Living in Jiangsu Province China: a Guide for Expats and Visitors

Liz Smith
Liz Smith

Liz Smith left the daily grind in the States to travel the world with her husband. Eventually teaching English in China & loving it, she began sharing her experience with others who are interested in embarking on this new adventure!

 / Nov 18, 2017

Every day more international expats are moving to China, and Jiangsu province in China is one of the most popular destinations for expats who want to live in China.  Thanks to many foreign companies and universities, the Jiangsu province holds a lot of job opportunities for expats as well as a good quality of life. If you are aspiring to move to Jiangsu province or you are already living in Jiangsu China, here is a comprehensive guide of this Chinese province to help you navigate and get to know many of the popular cities Jiangsu China.


Overview of Jiangsu Province 


Formerly known as Kiangsu, Jiangsu is a coastal province in eastern-central China, and one China’s leading provinces in the manufacturing of apparel and electronics. Nanjing, its capital city, is one of China’s crucial transportation hubs especially in the country’s eastern-central region. 


Jiangsu is China’s third smallest province in regard to geographical size, but the country’s most populous province of all the 23 provinces. It also has the second largest GDP among all Chinese provinces. Jiangsu borders Shanghai to the south, Shandong to the North and Anhui to the West. It boasts a coastline of more than 620 miles along the vast Yellow Sea. The River Yangtze also passes through the province’s southern area, and ever since the ancient dynasties of Tang and Sui, the Jiangsu province has been a crucial commercial and economic center especially because of the construction of the popular Grand Canal. 


Major Cities in Jiangsu Province


Jiangsu province is divided into prefecture-level cities. Below are some of the province’s major cities. 


Nanjing - as the province’s largest and capital city, this city has long been an important center of research, education and economy. It also has a cherished place in China’s culture and history. 


Wuxi - located in Jiangsu’s southern region, Wuxi is one of China’s oldest cities and it is widely regarded as one the country’s birthplaces of modern commerce and industry.


Xuzhou - formerly known as Pengcheng during the ancient times, this city is one of the densely populated and largest prefecture-level cities of Jiangsu province. It plays an important transportation role in the province’s northwestern region. 


Changzhou - previously known as Wujin, Jingling and Yanling, this prefecture-level city is one of the province’s most developed and populous cities, with a population of over 36 million residents as of 2010 national census. 


Suzhou - located in Jiangsu’s southeastern region, this city is serves as a major commerce and trade hub in the province. It has a history of over 2,500 years and also boasts abundant display of sites and relics of historical interest. In fact, Suzhou is an extremely popular destination for international and Chinese tourists with it's canals and bridges that make it feel like a Chinese "Venice."


Nantong - the city lies on the Yangtze River’s northern bank, near the river’s mouth. It is an important center for the province’s textile industry, and it is also one of China’s crucial 14 port cities. 


Food in Jiangsu Province 


Jiangsu offers some of the tastiest dishes not just in China and the Asian region, but also in the rest of the world as well. From specialty dishes to traditional cuisine, the province has numerous food options to offer for food lovers. 


Specialty Dishes in Jiangsu 


Here are some of the most popular specialty dishes in the Jiangsu province. 


Shao Ya (baked duck) - the specialty dish is more popular with foreigners. It is made from fresh duck that is soaked in salty and dark sweet sauce to add flavor and then baked in an oven. It is mostly offered in tourists restaurants throughout the major cities of Jiangsu province. 


Gong Bao Chicken - the specialty dish is popular with both foreigners and locals alike. The main, high-quality ingredients of this dish are dried chili, diced chicken and fried peanuts. 


Chow Mein - this stir-fried dish largely consists of meat (normally pork, shrimp, chicken or beef), noodles, onions and celery. 


Peking roasted duck - Peking duck is highly savored thanks to its thin, crispy skin. Once roasted, it is sliced and served with sweet bean sauce, pancakes or with soy and mashed garlic. It is a must-taste specialty dish in Jiangsu. 

Jiangsu Traditional Cuisine 


Also popularly referred to as Su Cuisine, Jiangsu traditional cuisine is derived from the province’s native cooking styles although it also consists of many other sub-regional cooking styles. Jiangsu traditional cuisine largely consists of the following sub-regional cooking styles. 


Nanjing style - the style emphasizes on having dishes with matching colors and an even taste. Most dishes incorporate river shrimp/fish and duck. 


Suzhou style - this style emphasizes on careful selection of cooking ingredients, thus leading to dishes with a stronger taste. 


Wuxi style - due to its close proximity to the freshwater Lake Tai, it therefore means Wuxi style incorporates a wide array of freshwater produce including white bait, white shrimp and white fish. 


Nantong style - here, dishes lay emphasis on flavor and freshness of cooking ingredients that include a wide array of seafood, considering that Nantong is situated within close proximity to Hao River, Yellow Sea and Yangtze River regions. 

The main courses of traditional Jiangsu cuisine include roasted Nanjing duck, diced chicken and carrots, shrimp with bitter melon, dove with spice powder, Braised turtle and sparrow in hot sauce among others. 


Getting In / Out of Jiangsu Province China


Jiangsu province boasts one of the most extensive and advanced transportation networks in China. Besides, the province is well linked with the rest of the country by the virtue of being one of the country’s most integral transportation hubs. Here is a comprehensive outline of the province’s transportation networks. 

Air 

The province boasts seven airports that offer flights to Osaka, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Seoul among other international destinations. These airports also offer domestic flights to Beijing and Shanghai and other prominent cities throughout the vast country. Nanjing Lukou Airport is the province’s main airport , through there are other passenger airports across the province, namely Sunan Shuofang International Airport, Changzhou Benniu Airport, Nantong Airport , Yanghzhou Taizhou Airport, Lianyungang Baitabu Airport, Yancheng Nanyang Airport and Xuzhou Giuanyin Airport. 


Rail 

The southern portion of Jiangsu province, popularly known as Shanghai-Nanjing corridor, boasts incredibly high-frequency rail services. The province’s Jinghu Railway operates high-speed trains between Beijing and Shanghai. There is a high-speed line passing through all the province’s major cities apart from Suqian. As such, there are high-speed trains operating between the major cities of Jiangsu province. 

Road 

The province’s road network is one of China’s most developed road networks. There is the Beijing-Shanghai Expressway, which enters Jiangsu from the North and then passes Yangzhou, Taizhou , Huai’an and Wuxi on its ways to Shanghai. There is the Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway, which largely serves the province’s widely traveled southern corridor. The Ningchang Expressway serves as a link between Nanjing and Changzhou, while the Yanhai Expressway serves as a link between the province’s coastal regions with other cities such as Nantong and Yancheng. 


Climate and Best Time to Visit Jiangsu Province 


The province’s climate falls within warm-temperate and subtropical zones, characterized by a distinctive humid-monsoon climate. The weather is mild and there is abundant rainfall throughout the province. It is normally warm in spring (March-April), while it is wet in summer (May-August). The best time to visit the province is in autumn (September- October), when the weather is overly pleasant. The worst time to visit the city is in winter (December-February) since the weather at this time is extremely cold and there is persistent fog and rain throughout the province. 


Popular Cities For Tourist and Expats in Jiangsu 


Nanjing - as the province’s capital, the city has plenty of amazing things for expats and tourists. For tourists, Nanjing offers several historical sites and breathtaking attractions they cannot see anywhere in China. For expats, working and living in Nanjing offers an excellent opportunity to get the best from a city located in one of China’s most vibrant economic hubs. 

Suzhou - This is by far the most beautiful city in the entire province. It enjoys great geography as well as excellent land and air transportation. Being one of the province’s oldest cities, it has ancient remains that tourists can’t truly afford to miss upon visiting. There are also exciting jobs for expats, considering that the city has a fast-growing economy particularly because of the vibrant silk industry. 

Wuxi - Wuxi is known to be one of the best Jiangsu cities for tourists and expats. Located on the heart of Yangtze River delta, the city is a modern industrial city and a crucial city of the Yangtze Delta commercial region. It has a booming service and industrial sector, thus offering numerous employment opportunities for expats from all over the world. The city has also numerous attractions thus making it a top tourist destination, not just in Jiangsu, but also in the entire country as well. For instance, it hosts the tallest Buddha statue in the world. 

Yangzhou - Being China’s cultural and historical city, the city is a haven for tourists from across the globe. It has several museums, beautiful parks and breathtaking ancient remains that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. 


Top Things to Do in Jiangsu Province for Tourists 


With its abundant tourist attractions and cultural sites, Jiangsu has for long been a crucial Chinese tourist destination. Therefore, there are tons of things that tourists can do in this province just to make their stay here worthwhile. Here are some top things to do in Jiangsu province that both visitors, and those living in Jiangsu will enjoy. 


1. Go for an underground tour inside the awe-inspiring Shanjuan Cave 


Found on the Luoyan Mountain, Shanjuan Cave is a 15.53 miles cave that boasts attractive features such as an underground waterway, beautiful rock formations and awesome stone pillars. It is also illuminated by spectacular colored lighting that makes it possible to pass through even during the darkest hours of the day. Touring this cave is truly a memorable experience.


2. Check out the largest Buddha statue in the world 


Located in Wuxi city, Lingshan Grand Budhha is world’s largest Buddha statue, standing at 88 meters high. It is made of over 1,500 bronze pieces and weighs more than 700 tons. Visiting this statue lets you experience one of the world’s magnificent man-made structures, and a get a sense of how this prominent symbol of the province is seen by the locals. 


3. Touring the Qinhuai River 


Qinhuai River is one of the top places to tour in Jiangsu province. Taking a boat tour of this mighty river in Nanjing will offer the perfect opportunity to see several attractions along the river, ranging from the elegant Confucius Temple, Egret Islet to China Gate. Taking a boat tour along this river will also let you enjoy the fantastic night scene of Nanjing city. 


4. Explore the Yuantouzhu Island 


Located in the heart of Taihu Lake, this tourist resort is a wonderful place to visit particularly during the spring season, which is from March-April. Being located in the heart of the second largest Chinese lake, this resort offers the best of the island, ranging from crystal-clear water suitable for fishing to the spectacular green hills surrounding the lake. 


5. Go see the world’s most complex structure - China Gate 


Located in Nanjing, China Gate served as Nanjing’s gate hundreds of years ago. It is known as the world’s most complex structure, with a shape similar to an urn, and thus it was initially known as Urn Gate. It measures 118 meters in length and 21.45 meters in height. Visiting here will not just offer an opportunity to see the world’s most sophisticated structure, but you will also get to see both the decadence and prosperity of the Chinese history. 


Jiangsu Festivals / Events


Cherry & Plum Blossoms Festival - this festival takes place in early festival, and all the province’s gardens are covered with blankets of pink and white flowers during this festival. This festival is usually held in Nanjing and Wuxi though it is also held throughout the province. It is held annually to celebrate the blossoming of cherry and plum trees. 

Suzhou Silk Festival - it is held in Suzhou, the province’s main silk producer. During this colorful festival, people come to view a huge exhibition of high-quality silk garments in various fashion shows . 

Zhouzhuang Water Town Festival - this traditional arts festival is held annually in Zhouzhuang, which is Jiangsu’s most charming water towns. The festival is normally held to celebrate water town arts like paintings, folk arts and contemporary photography. 

Dragon Boat Race Festival - though held in various parts across China, this festival is mostly celebrated in Jiangsu province, particularly in Nanjing. During this boat racing festival, scores of people from various companies and universities across the province take part in boat racing that is usually held in Lake Mochou Park. 

Life in Jiangsu for Expats 


Expats living in Jiangsu China find life be rewarding, but a times a bit frustration (as it goes in a foreign country). There are lots of job opportunities available for expats in China, and especially in the Jiangsu province. The most available job opportunities for expats as well as foreign workers are English teaching jobs in China. However, due to China’s thriving economy, there is a promising future for expats looking forward to working in other fields in Jiangsu, and that is why living in Jiangsu province is becoming popular with international expats who are moving to China. 


The low cost of living makes life in Jiangsu province affordable for expats. Here, expats enjoy higher salaries than their local counterparts. Better still, the low tax rates incentive offered to expats means that expats living and working in Jiangsu have a much higher standard of living. But living In Jiangsu China can pose significant challenges just like with residing in other places in China. 


First off, the language barrier can be a huge challenge for expats who don’t have a decent command of this language. Because of the huge numbers of people residing in this province, the cities are extremely crowded and busy thus making the day-to-day life hectic. Finally, the culture shock experienced by expats when living in a culture that is totally different from the culture they are used to back home can make life in this province challenging for most expats. 


However, this challengs are true for expats moving anywhere in the world.  And most international workers coming to China are looking forward to the change, and the ability to learn and adapt to a new culture.  In general, expat life in Jiangsu province is quite a nice place to live and work in China, provided one is ready and properly prepared for life in this province. 


Tips for Expats Living in Jiangsu Province 


Despite some few inevitable challenges that come with living in Jiangsu and any other Chinese province or city, expats can still lead a happy and rewarding life whilst residing and working in Jiangsu. Below are some actionable tips for expats living in Jiangsu that will make life seamlessly easy once you relocate to this province. 


1. Find the right places where you are likely to meet with like-minded persons, particularly your fellow expats. 

2. Live in places that suit your budget and lifestyle. Fortunately, there are quite a number of good apartments for rent for expats in China.

3. Prepare for the Chinese culture in advance, and read widely on this culture to understand it better and to avoid any cultural mishaps. 

4. Value your safety and never indulge in any activities that might risk your safety. 

5. Find local friends whom you can interact and socialize with to avoid feeling lonely. Luckily, many expats who come to China have no problem meeting other people, especially their international coworkers.  And the expat community within China is typically quite welcoming of newcomers.

6. Be ready to face any transition challenges you may experience along the way. 


Expat Resources in Jiangsu 

Here is a detailed overview of some valuable expat resources that will help simply your life in this province as an expat. 


Expat forums 

Jiangsu NET - The virtual hub brings together expat communities residing in Jiangsu, where they can access information on anything to do with expat life here, ranging from expats clubs to expat housing . 


China Expat Forum - this vibrant forum is for expats living in China, but it also offer a section for the expats living in Jiangsu. 

Expat.com - the global expat forum provides information regarding expat living in China, and also has a section for expats living in various cities across Jiangsu. 

Resources for Learning Mandarin 


Without a basic understanding of Mandarin, your life in Jiangsu will definitely be challenging since this is the dominant language. Here are some resources to help you with learning Mandarin. 


HelloTalk - helps users learn Mandarin through learning different words from native speakers of this language worldwide. 


FluentU - the Mandarin learning site offers short Chinese videos with characters in English and Pinyin. 


Canto Dict - the online Mandarin dictionary supports Cantonese and Mandarin translations. You can search either using English, Chinese and Pinyin and it is hence a great resource for beginners. 


** Also, check out our tips HERE for navigating your way in China without speaking much Chinese.


Apps 


Below are some helpful apps that are downloadable to most mobile devices. 


WeChat - works like WhatsApp whereby you can use it for texting or sending audio and video messages devoid of any charges. 
Sohu TV - this app allows you to watch movies and TV channels, including foreign TV channels and movies. 
WayGo - Helps translate menu items from Mandarin Chinese to English. 


** Read our post about all recommended apps for China HERE


Experience Living in Jiangsu Province China


Jiangsu province is considered quite a nice place for expats to live in China. With this guide, we hope you have come to understand more about this region and popular cities where you may want to visit or live in Jiangsu province China.

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Liz Smith

Liz Smith left the daily grind in the States to travel the world with her husband. Eventually teaching English in China & loving it, she began sharing her experience with others who are interested in embarking on this new adventure!