Wuxi, Jiangsu Province

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Wuxi, or ‘Little Shanghai,’ as its known, has a history dating back some 3000 years. Founded by two fugitive Princes, Prince Taibo and Prince Zhongyong, of Zhou in Northern China, the area was once rich in produce – notably tin. Originally called Youxi meaning ‘Has tin,’ when the tin mines ran out it was renamed Wúxī ( 無錫) meaning..you guessed it, ‘Without tin.’ In the western tongue it’s pronounced ‘Woo-she’.

Wuxi is located close to China’s central eastern coast and is part of Jiangsu province. The whole area is intersected by waterways including the famous Grand Canal which passes right near the main central business district. Wuxi is also located beside China’s 3rd largest lake, Tai hu or Lake Tai, and as a result is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists in the country.

Wuxi has a population of approximately 4.5 million people and whilst Mandarin is the spoken language, Wuxi has a very distinct dialect (Wuxi hua) where many words appear to end with an ‘ah’ like tone. Wuxi has a large expat population though many expats are Korean or Japanese.

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Wuxi is a very well connected transport hub with fast trains and buses going in every direction to some of Jiangsu provinces most popular tourist cities. By fast train you can reach Nanjing or Hangzhou in  3 hours, and Suzhou – a city famous for its ancient Chinese gardens, in a mere 15 minutes. Wuxi is also exactly 1 hour by fast train from Shanghai. Because of its transport connectivity, Wuxi can be a very good base for someone wishing to explore any of these other cities. Wuxi also has its own airport with regular flights to every other city in China.

The climate of Wuxi is classified as being  a subtropical monsoon maritime climate though travelers should be aware that through the months of June, July and August the summer temperatures and humidity can be extreme. At the other end of the scale, the winter months of December, January and February are bitterly cold where it can sometimes snow albeit rarely. Visiting somewhere between March to May would be ideal unless you’re a glutton for heat punishment! (Trust me..it gets hot) Wuxi also receives considerable amounts of rain during the summer months. If you are there for the warmer months make sure you bring mosquito repellent – with so much water around there is no shortage of the little monsters.

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Wuxi has many popular tourist attractions such as Turtle Head Park down by Lake Tai,  the Grand Canal, Xihui Park and the Nanchan Temple Markets. Wuxi’s CBD is both modern and well equipped for the foreign traveler with restaurants such as KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and Papa Johns offering western food for those seeking comfort in the familiar. There’s also a TGI Fridays which I highly recommend (particularly for frozen margaritas during summer!) Wuxi also has a number of expat bars and I would recommend one of these called the Blue Bar for both a meal and a good drinking environment. The Blue Bar is actually owned and run by an Australian and broadcasts an Australian TV channel live inside!

* Note that if you’re visiting the city and in need of a bathroom, KFC and McDonald’s are your best bets and are dotted all over the city. You will not find one in Starbucks though in close proximity in the shopping centres in which they are located.

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Around town you will also find an absolute myriad of asian eating opportunities, from Chinese to Japanese(Ajisan ramen recommended!) to Korean BBQ and various brazillian buffet restaurants called Amazon which I haven’t personally been to so cant recommend.

At night Wuxi is lit up to high heaven – not unlike Shanghai (hence the name, Little Shanghai). It is a fantastic city to walk around and explore with a multitude of super modern shopping centres and very friendly people. It is a very safe city to walk around – though like anywhere in the world, don’t go walking down dark alleys or questionable looking places or I am sure you will find misfortune.

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A word of advice with traveling anywhere in China, Wuxi included, is to be very aware at all times of pickpockets. China is a country where the filthy rich walk shoulder to shoulder with the ridiculously poor and as a result if you keep your wallet in your bag or easily accessible pockets you’re just asking to be pick pocketed. It is far better to carry your cash by itself stashed somewhere on you that is impossible to snatch without you noticing. I never once had issues with pickpockets or theft whilst living in China by using this method.

 

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3 Responses to “Wuxi, Jiangsu Province”

  1. Site update: Wuxi city guide « Life After China Says:

    […] update: Wuxi city guide By Marcus I’ve just added a city guide to Wuxi over on the right there under pages. Please click the image below and feel free to have a read and […]

  2. maxine Says:

    Hello, I am planning to move to Wuxi next month. I have received another offer for Suzhou. Could you tell me where is better to live for minimum a year?

  3. Marcus Says:

    Well it really depends – do you know where you will be living approximately? (in Wuxi or Suzhou). Both have their positives and negatives, but if i was to offer any advice it would be to live as close to the CBD – if not in the CBD as possible. The closer in you are the more things you will have access to – particularly western comforts. I know i know we like to think we can live without them, but in a country as foreign as China, they really can improve your day to day quality of life.

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