Changchun is one of the few cities in China that boasts a sizeable minority population including Manchurians, Muslims, Mongolians, Xibao and Zhuang. Located in the very center of the Dongbei Plain, Chanchun began its life in 1800 as a major granary in the north due to its unparalleled fertile soil. Within a quarter of a century, it quickly gained its fame as the rice and soy producing city of Asia.
Changchun lay in peace throughout the 19th century until it began to be disturbed with the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. In 1924, the last (already deposed emperor) Puyi, moved to Changchun by order of, and for protection under, the expanding, ambitious Japanese.
Changchun remained the capital of the Japanese Manchukuo state from around 1932 until 1945. It was not until after the liberation that this situation was officially put to an end. Puyi was thrown into prison.
Changchun has grown speedly in recent year, concentrating on major primary industries. The discovery of large oil & gas reserves in the late 1950s gave the Changchun city the added boost that it needed to carry its modernisation into the twenty first century. With such a thriving environment the city began to churn out a variety of goods. Most notable were films from the propaganda machine, the Changchun Film Studio, the automobile industry, with Liberation Trucks heading towards Korea, and "red flag" Limousines heading for Changchun's Zhongnanhai (the leadership compound). Today, cars running on the road of Changchun are mainly Golf, Santana, and Audi, thanks to the establishment of a Sino-German joint venture.
It is not industry that brings tourists to the city, however, but a variety of other factors, mainly related to the cities pleasant scenery, its history or its skiing.
For more excitement, the snowy slopes of Jingyuetan are a good way to enjoy the cold.
Changchun is an ideal winter tourist destination. The freezing cold weather has resulted in some of the finest ski resorts in China. The Beidahu, Jingyuetan and Songhuahu ski resorts are great places for ski lovers seeking both for fun and challenge. The rime scenery in winter in the area has been recognized as one of the four natural wonders of China.
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Changchun is a young city with a long history. There were human activities here as early as 70,000 years ago and the earliest primitive hordes inhabited the area some 7,000 years ago. It was the possession of the "Fuyuguo" kingdom and the Bohaiyuan Kingdom successively. The years under the reign of the Liao (907-1125) and Jin (1115-1234) dynasties are considered the most prosperous periods in the history of Changchun. The Prefecture of "Huanglongfu" was established in the area of Nongan and an ancient pagoda built in the Liao Dynasty still exists. In 18000, the court of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), established in todays Xinlicheng, the Changchun Ting-an administrative division at the sub-provincial level. In the period 1931-1945, Changchun was reduced to the capital of the puppet Manchukuo regime, called "Xinjing" -the new capital.
In October 1948, Changchun was liberated and designated as a special city. In 1954, it was made the capital of Jilin Province. In 1955, it became a municipality directly under the central government. In 1979, it was listed as one of the countrys 15 central economic cities. In 1989, it was approved as one of the municipalities with independent budgetary status by the State Council. In 1992, it was designated as a key open city. In 1994, it was listed as a city enjoying sub-provincial status. Changchun has a long history and a modernized civilization.
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Changchun located within the transitional area between the mountainous wet region to the east and semi-arid plains to the west, Changchun has a temperate, semi-monsoon climate. Changbai Mountain serves as a barrier, helping to prevent the city from the frequent monsoons in summer time. In contrast, there is no obvious impediment to hold the bitter cold from Siberia in check in winter.
Changchun boasts four distinct seasons– Spring here is generally dry and windy; summer is short and warm; autumn is clear with big daily temperature differences; winter is piercingly cold and long.
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Changchun is very convenient for shopping; Chongqing Lu, Guangfu Market, Renmin Plaza, etc. are all crowded business area. Moreover there are many large shopping malls are waiting for you, such as Changchun Department Store, Changbaishan Shopping Center, International Trade Center, Charter Shopping Center, an the like. Some of stores in Changchun sell speciality local products of Jilin Province and some handcrafts made by local peasants, such as woodcarvings, grass intertextures, bark pictures, feather pictures, and so on and all make unique gifts for friends and relatives. In addition you can buy authentic ginsengs and deer antlers at low price.
Busy business area and pedestrian streets:
Chongqing Lu Business Street
It is the most famous business street in Changchun. Changchun General Merchandise Center, International Trade Center, Charter Shopping Center, Wangfujing Shopping Mall, Wal-Mart Supermarket can all be found here.
Guilin Lu Commercial Street
It is a large business area mixed with shopping and entertainment. Hengkelong Supermarket, Guilin Lu Market, Lufthansa Shopping Center and so on can cater for all your shopping desires.
Heishui Lu Business Area
It is a very big comprehensive and influential wholesale market in Changchun, and renowned throughout Jilin Province.
Changjiang Lu Pedestrian Street
It is located in the south of Changchun Railway Station. Fashionable and elegant shopping environment will definitely make you feel at ease.
You can find a number of monopoly stores selling religious items.
Sumptuous and fashionable shopping centers:
Charter Shopping Center
Being one of the top shopping malls in Changchun, Charter Shopping Center provides you commodities of top-grade international, Asian and Chinese brands.
Changchun International Commercial Center
Designed according to modern business center buildings, it is in front of Changchun Railway Station.
Changchun Parkson Shopping Center
It is a Malaysia chain shopping center, located in the downtown area, providing you clothes, cosmetics, jewelries and bags etc.
Changchun Department Store
It is the largest general merchandise center throughout Jilin Province.
Changchun International Trade Center
Located in the downtown area, it is one of top-grade shopping centers in Changchun.
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South Lake (南湖公园; Nánhúgōngyuán). A large park which is a favorite picnic and recreation spot for locals. In the summer, the lake is used for boating and water sports, and there is a stand of huge lotus plants near one part of it. In the winter, the lake freezes over and serves as a natural skating rink. In winter months it's a romatic and quiet place - but you have to suffer the low winter temeratures. The park almost feels like it is not part of a city, except that there is a good view of the skyscrapers in downtown Changchun across the lake. The park is a very safe place to wander around in the early evening.
Jingyuetan National Forest Park
[[Jingyuetan National Forest Park]] (净月潭国家森林公园; Jìngyuètánguójiāsēnlíngōngyuán; lit. Crystal Moon Pond), (45 min from downtown to the south east of the city). It is the largest man-made forest park in Asia, and a great place for skiing in the winter. The admission is a rather steep ¥30; or you could, like the locals, just climb through one of the many holes in the fence.
Culture Square (文化广场). Starting north of the crossroads of Xinmin Dajie (新民大街) and Jiefang Dalu (解放大路), is a pleasant urban hangout which offers a glimpse into Changchun's Japanese imperial past. The square is surrounded by several historical buildings from the Manchukuo era. On the north end of the square sits the majestic former New Palace of the Emperor of Manchukuo (新帝宫), which was intended to replace the Puppet Imperial Palace mentioned below. On the south end of the square are the former Manchukuo State Council and Military Affairs buildings. These buildings, which are now affiliated with Jilin University, offer prime examples of early Twentieth Century Japanese architecture. On the square, vendors sell kites and various other products. Many people fly kites from this square, while others play traditional Chinese instruments or just sit and relax. More formal performances are sometimes held on a temporary stage set up near the high school. For casual visitors to Changchun, this is probably a good place to visit by taxi. Crossing the street to get to this location is a skill and best done with locals.
People's Square (人民广场). In the Chaoyang District around the cross streets of Xi'an Lu (西安路), Renmin Dajie (人民大街), and Changchun Dajie (长春大街). It is one of the focal points of Changchun. It is close to Baishan Park (白山公园), and a mini "Culture Square" of sorts. The site commemorates the Russian soldiers, and specifically Russian pilots that died to liberate Changchun during the Second World War.
Puppet Imperial Palace
Puppet Imperial Palace (伪皇宫; Wěihuánggōng). Another place to visit to take in historical Manchukuo. The palace was the home of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China and puppet emperor of Manchukuo, and this centre of the Manchukuo administration may be worth a visit. Most signage is in English, and the grounds are nicely restored. Scenes from the acclaimed 1987 film The Last Emperor were filmed here.
Banruo Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Changchun, and is the location of Chuanchun Buddhist Association and the Buddhist Association of Jilin Province. Banruo Temple was originally built in 1922, covering an area of 15,000 square meters. The gateway of the temple is consisted of 3 paratactic arches. There are dense trees and erected halls in the temple. Stepping into the temple, you will see Mile Hall (Tianwang Hall), Main Hall and Western Three Saints Hall one after another.
There are bell-tower and drum-tower on both sides of Tianwang Hall separately; the statue of Mile Buddha is sacrificed in the hall and the statues of Four Tianwang who stamped on 8 strange beasts are situated vividly on both sides of the hall; the statue of safeguard-Weiuo Bodhisattva is erected on the back of the hall. Behind Tianwang hall, Main hall is the center of the temple and the largest building in the temple. The outside of the Main Hall is stately, grand, resplendent and magnificent. The statue of Sakyamuni is sacrificed in the hall, eighteen arhats stand on both sides, and colored paintings are on four walls. There are two attached halls on the both sides of the back of the Main Hall: the eastern one is for Kwan-yin and the western one is for Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. Walking on, you will see a sutra depository where there are plenty of Buddhist classical books. There are tens of wing-rooms in the ancient temple to use as places for cultivating oneself according to a religious doctrine, eating, living, etc. On important Buddhist days, many people come here.
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Changchun Longjia International Airport (长春龙家国际机场 IATA: CGQ) has been in operation since September 2005 and is around 30 km east of Changchun's city center. It replaced a smaller military airport that had been adapted for commercial use. The airport is large and clean, and passengers can find standard amenities such as restaurants, cafes, shops, lounges, credit card acceptance, etc. For first class passengers there are two lounges available, but the standard is far below of the lounges of international airports - but better then nothing.
Different local flight destinations are available, but the major routes throughout the day are to domestic destinations Shanghai (2:20h) and Beijing (1:40h). There are also some international flights to various destinations in Korea (Seoul; ICN - with Asiana) and Japan (Nagoya with CZ).
Domestic one way flights to Beijing cost 960元 (economy normal fare base), but also discount offers in advance are available (range 280-560元)), first class ticket fare is 1530CNY inclusive all. Nevertheless, the airfare is around 4 times higher then the cost of a rail ticket (an overnight railway trip to Beijing is a real alternative price and time wise)- but of course also much faster.
From the airport there are some regular coach services (20-30元 each way) available to the centre (e.g. People's Square 人民广场). The travel time takes around 45 minutes. A Taxi to/from the city costs around 80元 including the toll, but from the airport to the city most of the taxi drivers reject a drive if you are not willing to pay at least 100元 (don't discuss it, do it or take the bus).
If you want Chinese currency you should obtain it at the downtown Bank of China on Xian Dalu (西安大路）or in the hotel, as the rates at the airport are not very favourable, or the office is closed.
Changchun actually has three passenger railway stations: Changchun Railway Station (长春站), Changchun East Railway Station (长春东站) and Changchun South Railway Station (长春南站). Both the East and South stations are very small and only local trains stop there. All trains stop at Changchun Station and this is the place you need to go if you wish to travel any great distance.
Changchun Railway Station (Changchun Zhan 长春站) is situated at the north end of Renmin Dajie (人民大街). Although it's large and chaotic, providing you read and speak some Mandarin and are prepared to fight through the queues, you can buy a ticket to almost anywhere in China from here.
Thanks to the railroad-building efforts of Japanese in the early- to mid-1900s, the rail network in Northeast China is extensive and no place is very far by rail.
Beijing - takes about 8 hours (Z61 Sleeper leaving at 10:30pm)
Dalian - takes about 10 hours
Dandong - takes about 10 hours
Harbin - takes about 4 hours
Jilin - takes about 2 hours
Shanghai - takes about 32 hours
Shenyang - takes about 4 hours
Tonghua - takes about 9 hours
Xian - takes about 34 hours
Rail travel is by far the cheapest way to travel in and out of Changchun. Of course if you don't want to go to the train station yourself, you can go to any good travel agent, who will do this on your behalf, usually for 10-20元 extra.
There are long distance coaches that reguarly go to Beijing from Changchun available from the Coach station on Huanghe Lu (黄河路), just off Renmin Dajie (人民大街) - very near to the train station. There is also a long distance bus station at the south end of Renmin Dajie (人民大街), take the Z306 bus from the train station. You can also catch coaches and buses to pretty much anywhere in Jilin province, though they have a reputation for being dangerous and are slightly more expensive - though faster- than the train.
Main Long-Distance Bus Station Location: 226 Renmin Dajie
- Beijing - takes about 8 hours
- Dalian - takes about 8 hours
- Harbin - takes about 4 hours
- Jilin - takes about 2 hours
- Shenyang - takes about 4 hours
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