Brief Introduction of Changsha

Changsha City

Changsha City

As the capital city of Hunan province, Changsha now governs the six districts of Furong, Tianxin, Yuelu, Kaifu, Yuhua and Wangcheng and the two counties of Changsha and Ningxiang as well as the city of Liuyang. The city owns five national development zones including Changsha High-tech Zone, Changsha Economic Development Zone, Ningxiang Economic Development Zone, Liuyang Economic Development Zone and Wangcheng Economic Development Zone, and nine provincial zones including Jinxia Development Zone. Changsha boasts a total area of 11800 square kilometers, of which 1909.86 square kilometers are urban, and the city has a completed construction area of 320 square kilometers with an urbanization rate reaching 68.5%. Until 2012, Changsha had 7.15 million residents, of whom 3.7 million were living in the urban area.

Changsha is a “historical city” well-known at home and abroad. The name of “Changsha” was first seen in the West Zhou Dynasty 3000 years ago. In later dynasties, Changsha was always an important city of Hunan and a key town in Southern China. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Changsha, as the capital city of Hunan province, was made one of the first group of 24 historical cities in China by the State Council of China. Since the 1970s, a large number of historical relics have been unearthed in the city, of which the West Han Tomb excavated in Mawangdui and the Inscribed Bamboo Slips of Sun Wu from the Three Kingdoms Period uncovered in Zoumalou have shocked the world.

Changsha is a “Cultural City” gathering great culture and professionals. It is a remarkable place producing outstanding people and brilliant minds. The world’s cultural celebrity Qu Yuan, Han Dynasty outstanding politician Jia Yi and Tang Dynasty great poet Du Fu all “moved to Changsha” and left their masterpieces by the Xiangjiang River. The Song Dynasty’s famous Confucian scholar Zhu Xi and Zhang Shi even held lectures at the thousand-year old Yuelu Academy and gradually formed the Huxiang Culture which had a far-reaching influence with the “statecraft ideology” as its core. “The elites were bred in Chu, and the best were gathering here.” Since the mid-Qing Dynasty, such celebrities as Zeng Guofan and Zuo Zongtang have all studied at the Yuelu Academy. 

Changsha Ferris Wheel

Changsha Ferris Wheel

Changsha is a “holy and revolutionary city” giving birth to a multitude of heroes. Changsha has a glorious tradition in revolution and is known as “the cradle of revolution” in China. In the modern Chinese history that featured big turmoil, talented people came forth in large numbers in Changsha. Such pioneers of the Revolution of 1911 as Huang Xing and Cai E, have all left their footprints of struggle in the City which also gave birth to a large number of proletarian revolutionaries and outstanding leaders shining in the annals of China, including Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi. All this has made the city one of the birthplaces of China’s revolution.

Changsha is a “landscape city” full of beauty. The Yuelu Mountain looks like fire with its autumn maple trees. The Tianxin Pavilion offers a magnificent vista when looking far from it. The Xiangjiang water flows upward to the north, and the Orange Island lies restfully in the middle of a river. There is also the Dawei Mountain Forest Park and the Huitang Hot spring along with a number of celebrities’ residences, all of which are either famous destinations of tourism or sightseeing, making Changsha one of the first group of excellent tourism cities by the State Council of China.

Changsha Tourism

Orange Isle

Orange Isle

Changsha is one of China’s great inland metropolises, and it is now opening up for tourism. It is interesting for tourists because it is less touristy, more authentically Chinese, and prices are lower than in the better known tourist locals.

Tourists might also want to stop there on their way to or from the Zhangjiajie/Wulingyuan scenic area that is only four hours away by bus.

  • Chinese:长沙 Chángshā /chung-shaa/ ‘long sand’
  • Population:7 million people, capital of one of China’s most populous provinces
  • Highlights:Orange Island, Mount Yuelu, pedestrian street
  • Time needed:a day
  • Popular activities:Sightseeing, hiking in the parks, shopping, dining
  • Must sees:Orange Island’s spring gardens and fruit trees

Changsha Highlights

These four most popular tourist attractions are all within about 7 miles or 11 kilometres of each other in the centre of the city. This makes visiting all these places easy while staying in Changsha.

Huangxing Road (黄兴路) Pedestrian Street

Yuelu Mountain

Yuelu Mountain

The highlights are the little Chinese shops that give economical prices and a wide selection and the little restaurants and snack stands along it. The lively and friendly atmosphere on the two kilometre street provides an interesting place to shop, and you can save money compared to the more touristy cities.

This street is the region’s favourite shopping and dining pedestrian street.

Sightsee on Orange Island

Orange Island (橘子洲, Júzǐzhōu): This narrow island and park is in the middle of Changsha in the Xiangjiang River, and it is probably the second most popular attraction for tourists after Mount Yuelu. There are gardens and thousands of fruit trees, frequent grand firework displays in the evening, and a big statue of Mao’s head.

Walk and Sightsee in Yuelu Academy Park

Mount Yuelu Park: You can get good exercise and walk for an hour up the hill and see both nature and the city skyline in Changsha’s most popular parkYuelu Academy was one of the first four “universities” in China. It was built in 976. A highlight of the park is a museum about education that teaches people about the historic academy, Hunan University, and China’s modern educational system and goals.

Discover the History of Hunan

Hunan Provincial Museum: One of foreign tourists’ most popular highlights is this large museum. Among the thousands of well-preserved artefacts on display from various eras are those from a 2,000 year old Han-era tomb.

Weather

Dongting Lake

Dongting Lake

Changsha has a subtropical, but moderately humid, climate. It freezes in winter and is hot in summer. The city is considered one of the 10 or so “furnace cities” of China. Especially the inner city swelters in humid heat, and temperatures may rise above 40 °C (104 °F). See the Changsha weather forecast.

Best Times for Touring

Air Quality

Changsha is an industrial city, but paradoxically, the air quality is unusually good for a Chinese city. The river wind is what keeps pollution low in the city. Visitors can enjoy blue skies and clean air at the big parks along the Xiangjiang River. In December and January coal is burned, so if you have asthma or other ailments, it might be best to avoid the city these months.

Changsha Transportation

Changsha railway station

Changsha Railway Station

Travelling into Changsha is pretty straight forward.  Typically as a foreigner, you’ll arrive one of two ways plane and train.  If you come by plane:

Taxi to downtown: 80-120RMB, usually around 100 inclusive of the 10-15RMB toll which cannot be avoided

OR

Bus: 18RMB to the city centre train station Hou Che Zhan (the station is perpendicular to Wuyi Dadao (Wuyi Avenue)

OR

personal car picks you up.

Once at the train station by bus or coming into town:

The train station has a nearby electronics city, which is ok and has some decent computer stuff, but not like Shenzhen.

A taxi ride from the train station to the main square one block from the walking street is about 8-10RMB.