Changsha's Yuelu Mountain is a nice, low-stress day hike that's fun to do with friends. Entrance to the mountain park is now FREE, and it's only about an our walk to the top.
From the pavilion at the peak, you can enjoy a great bird's eye view of Changsha--both the "downtown" area on the east bank, and the developing Lu Valley as you look west.
After the hike, come on down to The Fifth Tone coffeeshop to chill out with your friends...and maybe make some new ones!
Shaoshan is famous for being the birthplace of Mao Zedong. He is said to have been born in this mud-brick thatched house in 1893, and therefore, it's one of China's most visited sights. He lived here with his family until 1910 and came back briefly in 1921. The rooms have been largely reproduced with items that would've been there during Mao's time.
You'll probably have to wait in a queue for some time before finally getting inside but it's well worth it just to see the once great leader's underwear! Other items on display include more of his clothes, towels and face clothes, his car, desk, chair, bed, photos and hand-written documents.
The town of Shaoshan is located about 130km (80 miles) south-west of Changsha and is famous for being the birthplace of Mao Zedong. He is said to have been born in a mud-brick thatched house in 1893 which still stands today, and therefore, is one of China's most visited sights. He lived here with his family until 1910 and came back briefly in 1921. Not only can pilgrims visit his childhood home but they can also visit family tombs, a museum and a statue of him. To get here, take a bus from Changsha's southern bus station which takes 2 hours and costs Y25.
The Xiang River is the largest river in Hunan and one of the largest tributaries of the Yangzi River at 856km in length. It originates from the Haiyang Mountain and empties into Lake Dongting where it connects to the Yangzi River. There's a small park that is located along side the river near the Juzl Zhou Bridge.
A small part of the old Ming dynasty walls can be found in the south-west of the city. The Tianxin Pavilion is the symbol of the ancient city and still remains along the remaining wall.
This large 58-metre high Martyr's Cenotaph is the main sight within the Hunan Martyr's Park. An epigraph "The Cenotaph of Hunan Martyr's Park" written by Mao Zedong can be found engraved on its body. The inside contains portraits of more than 90 Hunan revolutionary martyrs and more than 100,000 registered names of Hunan revolutionary martyrs from the Opium War in 1840.
This park, located to the north-west of the train station, was built in 1951 and opened in 1953. It is one of the ten largest parks in China, covering an area of 153.5 hectares, a key cultural relic under province protection and the base of patriotism education of the Hunan province. The park contains a couple of lakes, gardens, some nice pavilions and buildings, a fairground and a cenotaph.
This small building lies within the grounds of the Changsha City Museum and was the head-quarters of the Hunan branch of the Communist Party of China. Mao Zedong was appointed the secretary in May 1922 and lived here for a short while until April 1923. His wife, Yang Kaihui and her children carried on living here until May 1924. Inside you can see the bedroom of Mao and his wife, his study, the meeting room and the living room of Yang Kaihui's mother.
A youthful portrait of Chairman Mao is displayed on the red-tiled facade of this museum located about 1.5km west of the train station. There are some so-so exhibits on display here such as bronzes, pottery and calligraphy plus lots on Mao and his second wife Yang Kaihui. The former Communist Party HQ is located within the grounds of the museum (see next tip).
This is a Buddhist temple. While I could see monks at the temple, it was mostly tourists. The statues were amazing, one room had 500 statues of Buddha in different poses. I was just sad we couldn't take pictures in most places. A lot of the signs were in English, but I was happy to have someone Chinese with me. It was 10 RMB to get in, and that also gives you a package of joss sticks to put in the fire. For 10 RMB you could also get your fortune read in the room with the 500 statues.
This is a very nice museum, with all the signs also in English. You have to get tickets to enter at a certain time. We got there at 1:00 with an entrance time of 2:30, when we got back at 2:30 all the tickets were sold out for the day. So plan to get tickets, then eat a meal and come back. Or you could spend time at Martyrs Park next door.
The best part of this museum is the mummy, it may be the best preserved one in the world at over 2000 years old. Also the woman was buried with many artifacts that are also well preserved. Manuscripts, pillowcases, socks, musical instruments, make-up cases, food.
This is actually a restaurant, but also is a temple and has a stage. Don't let the fact that it is surrounded by high-rises fool you, this temple is over 200 years old. It often has live entertainment in the courtyard, which is why I was there. I did eat here on another occasion, but that is in my restaurant tip.
This is one of the mountains in Changsha. It is a popular place to go. You can get to the top by walking (on the road), taking a bus or the chairlift (cablecar), you can also get down on the slide. There are a ton of things to see, academies, pavilions, tombs, temples. I don't think I know anyone that has seen everything there. Entrance is 15 RMB, and it is extra to take any transportation besides your feet. (I think 10 RMB for the bus up and 15 for the chairlift down). There are a lot more people in my photos than there normally are, I went mid-day on a holiday. My main Changsha page photo was taken from the mountain also, so I didn't add it to this page.
Daily tour buses leave very early!! - 6 am!! - but well worth the opportunity and experience. Thiongs may have changed but back then in 1996 and 1997 all my travels were pretty cheap, especially public transport.
Buses leave from outside the train station, we got our info from a 'travel' agent in a little office near where we often walked past, he was very handy actually as also was able to book me a seat about 4 days in advance for the train to Guilin, which means he paid someone to go wait in the queue for the ticket i needed, which in China has always been something that can take a lot of time!, well worth the fee! which still was such a small cost of regular western prices.
I dont remember whether we bought our tickets from him or from the tour bus in the morning, check things out before hand and do whats needed!! just get to the departure point early!
Our tour included a tour guide but in chinese, and lunch, which is what is great about doing your own travel, you get to eat what, and where, the chinese eat - none of this big western tour buses for me that then go take you to the sheraton somewhere for a 5 star lunch!
we were taken to Mao's family home where he was born and grew up until moving to Changsha in his late teens, and to the village square where a statue of him has been placed.
Lots to see along the way, its a really rural area with small farming villages along the way, and terraced areas making the most of every bit of land amongst the rocks for example.
we also were takento some underground area that Mao went to for quiet times or for political conferences.