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Ningbo Travel Guide: What all to See and Do when Going Solo ?

Travelling solo to Ningbo will be one of the best wanderlust decisions you’ve taken in a while. Ningbo happens to be east China’s thriving seaport city. It is a culturally beautiful and historic site for travelers. Also, it is a food haven for individuals who like to munch their heart out.

Travelling solo to Ningbo was the most adventurous idea I’d ever gotten. I asked myself if I really wanted to do it, for travelling solo to Ningbo – a city as small and unpopular comes with its own set of risks and challenges. What made it worse was my being vegetarian. However, I decided to take the leap, and it was certainly one of the best decisions I had ever made.

So this is how it all started: I frantically tried to explain to strangers at the Shanghai airport, the situation at hand – my flight was delayed, I had a train to board from Shanghai to Ningbo. My phone wouldn’t connect to the airport’s Wi-Fi, I had no track of where the friend I was supposed to meet was, and I was oblivious of the fact that Google doesn’t work in China – meaning, the only translator I had was abstruse. Yet, I managed to have a fun trip and could explore the city well.

In my current blog elaborating my travelling solo to Ningbo experience, I will provide the details of my trip which will greatly assist all future travelers to the region.

Travelling Solo to Ningbo

Ningbo is an ancient harbour city which finds itself about 200 kilometers from Shanghai. It wouldn’t be uncommon for people to never even have heard about this very city – that’s what made it all the more beautiful to me. While Shanghai is almost always “happening” and eventful and all that jazz, Ningbo is a beautiful blend of calm, serene & low-key – my kind of “happening.”

While the idea of travelling solo to Ningbo might not be as popularized, I will give you a million reasons as to why you should do it, if you ever happen to visit the enchanting country of China.

Here’s a brief overview of my trip – one that will offer more insights into travelling solo to Ningbo.

travelling solo to ningbo

Exploring the various cities of a country like China has been one of my best life decisions. This is me – Tarang Mohnot

Travelling Solo to Ningbo: An Overview

Location China’s eastern coastline, in Zhejiang Province
Accessibility Throughout the year
Best time to visit April-June
Public Transport Buses, Subway, Bicycles
Currency Chinese Yuan
Must-Go/Must-Do Karaoke
Must Carry/Must Have An app that will help you translate
Must Remember Google doesn’t work in China
Safety Level for Backpackers Very high
Travel Tip Consider flying to Shanghai and then taking the train while travelling solo to Ningbo. This will certainly save you couple of bucks.



Travelling Solo to Ningbo: What to Do and What to See?

Now that you have a rough overview of the city of Ningbo, let’s move to the vast possibilities of sightseeing while travelling solo to Ningbo.

Although infamous, you will be surprised to read about the endless travel attractions in Ningbo, which bring people from far and wide to visit this beautiful city.

From the pristine Moon Lake to the ever-hustling Bund,  from the tranquil Dongqian Lake to the rustic Tian Yi Library, to the artistic Ningbo Museum, Ningbo has something for everyone.

Moon Lake

Looking for a momentary escape from the hustle and bustle of the city ? Looking for a few hours spent doing nothing? Looking for nothing but sheer serenity and calm? There’s no place in Ningbo that would do it better than the Moon Lake. Back when I was looking at the map of Ningbo, it took me less than a minute to spot this crescent-shaped lake right in the heart of the city.

Stroll around, read a book, play some music, rent a boat, or simply be. The Moon Lake also boasts of some of the best restaurants in Ningbo, and it would be a sin not to visit at least one of them while travelling solo to Ningbo.

Da Bossi This restaurant offers lip-smacking Italian food that brags of authentic wine amidst classy interiors.
LangqiaoXinjing This venue is characterized with Chinese paintings and calligraphy – a gold mine for art lovers. You will be sure to find delicious western and Asian food.
Haosheng Western Restaurant If you find yourself craving lush greenery, this restaurant would be the go-to while travelling solo to Ningbo. Forget not to try the seafood and desserts here.

The Old Bund

If you wish to be transported to Europe while travelling solo to Ningbo, make your way to the Old Bund located in the downtown area of Ningbo. The Bund can be defined as the most beautiful blend of ancient and modern.

The streets here are so aesthetic, that all you’ll want to do is walk, walk and walk. Carry a camera, photograph the mesmerizing architecture, window-shop, bump into new people, or simply grab a drink.

A number of bars, cafes and restaurants line the Old Bund and you will be sure to not get bored.

Must see The Ningbo City Exhibition Hall, Ningbo Art Museum, Huaishu Leisure Street
Must carry Camera and your high spirits
Transport You could either book a cab, or board one of the many buses that go to the Old Bund Station.

 

travelling solo to ningbo

Ningbo makes for a lovely sightseeing place. Photography by Tarang Mohnot

Dongqian Lake

The most concrete memory I have from my two months of travelling solo to Ningbo is cycling around the beautiful Dongqian Lake. Pitched against picturesque mountains, this lake is the largest freshwater lake in the Zhejiang province.

In addition to being home to cultural heritages, the Dongqian Lake has ever since served as a recreational spot to travellers from far and wide. Trust me when I say this, don’t even give it a second thought. Just go. The beauty at Dongqian awaits you.

You simply cannot miss out on the following places when you make it to Dongqian while travelling solo to Ningbo –

The Hanling Street A thousand-year-old village, this street will take you back to life in China a few generations ago.
Little Putuo With no vehicles allowed in the area, Little Putuo is as peaceful as it can get. Xiayu Temple in the very centre of the lake island is a must visit.

 

travelling solo to Ningbo

The serene Dongqian Lake makes for a great recreational spot. Photography by Stefano

Tian Yi Library

In today’s mechanical and ever modernizing world, kindles have replaced books. The value of libraries is ever-dwindling. However, take some time out, and pay a visit to the Tian Yi Library while travelling solo to Ningbo, no matter how old-fashioned & outdated that sounds.

I remember doing so on a rainy day; it was freezing outside, and while we only went to the library for shelter at first, we ended up falling absolutely in love with it. This library is not only China’s but also Asia’s oldest library.

We cozied up amongst the ageing books, and it was certainly the best way to spend a rainy day in Ningbo.

How to reach ? You could take a bus (number 371, 512) and get off at Tianyige Station
Entry Fee CNY 30 for adults, CNY 15 for kids



Ningbo Museum

The Ningbo Museum not only houses spectacular pieces of art but is a piece of art in itself. I couldn’t stop admiring the architecture – an enormous mountain of structural concrete. It almost felt like the building would collapse any moment. Almost felt like this very museum should be tagged as the eighth wonder of the world.

The building not only resembles a mountain, but also a boat – the former characterizing Ningbo’s landform & the latter signifying the importance of maritime trade in Ningbo’s history. I frantically tried to capture the beauty of it all on my camera, but all in vain. Guess it was too beautiful to be captured.

So, even if art and history is something that doesn’t interest you, this Museum must be visited while travelling solo to Ningbo.

How to reach ? Several buses will take you to Ningbo Museum; get off at the Ningbo Bund Bus Station.
Entry Fee Free

 

Travelling solo to Ningbo

There is so much to see in Ningbo. This is a picture of Tian Yi Museum. Photography by Emre Unal

Travelling solo to Ningbo: What to See Around Ningbo ?

If you’re planning on travelling solo to Ningbo, make sure you have enough days in hand, for a number of gems mark the vicinity of Ningbo – gems that do not deserve to be neglected.

 Zhoushan Islands

Regarded as the “Buddhist paradise on the sea”, Zhoushan Islands are said to be the largest set of islands along the coastline of China. A narrow road with vibrant greens on eithersides, coupled with the bright blue waters is what makes Zhoushan Islands a must visit while travelling solo to Ningbo.

These islands, however, are steep and rugged in parts and the highest peak of these islands rockets as high as 1,640 feet – it’s absolutely incredible. If you do decide to visit these islands while travelling solo to Ningbo, do not miss out on:

Zhujiajian It boasts of beautiful beaches and is popular for its clear sand and rocks – making it perfect for sand sculpting.
Dinghai If you crave history and culture, the historical and cultural town of Dinghai will be sure to please you and send you back with a smile.
Taohua Home to the highest peak and the deepest port of all islands, your trip to Zhoushan would be incomplete without visiting Taohua.

If you’re concerned about the accessibility of Zhoushan Islands, fret not. The following modes of transport are available –

By Air Buses run from the Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport to Dinghai.
By Bus Several shuttle buses run from Ningbo to the bus stations in the main island on a daily basis.
By Water Ships and ferries are obviously the most common means of transport in the area. Visitors can also board ships to the cities of Ningbo and Shanghai.

Tengtou Village

Would you believe the existence of an environment sensitive, eco-tourism attraction on the outskirts of the concrete, modern Ningbo? Well, you must.

Tengtou Village is a major step towards showing just a little care for our ever-deteriorating environment. With locals engaged in promoting agricultural production, the woods perpetually echo of chirping birds and rustling winds.

In case you’re looking to have a day spent close to nature while travelling solo to Ningbo, hesitate not to make your way to Tengtou Village. Additionally, you might even get the opportunity to pick flowers and fruits in one of the many orchards that mark Tengtou.

If you’re wanting to live the primitive life while travelling solo to Ningbo just for a day, you could engage in grinding grains and forking fish – an experience I will forget never.

How to reach ? A bus can be boarded at the Ningbo South Bus station, one that’ll pass through the Tengtou Village.
Best time to visit March-October

Five Dragon Pool

Just about 35 kilometres from the centre of Ningbo, lies a magical land where one can relish creeks, waterfalls and rocks while hiking their way around five natural pond formations.

I remember visiting the five dragon pool while travelling solo to Ningbo, and staring at the clear blue waters with utter bewilderment. So clear that you can even consider drinking some of it. Spend a day here, and I can assure you the pure feeling of bliss and tranquillity.

The five dragon pool is ideal for those who like wearing their trekking shoes every once in a while.

How to reach ? There are buses that will take you to Wulongtan Bus Station, in close proximity to the five dragon pool.
Entry fee 50 RMB

Ancient and Rustic Water Towns

Travelling solo to Ningbo and not visiting one of the many quaint water towns, is like going to Paris and not visiting the Eiffel Tower. If the idea of getting around by hand-controlled-boats while the captain hums you a Chinese folk song fascinates you, make your way to one of these water towns.

It’s almost like while most of China has urbanised at an ever-increasing rate, these water towns have remained secluded – secluded for good.

Tip: Do not forget your camera in case you’re wanting to flaunt a little when you head back home.

 

Water Towns you could choose to visit Nanxun, Xitang, Luzhi
Keep an eye out for Kids playing cards, locals sipping on some traditional Chinese tea, local eateries serving authentic food.

 

travelling solo to ningbo

All the water towns in Ningbo are fascinating. Photography by Tarang Mohnot

Travelling Solo to Ningbo: Where to Shop ?

No matter which part of the world I travel to, shopping is almost mandatory. After all, what’s a trip without taking back a part of the place you visited with you? Ningbo is home to all sorts of markets – clothing, shoes, antiques, accessories, food, souvenirs.

Exploring Ningbo’s markets is not only fun, but also rewarding, provided you know the right places to go to!

Chenguang Temple Market

Although a statue of the town god marks the entrance, Chenguang Temple Market is about shopping all the way. The Gods of this market are certainly the shopkeepers who maintain their calm amidst the tumultuous chaos created by hordes of young women on Sundays.

Home to cheap clothes and accessories, it is hard to not get lost in the four floor high topsy-turvy market. Visit the Chenguang Market while travelling solo to Ningbo if you’re someone who likes to keep it cheap.

Exploring Ningbo’s markets is not only fun, but also rewarding, provided you know the right places to go to.

Tip: Don’t not haggle with the shopkeepers; they will certainly pitch higher prices if you’re not a local.

 

Things you can buy Clothing, handbags, accessories, traditional Chinese outfits, lingerie, etc.
Timings 8:30-20:30 on all days of the week

Tian Yi Square

One of the liveliest vicinities of Ningbo, the Tian Yi Square is divided into 10 broad sections – souvenirs, electronics, supermarkets, restaurants, entertainment, food, etc. Basically, there’s nothing you won’t find out here.

Visiting Tian Yi in the night will be sure to lift your spirits up – a musical fountain in the very centre of the square, cafes and bars fluttering with crowds from all over the world, and the most vibrant lights.

Tian Yi was a place I’d visit every single time I had absolutely no plans while travelling solo to Ningbo. The jolting energy of the place never failed to entertain me.

Location Zhongshan Road, Haishu District, Ningbo
How to reach ? Due to being a popular area, several buses connect various parts of Ningbo with Tian Yi.

 

Travelling solo to Ningbo

The hustling Tian Yi Square. Photography by Gyanee Sharma

Ningbo Fanzhai Antique Market

A traditional Chinese style building that houses just about every type of ancient coin and bill, the Ningbo Fanzhai Antique Market is no less than a museum. A museum you can shop at !

A collection of small vendors selling antiques from far & wide, this market is not for everybody. It particularly caters to those with immense love for art, history & antiquities. While travelling solo to Ningbo, I headed to this market on a Saturday evening. I remember being swamped on stumbling upon ingots – what China used as currency a zillion years ago.

Location Zhongshan Road, Haishu District
Point to remember This market shuts as early as 17:00 in the evening.

Travelling solo to Ningbo – What to Eat and Where ?

Travelling solo to Ningbo

Me with my pals enjoying a decent Chinese meal. Photography by Tarang Mohnot

Ganesha Indian Restaurant

While Chinese food is delicious, I found my taste buds craving some Indian flavours starting my third week while travelling solo to Ningbo. Chinese cuisine offers food that is often raw and characterized by less spices – the exact opposite of Indian food.

To my relief, I ran into Ganesha Restaurant. Everything about this place was Indian – its name, its seating, its staff, its vessels, its décor and of course, its food.

The curry was flavoursome and the naan, fluffy. The cherry on the cake was spicy masala papad and to end it all with, mouth-watering gulabjamuns.

I had a ball of a time teaching my Chinese friends how to eat with their hands, & reading elaborate descriptions of each and every dish in the menu.

Location Zhenming Road, Haishu District
What to eat ? While Ganesha Restaurant offers a wide variety of cuisines, it would be a sin to eat anything but Indian food out here.

 

Travelling solo to Ningbo

What’s more fascianting than for an Indian to savour Indian cuisine in China. Photography by Adrega

Grandma’s Kitchen

There’s a high possibility of you being on a tight budget while travelling solo to Ningbo. One does not however, need a heavy pocket to be able to savour delicious food.

Head to Grandma’s Kitchen If you’re looking to feast on some authentic Chinese food. Did I mention generous portions? Did I also mention cheap ?

Location Zhongshan Road, Haishu District
Points to remember This restaurant attracts big crowds; make sure you visit during non-peak hours to visit long queues.

Additionally, consider going in a group keeping in mind the huge portions.

 

Travelling solo to Ningbo

Grandma’s Kitchen serves yummy food that is super affordable. Photography by Rchung

ZaoZiShu Vegetarian Restaurant

As the name suggests, this restaurant offers an extensive menu that caters to vegetarians like me. While travelling solo to Ningbo, I found myself frustrated with having have to desperately look for vegetarian food every single day. If you’re someone who relates with me, hesitate not and visit ZaoZiShu.

Tip: Although termed vegetarian, some dishes might still consist of fish sauce as the base or dried shrimps as toppings. Clear the same out if it’s an issue for you.

 

Location Liuting Street, Haishu District
Specialty Chinese food that’s vegetarian

 

Travelling solo to Ningbo

At the ZaoZiShu Vegetarian Restaurant, make sure that you’re being served vegetarian only. Photography by Rita. E

O’Reilly’s Pub

While travelling solo to Ningbo, I felt the desperate need to meet new people and befriend some of them. What’s regular at O’Reilly’s is a great beer, happy hours, finger food, pleasing aesthetics, and plenty of people willing to socialize with you. O’Reilly’s bright red doors and classy bricked entrance is what makes it inviting right on the outside.

Location Caihong North Road
Speciality Pool tables and dart boards to help you make some friends

 

Travelling solo to Ningbo

Enjoy beer, drinks and good food at O’Reilly’s Pub. Photography by Alexas

Nantang Old Street

Taking a walk on Nantang Street will make you envisage what the city of Ningbo looked like a hundred years ago. Lined with traditional buildings with wooden doors and tiled roofs, this street is pretty short. However, it is certainly the best place to go if you wish to sample authentic cuisine while travelling solo to Ningbo.

Various reputed stores on this street are frequented by locals over the weekends. With a million aromas and smells intertwined, Nantang Old Street will leave you spoilt for choice.

Location South Gate of Ningbo Ancient Town
Must Try The popular traditional snack at the Youzanzi shop

Freshly made pastries at the Zhaodayou shop

Rice cakes, dumplings, wantons, beef noodles

 

travelling solo to ningbo

Try the traditional snacks at Nantang Old Street. Photography by Cegoh

XiangYangYuGang

Although I personally do not consume non-vegetarian food, I have been repeatedly told about how lip-smacking the Chinese cuisine and  seafood in this restaurant is. Parked at the end of a lakeside promenade, XiangYangYuGang offers the perfect ambiance to savour a perfect dinner.

 Travelling solo to Ningbo: Essentials

Now that you have an idea of how exciting travelling solo to Ningbo can be, let me equip you with some basic information that will help make your travel smoother than ever.

 Getting to Ningbo

By Air – The Ningbo Lishe International Airport finds itself at around 30 kilometres away from Ningbo downtown area. The airport also runs a shuttle bus that connects the airport and the Ningbo city centre. Tickets are priced at 10 CNY.

By Train – Ningbo Railway Station is way closer to the city centre – about 3 kilometre away from Tian Yi Square. It runs a number of trains to cities around Ningbo, and the tickets are reasonably priced. I remember taking a train to Shanghai and the journey was as comfortable as it could get.

 Getting Around in Ningbo

What makes travelling solo to Ningbo convenient and economical is the endless number of transport options.

Ningbo is well-connected by bus, and has an elaborate network of about 260 bus lines. Most of the tickets are inexpensive – approximately 1-2 CNY.

The frequency for a majority of them is pretty decent with buses running at intervals of 4-20 minutes.

Tip: Keep in mind that the earliest leaving time of these buses in the morning is 5:00-7:00 while the latest is 17:00-23:00. It would be advisable to check the timings of the particular bus you’re planning to take beforehand – something I did not keep in mind.

 

travelling solo to ninbo

Ningbo as a city is well-connected by bus, and has an elaborate network of about 260 bus linesPhotography by Tarang Mohnot

Parts of Ningbo are also linked with the all new Subway, with currently 2 lines in service. Once again, tickets are reasonably priced at around 2-6 CNY. Soon, there are going to be 8 subway lines operating in Ningbo. Keep an eye out for the same.

Tip: You could download the app “Ningbo Metro” for easy navigation.

Getting a local cab is no big deal while travelling solo to Ningbo. As many as 4,000 taxis or more serve the city on a daily basis. The starting price generally is 11 CNY for the first 3 kilometres, followed by an additional 2.4 CNY for every additional kilometre. Uber also operates in Ningbo, and in case you’re sceptical about being charged too much, you could opt for these services instead.

Tip: Keep in mind that you’re going to have to communicate where to go to the driver who’ll most certainly know no or very little English. Have a translator/dictionary handy.

In case you’re someone who likes to go eco-friendly, Ningbo also has dedicated cycling lanes and a public bicycle mechanism to offer.

Tip: In case you’re spending a decent amount of time travelling solo to Ningbo, getting a card made for availing the public bicycle services would make a lot of sense.

 

travelling solo to Ningbo

Biking around Ningbo can be a really good option. Photography by Tarang Mohnot

Weather

Overall, Ningbo boasts warm and humid weather owing to the subtropical monsoon climate. The annual mean temperature is as low as 16.2 degrees Celsius. Be sure to carry at least one jacket even if you’re visiting during summers.

Tip: Although highest in the months of June and September, it would be great to be prepared for the rains throughout the year in the light of its unpredictable nature.

Electricity

A portable plug adaptor/a transformer will definitely be needed while travelling solo to Ningbo. In China, the power voltage most commonly used is 220V, 50HZ.

Pharmacies and Supermarkets

While travelling solo to Ningbo, you will face absolutely no issues getting access to medicines. There are pharmacies and chemists well distributed all across the city.

Same goes for groceries – supermarkets like Carrefour and Vanguard are well-equipped with international products. If you’re not as willing to step out of your comfort zone, the famous Wanda Plaza in Ningbo also houses a Walmart.


Travelling Solo to Ningbo: Top Travel Tips

Now that you’re aware of all the nitty-gritties to be kept in mind while travelling solo to Ningbo, here are a few handy trips that will make your trip even smoother:

In order to ensure easier and better communication while travelling solo to Ningbo, you could download the app “Pleco” on your smartphones – best for those travelling to China with zero or little knowledge of Mandarin.
While having dinner with the locals, always keep yourself last. Serve yourself last. Let the hosts start eating before you do.
Finding toilet paper in washrooms is rare in China. Stock up.
Although there are a number of stereotypes associated with the rudeness and safety of China, there’s nothing to worry about. China is one of the safest countries in the world for solo and women travellers even.
If you need help with directions or anything else of the sort, look for a high school student. People under the age of 25 will be way more likely to know at least basic English.
It is possible that a number of restaurants/homes might not have any spoons at all. If you do not know how to use a pair of chopsticks, make sure you’re open about the learning the art.
The app “Waygo” is a virtual translator that can scan foreign text and automatically translate it to English – a blessing when using public transport or ordering food in a restaurant while travelling solo to Ningbo.

 

travelling solo to ningbo

Plan a trip to Ningbo soon and explore the essence of the beautiful land of China. Photography by Tarang Mohnot

While the concept of travelling solo has been the in-thing lately, travelling solo to Ningbo certainly hasn’t. Mention China and the Chinese, and what comes to head are the endless number of stereotypes associated with their behaviour, culture & lifestyle. 

However, things are changing with changing times. China is no longer all about hordes of people desperately clicking selfies on the latest models of iPhones. It is no longer about shrewdness, rudeness & unpleasant behaviours. The truth is, a lot many things in China are waiting to be explored.

And if you don’t set out to explore it soon, somebody else will.

Happy wayfaring.

About the Author

Tarang Mohnot

Tarang Mohnot

Tarang Mohnot is a student of Economics and Sociology at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai. Constantly trying to quench her thirst for travel, Tarang’s goal in life is to keep on getting her passport stamped over and over again. This implies that she wants to explore new destinations each year.

Resorting to a local inhabitant’s advice over Google searches, to physical maps over Google maps, to haversacks over suitcases, and to exploration over planning, Tarang hopes to visit places no one has ever been and to share her travel experiences with thousands all over the world – something her CV won’t ever tell.

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