The first thing to be said about summer in Wuhan, especially for those expats getting ready to enjoy it for the first time, is that it's sizzling hot. The city is infamous for its long, scorching summers that leave most people trapped indoors with their air conditioners set on full blast. The more adventurous souls, however, often resort to one of two options: water amusement parks and visiting mountainous scenic spots. If you're one of them, read on below to find out where to flee the heat in the coming weeks.
The soon-to-open Maya Beach. Photo: zhongso.com
Probably one of the best things about Wuhan is its location. Being smack-dab in the middle of everywhere enables travellers to get out much easier. Each of the following locations is close enough that you could take a bus to escape Wuhan for a nice weekend getaway. Be sure to check travel agencies for details and travel packages.
1) Shenlong Scenic Spot (神龙架)
Shenlong, located in Hubei Province, is home to a national forest, wildlife reserves, and a Wetland Park covering some 3,252 square kilometres. There are a lot of picturesque views in the area, such as the Swallow Cave, which has an altitude of 2,400 metres, and a cave mouth 14 metres tall and 16 wide.
Another place of interest is Fo Guang, which houses a charming waterfall that, when struck by the sun, generates golden halos and baby rainbows. There is also a primeval forest full of ancient trees and vines, covered in a blanket of thick fog after morning rains—making the forest look like something right out of films like Jurassic Park. For the history buffs out there, you could also visit a place called Heavenly Gate Pass, which contains a series of small huts, as well as the remains of Emperor Shen Nong.
2) Jiugongshan Scenic Spot (九宫山)
This scenic area is located in Xianning City, Tongshan County, and is considered by Chinese as being the most famous summer resort in central China. The total area is around 196 kilometres and can reach altitudes of 1228 metres. Jiugongshan offers a pleasant climate, mild and humid, and averages about 21.9 degrees Celsisus in the summer—which is great considering Wuhan can pack a mean punch of 38 degrees by dawn. In recent years, rapid development in the zone has created a wide assortment of attractions for visitors like Shilong ditch, Rooster Valley, Yunfei Dongtain, and a Hong Kong style tram.
3) Lu Mountain (庐山)
Better known as Lushan National Park, this scenic spot is nearly 302 kilometres with 282 of those belonging to beautiful mountains—the largest one being 1472 metres above sea level (Hanyang peak). In addition to the mountains, visitors can enjoy Lushan Botanical Garden, which won international awards in 2009 for its size and beauty. Lushan is composed of 20 valleys, 16 caves, 22 different rock shapes (such as the Bull Ridge), and 22 waterfalls, which is why the area is often referred to as the Chinese Niagara Falls. The largest falls in the area is the beautiful Sandiequan Falls, which drop some 155 metres. Though Lushan National Park is a few hours outside Wuhan city limits, nature lovers should not miss out on visiting this luscious and attractive park.
What about the city slickers—you know, the people who have zero interest in the exquisiteness of nature, who hate climbing mountains and the bugs commonly associated with hiking and being outdoors—where can they go to beat their summer time blues?
1) Happy Valley
This brand new amusement park covers an area of 350,000 square metres and is divided into eight themed areas: Dream Boulevard, Cartoon Factory (for the kids), Happy Hour, Fast World (for the car enthusiasts), Yue Kong Island Paradise, Hurricane Bay, Happy River City, and the Ecological Paradise. Happy Valley offers more than a 100 entertainment venues, 30 rides and attractions, 40 eco-cultural landscapes, 10 performing boutiques, and more than 20 themed games.
For those wondering what sorts of attractions they offer, here is a short list: 120 metre sightseeing tower, 26 metre Splashdown, Magic Express (extreme entertainment roller coaster), and finally, the Fengwujiutian: a 720 degree ring roller coaster.
Price: 160 RMB (day ticket); 80 RMB (night ticket, starting 18:00)
(Children less than 1.1 metres free of charge, but must be accompanied by an adult)
Opening hours: 9:00-21:00 on weekdays, 9:00-22:00 on weekends and holidays.
2) Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park (武汉玛雅海滩水公园)
Two of the best things coming to this sun-drenched metropolis are the finishing subway line and Maya Beach. Opening in July, the water park will boast some incredible features like a water roller coaster, 10 major waterslides, and the world's largest interactive kiosk dubbed the Maya Kiosk. The park contains adult and children's pools, a family amusement theme section, carnival slides, and for us older types, hot tubs and spas.
Though the park is yet to open, there's been a lot of buzz regarding the rides and thrills soon available, if only because the four other water parks in the city are massively overcrowded. Chinese and expats alike are looking forward to Maya Beach's grand opening because nothing beats the heat better than a relaxing swim or a scream-inducing slide down a behemoth water slide.
In the meantime, if you can't wait to go swimming, here are a few other locations: Youth Palace Water Park (Hankou), Blue Sky Hotel (Hankou), and the Lotus Lake Park (Wuchang).
So for all you expats out there getting ready for a long stifling, blistering Wuhan summer, don't fret! There are some excellent choices of temporary relief. No matter what tickles your fancy – whether it be the cooling shade of a mountain or zipping down a water slide – Wuhan has you covered.
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Keywords: Wuhan water parks summer activities scenic spots mountains
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