China Guide

Hunan Hubei – Guide to China’s Hunan Hubei Provinces

Hunan and Hubei Travel Guide

Hunan and Hubei are Central China’s westernmost provinces largely dominated by the Yangtze River. Being in such close proximity to the river has been a perilous experience for many with the constant danger of flooding. The Yangtze River has since been tamed by several dams which were constructed shortly after the floods of 1984.

Hunan

Sitting just north of Hubei is the province of Hunan which lies on the Yangtze’s south bank. Located around 1,000km from both Shanghai and Beijing makes Hunan a popular place for tourists to take a break from the pollution and explore the cultural and historical value of this province.

While Hunan has remained a major hub for agriculture in China producing rice, ramie and tea, its technological development division has expanded. Industrial development zones have been created especially in Zhuzhou which have continued to grow making Hunan a top class export processing zone.

While most associate Hunan as the birthplace of the famous Mao Zedong and flock to his home village of Shaoshan Chong, there are other tourist attractions you can enjoy here as well. China’s second largest lake, Dongting Lake is found in this province and a wonderful sight to admire. It comes across as a rather mysterious site with the constant mist floating overhead in the early morning. Another scenic sight worth your while is the Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area. Crowded by over 3,000 sandstone peaks and pillars which give way to massive ravines and gorges, this stunning area is not surprisingly listed as a World Heritage Site.

Travelling to Hunan is best during fall when the heat is not a constraint and only light rainfall is expected. However because temperatures can be in the low single digits, remember to bring warm clothes, especially if you are planning to do some recreational mountain hiking. The heat is at its worst in July and August while you will want to bypass the monsoon rains from April through to June.

Hubei

Meaning ‘north of the lake’ referencing Hubei’s location to Lake Dongting’s north, the province is often believed to have been an originating site of the Chinese.

However rather than pulling tourists for its historical value, it is Hubei’s scenic and manmade attractions that interest visitors the most. Start off getting a glimpse of the famous Three Gorges Dam within Yichang so you can brag that you have seen the largest dam in the world. While the dam itself isn’t the most beautiful construction, its pure size is enough to generate a certain ‘wow’ factor. If it wasn’t for this dam and others, Hubei would still be threatened by devastating floods.

For something a little more natural, head out to Wudang Mountain where you can get a wonderful sense of culture and history within the hundreds of palaces and temples that inundate the misty mountainside. Some of the Taoist buildings on Wudang Mountain have even been dated back to the 7th century. As you can expect, the monasteries and buildings on the Mountain have been made into a World Heritage Site.

Another mountain range is popular with visitors, though for completely different reasons. Hubei’s western mountains, especially those that lie in Shennongjia, are used as a retreat form the humid heat of summer. Many come here to ski and enjoy the cooler climate.

After travelling through the old city of Jingzhou, head to Wuchang City. Wuchang is where you will not only find the gorgeous East Lake surrounded by abundant plants and gardens, it is also home to the Yellow Crane Tower. Found on Snake Hill, this tower is one of three famous towers found south of the Yangtze River.

The best time to travel through Hubei is in the spring and autumn months as to not be in amongst the extremes of the province’s climate.