Hubei is a medium-sized province in the south/central region of China. It takes its name from Hu (lake) and Bei (north) and is home to the mighty Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam.

Hubei is well connected by road, rail, river, and air and has the sprawling city of Wuhan as its capital. It is one of China’s biggest, yet is a fair way behind the likes of Shanghai or Shenzhen in vitality and tourist facilities. Wuhan is 700kms west of Shanghai.

It’s mostly about the river and Three Gorges Dam in Hubei and they are both best accessed from the western Hubei town of Yichang. You can get close to the dam and marvel at its size, but it’s not as appealing as, say, the Hoover Dam. Three Gorges river cruises are pretty popular from here to Wuhan along the lower Yangtze.

There are several other sizeable cities in Hubei such as Shiyan and Xiangfan, although they are best used as launch points for other attractions. The gorgeous Wudang Shan mountain lies south of Shiyan amid the Wudang Shan Mountains and is a popular spot for hikers.

It is a sacred mountain with ancient temples strewn all over its flanks and peaks, of which there are 72. Tianzhu Feng peak is the most famous and can be hiked in a few hours. It sits at 1,600m and features the renowned Taihe Temple.

The UNESCO registered Shennongjia Nature Reserve also lies within this mountain range. It is known as the ‘Roof of Central China’ and also has numerous peaks and boasts three vegetation zones.

Right down in the southwest of Hubei is remote Yumuzhai. It is tough to get to and doesn’t boast much in the way of facilities and attractions, yet is peaceful. Getting there involves a drive to the town of Lichuan, and then a semi-treacherous four-wheel-drive trip.

Getting There & Away

Wuhan is the gateway to Hubei, a large city with a sizeable airport nearby, a collection of expressways and rail lines converging on it, and the huge Yangtze bringing in boats from the sea. Trains make the trip to Wuhan from Beijing in 12 hours or in 9 hours from Shanghai. Tianhe Airport is a 1-hour, 30-minute flight from Beijing.

Onward Travel