Long Layover: One Day in Nanning, China

Long Layover:

One day in Nanning, China

By Chinese standards, Nanning is a tiny city. With just 2 million people, it is barely the size of a neighborhood in one of China’s Pearl River cities. Even so, it is the Capital and the largest and most populous city of Guangxi Province.

Nanning Museum of Nationalities
the Museum of Nationalities which will give you some insight into the minorities of Guangxi province,

My Friends and I, like many travelers, stopped in Nanning on our way from Hanoi to Hong Kong on the tail end of a trip that began in Ho Chi Minh City. When we arrived, it was drizzling and gray. Water pooled in puddles on the sidewalk that conspired to wet our feet through our shoes and turn the cuffs of our pants the grey color of city mud. In spite of the rain we set out to see the town but got so caught up playing with the exhibits and machines at the Museum of Science and technology that before we knew it the afternoon was gone. While that was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon after a long ride on a  train, there is much more to see and do in Nanning than to play in their fun, but poorly maintained science center.

Best of Nanning in One Day

Nanning, China
Museum of Nationalities’ outdoor exhibition

If you find yourself in Nanning during clear weather, take advantage of it by exploring some of Nanning’s parks. You can catch bus 10 on Minzu Avenue out to it’s terminus at Qingxiu Mountain (bus 33 also runs along Minzu Avenue out to Qingxiu). You’ll want to spend an hour or more enjoying  the park and the views it offers of this small city before heading back into town. If you aren’t tired of parks yet, you can get off  the bus at Nanhu Park to people-watch along the rectangular lake.

Continue towards the center stopping along Minzu Avenue to visit the Museum of Nationalities which will give you some insight into the minorities of Guangxi province, and if you still have more museum in you, stop at the somewhat-run-down-but-still-fun Museum of Science and Technology.


Nanning Museum of Science and Technology
The Museum of Science and technology is a colorful kid-friendly, hands-on kind of museum where children can test the laws of physics. It is a shame that not all of the exhibits work.


When the sun sets – walk over to the night food market on Gonghe Road across from the Walmart and try some of China’s finest street food. Then head back across Minzu Avenue to the pedestrian shopping area where you might find a deal on seasonal clothing. Don’t worry too much about time here: this whole area is still buzzing well past 9pm.

Nanning Gonghe food market
The food street on Gonghe road sells every kind of Chinese snack.

Longer Layover

If you find you have several days in Nanning while you wait for your visa to Vietnam, you might want to travel a bit further afield.

Yangmei Ancient Town is about 40km west of the center. When compared with other ancient cities, Yangmei is far from impressive. It does hold some interest for anyone looking to see something a bit older and more traditional in what is, otherwise a shiny, new city.

Hot Springs: The Jiuquwan Hot Springs Resort is about 13 km northeast of Nanning. Buses 20 and 803 serve the Jiuquwan Hot Springs Resort.

If swimming and hot springs are your thing, you might also like the Lingshui Springs. A bit further from town (50km), the Lingshui pool is really more of a “warm springs” (the temperature is a constant 24 degrees Celsius) but the pool is clear and makes for good swimming.

Detian Waterfalls: just run a quick search on images and you’ll see why.  It takes around 3 hours to get out there from Nanning so plan a whole day, or even two for that trip.

Nanning, China
Nanning is a small city by Chinese standards and it has a quiet, laid-back vibe to it.

Some Useful Links

Travel in China Guide has good descriptions of all these attractions as well as excellent transportation tips in the comment section.

Travel in China Guide also has a great guide to transportation to and from the various sights around Nanning.

China Highlights has a short guide to shopping in Nanning that includes the major shopping malls as well as the small night markets.

Detian Waterfall Area

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