Home keyboard_arrow_right Destinations keyboard_arrow_right Changsha

Changsha

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.

Kaifu temple
1. Kaifu temple
Landmarks and icons

Two major temples draw visitors to Changsha time and time again. The first is the Kaifu temple, located to the north of the city and a key Buddhist monastery of the country. Covering almost five square kilometres, this temple has a history stretching back more than 1,000 years, and a gorgeous outlook over the lake and bridge for photos. The entrance ticket is 10¥ and you will also get free joss sticks at the entrance.

Tianxin Pavilion
2. Tianxin Pavilion
Landmarks and icons

The other is the Tianxin Pavilion, which sits atop the ancient ramparts of Changsha. Built in the Qing dynasty, it is a beautiful pavilion to behold and contains many precious artefacts to be discovered. The architecture is mesmerising and the interior of the temple is well-decorated. A few abundant or very ancient styles of interior decoration can be witnesses inside the temple.

Hunan Provincial Museum
3. Hunan Provincial Museum
Museums, galleries and exhibitions

The highlight of their visit for many tourists to Changsha is the Hunan Provincial Museum. It hosts many interesting collections including the Mawangdui Han Tomb, bronze ware crafts and relics of the Shang and Zhou dynasties. If you’re interested in Chinese history, don’t miss the Mawangdui Han Tombs, where more than 3,000 precious relics were unearthed in the 1970s.

Mount Yuelu Park
4. Mount Yuelu Park
Nature, parks and outdoors

If you fancy some exercise and beautiful scenery, Mount Yuelu Park is a gorgeously opulent space to spend some time. Allow a couple of hours to climb the hill and enjoy nature as well as a panoramic view of Changsha’s skyline. It’s dotted with temples and other historic sites, as well as park busses and a cable car if you can’t manage the climb under your own steam.  Visit the acclaimed Yuelu Academy for an insight into cutting edge, modern education in China.

Orange Island Park (Juzizhou)
5. Orange Island Park (Juzizhou)
Things to do with kids

The Orange Island Park (Juzizhou) is, as the name suggests, green and luscious park situated on an island just outside of the city centre. With swimming beaches on both sides, as well as entertainment, sports and more. A visit to the Orange Island Park is a great day out for everyone including kids and adults

Window of the World
6. Window of the World
Things to do with kids

Along with Orange Island Park, the Changsha also have ‘Window of the World’ which is a great theme park for family members of all ages. Gathering together some of the greatest wonders of the world, alongside performances, miniature cities and cool entertainment activities, there’s something here for everyone to enjoy. Trip to this site is informative and you can explore a lot here, simply saying in a cost-effective plan you can have a glimpse of the whole world. During the festival seasons, the site offers a lot of unusual and above the top activities to visitors.

Festivals throughout the Year
7. Festivals throughout the Year
Regular festivals and celebrations

On April 8th, Changsha celebrates the birthday of Sakyamuni where it is traditional for locals to wash the image of Buddha. During July, there is an annual guitar festival, and over on the Orange Island, a large music festival takes place every September. As with the rest of China, the dragon boat festival takes place in early May, and in Changsha, you will see a magnificent performance unfolding in the waters of the Xiang river.

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.