Collected by Rose Symotiuk, AFAR Local Expert
I spent a wonderful weekend in Ningbo, an ancient city just two hours from Shanghai. It's famous for its seafood and for being one of the oldest cities in China. What I didn't expect was the serious coffee culture, the street musicians, and the friendly welcome from its residents.
Qianfeng Alley, Yinzhou Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Excellent coffee, a large wine selection, and a functional furniture shop (with walls lined with ceramic animal heads) surely make an interesting mix. The coffee is serious business, too: The employees themselves regularly conduct coffee tastings....
183 Baizhang Rd, CaiHong GuangChang, Jiangdong Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Stepping past the heavy doors into the thick, stone-walled courtyard of Qita Temple, it's hard not to notice the hustle and bustle of Ningbo's city life melting away. The feeling continues when monks scurry by, immersed in their own world. Like...
60 Yanyue St, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Built entirely from wood, this seafood eatery resembles something out of ancient China. Underneath the hum of happy diners, the building creaks and thumps like a living creature. The counter of the open kitchen is a rich display of fresh seafood...
48 Fuqiao St, GuLou, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
What a perfect start to the day: Drum Tower Traveler's Coffee. The selection is serious and the desserts delicious. There are a lot of tasty banana items here, too: particularly a banana-espresso-ice cream dessert. Be sure to visit the second...
Tianyi Square, Haishu, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, 315000
You can't miss Tainyi Square in Ningbo, and the huge space is great for an evening stroll. There are always multiple happenings here, too: a clown entertaining kids, laser facial demonstrations, concerts, food stands, and more. In the summer, the...
Zhongma Rd, Jiangbei Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
This lovely, riverside chapel lights up like a beacon. Originally built in the 1600's, it was later reconstructed, and still has a daily mass. Revelers tend to mill about the entrance, yet inside, it's serene and inviting for those looking to...
Laowaitan, Jiangbei, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, 315000
Ningbo's Old Bund was the place where historic British and Dutch traders lived and you can still see remaining architecture. The swooped lines of Chinese-style buildings are replaced by old stone buildings with familiar details. Also known as...
50 Rixin St, TianYi GuangChang, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Chinese malls often have little, independent tea shops and stands. This one is in Tesco. Aside from regular tea, there's a large selection of fruit teas, and even bulk lavender. A quick guide to some of the tea names: 绿茶 lǜ chá green tea 乌龙茶 wū...
China, Zhejiang Sheng, Ningbo Shi, Haishu Qu, 车桥街69号 邮政编码: 315000
Every night around 10 p.m., seemingly half of Ningbo floods this tiny shop, fighting over the last loaf of bread. If you can fight your way in, the sponge cakes filled with cream are a tasty delight. The small bread with currants is also...
Zhongshan W Rd, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
This weathered tower standing in front of a school is actually one of the only Tang Dynasty pagodas in existence. Even though it was rebuilt a few times, historians have identified original stonework within the tower's walls, from 851.
Drum Tower, Haishu, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, 315000
The Drum Tower, though rebuilt many times, originally stood in the center of ancient Ningbo, 1100 years ago. You can climb to the top and look out over the city, imagining it as it might have been back then. Be sure to admire the base. A small...
183 Baizhang Rd, CaiHong GuangChang, Jiangdong Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
After wandering around Qita Temple, be sure to visit the many temple supply shops outside the gates. You'll find everything one needs to build a Buddhist shrine: Gold buddhas, candles, red dishes, offerings, and more. Some stores sell the same...
54 Hutong St, GuLou, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
It's still rare to find a small shop selling its own line of products in China. That's why Bopu is such a pleasant surprise. The owner, who speaks English, sells cute treats like animal mittens (we spotted sleeping penguins), cell-phone cases...
Zhuangzhongshan Rd, Yuyao Shi, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China
The Chinese believe ghosts haunt people, not buildings. They also believe ghosts can't follow a person around a corner. For these reasons, you'll find complex bridges all over China, though Ningbo seems to have more than usual. Perhaps because it...
China, Zhejiang, Ningbo Shi, Haishu Qu, Zhongshan W Rd, 中山西路85弄1号 邮政编码: 315000
In China, shops that sell old money are a dime a dozen—pun intended. Yet, this one is special: Almost like a museum, here, you'll likely find just about every type of old coin and bill—even ingots, which China used as currency a gazillion years...
51 Yangshan Rd, Jiangbei Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315020
When it comes to street food, this place makes you feel like a kid in a candy shop. You'll find dozens of options—all on a stick—save for big ears of grilled corn. You could get exotic with octopus, or stick with simple veggies. If you're asked...
Zhongshan W Rd, GuLou, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Yongfengku was one of the most important archeological finds in the past decade. While it may not be much to look at, it's a reminder of Ningbo's age, and the important eras of Chinese history the city has seen. Be sure to climb Drum Tower, and...
56 Jicao St, Jiangdong Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Classy decor and delicious desserts fill this coffee shop, along with warm, inviting energy. The owner speaks perfect English, and will advise you on what to taste—whether it's fruity tea or something milky, served in a fun mug. P.U.F. is not far...
128 Yaohang St, TianYi GuangChang, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
If you need a landmark, look no further. You'll find this church soaring above the Ningbo skyline, always letting you know where you are. It's at the far edge of Tianyi Square, so after some hectic shopping and running around, the church provides...
14 Dahe Alley, Jiangdong Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
LBB Beer House is the oldest expat bar in Ningbo. It's been open for fifteen years, though it had to close for a while due to noise complaints from the neighbors. The space has been renovated it, making it seem cavernous, in a cozy way. Inside...
Ningbo Laowaitan, LaoWaiTan, Jiangbei Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
The word on the street is that The Office is THE bar in Laowaitan. Think jumping, pulsing energy. The crowd is mostly Chinese, with lots of cool kids out on a Saturday night. There's a small stage, too, for live music.
Ri Xing Lu, Cixi Shi, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China
Located right by the Westin Hotel, this coffee shop provides a nice alternative to the ubiquitous Starbucks. Perhaps what's best is the decor: "Trees" stand all over, and bookshelves brim with books and magazines. When you order your joe, the...
Qianhu N Rd, Yinzhou Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Grandma's house is a well-known Ningbo staple. It's located a bit outside the city, in INCity Mall. Lines can be long, but while you wait, dine on unlimited oranges and toss the peels into provided tin buckets. Once inside, you'll find it low-lit...
Yanyue St, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Renting a swan boat to paddle around Moon Lake is guaranteed to be a romantic adventure. In fact, there might be nothing better on a breezy fall afternoon. You will need to leave a deposit along with the payment, which depends on the boat. Later,...
China, Zhejiang, Ningbo Shi, Haishu Qu, Zhenming Rd, 宝奎巷11 邮政编码: 315000
The Jade Culture Museum resides in one of the many historic buildings surrounding Moon Lake. And, unlike a typical museum, you can actually buy what you see! Some of the jade pieces will set you back thousands of dollars, but there are more...
65 Hutong St, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Wet markets in China can be tough to view, but this one is clean, and the range of fresh food is stunning. Ningbo is famous for its seafood, and your mouth will water at all the fresh varieties—some of it still alive. In China, it's perfectly...
320 Zhenming Rd, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
This Lebanese restaurant delivers a welcome break from Chinese food. The smell draws you in, too: warm bread and roasted cumin. Get Lebanese bread dipped in creamy hummus and follow it with a kebob. This is one of the only places to offer Halal...
336 Zhenming Rd, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
Ganesha Indian is one of the city's top restaurants—illustrating Ningbo's international flair. British expats swear by its curry selection, and the naan is fluffy and warm. Bhangra music plays downstairs, while the upstairs area has couches that...
Gongyuan Rd, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
There's no shortage of live music in Ningbo. The bars in Laowaitan have a variety of live acts, but some of the best musicians play on the streets. Or in the park. This group of elderly musicians were having a Chinese music jam session in...
Zhenming Rd, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
We stumbled upon this exhibition center on accident. It was one of the old buildings on the northeast side of Dong Qian Lake. In China, if a door is open, you can often just stroll inside and no one will mind. No one stopped us, and we found this...
Gulou Pedestrian St, GuLou, Haishu Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
A line had formed at a little shop behind the Drum Tower. I knew it was food, I thought it might be some kind of local cookie. I asked two girls in front of me. They told me something in Mandarin, but I'd never heard the word before. The taller...
China, Zhejiang, Ningbo Shi, Jiangbei Qu, LaoWaiTan, Zhongma Rd, 83号-85 邮政编码: 315000
If you're craving some Western comfort food, here's your spot. Need a chili-cheese hot dog? Done. While the menu is huge, everything is delicious. Tasty sits in the middle of the Laowaitan drinking street, so the customers are lively. Head to the...
Ren Min Lu, Jiangbei Qu, Ningbo Shi, Zhejiang Sheng, China, 315000
You must stop at one of these Ningbo local snack stores to pick up gifts for your friends. The packaging is bright and fun, while the snacks may not be to everyone's taste. Ningbo is famous for seafood, so the snacks are different varieties of...
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