Bo Derek once said, "Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping." In a city as enormous as Wuhan, with all its sprawling shopping centres, famous walking streets and off-the-beaten-path specialty stops, even an experienced shopaholic may not know where to begin. This article will introduce you to four of the best shopping streets this city has to offer.
1) World City Optical Valley Walking Street 武汉光谷步行街 View In Map
A whopping 1, 350 metres in length, this is one of the longest commercial walking streets in the world! Like most shopping streets, it offers a wide range of shops, restaurants, and local snacking stalls. But, one thing unique about the World City Optical Valley Walking Street is its architecture—the whole street is modelled after Spain and rustic England, although, currently only the Spanish style street has been completed.
Walking amongst the coble lanes, a tourist might actually feel as if they've been transported away from this busy, modern Chinese city—that is if you can ignore all the Chinese people hustling past you, and all the Chinese shops. The street is full of Dr. Who-style phone booths (although they have been painted yellow rather than the traditional red). The Optical Valley Walking Street has many beautiful fountains, an underground shopping area (still being built, but some parts are open), and lots of places to take pictures. One of my favourite locales has these incredible-looking statues of Don Quixote and Pancho Villa. Also, at certain times, visitors can enjoy fashion shows, concerts, and other outdoor events. Last month this street was one of the locations for Wuhan's International Beer Festival.
Another plus is its location. The World City Optical Valley Walking Street is surrounded by other major shopping centres, such as the Guangu Shopping Centre. After you are finished enjoying this street, you can easily go to Carrefour, many foreign restaurants (Japanese, Korean, Western) or even watch a movie at the international movie house, which shows both Chinese and foreign films. There is a lot to see and do at the World City Optical Valley Walking Street, and should you be visiting Wuhan, you should plan to spend a few hours here exploring its unique Spanish charms.
Add: Luxiang Square, Wuchang District, Wuhan
Getting there: ride No. 15, 25, 518, 703, 581 bus to Optical Valley Square (光谷广), near Grand Ocean Department Store.
2) Chu River Han Street 楚河汉街开街 View In Map
The latest attraction to Wuhan is the 50 Billion RMB "Chu River Han Street" project developed by the Wanda Group. It is 1, 500 metres long and is built along the Chu River and Sand Lake. This massive undertaking will one day house nearly 200 national and international "high class" shops, as well as a multitude of restaurants and various entertainment outlets. As of now, 126 shops have been opened. Wanda Group is also working hard to preserve the natural environment of the area. It has planned a few ecological projects as well as some cultural exhibition centres, so tourists can both enjoy the elegant shops, as well as marvel at the beautifully conserved Hubei waterways and learn about parts of the Chu culture. This project officially opened during the past National Holiday, and was immediately overrun by curious locals and tourists. Not even the cold drizzle of Wuhan's autumn weather could prevent crowds from gathering for the grand opening. Destined to become a major tourist attraction in Wuhan, the Chu River Han Street is a shopping street not to be missed. Be warned, the place is packed on the weekends so plan accordingly.
Add: Xingguo Nan Lu, Wuchang District, Wuhan
Getting there: ride the No. 19, 64, 530, 537, 540, 577, 581, 583, 601, 618, 702, 723, 724, 805 bus to Balu Jie Station (白鹭街站)
3) Hubuxiang Snack Street 户部巷小吃一条街 View In Map
For those who prefer a little bit of history with their shopping experience, head over to Hubuxiang, which is over 400 years old. Though considerably shorter than the above-mentioned streets—stretching a meagre 150 metres—that doesn't mean that it lacks any of the charm or character of these larger streets. Why should you venture here? Short answer: food. This is the famous Wuhan Breakfast Street, which has more than 30 kinds of snacks to sample. The place is packed wall to wall with people, but the delicious foods more than make up for it. Not only does the food taste great, but the locals are very friendly and the prices are reasonable too! I had a bowl of gruel with fried dough sticks for 3 RMB. I was also introduced to the delicious "Chinese Breakfast Burger" here (egg, pork and vegetables). If you want to enjoy some local traditions and flavours of the Wuhan people, then this place should definitely be on your "must visit" list. Wake up early, and be ready to eat until you stomach bursts.
Add: Inside Simenkou Ziyou Lu, Wuchang Jiefang Lu, Wuchang District, Wuhan
Getting there: ride No. 11, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 43, 515, 521, 529, 530, 576, 578, 539, 717, 514, 542, 554, 573, 607, 804 bus and get off at Zhonghua Lu stop
4) Jiqing Jie 吉庆街 View In Map
"If you go to Jiqing Jie, you'll really understand Wuhan. Anyone who doesn't go there is the same as someone who has never been to Wuhan." This famous Wuhan local saying clearly states their affection for this famous street. Where as the first two are famous for shopping and setting all sorts of world records, Jiqing Jie is only concerned with filling your stomach with great food in a charming, crazy atmosphere. In the evening, hundreds of food stands appear on the street to provide people with popular snacks and dishes at very affordable prices. A small sample of what you might find are peppery fried snails, steamed lobsters and crabs (of the fresh water variety), spicy shrimp balls, various soups and dumplings and probably the most famous snack in Wuhan—and one not to be missed—duck necks. People travel here from all over China just to enjoy the food offered at Jiqing Jie. Besides the delicious foods, the great atmosphere also makes this place worth a visit. While enjoying your meal outside, folk musicians and artist will travel table to table perform songs of their play lists. If you refuse, don't worry, they will stay play for you anyway, and then charge you for their services, so you might as well play along and pick a song you like.
Add: Jiqing Jie, Canglang District, Wuhan
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Keywords: Wuhan best shopping streets Wuhan Optical Valley Walking Street Wuhan Jiqing Jie Wuhan Hubuxiang Wuhan Chu River Han Street
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