Changsha is one of the least well known major cities of China which is a truly up and coming destination love of explorers. Less touristy and decidedly less westernised, there’s an air of authenticity that is hard to find in other cities of China.
Tours and activities in Changsha
There’s plenty to do in Changsha to keep you busy, and sometimes it helps to have someone around to help you maximise your time away. Whether you’re coming for the culture, history, hiking or family fun -a knowledgeable, native guide can make all the difference to your enjoyment and understanding.
As well as accompanying you on days out, you can find a guide in Changsha who can help you book tickets and enjoy local festivals and events too. From seeing the ballet at the Grand Theatre in the International Arts and Culture Centre to getting front row tickets for the IMAX, we can help.
Best time to visit
April is a great time to visit Changsha when the flowers at the city’s two big parks are in bloom. September and October are nice months for a visit too, as you’ll avoid the suffocating heat of the summer, but still escape the cold of the winter too.
Top Attractions in Changsha
Changsha might not offer as plenty of attractive sites as some of the larger cities in China do, but there are still plenty of history, culture and fun to be had if you know where to look.
Getting here and getting around
Most visitors to Changsha will arrive by air to Huanghua International Airport, where an onward connection is a 45-minute drive via the expressway. Busses cost just ¥16.5 and take arrivals into downtown Changsha directly. Alternatively, the maglev costs just ¥20 and arrive at the South Railway Station, connecting to metro line-2.
If you’re already in China, travelling from other cities is most commonly done via train. The trip from Beijing will take around 14 hours via normal train and just 5- hours on a high-speed train. From Shanghai, it’s 4.5 hours, and from Shenzhen just 3 hours. If you prefer to travel by bus, there are numerous long-distance bus connections from many major Chinese cities.
Getting around can be simple by taxi. They start their meters at ¥8, but each is different in terms of the ongoing cost. There are busses, which tend to be overcrowded and hot, but can take you to many of the major sites for as little as ¥1. However, the best way to get about in all weathers is by the two metro lines which run north to south (line 1) and east to west (line 2). They are set to be extended over the coming years.
Eating and drinking
Changsha offers less touristy eating and a more authentically Chinese experience for the intrepid traveller. A must-see is the Huangxing Road walking street, where you’ll find inexpensive restaurants and street food to satisfy every palate. The cuisine here is known as Xiang cuisine and is renowned as one of the traditional food types of China. Expect hot and spicy flavours wrapped in beautiful, delicate looking dishes, embellished with vegetables sculpted into a variety of intricate shapes and patterns.
If you’re looking for some signature dishes, go for the San Ceng Tao Ji (steamed nesting birds), which involves a sparrow stuffed into a pigeon stuffed into a hen, as well as a delightful herby soup. Look out for Mala Ziji (spicy chicken cubes), which is a true Hunan dish comprising peppers, vinegar and local wine along with plenty of chillies for a heated kick. Tofu dishes abound in this city too, but don’t be afraid to try Fried Stinky Tofu, a true Changsha dish with salty, savoury notes which doesn’t smell as bad as the name might make you think! In fact, it is something super delicious -your taste buds will never forget the flavour.
For liquid refreshment and nightlife, head out to Jiefang West Road where there are a few Chinese clubs to dance and drink the night away. Taiping Street caters to those who prefer the music slightly quieter and the clientele less inebriated.
Getting a good night's sleep
There are plenty of hotels of all classes within Changsha. If you’re a luxury traveller, the Kempinski Hotel and the Crowne Plaza offer western comforts as well as luxuries like indoor pools. There is also a Sheraton, an InterContinental and plenty of other predictable chain hotels offering comfort and high-class accommodation.
Budget travellers will find dormitories and sometimes even double beds from as little as ¥50 per night, whereas mid-range travellers will find plenty of homestays, aparthotels and hotel rooms in the range of ¥200 - ¥400 in the city. You can view a selection of the available accommodations here.