Hunan, abbreviated as “Xiang”, is located in south of the middle reaches of Yangtze River, with Changsha as its provincial capital. Hunan Province boasts many famous scenic spots. Among them, the best-known include: the Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area where the gorgeous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is located, the Fenhuang Ancient Town, the Mount Lang, the Mount Heng, the Yueyang Tower and the Dongting Lake, etc.
Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area
The Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, is located in Zhangjiajie City, about 265 kilometers (164.66 miles) away from Changsha. Covering an area of more than 26,000 hectares, Wulingyuan is composed of the world-famous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Suoxi Valley Natural Reserve and the Tianzishan Mountain Natural Reserve, which all together offer you a large number and variety of scenic sights. Wulingyuan is known for its beautiful forests, odd-shaped rock formations, exquisite canyons, limestone caves and stunning panoramic views. It is also home to a wide number of endangered plant and animal species.
Fenghuang Ancient Town (Ancient Town of Phoenix)
Located on the western edge of Hunan Province next to Guizhou, the Fenghuang Ancient Town (Ancient Town of Phoenix) is one of the most beautiful towns in China. Upon entering the town, you will immediately get a sense of the area’s mystery, elegance and primitive simplicity. With a history of 1,300 years, the town features distinct residential buildings, elegant bridges plus several mysterious towers and pagodas. When an early morning mist sets in around the bridges over the water and stilted houses, the area simply becomes a mirror of traditional Chinese paintings. Visiting a Miao village is a must when traveling in Fenghuang. You will find a large array of silver ornaments, homemade tie-dyes, and unique local snacks there.
Located in Xingning County, Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, Mount Lang is a scenic area close to Guilin of Guangxi in the south and Zhangjiajie of Hunan in the north. Featuring a galaxy of Danxia landforms, it was named UNESCO Natural World Heritage in 2010. The whole area is divided into five parts, including Purple Glow Land, Fuyi River, Camel Peak, Ox Nose Castle and Octagonal Castle. Huge deep red rocks in various bizarre shapes will present you with a marvelous view. The mountain is covered by dense vegetation with clear streams flowing through, which have attracted a great number of animals.
Located some 45 kilometers (27.96 miles) north from Hengyang City, Mount Heng is one of China’s five great mountains, and enjoys a reputation of being “the most outstanding amongst all five”. Stretching out over 150 kilometers (93.21 miles) with a total of 72 peaks, Mount Heng features dense forests, flowers, bamboo and serene gullies, all surrounded by the clouds and fog. The place looks like it comes straight out of a fairytale, and has good scenery all year round, with a beautiful scene of flowers in spring, a sea of clouds in summer, a sensational sunrise in autumn and a white wonderland in winter.
The Yueyang Tower, first built around 220 during China’s Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), is an ancient architectural treasure on the shores of Dongting Lake in Yueyang City, Hunan Province. It is known as one of the three famous towers of Jiangnan, along with the Yellow Crane Tower in Hubei Province and the Tengwang Pavilion (the Pavilion of Prince Teng) in Jiangxi Province. The main tower bears a flying eave and helmet roof with wooden constructions in a unique style. Standing on the tower, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Dongting Lake.
Located in northern Hunan Province, Dongting Lake is the second largest fresh water lake in China, which is usually praised as “the picturesque Dongting Lake with 400 kilometers span.” Stretching between Hunan and Hubei provinces, it connects the Yangtze River to the north and the Xiangjiang River, Zi River, Yuan River, and Feng River to the south. The lake has fascinating scenery, with the most famous feature of lake in lake and hill in lake. The Dongting Lake is also famous for the scenic spots on the lakefront, including the Yueyang Tower.
Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs
Mawangdui, located in the eastern suburbs of Chansha, contains the tombs of three people from the western Han Dynasty (206 BC–9 AD), including Marquis Li Cang, his wife, and a male who is believed to be their son. The three tombs were excavated between 1972 and 1974, and more than 3,000 relics have been unearthed from the three tombs. Of all the remains, the most astonishing was the corpse of Xin Zhui, Li Cang’s wife, which was extremely well preserved. Tombs No.1 and No. 2 have been filled, and only tomb No. 3 is open to visitors. Most of the artifacts from Mawangdui including the corpse are now on display at the Hunan Provincial Museum, which is free to visit.
Juzi Island, also known as Ju Island or Orange Island, is a shoal located in the center of Xiangjiang River, opposite Hunan’s capital city of Changsha. Formed in 305, the 140-meter-long and 40-meter-wide island looks like a huge green vessel, covered in a carpet of flourishing trees. It is believed to be the largest inland islet in the world and is now a popular site for summer relaxing in Changsha as temperatures never go soaring high, not even May to July. The island is also known for its delicious oranges scattered across the island during the harvesting season. Mao Zedong once spent a lot of time walking on the beach, swimming and sunbathing during his youth.
The Yuelu Academy is located on the eastern side of Yuelu Mountain in Changsha, on the western bank of the Xiangjiang River. Founded in 976 AD during the Northern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), it is one of China’s four greatest academies of the past 1,000 years. Renowned Confucian scholars Zhu Xi and Zhang Shi both lectured at the academy. The academy now is a part of Hunan University.
Peach Blossom Land
Peach Blossom Land, located at 23 kilometers (14.29 miles) from Changde City, is a fairytale land described by Tao Yuanming (365-427), a famous poet of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (316-420). With a history of more than 1,600 years, the area now has become a famous tourist site, featuring beautiful mountains, peach forests, fields, temples, as well as many mysterious legends. It has nearly 100 spots and four great scenic areas, including the Taoxian Ridge, Taoyuan Mountain, Taohua Mountain and Qinren Village. Every year, the area witnesses a peach blossom party which is an important festival in Hunan.