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Why Go Now: While this ancient capital of China is slowly modernizing, it remains staunchly loyal to its past. Witness new restaurants, hotels, and the Nanjing Museum of Art & Architecture—set to open next summer—all juxtaposed with centuries-old monuments and traditions.
The Details: Make Sofitel Galaxy Nanjing (doubles from $125), in the heart of downtown, your base. The 278-room property overlooks Xuanwu Lake. For authentic local food, try the 20-course small-bite tasting menu, including duck sesame buns, at the Galaxy Restaurant (dinner for two $40) in the Mandarin Garden Hotel. The Nanjing 1912 neighborhood has classic early-20th-century Chinese architecture and a vibrant club scene at night. Stop by Soho, a low-lit bar with dark wood furnishings and live music.
T+L Tip: Take a day trip to the Purple Mountain, on the eastern outskirts of the city. Here, you’ll find the mausoleums of leaders such as Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of modern China.