Hunan is a unique region rich with history and beauty. From nature for hikers to monuments and pagodas for history buffs to markets and street food for the urbanites, the province has it all. Five days is just enough to experience the best views, eats and trips in the area. Our journey through Hunan will take you from sights of Changsha to the landscapes of the Zhangjiajie National Park to the ancient city of Fenghuang.
Day 1: Changsha →Zhangjiajie National Park
On the first day, travel from Changsha to Zhangjiajie National Park (张家界国家森林公园). The park area is 350 km away from the city and can be reached by car (4 hours), train (4.5 hours) or plane (40 minutes). The park itself is about an hour’s drive from the train station and a forty minute, 1 RMB bus ride from the airport on Bus 4. Be sure to buy a two day pass at the park, as there is a lot to see!
Enter the park and walk 300 meters to the Dayangba (大氧吧) Square. A creek runs along the right side of the square; follow it down to find Jinbian Creek (金鞭溪). On the way to the creek, check out the Huangshi village (黄石寨). Head in the same direction for about two hours to reach a hilltop with breathtaking views. On the left side of the square there are environmentally friendly cars to take tourists to the Huangshi village and the hilltop. The top of the hill features six pavilions, a pair of gates, five tapered mountain peaks, ocean mist and fog. Take a cable car down the hill and snap pictures of the landscape.
After lunch, take a sightseeing tour to Jinbian Creek. The creek is 7.5 km long and takes about 2.5 hours to explore on foot. Along the way, visit the Jianbian Cliff (金鞭岩), Shenying Hubian (神鹰护鞭), Pishan Jiumu (劈山救母), Zui Luohan (醉罗汉), Shitu Qujing (师徒取经), Wenxing Cliff (文星岩), Qianli Xianghui (千里相会) and more. At Shuirao Four Gates（水绕四门）, take the car back to the hotel for a well-earned rest.
Day 2: Tianzi Mountain →Yuanjiajie →Shili Gallery
After breakfast, head over to the Tianzi Mountain (天子山) for some climbing and scenic views. Hikers can either take a cable car up the mountain (one way is 52 RMB) or walk up the mountain and see the sights including the Emperor Pavilion (天子阁), Xihai Stone Forest (西海石林), Yubi Peaks (御笔峰), Xiannu Xianhua (仙女献花), Helong Park (贺龙公园), and the Stone Boat (石船出海).
After a mountain adventure, go back to Tianzi Helong parking area to take a green car to Yuanjiajie (袁家界) Nature Reserve to see the Sanguantai (三观台) viewing platform, Baizhai Juebi (百丈绝壁), Tongxinsuo (同心锁), Hou Garden (后花园) Lianqinqiao (连心桥) and more. Then take the car to Yuanjiajie parking lot to the “First under Heaven Tourist Elevator (天下第一观光电梯),” the Bailong Elevator (百龙电梯). Take the elevator up the mountain and then take a car to Shili Gallery (十里画廊). Visit the gallery and then walk park to the Shili Gallery parking lot and head over to the Wulingyuan Scenic Area (武陵源) to end a day of sightseeing.
Day 3: Zhangjiajie →Fenghuang Ancient City
Take the 4.5-hour road trip from Zhangjiajie (张家界) to Fenghuang (凤凰古城) in the morning. If you are an early riser or an ambitious traveler, you can make it to Fenghuang by noon to get your sightseeing under way. Attractions in the area include the former residence of Shen Congwen (沈丛文故居), the North Gate Tower (北门城楼), Hongqiao (虹桥), Tuo River (沱江), Wanming Pagoda (万名塔) and Duocui Building (夺翠楼). In the evening the Tuo River is a beautiful sight: take a walk by the Xiangxi-style cliffs or take a boat out onto the water and enjoy the lights of Fenghuang.
Day 4: Fenghuang Ancient City→ Changsha
On the fourth day of the trip, take an early bus (8:30) from Fenghuang to Changsha. The bus ride will take about 5.5 hours, arriving in Changsha around 14:00. You’ll be hungry after the long bus ride so check out Pozi Jie’s (坡子街上) Huo Palace (火宫殿), Changsha’s most famous street food area. Sample the vast array of street food and then head to Huangxing Lu Pedestrian Street (黄兴路步行街逛逛) street market to shop for clothing, jewelry, snacks and more. Don’t forget to pick up some Hunan specialties for friends and family!
Day 5: Yuelu Mountain → Orange Island → Tianxin Pavilion
On the last day of the trip, head to Yuelu Mountain (岳麓山), beautifully empty in the mornings and only requiring two hours to climb. Yuelu Mountain is famous for housing one of the Song Dynasty Sida Academies of Classical Learning (宋代四大书院). The mountain area is gorgeous and a great place to spend half a day. After lunch, head to Orange Island (橘子洲) to see the Mao Zedong Youth Arts Sculpture. Finally, visit the Tianxin Pavilion (天心阁), a famous spot in Changsha.
Experience the different faces of Hunan: beautiful cliffs and views, an old city with lots of history and the bustling streets and markets of Changsha. Don’t forget your camera; you’ll want to remember this one!
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Keywords: where to travel in Hunan sights Hunan attractions Hunan
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