Changzhou (常州; Chángzhōu) is a city of 3.6 million people (2010) in Jiangsu.
Most travellers will breeze through Changzhou on their way to Suzhou or Nanjing but those with a bit of time can spend a pleasant day exploring the city's somewhat agrestic charms.
Settlement here stretches back to at least the Spring and Autumn period (770-426 BC) when Yancheng, a city surrounded by three concentric moats was established.
Changzhou has been visited by many people over the years including Song dynasty poet DongPo, Emperor QianLong, and the Japanese Army on their way to destroy Nanjing.
Changzhou has two railway stations that are adjacent to one another. The new station faces north and serves the high speed G-trains and some of the slightly slower D-trains that run between Shanghai and Nanjing. The older south facing station handles the long distance T and K trains and the odd D train. The two stations are connected by an underground walkway. You can also take a metro train between the two stations.
- 1 Changzhou North Station (常州北站), Changjiang North Road, Xinbei District (新北区长江北路).
- 2 Changzhou Station (常州站), 138 Guanhe East Road, Tianning District (天宁区关河东路138号).
The most frequent services are high-speed G and D-trains going to or from Shanghai or Nanjing. The journey from either end takes around 1.5 hours. Services include:
- From Nanjing – (¥80) Departing from the main station.
- From Shanghai – (G train: ¥80 second class; ¥128 business class. D train ¥51 second class; ¥61 business class.) Departing from the Shanghai central or the HongQiao station.
The slower and lower class T- and K- services from other provinces stop at Changzhou but tickets are only available for destinations outside of Jiangsu.
The new station has touchscreen ticket machines with English menus to buy tickets G and D train. A ticket to Shanghai on the G train costs ¥80 for second class and ¥125 for business class. The D train is ¥51 for second class and ¥61 for business class
Buying tickets for the long distance T or K services have to be bought from the ticket windows in the building on the far right of the entrance. There aren't any ticket machines but most clerks can speak at least simple English or will find someone who does. For services other than the high-speed trains, it's wise to book outbound tickets a few days in advance as they fill up quickly, especially during public holidays.
The northern bus station on Xinmen Lu (almost opposite the train station) has frequent services to Wuxi, Zhangjiagang, Suzhou (¥34, 2 hr), yixing ¥21 and Kunshan.
There are flights in and out of Changzhou to over 10 cities.
The cities main attractions are within a walkable radius of the train station, with the outlying spots on the main bus routes.
The Changzhou bus network fleet comprises speedy modern buses and a bunch lumbering rattlers. The BRT bus network, operating in lieu of a subway, features frequent services of large shiny buses that rapidly traverse mainly inner city routes stopping at enclosed BRT stations located in the centre of the main thoroughfares and at the curbside on smaller roads. All BRT bus numbers are prefixed with a B, followed by the route number. Service frequency is almost excessive, to the point where it's not uncommon to see two or three same numbered buses following each other caterpillar style with only a few passengers on each.
The services start and terminate near the train station. Fares for all buses are ¥1, regardless of distance.
- B11 - Runs down Heping Lu and past the main shopping district.
- 2 - Starts at bus terminus attached to the new northern train and long distance bus station and rattles down almost the entire length of Heping Lu and around the university town in the south.
- B1 - Stops in front of the YanCheng complex.
A double-decker tourist bus numbered Y1 can be seen about town but locals are somewhat secretive about its routes and timetable.
As of 2019, Changzhou has one metro line, with more under construction.
Metered taxis charge ¥9 for the first 4 km and then ¥2.9 for every additional kilometre.
- 1 Canal 5 (运河五号创意街区), 141 Sanbao Street, Wuxing Subdistrict, Zhonglou District (钟楼区五星街道三堡街141) (you can take a tour boat here from Dongpo Park. Alternatively, you can catch bus no. 258), ☏ +86 519 86855988. Former factories, now turned into Art Studios, Restaurants, Think tanks, Nightclubs, Museums & more. It's a great place to get away from the fast-paced lifestyle of China. Canal 5 offers a break from the noise & traffic, a beautiful location, perfect for taking cool pictures. Canal 5 has preserved the history of the buildings & allows you to explore what was once a textile mill with a blend of architectural salvage and restoration. Across the street from Canal 5, you can hop on a traditional boat & cruise the CZ river.
- 2 Changzhou Museum (常州博物馆), 1288 Longcheng Avenue, Xinbei District (新北区龙城大道1288号) (on the west side of Changzhou Civic Square 760 m from the Civic Square metro station on Line 1; bus routes 24, 213 and b12 stop just outside the museum), ☏ +86 519 85165089. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00, no entry after 16:00, closed on Mondays. Entry is free. English tour guides are available for ¥100.
- 3 Dongpo Park (东坡园 Dōngpō Yuan, 东坡公园 Dōngpō Gōngyuán), 9 Yanling Middle Road, Tianning District (天宁区延陵中路9号) (1.5 km east of the Tongji Bridge metro station; bus routes 7, 8, 17, 25, 220b, 303, 903, b12, b2 and d6), ☏ +86 519 88815005. 05:00-21:00. A diminutive but pretty park named after Song dynasty, poet, artist and gardener, Su Dong Po - who died in Changzhou. One side of the park runs against the Grand Canal and the others sides by smaller canals, giving the impression of being on an island. A second islet connected by a arching bridge has a large DongPo academy hall, fronted by a statue of the man himself, makes a good place to watch boats run on the Grand Canal. In the main garden is the remains of an imperial palace built for a visiting Emperor QianLong, though what remains can be seen indeed are very few, except for the foundations and a few fragments of carved stone. Free.
- Song Dynasty pillars, YanLing Middle Rd (100 m south of Dong Po Park). Fragments of a pair of pillars from a long ago destroyed temple sit next to a minor canal parallel to the YanLing Rd. Dating from 979, they are estimated to have once been 5m tall but the ravages of time have reduced the tallest to about 2m and the other only a base. Somewhat weathered carvings depict layers of clouds, the ocean, mountains, rivers, protective deities and Buddhas.
- 4 Hongmei Park (红梅公园 Hóngméi Gōngyuán, Red Plum Park), 28 Danqing Road, Tianning District (天宁区丹青路28号) (at the corner of Guanhe East Rd and Xiaodongmen Rd; a few hundred metres east of the Culture Palace metro station), ☏ +86 519 88104993, email@example.com. Open all day. A large park with an assortment of lakes, pavilions and gardens. At the rear of the park is Writing Pagoda (文笔塔 Wénbĭ Tá) and Red Plum Pavilion (红梅阁 Hóngméi Gé). Less sedately are goldfish in transparent tubes, a flamingo pond and a elevated walkway among trees. Free.
- 5 Writing Pagoda (文笔塔). Located in Hongmei Park, at the southern end, was built in the Southern Dynasties Qi Gaozu Xiao Daocheng Jianyuan years (479- 482), an Jianyuan temple, commonly known as tower temple, later renamed temple taiping. Taiping temple for Wei crown County, resembling the style of writing, also called style tower, Changzhou literati as pen.
- 6 The Lotus Building (江苏常州武进莲花馆) (in the suburbs of Wujin). Closed on Monday. Built on an artificial lake, this building is in the shape of a lotus flower. The building consists of three lotus flowers in different shapes while the main body and the petals are made of steel. In the evening, the building's lights change colors every minute.
- SUPcz (Art Districts in Changzhou, China) (various locations around CZ), firstname.lastname@example.org. Various. "Artists Co-op" in Changzhou. ¥0-100.
- 7 Tianning Temple (天宁寺 Tianning Si), 636 Yanling Middle Road, Tianning District (天宁区延陵中路636号) (a few hundred meters east of the Culture Palace metro station; bus routes 220 and 903), ☏ +86 519 88178011, email@example.com. 08:30-16:30, no entry after 16:00. A Buddhist temple with a 13 story wooden Pagoda said to be the tallest in the world. Claims aside, has an impressive presence nonetheless. The temple is fairly new but the grounds religious providence goes back to the Tang dynasty. ¥80.
- 8 Yancheng Safari Park (淹城野生动物世界), 199 Wuyi Middle Road, Wujin District (武进区武宜中路199号) (take bus B1 to Yancheng Central Public Bus Terminal (淹城公交中心站); alternatively take a metro train to Yanzheng Avenue metro station and head west to Wujin Civic Square to catch the Jinhu bus line (金湖线), which stops just outside the park), ☏ +86 519 68881111, firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-17:00. ¥180 (standard fee), ¥90 (persons over 60 and children between 1.2 and 1.5 metres in height), Free entry is granted to children under 1.2 metres in height. Visitors who wish to drive their own vehicle through the park are charged an extra ¥200 if they have between 1 and 9 passengers or ¥400 if they have more than 10 passengers.
- 1 Dinosaur Park (中华恐龙园), 1 Hanjiang Road, Xinbei District. Daily 09:00-17:00. If your interest in paleontology doesn't extend further than The Flintstones this dinosaur theme park with rides, dancing dinos and few fossils might take your fancy. ¥160 (afternoon only), ¥260 (full day).
Sesame Bing – A local speciality is a small round cake of flaky pastry studded with sesame seeds. Fillings between the crunchy layers of pasty have two flavours – salty and sweet. The salty has a thin layer of preserved vegetable while the sweet has a globular core of sugar syrup. Patience is key to eating the sugary one, especially if bought hot off the stove, as a too hasty bite will send a wave of tongue-scaldingly hot liquid squirting out onto both your mouth and fingers.
- Xiao Chi Jie (Snack Street), Huaide Middle Rd. Not really a street as much as a lane on the corner of the shopping complex. Nonetheless it is packed with small stalls selling a wide range of things to nibble on.
- Grandma's Nook, Xin Cheng Shang Jie A-183, 60 Hua Yuan Jie, Hutang, ☏ +86 152 9508 2029, email@example.com. M-Th 12:00 - 20:00, F-Su 10:00 - 21:00. A bakery with a small seating area.
Some people bemoan the lack of bar scene here, compared with Wuxi or Shanghai. Nonetheless there are a couple of decent joints to drown your sorrows in.
- Chocolate, Huayuan St. Trying really hard to be cool and almost succeeding.
- Queen Pub, Heping North Rd. One of the smaller pubs in town. The barman speaks good English and stocks quite a few imported beer and spirits. Pool table.
Most of the accommodation in Changzhou is geared toward business travellers, so upmarket international style hotels are abundant but decent budget options are limited.
- Holiday Inn Wujin, 33 Yanzheng Middle Rd, Wujin, ☏ +86 519 86313888. A few steps above what you would expect from this chain, the behemoth building surrounded by landscaped gardens is one of the nicer hotels in town. Big modern rooms have all the doodads you would expect for the price. Though, don't be fooled by the website blurb that claims it's downtown; it's way out on the periphery, south of the Grand Canal. ¥481-1200.