Nanhu Lake is the principal passive recreation area within the Nanning city area, with an 8 km walking track around the perimeter of the lake, and extensive gardens and open space on the southern side. The whole lake is ringed with high rise apartments and commercial buildings, craning to get a view of this water body, and the lush greenery immediately around it.
The main path around Nanhu Lake, with dense foliage all around
The name Nanhu Lake is actually a tautology. Locals refer to it in Mandarin simply as Nan Hu, with Hu being the Chinese word for lake. Hence the English translation, which is universally applied, is literally Nan Lake Lake. The name of the lake is roughly pronounced as Nan, as in the second syllable of the name Conan, and Hu as in the word who.
The extensive tree sculpting in this park fascinated me. The horizontal branches of the Banyan trees are supported by bamboo stakes, that serve to guide the tree's aerial roots back to the ground. Over time, the tree outgrows the bamboo stakes, resulting in what looks like stilts growing from the tree itself. The tree is then able to grow wider than it otherwise would. Other trees are staked to make them grow perfectly vertical, such as the various palm trees. There is also a bonsai garden, including trees with dainty foliage growing off tremendously fat trunks.
The total perimeter around Nanhu Lake is too long for most people to circumnavigate in one go. The two bridges across the lake create three smaller squares, that make for a more manageable distance to stroll around. The main path is wide, smooth bitumen, with shorter and narrower paths that run alongside the water's edge. The lake is very popular on hot, humid evenings, when locals flock to the park to take advantage of the slightly cooler microclimate around the lake. If you are walking the narrower lakeside paths after dark, the fast flying microbats can be unnerving at times. I flinched in the face of the oncoming animals several times, but none crashed into me while I was there.
The lakeside path on the southern side of Nanhu Lake
You can explore the lake by boat, with several small cruise boats operating from the tourist information centre in the middle of the southern side of the lake. There are a range of other attractions in the gardens on the southern side, including sideshow amusements, monuments to the revolution, free outdoor exercise equipment, fountains, and several kiosks with snack food and drinks.
Pom Pom Trees against the backdrop of the city skyline
Amongst the prohibitions at the lake and gardens, that I saw, were: no swimming, no fishing, no skating, keep off the grass, don't walk on the gardens; and remember, as one of the signs at the lake said in English: "Keep smile remain and rubbish away!" Most signs around the park are subtitled in English.
The very busy MinZu DaDao crosses the lake in the middle, and the moderately busy ShuanYong Lu runs along the southern side of the lake, at the edge of the park. Buses running along ShuanYong Lu include numbers 29, 33, 49, 607 and 809. Buses running along MinZu DaDao that run across the bridge, and stop near the lake include numbers 6, 11, 34, 39, 47, 79, 87, 206, 220, 601, 603 and 704.