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19 Causes to Go to China’s Most Underrated Cities — Wuhan, Changsha, and Zhangjiajie

That iconic glass bridge barely scratches the floor. Scoot now flies to Wuhan 5 occasions per week (7 occasions from 1 Sep!) and 4 occasions per week to Changsha — extra particulars under!

First printed: 21 June 2019

China is a rustic stuffed with immense tradition, historical past and pure magnificence. It’s additionally hella huge. The Center Kingdom is dwelling to 662 cities, and a whopping 160 of them have a inhabitants of greater than one million folks. So some components, understandably, are undeservedly unexplored. 

Yuelu Mountain Things to do in Changsha

If you happen to’re considering of visiting China, however favor to step except for the Twenty first-century skylines of Shanghai and Beijing, look no additional.

Wuhan’s unique meals tradition, Changsha’s architectural razzmatazz, and Zhangjiajie’s picturesque UNESCO heritage websites are critically superb — they usually completely need to be in your journey bucket checklist.

Listed here are 19 the explanation why it’s best to hop on the subsequent airplane to those underrated Chinese language cities:


1) The elegant Avatar Hallelujah Mountains

This place is the stuff of films. Fairly actually. The story goes that the creators of Avatar determined to animate all the film set primarily based on these mountain ranges, after visiting the Zhangjiajie Nationwide Park — that’s how blown away they had been.

The issue is that this has by no means been correctly verified. Nonetheless, the nationwide tourism board determined to pounce on the hype of the film that swept away a number of accolades on the 82nd Academy Awards, by renaming their delight and pleasure the “Avatar Hallelujah Mountains”.

Whether or not it did function inspiration or not, we don’t blame their opportunistic endeavour. Simply have a look at the scene above and also you’ll realise the resemblance is uncanny.

2) It’s dwelling to the very best glass bridge on the earth…

Glass bridge Zhangjiajie Underrated Chinese cities

Because it opened in 2016, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge has made many a coronary heart pound and quite a few balls quiver. Don’t take our phrase for it, watch these hysterical Chinese language vacationers lose their sh*t your self.

Glass Bridge 2 Things to do in Zhangjiajie

You’ll additionally have the ability to take numerous shameless pictures mendacity down on the semi-transparent floor. Don’t fear about saving face right here — everybody else is doing precisely the identical factor.

3) …and one other one which hangs off the aspect of a cliff

Tianmen Mountains Things to do in Zhangjiajie

The Coiling Dragon Cliff is one other instance of China’s obsession with establishing glass platforms at unnecessarily excessive altitudes. This specific one on the Tianmen Mountains is, in my humble, macho brave opinion, method scarier.

On the very least, the Grand Canyon’s silver beam constructions and metal cables served as visible proof that it was, certainly, steady sufficient to deal with the load of a small village.

This one, alternatively, supplied us no such reassurance. It hangs precariously over the sting, initiating considerations concerning the sanity of the individuals who accepted its development and security of those that constructed it within the first place (however don’t fear, it’s secure lah).

Coiling Dragon's Cliff - Things to do in Zhangjiajie

While you’re performed freaking out, you’ll realise what it does provide is a spectacular view of the mountain ranges down under. Plus, watching your folks come near a full acrophobia-induced meltdown can be an impressive sight to behold. Simply kidding — please provide the mandatory bodily (hand-holding) and ethical (“we’re nearly on the finish!”) assist to keep away from a humid denims state of affairs.

4) You’ll be able to take the ‘999-step’ stairway to heaven

Heaven's Gate - Things to do in Zhangjiajie

If heaven was an imposing gap within the sky in between two mountains in Hunan, we’re completely happy to report that there’s certainly a stairway you possibly can climb in direction of it. This topographical phenomenon affectionately named Heaven’s Gate is the purpose of non secular pilgrimage for individuals who consider the paranormal tales of the way it got here to be.

The steps main as much as the very best level supposedly have 999 steps — a extremely auspicious quantity in Chinese language tradition. Though in our unrelenting pursuit for the reality in journey, we made the steep climb down from heaven and found that there have been solely 800+ steps that introduced us again right down to Earth. Disappointing for fact-checkers, however nonetheless sensible for hikers and geography fans.

5) Trip the elevator of 100 dragons — The world’s tallest outside elevate

Bailong Elevator 1 Things to do in Zhangjiajie

As you’d’ve in all probability realised by now, the Chinese language are additionally obsessive about breaking world information. The Bailong Elevator can transport guests from prime to backside in lower than two minutes, spanning a top of a spine-tingling, fire-breathing 326 metres. 

6) Fenghuang — The 1,300-year-old Phoenix Historical City

Fenghuang (Phoenix Historical City) is extensively considered some of the stunning cities in the entire of China — and it’s simply 4 hours from Zhangjiajie by bus. A lot of the city’s structure traces again over 400 years to the Ming and Qing dynasties, the classic facade overlooking the Tuojiang River offering the right scene for a nostalgic sundown. 

Fenghuang Ancient Town Stepping Stone Things to do in Zhangjiajie

One of many city’s essential points of interest is the stepping stones bridge. It means that you can admire the fantastic, charming postcard frames throughout you, with a simultaneous reminder that life is extremely fleeting and a mere slip, slight push, or tiny overstep would trigger you to eternally be one with the traditional present. Simply be secure when taking one for the gram.


7) One road, 100+ conventional breakfast decisions

Wuhan Hubu Alley Things to do in Wuhan
Picture credit score: Journey is Zen

Hubu Alley is Wuhan’s golden meals youngster. In response to some locals, this fashionable vacationer vacation spot isn’t essentially dwelling to the most cost effective/best meals, however the sheer number of dishes and snacks on provide right here means it’s a unbelievable introduction to the unique native meals tradition of Wuhan. 

Hubu Alley Things to do in Wuhan

The place do we start? Their model of the Scorching Dry Noodles (热干面) is pleasant. The Beancurd Pores and skin Rice (豆皮饭) is mouthwatering. Duck Necks (鸭脖子) are mala goodness and Pig’s Blood (猪血) melts exquisitely within the mouth. Chinese language meals is the reward that retains on giving and there’s plenty of that to obtain in a single location. 

Learn additionally: Style of China: 25 Unique Dishes to Strive in Wuhan’s Hubu Alley

8) The Yellow Crane Tower is a cultural icon

An identical on all 4 sides, this historic marvel is taken into account one of many “4 Nice Towers of China”, first constructed in the course of the Three Nations Interval in AD233.

However the one you see isn’t the unique constructing. As a consequence of a historical past of historic political warfare and mishaps with hearth, the enduring Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼) has been destroyed and rebuilt a complete of seven occasions. 

Yellow Crane Tower Drone Things to do in Wuhan

It’s, doubtless, the centrepiece of Wuhan. Guests from all throughout the nation come right here to marvel at its historic significance, hoping to be enthralled by the very sights which have impressed at least 800 poems written about this historic construction. 

9) You’ll be able to catch stunning cherry blossoms in March – April

Wuhan University Cherry Blossoms Things to do in Wuhan
Picture credit score: Individuals’s Every day On-line

The Donghu (East Lake) Cherry Blossom Competition takes place within the spring, the place the world transforms into heaven-made pseudo film units for {couples} to romantically stroll hand-in-hand, and ponder about the potential for BTO-ing again dwelling.

East Lake 2 Things to do in Wuhan

Even should you aren’t there in the course of the blooming season, the Moshan Scenic Space in East Lake supplies a surprising view of evergreen timber and vibrant flowers. Lease a motorcycle or a dual-cycle contraption (that appears like a mini ice-cream cart) to discover the world at your individual tempo.

10) Wuhan’s “night time market” is similar to Hong Kong’s / Taiwan’s

Han Street 3 Things to do in Wuhan
Picture credit score: S Taylor Picture

Han Road (汉街) has the feel and appear of an evening market/purchasing district, however thrice the pizzazz. We arrived at round 9PM and there was nonetheless a tangible, vibrant vitality surrounding the world, regardless of the waves of younger folks strolling previous us with bellies full from dinner on the eating places lining the road.

Han Street Things to do in Wuhan

Brightly lit outlets promoting every thing from fashionable garments to wedding ceremony robes to (cough) e-cigarettes compete on your consideration. Troves of proficient buskers that may rival JJ Lin in one other life fill the streets too.

China’s quickly ageing inhabitants means it’s exhausting to search out two teams of younger folks in fast succession, however apparently, that is the place all of them come to congregate. If Singapore desires to “carry again the Orchard”, maybe they need to look to Wuhan for some steering.

Learn additionally: Issues to Do in Wuhan, Changsha & Zhangjiajie: 12-Day China Itinerary to Historical Gems & Undiscovered Sights

11) The primary metropolis on the earth to battle COVID-19

Yellow Crane Drone Things to do in Wuhan

The very first thing most consider once they hear “Wuhan” is nearly undoubtedly “COVID-19”. Again in December 2019, when the primary circumstances of the virus had been reported in Wuhan, the town’s identify in a short time turned synonymous with the virus.

Quick ahead to the current, China has reopened its worldwide borders and is able to welcome vacationers once more. Publish-covid Wuhan is basically the identical as earlier than, undoubtedly cleaner than earlier than as COVID-19 taught locals the significance of hygiene. Individuals are undoubtedly nonetheless pleasant and welcoming, and the town’s wealthy historical past and tradition are nonetheless intact.


12) Cross the spectacular Fortunate Knot Bridge

Lucky Knot Bridge Things to do in Changsha
Picture credit score: Business Faucet

The Fortunate Knot Bridge (梅溪湖中国结步行桥) is three bridges woven into one and was listed by CNN as some of the spectacular bridges on the earth.

I’ve all the time felt that essentially the most intriguing types of structure are those that take note of the context of the place it was constructed, and pay homage to the considerable tradition that surrounds it. The Fortunate Knot is a terrific instance of this. It’s modelled after a standard Chinese language knot and symbolises luck and prosperity, its hanging pink color signifying luck.

Lucky Knot Bridge 2 Things to do in Changsha
Picture credit score: AAsArchitecture

It was unlucky for us that wet climate forbade us from witnessing it with our personal eyes. We’re hoping you possibly can check out it and step foot onto it for us as an alternative.

13) Witness China’s new world hub for efficiency artwork

Cultural and Arts Centre Drone Things to do in Changsha

Designed by one of many world’s most revered architects, the late Zaha Hadid, this ultra-modern world-class centre will quickly be a worldwide dwelling for efficiency artwork. The Changsha Meixihu Cultural and Arts Centre consists of three separate constructions — every wanting like components of a spaceship that descended from the galaxies past — with every serving a distinct operate.

The most important of the trio, The Grand Theatre, is already open — an indoor theatre showcasing renditions of classics like Roald Dahl’s Matilda, the present whose tickets had been being bought whereas we had been there. The opposite two are meant to be a up to date artwork museum and multi-purpose facility.

Cultural and Arts Centre Things to do in Changsha

Whether or not you select to splash the money on the performances is as much as you, though that shouldn’t cease you from taking a stroll across the fascinating compound. It’s an indeniable indication of Changsha’s plans to develop right into a first-world metropolis that rivals its neighbours within the capital up north.

14) Hunan’s largest museum can be essentially the most intoxicating

Hunan Museum 1 Things to do in Changsha

The Hunan Museum is a state-of-the-art museum in each sense of the time period. The stirring exhibitions are immaculately displayed, accompanied with elaborate explanations of the artefact’s significance and half within the greater image. Interactive technological components like video games and timed spotlights make the expertise gratifying even for the youthful crowds. It’s no surprise that everybody we spoke to held this place in such excessive regard.

The world-famous Mawangdui Han Tombs may also be discovered right here. However why is that this specific showcase so revered? It’s been described that this household graveyard, excavated in 1972, is basically an open ebook to the West Han Dynasty’s lifestyle 2,000 years in the past.

Hunan Provincial Museum Things to do in Changsha

However the primary kicker is that this — on the finish of the exhibition, you’ll have the ability to observe along with your very personal eyes, essentially the most well-preserved mummy on the earth. It’s two millennia previous, however on the time of discovery, a number of of her joints had been nonetheless movable, organs intact, and pores and skin comparatively versatile. You’re not allowed to take photos, however the sight of it alone will make your backbone tingle and etch a everlasting reminiscence in your head.

Okay, ultimate level — the Hunan Museum additionally has a number of digital excursions on their web site, an intuitive, interactive and extremely complete expertise. And did we point out every thing is free?

15) The most important Chinese language restaurant on the earth

West Lake Restaurant 1 Things to do in Wuhan

Sure, this complete Forbidden Metropolis-looking compound is a restaurant. The West Lake Restaurant in Changsha is in actual fact the most important Chinese language restaurant on the earth — occupying a large 88,000 sq. metre house, with the capability to serve 5,000 hungry folks directly.

Largest Chinese Restaurant Food Things to do in Changsha

The second you step by way of its partitions, you’ll be greeted by a waiter that’ll ask: non-public room or widespread canteen. Seems, totally different buildings within the compound cater to several types of occasions, and are therefore designed otherwise. However all of them serve the identical scrumptious, freshly cooked meals, with a degree of service worthy of the most important restaurant accolade.

16) The mesmerising island recognized for oranges and a younger Mao

Orange Isle Things to do in Changsha

For hundreds of years, the Orange Isle (Chinese language: Juzizhou) floated on Xiangjiang River by itself, in between the mainland and Yuelu Mountain. Its stunning pure panorama and scrumptious oranges drew in crowds of locals, earlier than a Mao Zedong poem in 1925 paying tribute to the island drew in guests from everywhere in the globe.

“Alone I stand within the autumn chilly
On the tip of Orange Island,
The Hsiang flowing northward;
I see a thousand hills crimsoned by way of
By their serried woods deep-dyed,
And 100 barges vying
Over crystal blue waters.”

– Mao Zedong

Right this moment, the impeccable portrait statue of a younger Mao seems over the sting of the isle, an intense gaze mounted firmly on the flourishing metropolis he as soon as referred to as dwelling. Sculptures are all the time spectacular when taken from the correct angle, though it doesn’t actually matter which angle you have a look at this from. He’s gallant, suave, and undeniably charismatic — traits they portrayed immensely nicely on this synthetic rendition.

That’s not all of the island has to supply too. There’s a museum instantly beneath the statue detailing his life story, a number of tropical gardens and even a working monitor for these seeking to get match on their travels.

Learn additionally: Journey Deeper: Changsha Information — The Burgeoning Metropolis That Formed Mao Zedong

Travelling in China

17) The persons are extremely pleasant and hospitable 

Xiangtan City Couchsurfing in China

Admittedly, we had a number of reservations when it got here to visiting China, and preconceived notions about its folks. We had been afraid that the folks could be impolite, unaccommodating, and unwilling to assist vacationers from a distinct nation. However these ideas would show to be unfounded, unjustified, and outright inaccurate.

The folks of China are one of many friendliest and most hospitable folks I’ve ever encountered. Positive, they arrive throughout as brash and overly direct at first (particularly once they attempt to promote you one thing). However begin a dialog with these very folks or ask for assist with instructions, and also you’ll realise they’re prepared to go to nice lengths that will help you out.

From cabbies to cashiers, store homeowners to flyer-givers — they’re a chirpy and caring bunch.

18) A big Couchsurfing group awaits you

Xiangtan City 3 Couchsurfing in China

On our final couple of days in China, we stayed in a village in Xiangxiang, on the outskirts of Xiangtan Metropolis. A good friend I had met on a Couchsurfing web site invited us over to have a good time the Dragon Boat Competition (端午节), one among China’s largest holidays, collectively along with his prolonged household. It was an eye-opening expertise.

We witnessed first-hand how they ready their meals (plucking chickens and shelling lobsters), listened to private coming-of-age tales, and conversed on the cultural variations between our international locations by way of barely satisfactory translations.

Family Photo Couchsurfing in China

It’s tough to achieve such distinctive experiences just by visiting the well-trodden paths. Couchsurfers aren’t merely Airbnb hosts — they function knowledgeable guides as a result of they take you across the locations they spent their entire lives residing in. They know the perfect meals spots, precise hidden gems, and on the finish of all of it, you’ve made a brand new good friend you by no means would have had should you merely checked locations off your bucket checklist.

Learn additionally: Epic Tales and Life Classes from 3 Singaporean Couchsurfers

The couchsurfing communities in these cities are giant, and infrequently, they don’t host abroad guests as a result of these are cities that aren’t used to a big inflow of outbound travellers. Ask away and most are more than pleased to welcome you and present you round, and as we are able to testify, offer you an expertise you received’t neglect.

19) Reasonably priced flights to Wuhan & Changsha — the gateways to Zhangjiajie

Scoot Plane at Changi Airport Chinas Most Underrated Cities Wuhan Changsha and Zhangjiajie

If you happen to hope to get to the mouthwatering mountainous areas of Zhangjiajie, the perfect and least expensive choice is to take a flight over to the equally riveting Wuhan or Changsha, after which take a bus to the town. Learn extra in our 12-day Central China itinerary!

Group Shot with Young Mao Things to do in Changsha

Scoot gives direct flights between Singapore and Wuhan / Changsha. One-way tickets now begin from a really reasonably priced S$189 to Changsha and S$193 to Wuhan, however you would possibly have the ability to rating flight tickets at a a lot cheaper price with Gotta Scoot Tuesdays. Try this web page on alternate Tuesdays for the newest offers and gives.

One other method to get extra perks on your flight is to enroll in the KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme. You’ll earn 1 mile for each S$1 spent on Scoot flights, woot Scoot!

Scoot Plane Food Central China Itinerary

We additionally respect that Scoot gives yummy meals for us to tide over the five-hour flight to Wuhan, whether or not you prefer it Western or Asian (we liked the rooster tikka).

Fenghuang Ancient Town Things to do in Zhangjiajie

I all the time knew that there have been plenty of issues to see and do in China. I simply by no means knew the place to start out, nor that I’d be so captivated by it. Two weeks spent in these underrated cities have left me fishing for scraps on the proverbial Chinese language dinner plate — and all I’m yearning for now could be a second serving.

This put up was dropped at you by Scoot.

@thetravelintern Operating throughout Bali like we run away from our obligations 🤪🏃💨 #klooksg #fyp #tiktoksg #singapore ♬ authentic sound – thetravelintern

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