Xinghua is a relatively quiet city of rivers and bridges (3 hours drive/coach from Nanjing), but growing rapidly. The city includes some peaceful green spaces, most notably the Peoples Park, where the people of the town can be seen practicing martial arts in the early morning. (You can also do this in the stadium early in the morning). Fireworks are commonly heard in Xinghua and at night, there is dancing in the streets - on many street corners, groups of people regularly get together to dance.
Most don't speak English, but there are some that do - you need to make the effort to find them. However, it is not difficult to make friends in Xinghua because you are likely to be one of only a handful of foreigners there, and as such, you are always the centre of attention. Don't be surprised when people randomly call 'Hello' to you in the street, or ask to have their photo taken with you. The people of Xinghua are very friendly and welcoming to the new foreigner in town, and if you approach it the right way, it often means VIP treatment from other people, although Xinghua is a very cheap place to live compared to other Chinese cities in any case.
Xinghua is much less westernised than the larger cities in China, selling mainly Chinese products. However, you can buy many western items from the 3 main supermarkets there, which are: RT-Mart, Suguo (x2) & Lottemart. The city centre offers a range of shopping, from high-end fashion and electronics to bargain price food & clothes markets.
Food: Xinghua has its own particular variant of Chinese food, most famous being the Xinghua breakfast which is available from cafes as early as 05:30am. The city is not short on restaurants! There are countless food outlets (restaurants & street food) in most of the streets in the city centre. These are mainly Chinese, however there are also Korean, Japanese and Western outlets to be found (Western Beef, Pizza Hut, KFC, Starbucks). Xinghua is especially famous for producing crab and crayfish.
Nightlife: Although there are 2 nightclubs that stay open late, the city does not have so many bars. However, some nice traditional ones can be found in the old street behind the ornamental wooden water wheel (in the city centre) and next to the cinema (upstairs from Suguo supermarket). Among the Chinese residents, KTV (Karaoke) is very popular as a recreational activity in Xinghua (with many outlets), as are massage and public baths. For anyone who likes to play pool, Xinghua has arguably the best pool club ever, in 'snack street' (At the main junction in Xinghua, down the side street next to Yakeyasi). Go up to floor 4 and you will be treated to silver-service attention as you play.
Claim to fame: Hou Yifan - Grandmaster chess player from Xinghua.