|Changsha Travel Information|
Changsha sits at the northeast of Hunan Province in south-central China, fed by the Xiang River, west of Jiangxi and south of Hubei. It is known for its warm climate and is the economic and political capital of Hunan. Thanks to its position as the central transport hub for Hunan, it is also easily reached by air, rail and road, with a limited passenger service bringing visitors by water.
Changsha's lush farmland was for years the core of its economic success, but in the middle of the 19th century, it went through a period of modernization and today is an important economic center with particular strengths in construction machinery manufacturing, electronics and IT and food processing.
Cities all across China celebrate a wide range of festivals throughout the year and Changsha is no exception. The Dragon Boat Festivals are celebrated nationally to mark the ritual suicide in 278 BC of the poet Qu Yuan, who was protesting against official corruption. The boat races symbolize the people's desperate attempts to save him and recover his body: the local significance of the ceremonies derives from the fact that Qu Yuan died in the Miluo River, not far north of the city. The Forest Protection Festival is unique to the city, promoting and rejoicing in the fine natural resources in Zhangjiajie Park. The China Liuyang International Fireworks Festival, which marks the Hunan Province as one of the earliest regions to produce fireworks, is perhaps a more lively time to visit the city, when long firework displays are put on to celebrate this historical connection.
By far the most exciting historical attraction at Changsha is the site of the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs outside the city which were discovered in the 1970s. They contained a treasure trove of Han Dynasty artifacts, as well as three well-preserved mummies. The history of Changsha can be further explored at the Hunan Provincial Museum where Shang and Zhou bronze vessels sit alongside a collection of Yuezhou celadon porcelain and an original text of the legendary calligrapher Wang Xizhi's most famous work "Prologue to the Orchid Pavilion Collection". Visitors can also drop in on the Changsha Hunan Xiangxiu Museum and the Hunan Museum of Geology which holds collections of dinosaur bones found in the Hunan province and a planetarium.
Changsha has a firm place in the modern history of China, as Chairman Mao – the Father of modern China – grew up in the nearby village of Shaoshan. His childhood home is now known as Chairman Mao Zedong's Former Residence and receives visitors daily. Within the city, his former office and another residence can also be found by those interested in understanding the birth of Chinese Communism. Changsha Museum has a collection calligraphy and prose written in Chairman Mao's calligraphy.
The city of Changsha has changed considerably since the early 1900s, when the area was a mixture of modern European buildings and ancient Chinese structures. The troubles that the city has seen, from peasant rebellions and the instability of the Republican Period (1911-1950) to the uniformity of modern Chinese city planners, has changed this area into a clean, grey metropolis that is a little too familiar in modern China. Most of the past is gone, although the long Island of Oranges (Juzi zhou) still maintains a glimpse of the former city.
Most of the sights left in and around this Hunan capital are related to the revolutionary history that makes the city famous. The Maoist and Communist Sights are certainly one of the major tourism pulling points. Beyond these of most interest is the ancient history, in a city that has been inhabited for over three thousand years. The best sight in this scope is the Provincial Museum, which displays some of the contents of the Han Dynasty tomb that was discovered at Mawangdui in 1972. The mummies that are preserved within, of the Marquis of Dai’s family, are amazingly well preserved. Also of interest is the Yuelu Park, that once held the Yuelu Academy, a Song Dynasty school that prepared individuals for the Imperial examinations. This hilly park is a good area for hikers.
Nearby are a number of other interesting destinations, including the religious mountain of Hengshan, with its easily surmountable paths and small, active Taoist and Buddhist temples, and Shaoshan, the birthplace of Comrade Mao Zedong, and a must see destination for serious Maoists, along with the military base Yan’an and the Jiangxi Soviet at Jinggangshan.Gold Medals or silver Medals indicate Sights recommended by Lonelychina.
Changsha is located at 111°53'–114°5' east longitude and 27°51'–28°40' north latitude, situated in the east central Hunan. Its terrain is high in the west and low in the east. There are many mountainous areas in the west and in the north. The Xiangjiang River flows south to northwest; 296 m high Mt. Yuelushan is in the west; and Liuyanghe River (Liuyang River) and Ladaohe River (Laodao River) east.
It belongs to the monsoon climate of the sub-tropical zone with annual average temperature being 16.8°C–17.2°C, 4.6°C in January and 28.6°C in July and annual average precipitation being 1422 mm., and frost-free period being 275 days. The four seasons is obvious and acceptable there, rainy and wet, the temperature increases rapidly and is changeful in spring. Summer is long and broiling, which has unbalanced rainfall, comfortable and abundant sunlight in autumn. In winter it is nearly rainless and not very cold.
Changsha has various topographical features, with its highest place in the Qixing Hill of Dawei Mountain standing at 1,607.9 meters above sea level and the lowermost, the Wangxian County, 23 meters above sea level. A large section of northeast Changsha is actually an extending part of the Mufu-Luoxiao mountain ranges, and its north west part is linked with the Xuefeng Mountain. The south and central sections are hilly areas and the north is a plateau. The mountainous areas account for 29.52 percent of Changsha's total area, hilly areas 41.02 percent, plateaus 25.30 percent and lakes and rivers 4.16 percent.
Neighboring Areas: Jiangxi province, cities and counties of Hunan, such as Tonggu county, Wanzai county, Yichun city, Pingxiang city of Jiangxi province. Pingjiang county, Miluo city, Xiangyin County of Yueyang; Heshan District, Taojiang county, Anhua County of Yiyang; Lianyuan city of Loudi; Zhuzhou county, Liling City of Zhuzhou; Xiangtan county, Xiangxiang city of Xiangtan.
Changsha is among the 24 cities in China which have been first listed by the government as famous historical and cultural cities. The earliest inhabitants settled in Changsha about 7,000 years ago, and the city has a written history of more than 3,000 years. During the Xia and Shang dynasties, Changsha belonged to the ancient Sanmiaoyuan land; in the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods, it was an important economic, cultural, and military town of southem Chu state. In 221 BC, Emperor Qin Shihuang unified China, and placed Changsha as one of its 36 towns. In Han Dynasty, it was the capital of Changsha State; it belongs to Wu State during the Three Kingdowm period. It was renamed as to Tanzhou several times during Sui and Tang dynasties. It was under Jinghu South Road in Song Dynasty, and renamed as Changsha Prefecture in Ming Dynasty. It became a part of Hunan Province in Qing Dynasty, and was renamed as the capital of Hunan Province in 1922. in 1933, it was chosen as Changsha City, and it was peacefully liberated on August 5, 1949. The long history and the brilliant culture of Changsha leave abundant cultural heritage for Changsha people. A great number of historical relics have been unearthed such as the ancient ceramics of about 7,000 years ago, the unearthed antiques in Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tomb of over 2,000 years ago, the biggest bronze musical instruments in China made and used in the Shang Dynasty (21st-16th century BC), and the first academy among the four ancient academies in China-Yuelu Academy, as well as large amounts of bamboo and wooden books made in the Three Kingdoms Period, the earliest map, the first writing brush and the first steel sword ever found in China. All these make the ancient city Changsha full of charm and attraction.
There has been a settlement in the area now known as Changsha since the Neolithic era. It was a fortified city by the second century BC and grew further during the Han Dynasty when it became the capital of the Changsha Kingdom.
During the Han Dynasty, the famous Mawangdui Tombs were constructed to house the remains of the Marquis of Dai, his wife and a second male who archeologists believe was their son. A number of finds in the tomb have helped piece together Changsha's historical importance: rare volumes written on silk were found in the tombs along with a large collection wooden figurines which have provided valuable links between costume and status in Western Han society.
Yuelu Academy was founded during the Song Dynasty in Changsha and evolved over the next 1000 years into a modern higher education institution. Zhu Xi and Zhang Shi the renowned Confucian Scholars both lectured at the academy.
As a part of the Treaty of Shanghai in 1903, Changsha was opened up to foreign trade, as a consequence of which the city experienced a boom when factories, churches and schools were built with the resultant influx of money and people. Yale University alumni opened a college in the city, which later became the Xiangya Medical Centre and the Yali Secondary School.
A large part of the history of Changsha and the area around it is based on its connection with Chairman Mao. He was brought up in the small village of Shaoshan situated about 100 kilometers outside of Changsha, later attending Hunan Number 1 Teachers' Training School in the city. Two of his former residences and his former office are now open to visitors.
Four large battles took place in Changsha during the Second Sino-Japanese War, when invading Japanese forces tried to capture it from the Chinese Nationalists who had secured the area. The 4th Battle of Changsha ended when the city finally fell to Japanese forces who held it for a year before being defeated in a counter-attack. The city became part of the territory of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
Situated in the river valley along the lower part of Xiang River, Changsha is the capital city of Hunan Province. The recorded history of Changsha can be traced back 3000 years. Tomb relics from the primitive periods witnessing the earliest human of activities have been discovered in this regThe scorching summer and cold winter are two distinctive seasons in this area. The summer comes around the later May with high heat and heavy humidity. The sweltering days of July and August are particularly stifling. Changsha's winter comes around November bringing little sunlight and heavy fogs. Although it is reported that the average temperature in winter is about five degrees, the winter days in Changsha can be severely cold as those in the northern China cities due to the great humidity carried by the river winds from Xiangjiang River. Llike Wuhan, the city has no heaters and we suggest travelers bring cotton and packed clothes, gloves and scarves and a hat for the windy days. Most of the rest days in a year are misty and cloudy.
Changsha has a humid subtropical climate and the mean annual temperature ranges between 16-18oC (61-64oF). Even in coldest January, temperature seldom falls below 0oC (32oF), averaging between 3oC (37oF) and 8oC (46oF). During the hot summer months, temperature during the day may go beyond 35oC (95oF), and such days amounts to an average of 30 days in a year. This makes spring, autumn and winter the better seasons to travel to Changsha.
Spring, during the months from March through May, is the best time to travel to the city. Likewise, September is a good time to visit, during the short but pleasant autumn period when the red maples on Long Island (Juzizhou) are in full blossom and the temperatures in this period are around 15C (59F) to 20C (68F).
One thing a traveler should bear in mind is that the weather changes greatly during the transit period between spring and summer or summer and autumn. An unexpected summer rainstorm could arrive suddenly on a sunny day, so make sure to bring an umbrella with you. The long rain period starts in October and continues for one or two months, therefore one should plan indoor tourist activities during the latter part of a year.
Summer and winter months last for about four months each, while spring and autumn are consequently shorter. Spring comes in mid-February and weather can be inconsistent. Temperature rises sharply in May when summer begins and stays mostly above 30oC (86oF) for the next three months. As autumn draws nearer, temperate weather predominates, with temperature averaging between 15-17oC (59-63oF). Winter, on the other hand, arrives in late November with a mean temperature of around 5oC (41oF).
Due to the peculiar terrain, the rainfall varies in different regions, ranging from 1,200 millimeters (47 inches) to 1,700 millimeters (67 inches). It is humid throughout the year, with an average of 152 rainy days a year.
The people of Changsha are renowned for their performing arts and they have created various traditional folk performances of their own, including Lion Dance, Dragon Dance, Drum Opera, Clam Dance, Xiang Opera (i.e. Hunan Opera), acrobatics and other dramatic presentations. At Spring Festival, these folk performances appear in the streets and lanes. Where the performers reach is where the atmosphere is the most alive.
Traditional folk art was highly fashionable during a period of the city's history and many of today's theatres and opera halls in Changsha date from that time. Today, most of these places of entertainment present dynamic entertaining plays and performances that feature a blend of the traditional elements with more modern trends.
The peak time for night life in the city is during the period from one to two o'clock. This is when you will find the streets jammed with cars, enthusiastic crowds and shrewd peddlers. Around twelve, it is very hard to find an available taxi near the main thoroughfares of Shaoshan Lu, Furong Lu and Bayi Lu as they are all kept very busy.
Some people think that to enjoy the nightlife of Changsha, you may have four steps: the first is footbath; the second is passing time in pubs; the third is singing in the KTV; and the last one is trying midnight snack.
In the downtown of Changsha, there are many footbath centers. After supper at around 19:00, you may go to a footbath center to have a foot massage. Put your feet in the wooden basin with warm milk or in the warm water with Chinese herbal medicines or flowers. The massage man cleans your feet and gives a massage to your legs, feet, arms and head.
It will take you about one hour to finish the footbath. After that, you can go to pubs or bars. If you were accompanied by friends, it would be more pleasant. Then, if you'd love to, you may sing several songs in KTV. Now, most Chinese KTVs provide not only Chinese songs but also English, Japanese, Korean and French songs. When you leave the KTV for your accommodation, you can have some midnight snack if you feel a little hungry. Think about this four-step nightlife and how do you like it?
Hot Clubs and Squares
Golden Time (Jin1 Se4 Nian2 Hua2)
Huatian Theatre (Hua2 Tian1 Da4 Ju4 Chang3)
Red Sun Entertainment (Hong2 Tai4 Yang2)
Theaters & Concerts Hall
Changsha Xiang Opera Theater
Bars & Teahouses & Clubs
Changsha Blue Goblin Bar
Lingye Tea House
Hunan Cuisine, also known as ' Xiang' Cuisine is renowned as one of the Eight Cuisines of China. It is features a fine and delicate appearance together with a hot and spicy flavor. The chefs cut the vegetables into fascinating shapes and patterns and use them to create a handsome assortment of cold dishes. Each dish tells its own story.
Like China's southwestern Sichuan Province, the major part of the Hunan Province is a lowland area with relatively high humidity. Therefore, as with the people of Sichuan, the local people have developed the habit of eating capsicum to combat the humidity and induce a feeling of coolness. Hunan Cuisine has a hot and strong savor. Typical of this cuisine is the famous seasoning called Liuyang Lobster Sauce. This is a kind of bean sauce made with pepper and capsicum that is often added to dishes to create a hot flavor.
In contrast with the more widely recognized quick stir fry method of Chinese cooking, gentle simmering is an important feature of Hunan Cuisine. By preparing the food over a low heat and allowing it to simmer slowly the nutritional value is maintained while developing an exciting fresh flavor.
Quality restaurants in Changsha offer a range of special dishes from different parts of Hunan. These restaurants usually have a luxury environment with excellent service than you would expect to find in the more ordinary food shops and this is reflected in the prices one has to pay. The most famous of these are the Golden Sun Restaurant (Jin Taiyang Jiujia) and West Lake Restaurant (Xihu Lou Jiujia).
Featured Hunan Specials
Three-Boxed Birds (San Ceng Tao Ji)
Crisp Sesame Duck (Maren Xiangsu Ya)
Changsha Maren Crispy Duck is the masterpiece of Shi Yinxiang, the famous chef in Changsha. Fry the fat duck and pour oil onto the skin until the color become golden. Add some pepper power, sesame oil and cut to pieces. Put to the plate and decorate with head, wings, duck webs and caraway.
Non-Yolk Eggs with Mushroom (Huagu Wu Danhuang)
The chef makes a tiny hole in the bottom of the eggshells and removes the eggs. Then the egg white with a prepared chicken soup and salt are put back into the shells again and cooked. The most delicate of these will have a smooth cover and tender taste.
Spicy Chicken Cubes (Mala Zi Ji)
Simply stir-fry the chicken dices with pepper, capsicum, vinegar, shaohsing wine over high heat. The finished dish should have a bright color and spicy flavor. It is easy to describe, but very hard to cook. The best place to enjoy it is Yuloudong Restaurant.
Deyuan Steamed Bun
Deyuan Steamed Bun has thin skin and big stuffing. The sweet stuffing is made of candy, rose candy or sweet-scented osmanthus candy. The meat stuffing is made of pork, dried mushroom and jelly oil.
Deyuan was built during Guangxu Period of Qing Dynasty. It got its name from "where there is morality; where there is happiness, there is endurance" from the ancient book "The Spring and Autumn with commentary". Originally, it was a small shop run by a couple. After several times of change of owners, there was no great success.
In the beginning of the Republic of China, several unemployed official chefs bough Deyuan and moved it to the crossing of Fangxi Lane, Huangxinglu, offering the customers the dishes of feudal official. There were always some leftover of seafood and fresh foods, so they chopped these food and made the stuffing for bun. To their surprise, the bun with such stuffing was quite popular. From then on, Deyuan steamed bun became famous.
After "Wenxi Fire" accident, some of the original chefs rebuilt the restaurant and named it Deyuan Teahouse. Gradually, it is well-known in Changsha for its "Eight Baozi", which are Rose and Sugar, Dried Mushroom and Pork, Sugar and Salt Vegetable, Crystal Sugar, Sesame, Shrimp and Pork, Seashell and Pork, and Barbecued Pork Baozi.
Liu Defang Tangyuan (Dumpling in Soup)
Liu Defang Tangyuan is a famous snack of Changsha City. It is sold in Liu Defang Tangyuan Restaurant only, which was established in Daoguang Period (1812-1850) of Qing Dynasty.
Liu Defang, nicknamed Liu San, was born in a poor family and sold tangyuan to make a living. Due to the good material and nice taste, his tangyuan was very famous. In 1852, Liu Defang went to buy flour and found that there was a sycee in the flour. So he went to buy six bags of flours and got another six sycees. With the silver, he bought a restaurant to run tangyuan. For the nice taste of its tangyuan, the restaurant has been very popular.
Lobster is kind of big shrimp with crust propagating crazily in the lakes. With pepper, aniseed, fennel, garlic, gingers and other seasonings, stir-fry it with wine and cook it until done. It look red and quite delicious. It is so hot, but one cannot help eating it again and again.
There are some other nice dishes, such as: Beef Tripe and Bamboo Shoot Slices, Mushroom in Egg without Yolk, Spicy Little Chicken, Chicken, Dove and Sparrow, Spicy Saizi (deep-fried dough twist), Yang Yuxing Noodle, Sisters'Tuanzi (Dumpling).
Flavored Snack Food – Let's get hot
Huogongdian (Fire Palace) - featured snacks
Today, the two-storied building has been decorated in a simple and antique style, in which are several snack shops and restaurants. It is the best place to sample the local snacks. Their most famous snacks include
Fried Stinky tofu (Smelly tofu)
Sisters' Rice Balls
Bean Curd with Odor
The best bean curd with odor is at Huogongdian Restaurant, which has a history of one hundred years. In 1958, Chairman Mao had bean curd with odor in Honggongdian Restaurant when he visited Changsha City.
Bean curd with odor in Huogongdian Restaurant is made of Liuyang fermented soybeans and bittern, which was made of winter bamboo shoot, dried mushroom and koji wine. The fried bean curd of odor is crispy outside and tender inside. It is so delicious to eat with capsicum oil, castor oil and sauce.
Wuyi Square Shopping Circle – Central
Wuyi Lu, a main thoroughfare in the city central area including the West, the Middle and the East sections, is a popular shopping area in the city. All sorts of department stores, shopping malls and supermarkets, hotels, restaurants on the visitors' recommended list surround the bustling Wuyi Square. In the middle of Wuyi Lu is the Aijialing Shopping Circle, which include Friendship Store and Apollo Shopping City.
Vertically intersected with the western section of Wuyi Lu, is the north-south Huangxing Lu. The southern section of the street, known as Huangxing Nanlu Walking Street is a new shopping, leisure, dining and touring center expanded on the base of a century-old street in Changsha. It was planned to be consisted of three parts, a walking Street, indoor stores and an elaborately designed garden-like entertainment square. All kinds of theme activities of street hip-pop dances, magic, music performances and acrobatic shows will be held there in addition to hundreds of clothing stores and restaurants, which provide plenty of choices for tourists.
One block north to the Wuyi Lu, is Zhongshan Lu, which joined to the northern end of the Huangxing Lu. It is another shopping area in the city central area.
Dongtang Shopping Area–South
Railway Station Area–East
Stores and Shopping Centers
Dongtang Department Store
Zhongshanlu Department Store
Apollo Shopping Center
Hunan Shopping Center
Xiang Embroidery Shopping
What to Buy
Embroidery is a traditional Chinese craft made through needling by hand. The adoption of different needling methods resulted in different embroidery styles and technique schools. Chinese embroidery had already reached a high level as early as in the Qin and Han dynasties, and the ancient Chinese Silk Road made it well-known all around the world.
Xiang Embroidery is one of the four famous Chinese embroidery styles. Designs on Xiang embroidery mostly derive from traditional Chinese paintings of landscapes, human figures, flowers, birds and animals. The most common designs on Xiang embroidery are lions and tigers. Nowadays, Xiang embroidery is famous abroad as the ideal embroidery. Hand embroidery craft items such as clothes, bags, wall hangings, handkerchiefs and other decorative items are popular souvenir for travelers.
Changshayao Kiln is also called as "Tongguanyao Kiln" due to its discovery in today's Wazhaping, Tongguan Town, Changsha City. Its porcelain production started in Tang Dynasty, reached its peak from late Tang to Five Dynasties, and came to decline after Five Dynasties. Its products were of numerous modeling types. Daily porcelains of all kinds were made there. Short-mouthed pot with several angles is its typical porcelain product.
Tea in Changsha
In Changsha, very good tea is also produced, among which the most famous are Changsha Jasmine Tea, Gaoqiaoyinfeng and Weishan Green Tea.
Changsha had convenient transportation even in ancient times. There were more than one hundred watercourses including Xiang River and Dongting Lake. Nowadays, there are national highway 107, 319 and 106, as well as several other speedways; through Zhuzhou, Beijing-Guangzhou railway connects Zhejiang- Jiangxi railway in the east and Hunan – Guizhou railway in the west; the provincial railway Shimen – Changsha connects Yidu (Hubei) – Liuzhou (Guangxi) railway; Huanghua Airport is an international airport and has several international flight courses; the watercourses are very convenient also.
From Huanghua Airport, there are non-stop flights to 53 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming and Chongqing.
There are special buses from the downtown to the airport, stops: Civil Aviation Hotel (No 75, Wuyidonglu) during 6:30 AM to the last flight. One can also take public bus No 114 from railway station to Huanghua Airport. running time: 6:30 am to 16:30. One way: 65 minutes.
The railway station is located at Dongzhanlu of downtown. It could be reached by many public buses such as 108, 110, 111 and 113. Changsha railway station is an important big modern station at Beijing – Guangzhou Railway, with different waiting halls for express trains and normal trains as well as honored guest waiting room. Everyday, there are nearly one hundred passenger trains departing or passing Changsha, reaching all the big and moderate cities of China.
The 107 national highway from Beijing to Shenzhen, 319 national highway from Xiamen to Chengdu all pass Changsha.
There are three long distance bus stations: East Station, West Station and South Station, of which the East and West Bus Stations are of more use to travelers.
From East Bus Station, there are mainly coaches to Hefei, Nanchang, Xiamen, Nanjing and Shanghai.
From South Bus Station, there are mainly coaches to Guilin, and other cities, towns within the Province.
Special Tourist Line
At nighttime (21:00 – 05:00 am), the charge is: within 3 kilometers, adds CNY 1 on the base of day time charge; over 3 kilometers, CNY 2.16 for each kilometer.
It is charged every 500 meters. If the passenger requires the taxi stop and wait midway, CNY 1.8 / each 5 minutes during daytime or CNY 2.16 during nighttime.