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Hunan Travel

Hunan Travel Guide

Hunan (湖南), or abbreviated as Xiang (湘), is located in central China, bordering Jiangxi in the east, Chongqing and Guizhou in the west, Guangdong and Guangxi in the south and Hubei in the north. Its name Hunan literally means “South of the Lake” in Chinese. Most of its lands lie to the south of Dongting Lake, the famous lake in China which is praised as the Kidney of the Yangtze River, hence the name.

Thanks to its unbeatable central location, Hunan is a busy transportation hub for China tours. In addition to its traffic significance, Hunan is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in China featuring otherworldly Avatar Mountains and the world's longest and highest glass bridge in Zhangjiajie, primitive Tujia & Miao Ethnic Villages in Fenghuang and Yongshun, rich historical and educational heritages in Changsha, the birthplace of Chairman Mao in Shaoshan, and so on.

Why Visit Hunan, China?

  • World-famous Zhangjiajie: Zhangjiajie, one of the top places to visit in China, is in Hunan! This marvelous place is world-renowned for its spectacular Avatar Mountains in Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Zhangjiajie National Park), the world's longest and highest glass bridge in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, and a series of stunning mountains, caves and lakes like Tianmen Mountain, Yellow Dragon Cave, etc.
  • Primitive Tujia & Miao Ethnic Villages & Culture: Hunan is a multi-ethnic province with as many as 55 ethnic groups in total, amongst which Tujia & Miao are the most widespread. Here, you will meet with many unique and primitive Tujia & Miao Ethnic Villages, including famous Fenghuang Ancient Town, Furong Ancient Town, etc.
  • A Group of Hunan People Equals Half of China's Modern History: Hunan is the birthplace of many great men in China's Modern History, including Mao Zedong, the founder and the first Chairman of the People's Republic of China, Liu Shaoqi, the vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China, and so on. And a tour to their birthplace in Hunan, like Shaoshan, is somewhat considered as the best way to step back to China's Modern History!
  • Delicious Hunan Cuisine: Hunan Cuisine, or called Xiang Cuisine, is one of the Eight Cuisines in China! Treating your taste bud with mouthwatering Hunan dishes and snacks like Sit Fry Fish Head with Chopped Hot Chili and Changsha Stinky Tofu is really the best gift for your vacation!
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Top Travel Destinations in Hunan, China

Amazing tourist destinations in Hunan is a lot, while Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang located in its northwestern part are the must-visits. Besides, Shaoshan, the birthplace of Chairman Mao, is also popular among visitors. Some visitors also prefer to visit its bustling capital Changsha with one of the Four Famous Ancient Academies in China - Yuelu Academy and the nearby Yueyang with famous Yueyang Tower. For those who want an in-depth exploration of Hunan, you are also highly suggested to visit Hengyang to get close to one of the Five Sacred Mountain in China - Hengshan (Mount Heng). And for photography lovers, you should never miss Dongjiang Lake in Chenzhou.

Hunan Travel Yongshun
Hunan Travel Hengyang
Hunan Travel Chenzhou

Top Attractions in Hunan, China

From world-class mountains, caves and lakes to magical man-made glass bridges and historical relics and traditions of thousands of years, Hunan Province is no shortage of surprise. Highlights of Hunan include Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, Fenghuang Ancient Town, Hunan Provincial Musuem, Yuelu Academy and so on. Here is the list of our picks of top attractions in Hunan. You can also check 12 Things to Do in Hunan to get more!

Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Zhangjiajie National Forest Park)

The UNESCO World Heritage Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan Scenic Area (武陵源核心景区) is composed of four major parts, including Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain and Yangjiajie! The Avatar Mountains with rolling pillars in unique narrow but tall shapes there are really worth a close visit!

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge

The 430 meter wide Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge (张家界玻璃桥) hanging over 300 meters above the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon (张家界大峡谷) is the longest and highest glass bridge on earth. Walking on this awe-inspiring bridge, which is all paved with large pieces of transparent glasses, is really a great way to challenge yourself and marvel at the human's creativity.

Zhangjiajie Tianmen Mountain

Zhangjiajie Tianmen Mountain (天门山), or called Tianmen National Forest Park, gets its name because there is a gigantic natural Tianmen Cave high up the mountain, which is really rare to see anywhere else. It is also famous for its 99 Bends with 99 sharp turns embed on the mountain and glass walking trails built along the cliffs.

Fenghuang Ancient Town

Fenghuang Ancient Town (凤凰古城), or known as Phoenix Ancient Town, enjoys the reputation of “The Most Beautiful Town in China”. Despite over 400 years have passed, the town's unique stilted buildings and ancient elegance are still intact. Enjoy a leisure boating on the Tuojiang River with rows of ancient buildings standing aside there is very popular.

Hunan Provincial Museum

Hunan Provincial Museum (湖南省博物馆) is the first batch of national first-class museums in China. It has a wide collection of over 180,000 pieces of cultural relics, including bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy as well as a complete undecayed female corpse discovered from Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tomb, which is reputed as the No.8 Miracle in the World.

Yuelu Academy

Yuelu Academy (岳麓书院)setting at the foot of Yuelu Mountain in Changsha downtown is one of the Four Famous Academies in ancient China and one of the oldest institutions in the world. All of its traditional architectures built for teaching, sacrificing, relaxing and book storing are well-preserved, giving you a perfect glimpse of school life in ancient China.

Former Residence of Chairman Mao

Mao Zedong, the great founder and the first Chairman of the People's Republic of China, was born and grew up in Shaoshan in Hunan. If you are curious about this great man and the real life and history during then, his former residence (毛泽东故居) should be on your travel list, which is easily to be reached from Changsha in merely 1.5 hours or so by car.

Yueyang Tower

Yueyang Tower (岳阳楼) near Dongting Lake in Yueyang City is praised as one of the Top 10 Historical and Cultural Towers in China and one of the Three Great Towers in Jiangnan Area (regions south of the Yangtze River). The famous poem On Yueyang Tower is a must-read for all junior high school students in China, which implies the significance and poetic charm of the tower.

Laosicheng Tusi Site

Yongshun Laosicheng Tusi Site (永顺老司城遗址) is a historical site of ancient tribe. Tusi refers to local tribal leader in south-central and south-west areas of China from 13th century to 20th century. Tusi Sites are praised as China’s “Machu Piccu”, which remain the unique self-governed tribe. In 2015, this sacred place, together with Enshi Tusi Site in Hubei and Hailongtui Tusi Site in Guizhou, was inscribed as a cluster of World Heritage Sites.

Furong Town

Furong Town (芙蓉镇) is located halfway between Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang. It is known as a Thousand-year Old Town Hanging on the Waterfall, because it has a long history of over 2,000 years and there is a majestic waterfall winding through it. Seldom tourists know it until a famous film of the same name becomes a big hit. And now, an incredible increasing group of world-wide tourists come to visit.

Dongjiang Lake

Dongjiang Lake (东江湖) featured by misty river scenery with local fisherman working on their small wooden boat is one of the Top 10 Photography Places in China. The mist floating on the river is just like a jade dragon dancing there. When the mist comes, the skyline disappears, and then you will magically find it is hard to tell the sky and river apart. It is especially like a fairy-word, and thus you will find yourself can't help pressing the shutter.

Mount Heng (Hengshan)

Mount Heng (衡山), together with Songshan in Henan, Taishan in Shandong, Huashan in Shaanxi and Hengshan in Shanxi, is known as Five Sacred Mountains in China. It is a sacred mountain of Taoism and Buddhism in China. In ancient China, it was a sacred place for emperors offering sacrifices to the heaven. The frequent emperor visits left the mountain a legacy of temples, ancient inscriptions and other relics there.

Hunan Weather & Best Time to Visit Hunan

Hunan Travel Hunan Travel

Hunan belongs to the subtropical monsoon climate with four distinct seasons, including rainy and unpredictable spring from March to May, sultry summer from June to August, crisp autumn from September to November and cold winter from December to February. The average yearly temperature of different cities in Hunan Province varies from 16℃ to about 19℃. January is usually the coldest month, with an average temperature for about 6℃. And July is usually the hottest, with the temperature of most summer days higher than 26℃.

Best Time to Visit Hunan, China?

The months from March to October are considered as the best times to visit in Hunan, including Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang, Changsha, etc.

Best Places to Visit in Hunan in Spring: Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang, etc.

Best Places to Visit in Hunan in Summer: Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang, Changsha, Yueyang, Chenzhou, etc.

Best Places to Visit in Hunan in Autumn: Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang, Changsha, Shaoshan, Hengyang, etc.

Best Places to Visit in Hunan in Winter: Zhangjiajie, Changsha, Yueyang, Shaoshan, etc.

Check more about Zhangjiajie Weather & Best Time to Visit >>

Check more about Changsha Weather & Best Time to Visit >>


Hunan Transportation: How to Get to/around Hunan

Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport Zhangjiajie West Railway Station Changsha South Railway Station Hunan Travel

Get to Hunan

Hunan is an inland province in China with an efficient traffic system. Visitors can get there by flight, train, coach, car, etc. Flight and bullet train are the most popular ways to visit it. And Zhangjiajie, Changsha and Fenghuang are the busiest transportation hubs.

Get to Hunan by Flight

Changsha Huanghua International Airport, Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport are the hottest chosen airports for flights to Hunan. There are frequent international flights to Hunan, including flights from Bangkok, Los Angeles, Singapore, Seoul, Osaka, etc. And the domestic flights are also abundant, including Beijing (3 hrs.), Shanghai (2~2.5 hrs.), Xian (2 hrs.), Guangzhou (1.5 hrs.), Chengdu (2 hrs.), etc. There is also an airport located in between Fenghuang and Tongren named Tongren Fenghuang Airport. If you want to visit Fenghuang Ancient Town directly, you can choose a flight to/from this airport.

Get to Hunan by Train

The whole Hunan Province has over 18 train stations. Almost all the popular tourist cities in Hunan have their own bullet train station, while the most popular train stations are the ones in Zhangjiajie and Changsha, including Zhangjiajie West Railway Station, Changsha South Railway Station, etc. It is really easy to get to Hunan by bullet train from other cities in China, like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, etc. Besides, you can travel between any two of Changsha, Zhangjiajie, Yueyang, Hengyang, etc. in Hunan Province by train.

Check more about Zhangjiajie High Speed Train >>

Check more about Changsha High Speed Train >>

Travel around Hunan

To travel between cities in Hunan Province, riding a high speed train or private car is the best way. If you want to go between the large cities like Changsha, Zhangjiajie and Yueyang, high speed trains are more recommended. And if you have plans to visit the Former Residence of Chairman Mao and ethnic villages like Fenghuang Ancient Town and Furong Ancient Town, private cars are better. Besides, for tours in anywhere in Hunan, private cars are more suggested to get around. We China Discovery also offer such convenient private car service with professional guide and experienced driver to travel around Hunan Province. If you are in need, please feel free to contact us.

Check more about Zhangjiajie Transportation: How to Get to/around Zhangjiajie >>

Check more about Changsha Transportation: How to Get to/around Changsha >>

Check more about Changsha to Fenghuang | Fenghuang to Changsha >>

Check more about Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang | Fenghuang to Zhangjiajie >>

Check more about Zhangjiajie to Changsha | Changsha to Zhangjiajie>>

Hunan Accommodation & Where to Stay in Hunan

Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie - Wulingyuan Hotel

The best places to stay in Hunan vary according to your trip plan. Usually, all the popular tourist places in Hunan like Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang and Changsha offer lots of hotels from luxury 5 star or 4 star hotels to budget inns to stay. And all the hotels and hostels there can meet your basic needs like hot water, comfortable bed, etc. Changsha and Zhangjiajie also have highest-end hotels of international luxury hotel brands and domestic luxury hotel brands.

Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie: Wulingyuan Town, places near ticket stations of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Zhangjiajie downtown, etc. Nearby Fenghuang Ancient Town is also popular if you have visiting plans. Check more about Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie >>

Where to Stay in Changsha: Hotels near Wuyi Square, Changsha South Railway Station or Changsha Huanghua International Airport. Check more about Where to Stay in Changsha >>

Hunan Maps

The following Hunan Maps, including Hunan China Map, Hunan Province Map, and Changsha Zhangjiajie Transportation Map will help you know better about Hunan and plan a better Hunan tour! If you are interested, you can also check more Hunan Maps 2023 >>

Check more about Zhangjiajie Maps >> | Changsha Maps >>

Hunan China Map

Hunan China Map

Hunan Province Map

Hunan Province Map

Changsha Zhangjiajie Map

Changsha Zhangjiajie Map

Other Popular Destinations in China

China is vast and diverse. You can choose your favorite destinations among more than 70 tourist destination and regions, like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, etc. Following are 8 popular destinations you may get interested in. Check all destinations in China.

Hunan China Map

Chinese Name: 湖南

Chinese Pinyin: hú nán

Capital: Fuzhou

Population: 69 million

Language: Mandarin, Southern Hunan Dialect, Hakka Dialect

Tel Code: 0731 for Changsha, 0744 for Zhangjiajie

Zip Code: 410011-427000

Time Zone: (UTC+8)

How to Plan a Hunan Tour

Visitors usually spend 6~7 days around in Hunan, include 3~5 days in Zhangjiajie, 1 day or so at Fenghuang Ancient Town and 1~2 days in Changsha. Some visitors also prefer to add a one-day side trip to Shanshao - the birthplace of Chairman Mao, or spend one day to Yueyang - where famous Yueyang Tower and Dongting Lake are located. Visitors who are interested in photography may extend their tour to Dongjiang Lake in Chenzhou, which needs about 1~2 days more. Mountain lovers may also spend 1~2 days more to Mount Heng in Hengyang.

Visitors also prefer to visit Hunan with other hot destinations in China, like nearby Tongren with sacred Mount Fanjing, Yichang with easy access to cruise Yangtze River, Huangshan with spectacular Yellow Mountain, Guilin with picturesque Kast Mountains and Rivers, etc. Besides, Hunan tourists also like to visit Beijing with somewhat China’s remarkable landmarks like the Great Wall, Shanghai with contrast past and modern China looks, Hong Kong with fabulous skyline, Guangzhou with delicious Cantonese food, etc. Have your preference? Customize your Hunan tour with China Discovery now!

Top Hunan Tours

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
7 Days Hunan Discovery Tour from Changsha

Changsha / Shaoshan / Zhangjiajie / Fenghuang / Zhangjiajie

Mr. Pasquale from Italy - Fenghuang Ancient Town
5 Days Amazing Zhangjiajie & Fenghuang Ancient Town Tour

Zhangjiajie / Fenghuang / Zhangjiajie

Orange Beach
6 Days Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang and Changsha Tour

Zhangjiajie / Fenghuang / Changsha

Yuelu Academy
3 Days Changsha & Shaoshan Essences Tour

Changsha / Shaoshan / Changsha


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