Top 10 Attractions in Hunan

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Plan your Hunan Tour? With Changsha (长沙) as its capital city, Hunan Province, literally “South of the Lake”, is situated south of Dongting Lake (the third largest fresh water lake in China), which is connected with Yangtze River in the north.

Besides being the birthplace of Mao Zedong, Hunan has much to offer bestowed with stunning landscapes of undulating mountains and karst peaks, covering 80% of the province. Mesmerizing hillside villages and charming riverside towns feature the natural homes for the many living in Hunan.

Looking for top things to do in Hunan? So here is our Top 10 Attractions in Hunan.

 No. 01 Wulingyuan ( Zhangjiajie )  武陵源(张家界)
Wulingyuan Scenic Area is located about 30 km north of Zhangjiajie’s city center. Wulingyuan Scenic Area was listed with UNESCO World Heritage 1992. This world heritage site is popularly known as “Zhangjiajie Senic Area” rather than “Wulingyuan” mainly because Wulingyuan Scenic Area is under the administration of Zhangjiajie City.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Zhangjiajie Scenic Area) includes three main areas: Zhangjiajie National Forest ParkTianzi Mountain Nature Reserve and, Suoxi Valley Natural Resource Reserve (including Baofeng Lake and Yellow Dragon Cave). The American film – Avatar depicted “Hallelujah Mountain” by taking the real view of “South Pillar of the Heaven”, a famous attraction in Wulingyuan Scenic Area.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area are  famous for its unique hills, queer rockss and peaks, tranquil valleys, clear streams, abundant fauna and flora and hospitable climate.

Visiting Time: suggested 2-3 Days
Entrance Fee:  RMB 248 ( a through ticket )
Location: about 30 km north of Zhangjiajie’s city center
Opening Hours: All day
Best Time to Visit: Spring and Summer
How to Get There
Zhangjiajie is easily accessible by air, train and highway. Then connect local buses going to Wulingyuan Scenic Area.

Wulingyuan ( Zhangjiajie )

Wulingyuan ( Zhangjiajie )

 No. 02 Fenghuang Old Town凤凰古城
The old town Fenghuang is located in  the west of Hunan Province, about 210 km from Zhangjiajie, 430 km from Changsha and 37 from Jishou. Fenghuang, literally “Phoenix’, is  named after its neighboring mountain that resembles a flying phoenix. Fenghuang old town is mainly inhabited by the minorities dominated by Miao and Tujia.

The old town Fenghuang features a magnificent riverside town dotted blessed with wooden stilt houses, stone flagged pathways, winding bridges and charming rivers. Just walk randomly in the old town, you will see the old city wall, elegant bridges, former houses of celebrities, old temples ans museums.

Visiting Time: suggested 2 Days
Entrance Fee:  RMB 148 ( a through ticket )
Location: 210 km from Zhangjiajie, 430 km from Changsha and
Opening Hours: 7:00 – 18:00
Best Time to Visit: May – October
How to Get There
Take a  train to Jishou, then connect buses going to Fenghuang or busing from Zhangjiajie or Changsha.

Fenghuang Old Town

Fenghuang Old Town

No. 03 Hengshan 衡山
Hengshan is  one of the five sacred mountains in China. Hengshan is popularly known as Nanyue , literally south mountain. It is listed as China’s national reserve. It is situated about 130 km south of Changsha.

Hengshan has 72 peaks featuring glistering waterfalls, forested pine trees, and terraced fields on the hillsides. More than natural wonders,  Hengshan has beautiful legacies and ancient civilization well connected with imperial visits: inscriptions and Taoist temples.

Visiting Time: suggested 2 Days
Entrance Fee:  RMB 10
Opening Hours: 8:00 – 18:00
Best Time to Visit: late summer and early autumn
How to Get There
Bus to Hengshan from Changsha



No. 04 Miao Village at Dehang 德夯苗寨
Dehang is about 25 km to the northwest of Jishou (吉首), within the 164 square km Dehang Geological Park.  Dehang you have the opportunity to view the magnificent landscapes of terraced fields, beautiful waterfalls, and pleasant Miao Villages.

Dehang,  literally“beautiful valley” in Miao language, has a beautiful valley with numerous peaks, waterfalls and dense forest. It has  a pleasant climate  with rich flora and fauna.

Dehang is mainly  inhabited by Miao minorities. They have simple and unique  folk custom. You will be amazed at one of the most beautiful bridge Jielong Bridge in the world.  Walk along the country roads i the Miao village,  and ascend  to view  Liusha waterfall, China’s longest waterfall.

Visiting Time: suggested 1 Day
Entrance Fee:  RMB 60
Opening Hours: 8:00 – 17:00
Best Time to Visit: May – October
How to Get There
Bus to Dehang from Jishou

Miao Village at Dehang

Miao Village at Dehang

No. 05 Hongjiang Old Town 洪江古商城
The Hongjiang Old Town is about 30 km east of Hongjiang city center and 55 km south of Huaihua City. The old town sits at the confluence of Yuanshui River and Wushui River.  It used to be a distribution hub for timber,  opium and tung oil covering the area of the five provinces of Yunan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan.

The old town developed from Tang Dynasty and prospered in Ming and Qing dynasties. Its past prosperity as a trade center has left behind numerous magnificent traditional Ming and Qing style buildings -brothels, opium shops, tax office,newspsper office, bank, hotels, temples, totaling 380 buildings with an area of 200,000 square meters.

The charming old town has deep and stone flagged alleyways with English sign pointing to the ways into a maze of lanes. You will feel you are in the time corridor back to the ancient times.

Visiting Time: suggested half or one Day
Entrance Fee:  RMB 120
Location: 55 km south of Huaihua City
Opening Hours: 7:00 – 22:00
Best Time to Visit: May – October
How to Get There
Bus to the old town from the city of Huaihua (怀化)

 Hongjiang Old Town

Hongjiang Old Town

No. 06 Shaoshan 韶山
Shaoshan, the birthplace of Mao Zedong, is about 108 km to the southwest of Changsha, the capital city of Hunan Province in the southern China. Each year millions of domestic tourists flock here to pay their visits to Comrade Mao Zedong.

It is preferable to make a day trip from Changsha, visiting the huge 6m statue of Mao Zedong, Mao’ Childhood House, Museum of Comrade Mao Zedong and Nan’an School.

Visiting Time: suggested one Day
Entrance Fee:  Free
Location: 108 km southwest of Changsha
Opening Hours: all day
Best Time to Visit: May – October
How to Get There
Bus to Shahoshan from Changsha

Mao' Childhood House

Mao’ Childhood House

No. 07 Yueyang Tower  岳阳楼
Yueyang Tower,  known as one of the “the three famous towers in the south of the Yangtze River”, Yueyang  Tower stands on the shore of Dongting Lake at the foot of Baqiushan in the northwest of  Yueyang City. Yueyang Tower is 25.35 meters high, square in shape, 17.2 meters wide and 15.6 meters deep, taking an area of 251 square meters.

Standing on the bank of Dongting Lake, Yueyang Tower is magnificent and imposing, overlooking the massive Dongting Lake scattered with sailing boats. The picturesque scenery attracted great poets of the Tang Dynasty like Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi and Li Shangyin etc, who wrote numerous poems after visiting Yueyang Tower. Many of the poems have been widely read throughout the ages.

Visiting Time: suggested  3 hours
Entrance Fee:  RMB80
Location: Northwest of Yueyang City
Opening Hours: 7:00 – 18:00
Best Time to Visit: May – October
How to Get There
Bus 23, 25

Yueyang Tower

Yueyang Tower

No. 08 Dongting Lake 洞庭湖
Dongting Lake is located in the north of Hunan Province, hence the name of “Hunan” given to the province  – ” South of the Lake”. It is the third largest fresh water lake in China, shallow,  a flood basin of Yangtze River.  So the lake’s size depends on the season. 

Dongting Lake is mainly composed of 4 big lakes – East, West, South and Datong Lake with mountains surrounded in three sides of East, South and West. Its north is a U-shaped basin connected to Yangtze River featuring lakeside landscape with magnificent views such Yueyang Tower, Junshan, Dupu Tomb, Yangmo Fort, Quezi Temple and more.

Dongting Lake is famed for  its linkage of Chinese culture as the place of origin of Dragon boat racing. It is the site of Junshan island that  is a home to the Finless Porpoise, which is endangered in China.

Dongting Lake

Dongting Lake

No. 09 Hunan Provincial Museum 湖南省博物馆
Founded in the early 1950s, Hunan Provincial Museum is located in Kaifu District of Changsha City, adjoining the Martyres’ Park and covering an area of 51,000 square meters.

The museum boasts abundant collections that feature the cultural relics excavated from the world-famous Mawangdui Tombs of Han Dynasty, the bronze wares of the Shang and the Zhou Dynasties, cultural relics of Chu Dynasty, pottery and porcelain works from various dynasties, calligraphy works and paintings, and modern cultural relics, thereby being listed as the largest historical and artistic museum in Hunan Province, as well as one of the first eight National Foremost Museums eligible to be co-constructed by central and local governments.

Entrance Fee: free
Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00 (closed on Mounday)
How to get there: take Buses No. 112, 113, 131, 136, 146, 150, 302, 303 901 to Hunan Provincial Museum

Hunan Provincial Museum

Hunan Provincial Museum

No. 10 Yuelu Academy 岳麓书院
Yuelu Academy is located on the east side of Yuelu Mountain in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, China, on the west bank of the Xiang River.

The renowned Confucian scholars Zhu Xi and Zhang Shi both lectured at the academy. In 1903 the academy became a university, and in 1926 it was officially named Hunan University.As one of the four most prestigious academies over the last 1000 years in China, Yuelu Academy has been a famous institution of higher learning as well as a centre of academic activities and cultures.

The academy has witnessed more than a thousand years of history and is the only one of the ancient Chinese academies of Classical Learning to have evolved into a modern institution of higher learning.

Entrance Fee: CNY 50
Opening Hours: the whole day
How to get there: take Buses No. 106, 202, 305 or Lisha Special Line to get there

Yuelu Academy

Yuelu Academy

Tip : Hassle-free Hunan Province Guided Tours
If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for guided tours to Hunan:

Zhangjiajie Fenghuang 5 Day Tour  from US$417 p/p
Beijing Zhuangjiajie Fenghuang 8 Days Tour  from US$875 p/p

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Zhangjiajie.
How to Get to Zhangjiajie.
Top 10 Attractions in Zhangjiajie.
Top 10 Attractions in Changsha.
Top 10 Attractions in Hunan.
Zhangjiajie Tour.

Any questions, just drop a line.

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