Changsha travel guide
Changsha, located in Hunan Province in China, has been inhabited for over 3000 years. Rich in local and national history, this wonderful city is a place full of vibrancy, archaeology and friendly people who will truly make any visit worthwhile.
When Bertrand Russell, the famous British philosopher, arrived in Changsha in the 1920s he likened it to that of a medieval town, a place where time stood still in one particular period. Today, Changsha looks similar to that of other cities found in China but still retains a uniqueness that is all her own. A city guide to Changsha will allow you to find things to see and do in this amazing city.
As stated, Changsha has a long history; her roots go back further than that of the Warring States period, but it was this point when she came into her own. She boasts all her historical glory in the Hunan Provincial Museum (Hunan Sheng Bowuguan) and all tourists make their way here. Ask anyone and they will tell you that this extraordinary provincial museum is one of the best museums in the entire country. There are some stunning ancient artefacts found unearthed throughout the province, including some from the famous Western Han Mawangdui Tombs.
The Mawangdui Tombs can found 5km to the east of the city and date from the Western Han period. Some artefacts displayed at the museum include wooden figures, Lacquerware, silk, and silk and bamboo wooden slips. Each item tells a different story about the period but the wooden slips are especially important as one includes an early recording of the I China written in the official clerical script from the Han Dynasty.
But it is the body of the Marquess of Dai which really captures the attention of visitors, both Chinese and foreign. She was the wife of the Marquis of Mawangdui and her body has been preserved beautifully. She has been taken out of her gorgeous coffin, created in various layers and designs, and placed on display. Note, however, that time has left her with a terrified look upon her face.
When you need to go to a place where you can relax the mind and the body, head on up to Yuelu Park (Yuelu gongyuan). Hiking from here to Loving Dusk Pavilion (Aiwan Ting) will result in you enjoying some stunning views. The park is located at the bottom of High Mountain Park and the local university is also here.
Changsha is the gateway to Chairman Mao’s birthplace but has several attractions which should interest anyone related to the man who made a deep impact on Chinese history. These include the former site of the Hunan CPC Committee can be found in the Changsha City Museum (Shi Bowuguan) and a gigantic statue of the Great Helmsman which was erected in 1968.
The Changsha City Museum has some interesting artefacts from different periods of her history and will take you on a fascinating journey through time. If you come here on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday you can also visit a quaint little antique market where you can haggle for bargains. You will find it at the entrance gate of the museum.
There are various different hotels in Changsha catering to a range of budgets and desires. There are hostels for those backpacking on a strict budget, mid-range hotels for those need more comfort, and top of the range hotels for those who can afford it.
Restaurants in Changsha will leave your tastebuds tingling with all the different flavours and spices local chefs use. Try the Bean Curd with Odour, the Changsha Maren Crispy Duck and the delicious Deyuan Steamed bun. All will leave you coming back for seconds.
Travelling to Changsha is relatively easy to do as the city has transport links via plane, long distance bus and train routes. There are regular buses to and from Jinggang Shan (taking five hours), Heng Shan (two and a half hours), Guilin (six hours) and Shaoshan (two hours). The city is on the Guangzhou-Changsha-Beijing train route and there is also a train that commutes to and from Shanghai (20 hours) daily. You can also stop here if you are on the Kowloon train route to Beijing. The closest airport is Hunanghua International Airport, 26km from Changsha, and you can hop on board a shuttle bus which will take you directly to the Civil Avaition Hotel.
Changsha is a city that may not look as vibrant and colourful as bigger Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai, but her vast history has made it that she has a treasure chest of cultural sites that will fascinate you and appreciate her for the beautiful lady that she is.