Changsha, Hunan, is the perfect place for a weekend getaway from south or central China.
Changsha has three highlights for me:
1. The food 🌶️
2. Hunan Provincial Museum 🏛️
3. The Yuelu Academy ⛩️
Hunanese food, 湘菜, is fiery hot and exquisitely flavoured. Numerous restaurants serve barbecue, beef cooked with chilli peppers and other local specialities. It's also famous for its streetfood, particularly Changsha stinky tofu (choudoufu). I'm not a big fan but many people rave about it. Just follow the odour of an open sewer to find some 😆
The Hunan Provincial Museum is excellent. The main exhibit is the treasures excavated from a Han Dynasty tomb discovered near Hunan, including thousands of well preserved grave goods. The prize attraction is a unique 'wet mummy', the body of the wife of a local ruler, which was enbalmed using a chemical process preserving the soft tissue (unlike Egyptian mummies, for example, which are dried out.) The museum entrance and main exhibits are free but some temporary exhibits require a ticket.
The Yuelu Academy (岳麓书院，Yuelu Shuyuan) is an ancient centre of higher learning. Dating back centuries, it became one of China's first modern universities, Hunan University. The original academy can be visited inside the Hunan University campus.
Finally, Changsha is notable for its most famous son, Mao Zedong, who was born in a village outside Changsha city (Shaoshan). Orange Island, a long low island in the Xiang River that flows through Changsha, is a pleasant park home to a massive statue of the handsome young Mao's head. He stares down the river as if looking into the future.
Orange Island is also the best place to appreciate Changsha's modern skyline, which is colourfully lit at night.🌃
On several main railway lines, Changsha is only a few hours from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan and other major cities.🚄
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In addition to eating and eating in Changsha, the Hunan Provincial Museum is also not to be missed! Going to Xiangbo is mainly to visit two basic exhibitions - Hunan people - Sanxiang historical and cultural exhibitions and Mawangdui Han tombs. The exhibition hall is very large. It took me an afternoon to barely stroll through the two exhibitions, so if If you are interested in the museum, remember to reserve enough time!
1The Xiaoxiang Fair will provide free Chinese explanations at regular intervals. If you encounter a teacher in the hall, you may wish to stop and listen to it. There are also many multimedia interactive designs in the museum, especially the Mawangdui Han Tomb is close. The light projection show at the exit must not be missed. There is a one-to-one tomb restoration. The projected patterns are from T-shaped paintings and painted enamels. The sound effects on the scene are also great!
2Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9
Hunan Museum has a rich collection of cultural relics, especially of those from the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs. The Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs Exhibition is a permanent exhibit at Hunan Museum. It features thin-as-cicada-wing plain yarn garments, undamaged printed cotton gowns, all kinds of exquisite embroidery, brightly painted lacquer wares, delicate and detailed paintings, and so on.