, the first Chinese woman to be awarded a Nobel prize?
Tu was honoured in 2015 for her discovery of artemisinin, a drug that helped save millions of malaria sufferers around the world. Her momentous achievement transformed her former residence, virtually overnight, into a tourist sensation.
Part of a sprawling 37-building complex on 26 Kaiming Street (Haishu District), Tu’s home has since been earmarked as a historical site, but remains closed to the public. Nevertheless, a glimpse of the exterior—and the obligatory souvenir snap—is enough to satisfy most visitors, particularly Chinese parents seeking to regale their offspring with an inspirational tale starring an illustrious heroine.
Read on to discover more winning Ningbo tourist attractions that will help you delve into the 7,000-year-old city’s fascinating history and identity.
1. Ningbo Museum
Another modern-day triumph for Ningbo: the Ningbo Museum was designed by Wang Shu, who became the first Chinese citizen to clinch the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2012.
Take a moment to appreciate its unique design, which encapsulates Ningbo’s journey through the centuries. Each design element was conceived to pay tribute to the city’s geographical features, as well as the significance of maritime trade in its development.
Form aside, the museum’s content is similarly impressive—over 60,000 exhibits dating back to the Hemudu Neolithic Culture (5500–3300 BC) are on display. These include gold, silver, bronze, and ceramic wares; bamboo carvings; jade artefacts; calligraphic works; and paintings.
2. Tianyi Square
Familiar brands such as Apple (which opened its Tianyi Square store in September this year) line the main streets. Venture out from the square and you will soon be rewarded by the sight of clothing markets, rumoured to be some of the best in the city.
For luxury goods shopping, turn your attention to Heyi Avenue instead, home to high-end retailers such as Tiffany & Co and Gucci.
3. Laowaitan (Old Bund)
For a taste of the nightlife in Ningbo, spend an evening in Laowaitan (Zhongma Road, Waima Road), which is populated by bars and restaurants that spring to life at dusk.
By day, Laowaitan recedes into a slumber, offering a tranquil setting for architecture, wedding, and portrait photography.
A highlight is the gothic-style Jiangbei Catholic Church, which was built in 1872, making it one of China’s oldest cathedrals. It was partially destroyed by a fire in 2014 and reconstruction works are underway, but visitors can try seeking permission from the watchman on duty to view enclosed areas.
Travellers in China have bemoaned the fact that many of its “ancient” or “traditional” towns have undergone extensive reconstruction, sacrificing authenticity in the process. Cicheng, a rural town located about 10km away from Ningbo’s city centre, appears to be the exception, as some of its historical relics have been left undisturbed.
Visitors to Cicheng can also soak in the scenery—the town is bounded by mountains and offers an idyllic view of the Yaojiang and Cijiang rivers. During your visit, take the opportunity to support Cicheng’s local artisans, who showcase and occasionally teach visitors the skills of embroidery, pottery, and kite making.
To reach Cicheng by bus, take bus 331 from Dong Men Kou at the city centre, near Tianyi Square.
5. Xuedou Temple
Many Ningbo travellers plan a day trip to the town of Xikou, which is almost an hour’s drive away. Once there, prepare to be awed by the 1,700-year-old Xuedou Temple—a flight of over 300 steps will bring you before an imposing 57-metre statue of the Maitreya Bodhisattva, or the “Laughing Buddha,” as he is affectionately known. The largest of the Maitreya statues around the world, the Buddhist icon is believed to bestow harmony and prosperity on those who seek him.
Travellers recommend lunching at the vegetarian restaurant in the vicinity of the temple, and dedicating time for hiking at the Xuedou Mountain (view a suggested itinerary here). Contact the Xikou Tourism Centre for more assistance and information on these scenic spots.
BONUS: 5 Popular Places to Eat and Drink
From Pan Pacific Ningbo
Enjoy your trip to Ningbo by staying at the well-appointed Pan Pacific Ningbo Serviced Suites, designed for the corporate traveller in mind. Alternatively, you may speak to our team at Pan Pacific Ningbo to discuss your accommodation and sightseeing needs.
Well acquainted with the region, our friendly bilingual staff can offer advice on more things to do and tourist attractions in Ningbo. Here are five of their favourite places to wine and dine:
1. Evolution Cocktail Bar
This is located at No. 18 Tianjing Alley in Moon Lake Sheng Yuan—an antique building in the Ningbo city centre, near Tianyi Square.
2. Muggle’s Bar (麻瓜酒吧)
Believe it or not, there are Harry Potter fans in this Chinese city. Be enchanted by their brews at No. 1043 Ning Nan Bei Lu (宁南北路1043号).
5. Zou Ma Lou Restaurant (走马楼饭庄)
A restaurant for Ningboese and Cicheng cuisines at No. 117 Min Quan Lu (民权路117号) in Cicheng.
Before you arrive, do read our guide to the mobile apps that you should download for a smoother trip in China.