Hunan province is defined by the river basins of the Yuan and Xiang rivers that both drain north-eastwards into Dongting Lake and from there to the Yangzi (Chang Jiang). The name originates from its position south of the Dongting Lake (the second largest freshwater lake in China) which is on the flood plain of the Yangzi.
Hunan stands in the rich heartland of south central China surrounded by mountains. The mountainous fringes of Hunan are home to a number of minority people: Miao; Tujia; Dong and Yao, but most of the rich lowland area has been settled by Han Chinese since the Warring States Period. Hunan is famous as the birthplace of Mao Zedong at Shaoshan.
Popular Cities: Changsha, Zhuzhou, Hengyang, Xiangtan, Shaoyang, Yueyang
Average temperature: 4ºC to 8ºC (39.2°F to 46.4°F) in January, 26ºC to 30ºC (78.8°F to 86°F) in July.
Places to visit
1. Changsha is the largest city in Hunan and its history goes back 4,000 years. The Mawangdui museum in Changsha holds many archaeological finds from ancient China. Orange Island has a memorial to Mao Zedong complete with a carving of his poem called ‘Changsha’ celebrating his home province. Liuyang to the north east is famous for the manufacture of firecrackers – an indispensable part of any Chinese celebration.
2. Mount Heng is a famous Daoist sacred mountain with temples dotted around the forested slopes. Furongzhen is famous as the ‘Hibiscus Town’ of writer Gu Hua.
3. Yueyang Tower is an ancient pavilion overlooking Dongting Lake at the northern tip of the province. It commemorates battles going back to the Warring States period but has been rebuilt several times most recently in 1867. A mausoleum to China’s founding Emperor Yan is at Yandi Park, Zhuzhou.
4. The Old Town of Phoenix is like an impressive community living on the banks of the Tuojiang River. The unique lifestyle has long fascinated visitors, as has the town’s enchanting scenery and peaceful atmosphere. It’s free to enter the old town but some cultural relic buildings and notable residents’ homes still have admission charges.
5. The Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area is located in Zhangjiajie Covering an area of more than 26,000 hectares, Wulingyuan is composed of the world-famous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Tianzishan mountain range and the Suoxi Valley, which all together offer visitors a large number and variety of scenic sights. The area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
6. Peach Blossom Land 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. It features beautiful mountains, peach forests, fields, temples, as well as the mystique of many wonderful legends. It has nearly 100 spots and four great scenic areas, including the Taoxian Ridge, Taoyuan Mountain, Taohua Mountain and Qinren Village.
7. Hunan Cuisine is famous for its spicy dishes. Green Tea produced at Dayong and Yinfeng are highly regarded teas. Junshun Silver Needle tea, ‘The tea of Emperors’ is grown to the west of Dongting Lake.