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City Guide -- Changsha

Travel Guide of Changsha in Hunan Province


General Features
Situated in the river valley along the lower part of Xiang River, Changsha is the capital city of Hunan Province. The city covers a jurisdiction area of 11819 square kilometers. Average cultivated area of farmers is 0.87 mu.

Changsha is located in the east and central part of Hunan and the lower reaches of Xiang River. Hunan Province is situated in the southeast of China, north of Guangdong. Hunan literally means "south of the lake" - is one of China's smallest provinces, and lies mainly south of Dongting Lake. Hunan is best known as the birthplace of Mao Zedong and for its fiery food. It is also renowned for the liberal use of chili peppers in its food. Local favorites include spicy chicken and snake.

Changsha gets its name - 'long sand isle' - because of a shoal in the Xiang river.

Geographic Location
Changsha is located in intermediate place of Central Hunan hilly area and alluvial plain of Dongting Lake as well as Xiang Liu Basin. It is high in the south and low in the north. Hills and mountain streams, red rock and white sand interlace here. Mountain, hill, hill slope and plains are equally available here. There is mostly red land with weak acid and alluvial soil of river, which is fertile and suit for cultivating. Forest and paddy field are mainly applied, among which the forest is 51.65% and cultivation area is 28.38%.

The 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 in centigrade, 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. Like Wuhan, the city has no heaters and we suggest travelers bring heavy over coats, gloves and scarves and a hat for the windy days. Most of the rest days in a year are misty and cloudy.

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 15 C (59 F) to 20 C (68 F).

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.

Culture Heritage
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 region. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C. - 476 B.C.), the area developed into an important town within the State of Chu, (one of the seven warring states that existed before China's unification by Emperor Qin). After Emperor Qin (the first feudal emperor in China's history) unified the country, the town was set up as a county and later became the capital city of a state in the early Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220). The tomb excavation site of Mawangtui found in the eastern suburb of the city is a family graveyard from that period. The most fantastic historical relic should be the well-preserved mummified remains of a Western Han Dynasty woman excavated from the tombs. Some of thousands of relics unearthed include silk products, paintings, lacquer works, potteries, bamboo slips used for writing, weapons and herbs, all of which are exhibited in Hunan Provincial Museum.

In the dynasties that followed, the city experienced several expansions and during China's Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it has developed into the political, economic and cultural center of Hunan Province.

Historical Sites
Although not as an ancient capital city as Beijing, Nanjing or Xi’an, Changsha also has rich historical heritages including old wall remains, tomb sites, religious temples and buildings. What earns the city its reputation among tourists are two things. One is a great man in China's recent history, Chairman Mao Zedong and the other is Yuelu Academy, a time-honored academic school perched on the scenic Yuelu Mountain. Originally built in 976 during the Song Dynasty, the academy school survived through the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties and is considered to be the cradle of Huxiang Culture. (simply means the culture school in Hunan Province)

The village of Shaoshan, about 130 kilometers south-west of Changsha is the hometown of Chairman Mao Zedong. Today, the village has become a pilgrimage for Chinese people to remember this extraordinary man. People erected a statue of the Chairman and have preserved the houses where he lived as a tourist site. A museum and other memorial spots in the scenic area create a kind of solemn atmosphere. Many Chinese come to pay respect and visit here during the memorial days.

In addition, the city was home town of other revolutionary leaders including Liu Shaoqi, Huyaobang and former Chinese prime minister, Zhu Rongji. Therefore, it acts as a good place to learn more about Contemporary Chinese history.

The Local Cuisine:
Changsha people boast to be the best gourmand of China and here people spend a lot of time on eating. Xiang Cuisine is one of the Eight Major Cuisines in China and has a fine and delicate appearance and a hot & sour taste. The spicy taste is the competitor to the spicy food of Sichuan. The local flavour of the town make every visitor's mouth hot. No matter the featured snacks - 'Stinky Tofu' and 'Sisters' Rice Balls' in Huogongdian (Fire Palace) or the famous spicy shrimps at Nanmenkou, the many types of delicious local delicacies will not disappoint any guests.

Natural Resources
Changsha, endowed with unique natural geography, beautiful scenery mountains and rivers as well as abundant natural resources, is the only selected city for ecology among provincial capital cities of China.

Mineral Resources
Changsha owns a great variety of minerals, especially for non-metallic minerals. The founded minerals are iron, manganese, vanadium, bronze, zinc, sulfur, phosphorus, meerschaum, barite, calcareous clay slate and coal etc. totally 50 kinds. There is unique calcareous clay slate, richest meerschaum in China and Yonghe Phosphorite with top production scale in the province etc. Among that there are 10 big-scale mineral deposits, 16 small deposits and over 300 places with mineral resources.

Water Resources
Changsha belongs to Xiangjiang water system and has abundant water resources. Xiangjiang passes through Changsha from south to north about 75 km to join into Dongting Lake. There are 15 tributaries in Changsha, among which the biggest one is Liuyang River, Laodao River, Jinjiang River and Weishui River. Total water resources is 80.8 billion cubic meters, and the water resources per capita is 3600 cubic meters, which is higher than the national water resources per capita-2220 cubic meters.

The Achievements
Changsha has a good industrial and economic base, rather reasonable industrial structure, and is one of the areas with the most industrial and economic development potential in Central-South China. As for its agriculture, Changsha City has good agricultural ecologic environment, and was the first of “4-largest rice markets” in China in its history, and now is an important commodity food production and research base. As for its tertiary industry, for a long history, Changsha City has been an important business town in the south of Changjiang River. Changsha has deep trade tradition, first-class facility, prosperous market, and is the most important business city in Central-South China and one of the first excellent tourism cities in China.

The Sightseeing
Changsha is rich in tourist resources because of its unique geographical location. Surrounding the city are the beautiful Yuelu Mountain, Dawei Mountain and Weishan Mountain, and the Xiangjiang River and Liuyang River flow across it. The Jvzizhou scenic spot in the city is regarded as one of the eight most charming places in Hunan attracting both domestic and overseas visitors.

The main sites in town: Hunan Provincial Museum, Mawangdui Han Tombs, Mt. Yuelu




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