Hunan is a medium-sized south/central China province and the home of Mao Zedong. Surrounded by mountains and rivers, Hunan is a major tea and rice growing region and is accessed through Changsha Airport in the capital.

Hunan is one of the most visually stunning provinces in all of China, with the Yangtze River to the north and mountains to the south, east, and west. It has many national parks and UNESCO-registered areas along with sacred mountains.

Changsha is the Hunan capital and its largest city. It is up in the northeast of the province and boasts a lot of history, being one of China’s main cultural centers. It is good to spend a few days here, as well as the best start point of a trip into Hunan proper.

Other cities to see in Hunan include: nearby Zhuzhou, a rail hub; Huaihua in the west; Shaoyang, a pretty city in the south; and Yueyang in the north. Despite its collection of decent cities, Hunan mainly appeals to land lovers.

Wulingyuan scenic area in the northwest of Hunan is the prettiest area in the province. It is made up of striking sandstone karst formations and crisscrossed by a network of cable cars. It is also known as Zhangjiajie and is often shrouded in mist, adding to the appeal. Zhangjiajie is a GeoPark and UNESCO World Heritage site.

Mount Heng (Nan Yue) is another pretty mountainous region of Hunan. It is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains of China and comes with sheer cliffs, snowcapped peaks in the winter and lush fields beneath.

Dongting Lake is another area of outstanding natural beauty in Hunan. It sits up in the northeast on the Yangtze flood plain and is the second largest lake in China. Yueyang City is on the edge of Dongting Lake and comes with the Yueyang Pavilion, one of China’s three famous towers.

Another pretty area to see in Hunan is the Meishan Dragon Palace. It is a giant cave and one of China’s most beautiful at that. Nearby is the stunning Ziquejie Terrace.

In all Hunan’s towns and cities, visitors can sample the province’s unique flavors. Hunan has one of the Eight Cuisines, although if you are not into spicy food then it won’t be much fun as nearly all dishes are boiling hot.

Getting There & Away

Both Changsha and Zhangjiajie City have domestic airports and receive flights from Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Flight time from Guangzhou is 1 hour or 1 hour, 30 minutes from Shanghai. You can also get in by rail from the likes of Wuhan to the north, with bus travel from all surrounding provincial border towns being popular.

Onward Travel