Holland Flower Park in Dafeng district is like something out of a fairytale. From above, it is a floral wonderland: ribbons of colour swirl around waterways. At eye level, it's a maze of tulips in a landscape complete with windmills. But it wasn't always so. The seaside area of Xinfeng was once all saline soil where not much grew. In 1919, Dutch hydraulic engineer Hendrik de Rijke was called in to design a water system that would reclaim productive land from the salt, and his mammoth, multi-year project transformed the area. In 2012, to help attract visitors and to remember de Rijke, the Flower Sea was planted in a riot of tulips, more than 300 varieties. It is an unforgettable sight to behold.
Qintong, a beautiful ancient town surrounded by water, has more than two square km of well-preserved ancient buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties, including shops, mansions, former academic residences and a Zen temple. The annual Qintong Boat Festival is a traditional spectacle that has become a popular visitor experience. Thousands of dragon boats race across the Qinhu Lake in what is said to be the world's largest water festival – and it includes lion and dragon dances, theatre and dance in a celebration of local folklore, culture and customs.
Since ancient times in China, it has been acknowledged that clear, fresh spring water is the best water for making tea, and Nanjing yu hua tea, also known as rainflower tea, has been treasured as some of the best in the world since the Tang dynasty. It is said to contain healthy polyphenols that may help with ageing, cardiovascular health and mental alertness. It is clear, with a golden colour and a soft, sweetish earthy flavour and delicate aroma. Visit some of Jiangsu's many tea gardens to discover the delights of this culinary cultural treasure.