In the past, it was one of China’s wealthier cities however Yangzhou’s prosperity has been dictated directly by the success and decline of the Great Canal. The construction of the Great Canal bought wealthy merchants to Yangzhou as the canal was a key link between Beijing and Hangzhou.
Unfortunately when the Song dynasty fell, the canal diminished with lack of use, causing the decline of Yangzhou. The canal was then restored during the Ming era and again used for transporting trade so Yangzhou again began to prosper. It was the Taiping Rebellion that hit hard in the mid 1800s with massive damage and neglect of the area and canal. With this, railways heightened in popularity as the preferred transportation over the Grand Canal. It wasn’t until the 90s that things began to pick up again with the partial reconstruction of the canal, however it never regained the influence and wealth it once had.
Visiting Yangzhou is best done during summer as winter can be cold and wet around June and July. If arriving via air, the closest airport is Nanjing’s Lukou International Airport which is a fair way away taking just under two hours by car. If you decide to take a taxi, remember to make sure they turn the meter on as many are known to ‘forget’.
Once in Yangzhou there are several sights worth taking a look at. The Temple of Abundant Light has been dated back to the 5th century and has been restored since its destruction by the Taiping Rebellion making it a spectacular starting point to your Yangzhou tour. Next visit the Yangzhou Museum which is home to some fantastic displays of its eventful past. The Garden Tomb of Puhaddin is home to Puhaddin’s grave, thought to be a descendant of Mohammed, with his scripted temple open to the public daily. Lastly, one of Yangzhou’s most popular sights is the Thin West Lake (Shou Xi Hu) that weaves around a spectacular park full of beautiful trees, pavilions and bridges.
Perfect for the intrepid traveller, Yangzhou provides visitors with a lot of history and beautiful nature.