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Ningbo places to see and things to do

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Hi! My family ( kids 15, 13, 10) and my Mother will be spending 3-4 weeks in Ningbo while my husband teaches. Looking for things to do, advice on how to get around, and places to eat. Thank you in advance.

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    Not a great deal to do in Ningbo itself, which has been massively transformed from a backwater treaty port with some pleasant ancient architecture to a trivially modernised city largely indistinguishable from any other in China, apart from its seaside loction.

    There's an excellent museum (I particularly liked the exhibition on the history of mahjong), and a temple or two. The old foreign quarter, now reimagined as bars and restaurants, may still be worth a wander.

    But with that amount of time you're going to be looking well beyond Ningbo itself.

    Get yourself a reputable guidebook and look up Shaoxing, which is a short bus or train journey away. That has rather more in the way of ancient Chinese architecture, and the sites connected with 20th-century writer Lu Xun and with China's greatest ever calligrapher, Wang Xizhi are particularly interesting, as is the 'bridge in the shape of the character for "eight"'. The surrounding countryside has some interesting sights, particularly one ancient very early tomb, and the 'water town' of Anchang, worth half a day itself and not visited by many foreigners.

    Of course, a little further west there's the highly overrated Hangzhou, still surviving on an historic reputation which it no longer much resembles. And a very long bridge makes Shanghai fairly easily accessible by bus.

    The Buddhist island of Putuoshan is a hugely popular tourist destination, but worth a view, and reachable by assorted ferries from Ningbo.

    As for the city itself, get around by taxi, and eat wherever looks appealing. With three to four weeks available you'll quickly exhaust the odd recommendation you might get here. In Shaoxing there's the chance to try local specialities 'stinky' doufu and yellow wine. Read some Lu Xun (widely available in translation, most recently by Julia Lovell) and especially his famous short story Kong Yiji before your visit.

    But all your questions can be answered in more detail by a reputable guidebook.

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