As the capital of the Hunan Province, Changsha is not much different from other Chinese cities – big, brimming with people, and modernised at a rapid speed. While the city holds much connection to Mao Zedong, one of China’s most revered political figures, it also serves as the gateway to the stunning countryside beyond. With beautiful geographical terrains to explore including the Five Sacred Mountains of Daoism and the scenic area of Wu Ling Yuan which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Changsha is a good starting point for a city adventure in China, infused with nature and history.
Best of Changsha
1. Mount Yuelu
A scenic sight located on the west bank of Xiang River, you will be entranced by the blooming beauty of the scenic sights here such as the Qingfeng Gorge, Aiwa Pavilion, Lushan Temple, Yunlu Palace, the Flying Clock and Flying Stone, and the King Yu Tablet.
2. Hunan Cuisine
Hunan food is considered one of the Eight Great Traditions of Chinese cuisines and is well known for its hot and spicy flavour, fresh aroma and deep colour. It is an absolute must to try authentic Hunan cooking when in Changsha. Recommended dishes include Changsha-style stinky tofu and steamed fish head in chili sauce, whilst packs of dried kiwi from Zhangjiajie make a tasty souvenir.
3. Mawangdui Han Tombs
Take a tour into the mysterious past during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD) as you visit the three tombs excavated between 1972 and 1974. Believed to be a family graveyard from at least 2,000 years ago, the corpses were buried with more than 1,000 artefacts and treasures such as fabrics, silk paintings, lacquer ware and bamboo slips. A truly fascinating site to visit!
4. Tianxin Pavilion
With a history of more than 2,000 years, Tianxin Pavilion is the only existing symbol of the ancient city of Changsha. In 1924, a park was built around the 864 square feet structure for people to enjoy the historical sights, have picnic, or even practice tai chi.
5. Wuyi Square Shopping Circle
Your go-to place for some shopping, dining and entertainment fun! Malls, department stores, hotels and restaurants light up the area that starts from the bustling Wuyi Square all the way up to Huangxing Nanlu Walking Street.
6. Hunan Provincial Museum
Have a fun day looking at the amazing cultural relics on display at this museum, which includes intricately carved ceramics, beautiful paintings and calligraphy, luxurious textiles, as well as bronze and lacquer. More than 110,000 objects here were from the Neolithic Age all the way to the early Qing Dynasty era.
Looking for an excursion out of the city? Head to Zhangjiajie, a worthwhile 4 hours by car journey, for a glimpse of its lush valleys, tranquil waters, and limestone caves that make up the scenic spots Wulingyuan Scenic Area, Zhangjiajie Scenic Spot, Suoxiyu Nature Reserve, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve and Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area.
Fenghuang Ancient Town
Fenghuang is a town on the western boundaries of Hunan Province. The majority of the city’s population comprises of the Miao and Tujia minorities. The Ancient Fenghuang (Phoenix) City is known as the “most beautiful small city in China” and is famous for its surrounding natural landscapes and ancient architecture. Fenghuang dazzles come nightfall with brilliant lights. It has been highly suggested that visitors take the night tour of the ancient town to enjoy the beautiful scenes of Tuojiang, Diao Jiao Lou, Shiban Street, North Gate Tower, Hong Qiao and more.