Changsha is the capital city of the province of Hunan. Hunan Province is situated to the south of Lake Dongtine and is located in the middle of the River Yangtze. Hunan shares borders with Chongqing, Jiangxi Province, Guangdong Province, Hubei Province, Guangxi and the Province of Guizhou.
History of Hunan Province
Until 1910, the province of Hunan was comparatively quite, but when the Qing Dynasty collapsed, it led to the Communist’s Autumn Harvest revolution that started with Mao Zedong in the year 1927.
Mao Zedong established a brief Hunan Soviet State in 1927 and they maintained a guerilla army in the mountain’s across the Hunan soviet state till 1934.
The famous Long March to bases in Shaanxi Provincestarted under pressure from the Nationalist Kuomintang. Once the communist army departed, the second Sino Japanese war was fought by the KMT army against the Japanese.
Changsha the capital of Hunan Province fell in 1944.
After the Chinese Civil war the Communists returned to power in 1949.
After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, Hunan Province took time to adopt the reforms implemented by the former paramount leader of Deng Xiaoping. From 1966 to 1976, the province of Hunan supported the Cultural Revolution.
- Changsha – capital of Hunan.
- Yueyang – famous for Yueyang Tower (岳阳楼). Other attractions include smaller ancient towns and a national park in pingjiang.
- Hengyang – Second largest city in Hunan and home of Mount Heng (Nanyue mountain).
- Huaihua – important railway center in western Hunan. Several ancient towns belonging to ethnic minorities like the Dong and Miao.
- Shaoyang – a very beautiful city of southwest Hunan with mountainous areas which are home to several ethnic minorities like Miao and Yao.
- Zhuzhou – an important industrial city and one of the five busiest railway centers in Mainland China.
- Fenghuang – A beautiful historic town close by the River Tuo, near the city of Jishou.
- Changde – A city bordering the west side of Dongting Lake.
- Zhangjiajie – Home of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianmen Mountain and Wulingyuan.
- Shaoshan – Birthplace of Mao Zedong, and hub of Communist Party pilgrimage.
- Tianmen Mountain (Tianmenshan) – a scenic and historic mountain with stunning views
- Wulingyuan – UNESCO World heritage. National GeoPark. Sandstone Peak Forest.
- Mount Heng – (also called Nan Yue) one of the five sacred Taoist mountains of China. Nan Yue Temple lies in the foothills of the mountain.
- Meishan Dragon Palace – one of the most beautiful karst caves in China. There’s an area of terrace named Ziquejie in the vicinity.
- Dongting Lake – the second biggest freshwater lake in China.
- Yueyang pavilion – a famous pavilion.
- Dehang – a small village, home to the Miao minority, with nice hiking opportunities.
- The Site of Laosicheng Tusi Domain, one of three sites of the Tusi chiefs listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Zhangguying village. Small village from the Ming Dynasty.
- Tongdao Dong autonomous county
Geography of Hunan Province
Hunan Province is 500km away from the Guangdong’s capital city of Guangzhou, around 950km from the municipality of Shanghai and almost 1200km from the municipality and China’s capital city of Beijing.
The largest freshwater lake in the province of Hunan is “Lake Dongting”.
Climate of Hunan
Hunan Province has a subtropical climate. The Average temperature during the month of January is 3-8o Celsius and 27-30o Celsius during the month of July.
Local Economy of Hunan Province
Along with rice, the Province of Hunan also cultivates tea.
The per capita income of Hunan Province in the year 2007 was 14,405 yuan and 914.5 billion yuan was the nominal GDP for 2007.
Touristic places to visit in Hunan Province
Hunan Province has so many touristic attractions to explore. Wulingyuan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Yueyang Pagoda in Yueyang, Hengshan Pagoda in Hengyang and the Shaoshan Chong is the birthplace of Mao Zedong.
Tea plantations in Shennongjia Forest District, in Hubei’s mountainous west
Hubei is a Central Chinese province. The name is derived from ‘Hu’ meaning lake and ‘Bei’ meaning North. So this is the province north of the Dongting Lake; the province south of the lake is Hunan.
Much of the eastern Hubei is the densely populated, heavily farmed flatland (the Jianghan Plain) along and between the Yangtze (a.k.a. Changjiang) and the Han River. This is where the province’s main metropolic, Wuhan is. The Jianghan Plain is surrounded by low mountain, such as Dabie Shan in the northeast (along the border with Henan and Anhui) and Mufu Shan in the southeast (along the border with Jiangxi).
The west of the province is mountainous, the peaks of Wudangshan and Shennongjia giving you a “preview” of the great mountain systems found in the provinces farther west (Chongqing, Sichuan).
During the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn, and Warring States periods of the ancient Chinese history, the state of Chu (ca. 1030 BCE–223 BCE) included most of today’s Hubei, and the word “Chu” (楚) still appears in the name of the local newspapers, companies, and the like. When China was first unified by the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, Chu was absorbed within the Qin, and late Han Empire.
As the Han Empire broke up in the 2nd century CE, the territory of today’s Hubei became the area of contact of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo) into which the empire split. Many famous battles of the Three Kingdoms period took place within today’s Hubei. Many cities still retain parts of the history of this time, such as Jingzhou which boasts a wonderfully intact city wall dating back to this time.
Located astride the Yangtze River in the very center of the traditional Chinese territory, Hubei was part of the core of both the Ming and Qing Empire. During some centuries it was united with Hunan into a super-province called Huguang. A cadet branch of the Ming Dynasty’s ruling Zhu family was ensconced in Wuchang (part of today’s Wuhan); three stone turtles (bixi) still stand guard over their tombs at Longquanshan.
In 1911, the Wuchang Uprising in the provincial capital Wuchang (part of today’s Wuhan) started the Xinhai Revolution, which soon brought the 250-plus-year-old Qing Empire to the end and ushered the Republic of China.
Since the late 19th century, mineral-rich eastern Hubei became one the centers of China’s new mining and metal-working industries. In 1927, the three cities at the confluence of the Yangtze and the Han River – the old provincial capital Wuchang, the industrial Hanyang, and the commercial Hankou, officially merged into the new city of Wuhan, whose name combined syllables from the names of the three old cities. However, it wasn’t until several decades later that the first bridge across Yangtze finally established a fixed link between Wuchang and the two other boroughs of the provincial capital.
By the 1930s, communist guerillas started to be active along Hubei’s mountainous edges, on the borders with Henan and Anhui. And in the late 1937, as the ROC’s capital Nanjing fell to the Japanese invaders, Wuhan became China’s temporary capital for a few months. By the fall of 1938, however, after the Battle of Wuhan, the eastern part of the province fell to the Japanese as well, the ROC government being evacuated further upstream to Chongqing. For the following seven years, the front line shifted to the western Hubei.
The lowland of Eastern Hubei had long suffered from the floods of the Yangtze, which often occurred during the late-summer monsoon season. To prevent the floods, and to generate electricity, two major dams were constructed in the west of the province. First, Gezhouba Dam was constructed between 1970 and 1988 in the city Yichang. The giant Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydro-electric dam, spanned the river several tens of kilometers further upstream (1994-2020).
Wuchang is known as the educational capital of China boasting a myriad of different Universities and Colleges. Wuchang also has a high concentration of government offices and facilities.
Hankou is famous for its commercial and shopping districts with areas such as Jianghan Road and Jiefang Road being the most popular places to go for shopping.
Hanyang is the industrial heart of Wuhan boasting many heavy industries including car and steel manufacture.
Wuhan is one of the notorious ‘3 furnaces’ of China, however it easily out-steams it’s rivals Nanjing and Chongqing. During a typical summer temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius and humidity rarely drops below 80%. It is because of this weather that the Chinese people believe the local population have gained their fiery reputation of being loud and easily riled up. In winter temperatures drop below 0 degrees Celsius and a few of inches of snow is not uncommon occurrence.
The locals are known as “Jiu Tou Nao” or “nine headed bird” due to their talent for bending the truth. The moniker is both a source of pride and embarrassment.
Wuhan is one of the largest cities in China, however it is still developing, quite slowly, in comparison with the major centres such as Beijing, Shanghai or Shenzhen.
The castle of the tu si (tribal chiefs) in Enshi
The population of Hubei (like all of China) has been taught to speak standard Chinese “Putong Hua” for many years now and the ability to speak Mandarin will help you immensely.
However, like many places throughout China, many cities have developed their own particular dialect such as the national capital of Hubei’s “Wuhan Hua”. Many Chinese people do not like the accent of the Wuhan locals as they say it comes across as very unelegant and rude however this is purely a matter of opinion.
Hubei also has members of many minority groups, in particular the Uighers of Xinjiang, who speak a language known as Uigher that is distantly related to Turkish phrasebook.
Wuhan has strong foreign investment from France and Germany, with corresponding expatriates from these countries living here.
You can fly into Wuhan Tianhe Airport from most major cities in China and from some international locations. There also smaller airports in a few other cities in central and western Hubei (Yichang, Shiyan, Xiangyang, Shennongjia, Enshi).
You can also catch a bus or a train from many of the cities in China quite easily thanks to Wuhan’s central location.
One of the better ways to get into Hubei is to cruise along the Yangtse River, either from Chongqing further West (passing through the Three Gorges Dam and it’s massive 5-stage ship lock) or from the East.
Ferries can be used to cross the Yangtze in areas where there are no bridges
Getting around in Hubei is fairly easy. Buses go to most cities or at least through them, just let the driver know where to stop. The same goes for getting on the bus, just put out your thumb and a bus will stop for you and tell you how much it costs to go where you want to go.
Hubei also has a decent train network, like the rest of China, however it won’t go to quite so many places as the buses and often it is very busy.
Within Wuhan and many other cities in Hubei, bus is the best way to travel. The average fare is ¥1 for non-air conditioned/heated and ¥2 for air-conditioner/heater. Given the amount of people on buses and the fact that someone will always have a window open, often it is best just to save the extra ¥1 and go the cheap option.
Taxis are also relatively inexpensive. Flagfall is ¥6 for the first 1.5km
Traveling by bicycle throughout the province is possible, although the road quality and traffic levels vary tremendously. The levees that run along the Yangtze (see the See section, below), if they can be incorporated into your route, can be some of its most pleasant parts.
Few bridges allow bicyclists or pedestrians (those that do include the First and possibly Second Bridges in Wuhan, and the Badong bridge in Badong); ferries, still available at many locations, are a practical alternative.
What to see and do
The Yangtze River crosses through the region, offering beautiful cruise options, but the scenery past Wuhan is not as great as in the neighbouring provinces of Sichuan and Chongqing
The main tourist attractions and sights in Hubei are located along the Yangtse River.
You can see the famous Ghost City of Feng Du with it’s temples and statues, the Three Gorges Dam and it’s 5-Stage Ship Lock in Yichang, the impressive city wall of Jingzhou, and the famous Yellow Crane Tower “Huang He Lou” and East Lake “Dong Hu” of Wuhan.
The Yangtze levees (长江提防).
On the levee in Jiangxia District, upstream from Wuhan
In the lowlands of eastern and central Hubei (the Jianghan Plain), the Yangtze is lined with levees (embankments), protecting fields and villages from floods. The top of the levees is well paved, making them pleasant paths for walking, running, and biking. Typically, there is only a very limited amount of motor vehicle traffic on the levee roads – farmers accessing their fields, people who have come to fish or to fly a kite, and occasional tourists. The levee path can be accessed at many locations via paved farm roads, or via roads that run to river docks.
The Yangtze levees mostly run through agricultural terrain. A major afforestation program has been underway for some years, narrow strips of forest being planted on both sides of each levee. In the areas where the trees have grown tall, these rows of trees among the fields allow one to identify the location of the levee from a kilometer or two away.
Kilometer markers are placed along the length of the levees; the distance, on each side of the river, is measured in the upstream direction (i.e. from the Anhui border on the north side of the river, and from the Jiangxi border on the south side).
Even though the levees, in principle, are continuous (as required by their flood-protection purpose), they, unfortunately, don’t form a continuous path through the entire province, or even through any single county. Numerous breaks exist at construction sites, harbor facilities, and at the points where major tributaries enter the Yangtze. (At such points, the levee continues inland along the tributary, but the closest bridge across that tributary may not be all that close, or it may not be accessible from the levee). Perusing satellite images on Google Maps (alas, not accessible from within China itself without a VPN) may be the best way to identify continuous sections of the levees and the access points. Free.
What to do in Hubei
The lotus root commemorated by a monument in Wuhan
Being in the center of China, Hubei boasts a variety of gourmet delights from every corner of the Chinese nation. Whether it is the delicious kebabs or hand-pulled noodles “la mian” of Xinjiang in the West, the addictive pork and spring onion dumplings “jiao zi” of the North, the farmed sweet and sour “tang su” of the South or the myriad of seafood dishes of the East there is something to please everyone.
Like most food to be found in Central/Western China, the food of Hubei is liberally laden with chilli, exciting the taste buds of more adventurous gourmands. All of the famous Chinese exotic foods can be found in Hubei, ranging from dog and cat, to snail and frog, to pig’s blood and cow’s stomach all the way through to BBQ scorpion kebabs.
Hubei is also famed for it’s lotus root “ou” dishes, which you can get in a variety of forms from soups to french fried. The capital city, Wuhan, also has a famous noodle dish by the name of Hot and Dry Noodles “re gan mian”. This interesting dish combines the dryness of sesame paste with the heat of chillis and pickled vegetables. Generally a breakfast staple, hot and dry noodles can be found being cooked on every street of Wuhan and for around ¥1.70 it is an absolute bargain.
As has been the growing trend in China there has also been a growth in ‘Western’ style restaurants. You can go and eat at a Brazil BBQ restaurant, Italian, Portuguese and French restaurants, as well as the omnipresent American fast food outlets such as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds.
Hubei generally consumes the same style of beverages as the rest of China. Tea and hot water being the most popular, followed by soft drinks, beer and “bai jiu”.
One of the highlights of Hubei is the local beer, going by the name of ‘Snow’ which generally comes in 500mL bottles and can be chilled. The going rate for a bottle is ¥2.50 with a ¥0.5 refund when you return the bottle.
The most abundant by far are the famous Chinese ‘discos’ and ‘KTV’ bars which charge drinks at a minimum of a 500% markup and often times exceed 1000%. There are a small amount of ‘foreign bars’, generally also expensive but with an environment which is catered more to foreign tastes.
In Wuhan itself there is the local institution ‘Vox Bar’ which is easily the cheapest and most diverse bar in the province, with beer starting from ¥5 and hosting a variety of different live bands ranging from Beijing heavy metal to Xinjiang folk music. The patrons of Vox come from every corner of the world as well as of course the local Chinese.
Beijing Coronavirus Covid-19 News Update
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Beijing (北京 Běijīng) is China’s capital, and its second largest city after Shanghai, with a population of more than 20 million. It has been the capital of the Chinese Empire for much of its history, and became seat of the People’s Republic of China after the Chinese Revolutions, as well as the country’s educational and cultural center.
The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There are only three hills to be found within the city limits (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing is surrounded by concentric so-called “ring roads”, which are actually rectangular.
Beijing is a dynamic, changing city. There is a mix of old and new all around (especially within the 3rd and 2nd Ring Roads). Here you can see the most modern, envelope-pushing technologies and social innovations butting heads with the most ancient cultural norms and social settings. The people here can seem a bit cold, but once you break the ice you will find that they are very friendly and engaging.
Be prepared for customs and societal norms that are different from yours; see the China article for discussion. However most Beijingers are sophisticated urbanites, so things may seem less odd here than in rural areas or cities in the interior of China.
The city has hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The capital city of China is Beijing and it is also one of the four municipalities of China. Beijing is one of the Great Ancient Capitals of China and sometimes in the English language is also referred to as Peking. Beijing shares its northern, westerns, southern borders as well as some portion of the eastern border with the province of Hebei. It also shares its southeastern borders with the Tianjin Municipality.
After Shanghai, Beijing is the largest city in China and it is a major centre for transportation with an excellent network of railways, motorways and roads. Beijing is also an important place on many international airway routes. Beijing is formally celebrated as the political, cultural and educational capital of the People’s Republic of China. On the other hand, Shanghai and Hong Kong are considered to be the economic centers of China. Beijing is the host city of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
History of Beijing
Beijing literally means Northern Capital, a role it has played many times in China’s long history. Beijing’s history dates back several thousand years but it first became notable in Chinese history after it was made the capital of the State of Yan under the name Yanjing. Yan was one of the major kingdoms of the Warring States Period, some 2,000 years ago. After the fall of Yan, during the later Han and Tang dynasties, the Beijing-area was a major prefecture of northern China.
In 938, Beijing was conquered by the Khitans and declared the capital of the Liao Dynasty. The Mongols seized the city in 1215. From 1264 Beijing served as the capital of a united China under Kublai Khan. His victorious Mongol forces renamed the city, Great Capital (大都). From there, Kublai and his descendants ruled their empire from a northern location closer to the Mongol homelands. During this period, the walled city was enlarged and many palaces and temples were built.
After the fall of the Mongol-founded Yuan dynasty in 1368, the capital was initially moved to Nanjing. However, in 1403 the 3rd Ming emperor, Zhu Di, also known as Emperor Yongle, moved it back to Beijing and gave the city its present name. The Ming period was Beijing’s golden era. The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and many other Beijing landmarks were built in this period. The capital developed into a huge city becoming the religious and cultural center of Asia.
In 1644, the Manchus overthrew the declining Ming dynasty and established China’s last imperial line – the Qing. Despite the changing political climate, Beijing remained the capital. The Manchu imperial family moved into the Forbidden City and remained there until 1911. The Qing built both the Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace. These served as summer retreats for the emperors and their entourages. During the 19th century, Western countries established foreign legations in the Qianmen area south of the Forbidden City. These came under siege during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
The Qing dynasty fell in 1911. In the chaotic first years of Republican China, Beijing was beset by fighting warlords. Following the Northern Expedition, the Kuomintang moved the capital to Nanjing in 1928, and renamed Beijing as Beiping (“Northern Peace”) to emphasize that it was no longer a capital. Beijing remained a center for education and culture throughout the Republican Era. When the Kuomintang was defeated by the Communists in 1949, the new government proclaimed a People’s Republic with its capital at Beijing.
Beijing is characterised by its vastness and large distances between locations. The city used to be almost entirely made up of hutongs with narrow lanes and single story buildings. Now, many of the hutongs have given way to broad boulevards and modern buildings, contributing to an airy, sprawling feel, in sharp contrast to cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Beijing is the political centre of the country, with official buildings and embassy areas dominating the city. Beijing is also the historical and cultural centre of China with many historical buildings and sites – especially within Ring Road Two. The city has undergone rapid modernisation, with improvements of institutions, business environment and work conditions.
Given their city’s historical, cultural and political heft, Beijingers are justifiably proud to be citizens of the capital. An attitude known as 大北京主义 or “Great Beijing-ism” is often used to describe their attitude toward people from other regions of China. They are often much more interested in politics and willing to talk about current events than people elsewhere in China. Beijingers also seem to focus on not losing face and often use humor in order to do so. However, many Chinese from other provinces find Beijingers very friendly and straightforward comparing with people from Shanghai especially.
Weather in Beijing
Beijing has a monsoon-influenced continental climate with hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The best time to visit is in September and October, during the “Golden Autumn” (金秋). Spring is the season for dust storms and is otherwise warm and dry. Summer can be oppressively hot and the tourist crowds tend to be the largest as well; prevailing winds from the south trap pollutants (mountains lie to the north and west), making summer the worst season for air quality. Winter is cold and dry, with infrequent, but beautiful, snow. Temperatures can easily fall below −10°C in winter and or just as readily rise above 35°C in summer as well.
Demographics and geography
Beijing has a population of 17.55 million people (30% migrants) living on 16,800 km2 distributed in 18 districts. The city borders Hebei Province to the north, west and south and Tianjin Municipality to the east.
- The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, (Michael Meyer, 2020) An account of life in one of the city’s remaining hutong neighborhoods by an American who taught English in a local school as a volunteer during the runup to the Olympics, as the city and its residents clashed over the pace and social cost of redevelopment. Meyer puts his story in the context of Beijing’s modern architectural history, an added bonus for readers. Not published in China for five years, until the government could decide on which passages to excise.
The language of Beijing is Chinese phrasebook. Standard Mandarin itself was the administrative language of the Ming and Qing dynasties and was based mainly on the Beijing dialect. For language students this makes studying in Beijing an excellent chance to learn the language in a relatively pure form. That being said, Beijing dialect contains nasal “er” sounds at the end of many words. Hence the ubiquitous lamb kabobs (羊肉串 yáng ròu chuàn) become “yáng ròu chuànr“. In addition, the Beijing dialect consists of many local slangs which have not been incorporated into standard Mandarin. Beijing taxi drivers are famously chatty and will gladly engage students of the language offering excellent chances to practice the language and get a feel for the changes in the city and country from an “Old Beijinger”.
English is spoken by staff at the main tourism attractions, as well as at major hotels. Otherwise, English speakers are not common, so always get your hotel’s business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost. Likewise, have staff at your hotel write down the names of any tourism attraction you plan to visit in Chinese, so locals can point you out in the right direction.
Fly to Beijing
- Beijing Capital International Airport (北京首都国际机场 Běijīng Shǒudū Guójì Jīchǎng,). Beijing’s main airport is located to the northeast of the central districts, 26 km (16 mi) from the city centre. It serves a large variety of domestic and international destinations and is where most international airlines choose to fly, and is the second busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers as of 2016.
- Nanyuan Airport (南苑机场 Nányuàn Jīchǎng,). A former military airfield 17 km (11 mi) to the south of Beijing, now used only by army-linked low-cost operator China United (中国联合 Zhōngguó Liánhé). China United flies daily to Harbin, Dalian, Sanya, Chongqing, Chengdu, and Wuxi. Shuttle buses to the Nanyuan Airport leave Xidan Aviation Building (西单民航大厦 Xīdān Mínháng Dàshà) at 06:10, 07:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00. The first bus (06:10) might not be available every day. Be sure not to take a shuttle bus to Beijing Capital Airport. Check the shuttle bus direction written on it in Chinese. The bus ticket price is ¥16.
Visitors from 53 countries can get a 144 hours transit visa to see the Beijing city and neighboring Tianjin and Hebei provinces. The following countries are included in the transit program:
- 24 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
- 15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, Monaco
- 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
- 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand
- 6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar
You have to apply for it at the counter which is right after you exit the plane and walk the corridor. It takes around 45 minutes to get it. After that directly go to Immigration counter which again can take upto 45 minutes to clear. (Do not go to International Transfer which is next to Immigration.)
Travel by train to Beijing
Gansu Province, Covid-19
Gansu (甘肃; Gānsù) is a province in the North West region of China. Historically, it is the combination of the two regions, gan (甘) and su (肃). On the Silk Road Gansu marked the end or beginning of China proper depending upon if you were traveling east towards Xi’an or west towards Central Asia and Europe. Gansu’s western frontier thus juts right into the borders of the vast steppes of Mongolia, the unforgiving deserts of Xinjiang and the high mountain wastelands of the Tibetan Plateau.
The Province of Gansu in the People’s Republic of China has a population of 26 million inhabitants. The Yellow River passes through the southern section of the province of Gansu and the province is located between the Huangtu and the Qinghai Plateaus, at the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Gansu Province has Mongolia to the north and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the west. The capital city of Gansu Province is Lanzhou City which is in the southeastern part of Gansu Province.
Lanzhou – 2,000 years of history, the capital of Gansu Province Dunhuang – Buddhist grottoes, colossal treasure trove Jiayuguan – Fort at the western end of the Great Wall, nicknamed “Last Fort Under Heaven” Jiuquan Linxia – colorful market town known as the Mecca of China for its mosques and madrasahs Longxi Pingliang Tianshui – more Buddhist grottoes, 194 cave shrines, nicknamed “Gallery of Oriental Sculpture” Xiahe (Sangqu) – a little piece of Tibet for those who don’t get to Tibet Wuwei – former garrison town on the Great Wall of China Zhangye – former garrison headquarters on the Great Wall of China
- Kongtongshan National Park – important site in the Taoist religion
- Maijishan National Park – Buddhist statues, botanical gardens
- Mingshashan—Yueyaquan National Park – Singing sand amid oases
Gansu spans the Qinghai-Tibet, Inner Mongolia and loess plateaus in the upper reaches of the Yellow River. The topography is complex and the climate unpredictable. The river valleys in the south belong to a subtropical zone while the north is an arid temperate zone. The province was a centre for East-West cultural exchanges as early as the Han and Tang dynasties. Many people go to Gansu to seek out the roots of world civilization. The Silk Road of the Han and Tang dynasties brings visitors to such places as the grottoes at Dunhuang (a world-class treasure house of art), the Jiayu Pass on the Great Wall of China, Majiishan Grottoes of Tianshui, the Labrang Temple of Xiahe, the Great Buddha Temple at Zhangeye and the bronze sculpture of galloping horse in Wuwei.
Gansu contains some of the largest and most important Tibetan monasteries outside of Tibet. Travel by local bus across high, frigid plateaus to reach them. Ride horses across the plateaus past yurts. Share lunch with Tibetan monks. Share yak butter tea with monks. This part of China bears almost no resemblance to Eastern, Han China. Empty, wild, culturally and ethnically distinct, it offers some of the most exhilarating travel in the world.
Imagine seven hours of travel across a high plateau in a rickety bus dating from 1970. Every few hours, one of your neighbours, swathed in yak wool, stops the bus, dismounts and starts walking to the horizon. You can see for 30 km in all directions, with no towns in sight. It is an empty and riveting land.
Beware of the time of year you travel there. It is cold even in May. In rural areas, which are the most interesting areas are rural, very few housing options are available. Probably, there will be no heat so bring layers or buy a yak wool coat.
There is a Tibetan region in Southwest Gansu bordering Qinghai province, where both Chinese and Amdo Tibetan are spoken. Local dialects are used across the province, but in general most people can talk standard Chinese.
The History of Gansu Province
Gansu Province has a great history of the former Chinese Empire during the Han and the Ming Dynasty.
The Great Wall of China was extended through Gansu during the Han Dynasty. The Yangguan Fort and the strategic Jade Gate Pass was also constructed during the Ming Dynasty.
In the past, many residents of the Province of Gansu embraced Islam from 848 to 1036AD when a Uyghur nation was founded.
Due to to the fact that Gansu was situated along the Silk Route it was converted into a very important economically province.
Local Economy of Gansu Province
The Province of Gansu has been well known throughout the years for Chinese medicinal herbs. Agricultural production in Gansu are melons, millet, maize, wheat and as well cotton but a large part of the economy in Gansu relies heavy on mining.
Today the Province of Gansu has a large amount of zinc, tungsten, platinum, chromiu. The oil producing fields of Changqing and Yumen are contributing to the economy of China’s Gansu Province.
Tourist Attraction in Gansu Province
There are many tourist attractions in the Province of Gansu for both international and as well local tourists.
The Jiayuguan Pass
The Jiayuguan Pass is the largest entrance to the Great Wall of China. The Jiayuguan Pass was built during the Early Ming Dynasty around 1370AD.
The Mogao Grottoes of Lo-Tsun
A monk by the name of Lo-Tsun came near the Echoing Sand Mountain. One day he had a vision with golden rays of light that shined on him and that looked like a thousand Buddhas. The monk in the year of 336AD started the carving of this grotto.
The ancient Silk Road of China
The ancient Silk Road of China started in the province of Gansu and ended in Constantinople. The Silk Road was the only way for merchants to travel from the East to the West world. Merchants would get fresh supply and travel across the Taklamakan Desert.
The Bingling Temple which are also known locally as the Grottoes is a complex of caves at the Yellow River. The large Maitreya Buddha is more than 25 meters tall and the only way to access the Bingling Temple is by boat from Yongjing during the summer months.
The Labrang Tibetan Monastery
The Labrang Tibetan Monastery is one of the main monasteries of the Tibetan tradition. The Labrang Tibetan Monastery is located in the Prefecture Autonomous Region of Gannan in the Xiahe County in the south of Gansu Province.
- Water Curtain Thousand Buddha Caves – located at Luomen, temple built in a cave and a 30 m high Sakyamuni Buddha carved into the cliffside.
What to do in Gansu
- South Ride horses for days on a trek; hike through the hills; hang out in monasteries. If you don’t like the outdoors, this is not the place for you.
- North Camels are an option for short trips in tourist locations.
The main airport of Gansu is Lanzhou. Some train access, but to get to the interesting sites local buses are a necessity. Best to consider it as an adventure, and get ready to use non-verbal communication.
Foreign tourists are supposed to get insurance for bus trips and are normally charged twice the regular fare paid by locals. This occurs in the main parts of Gansu with many visitors, but less so in the outlying areas. CITS sells a policy as well as the Peoples Insurance Company of China.
Southern Gansu: Yak meat, butter, yogurt. In places catering to foreigners they often have scrambled eggs with tomatoes. Beware of local rice whisky.
The most famous food not just in Gansu, but all around China is 兰州拉面 (Lánzhōu lāmiàn), noodles: available everywhere in Gansu from ¥2.
Another choice is lamb (羊肉; yángròu).
Yak milk. Zhangye local spirits.
Heilongjiang Province, Covid-19
Heilongjiang was the first Chinese communist controlled province. The major city of the province of Heilongjiang is Harbin which is also the capital city of Heilongjiang. The province of Heilongjiang was given to the Chinese by the Soviet forces. It was conceded by the Japanese who lost the battle in 1945 to the Soviet forces. The communist’s were then able to control the beginning of the Chinese Civil War from Manchuria in Heilongjiang.
Heilongjiang province has grown with time in terms of area. It included only the western parts of the present province then and Qiqihar was the capital of the province. Songjiang occupied the rest of the province then and the capital was Harbin. It was only in 1954 the provinces were clubbed to form the present day Heilongjiang territory. Heilongjiang later also occupied the then inner portions of Mongolia namely Hulunbuir League. This took place during the Cultural Revolution of China under Mao.
Heilongjiang Province (黑龙江省; Hēilóngjiāng) is in the far northeast of China. The province is famous for its fierce winters, snow and ice festivals and Russian influence.
- Harbin – capital of Heilongjiang Province and a city with Russian influence and a winter snow festival
- Beiji Village – northernmost settlement in China
- Daqing – a city famed for the nearby oilfields
- Heihe – a port on the Black Dragon River facing Blagoveshchensk
- Jixi – an industrial city in the east of the province
- Mudanjiang – gateway to Eastern Heilongjiang Province
- Shuangyashan (双鸭山)
- Ilan Boo – the last area in China where the Manchu language is spoken natively
- Jingpohu National Forest Park – clear reflections of the tree-lined coast and small islands gives this lake the nickname of Mirror lake
- Wudalianchi National Forest Park – nature reserve and health spa destination
- Yabuli – one of the largest skiing areas in China and venue for the 1996 Asian Winter Games
- Zhalong National Nature Reserve – peaceful wetlands home to 260 species of birds
This northeast province derived its name from the river (Black Dragon River) flowing along the border China has with Russia. A distinctive geological land form and peculiar climate combine to turn Heilongjiang into a fabulous tourism destination.
What to see and do
Landmarks and buildings
- Russian buildings — most prominent in Harbin shows the strong Russian influence in the area.
- Temple of Heavenly Bliss — in Harbin is an active Buddhist temple.
Parks and nature
- Siberian Tiger Preserve — in the outskirts of Harbin is home to hundreds of tigers and is a must see.
- Zhaolin Park — in Harbin is home to the city’s famous ice sculptures in the winter.
Museums and exhibitions
- Heilongjiang Provincial Museum — in Harbin is not great but big
What to do in Heilongjiang
- Harbin Festivals — Harbin International Snow and Ice Festivals (from 5 January until warm weather) are the main events in the province and worth planning for if you can stand the cold. Harbin is also home to a beer festival (late August) and a music festival (every two years, next one in 2020)
- Heilongjiang River — cruises on the river from Mohe and Heihe. Mohe has the best Aurora Borealis viewing in winter. It is also possible to take a swim in the river
- Skiing — there are a number of skiing resorts in the province, one of the best is in Wofoshan near Jiamusi
Heilongjiang food is part of the northeastern cooking tradition with many dishes originating from Manchu cuisine. The food here is influenced by the long winters and relies on preserved foods and hearty fare. The staple crop is wheat and not rice and more raw vegetables and fish than elsewhere in China are eaten here.
The most famous specialty from Heilongjiang is the fish banquet based on fish from Heilongjiang River.
The many different types of Russian-style bread.
The winters are long and bitter in Heilongjiang and it has a sub-arctic climate. January is the coldest with the temperatures ranging between -31o Celsius to -15o Celsius. It is summers in July and yet the temperature averages between 18o Celsius to 23o Celsius. The summers are short and some times cool. Rain occur mostly during the months of summer.
Geographical conditions of Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang mostly comprises the mountain ranges like the Zhangguangcai Mountains, Laoye Mountains, Lesser Khingan Range, Greater Khingan Range and the Wanda Mountains. Mount Datudingzi is the highest peak among all the mountain ranges and it is 1690 m or 5545 ft in height. It is located in the border of Jilin province. Greater Khingan Range is the largest of the remaining forests in China and the forestry department operates mainly from this area.
The Amur valley is found in the northern border. The other interior parts are mostly in the low altitudes and are flat lands. Many rivers like the Nen River, the Songhua River and the Mudan River and all tributaries of the Amur flow on these flatlands. Along with Russia’s Primorsky Krai in the border, you can see the Khanka Lake or the Xingkai Lake.
Heilongjiang province has some major cities. They are namely Daqing, Harbin, Mudanjiang, Shuangyashan, Jiamusi, Yichun, Heihe, Qiqihar and Hegang
The local Economy of Heilongjiang
The crops which grow in Heilongjiang are the ones which can sustain the extreme cold climate. The main agricultural crops are wheat, maize and soybeans. Sunflower, flax and beets are the commercial crops which grow in this area.
Heilongjiang is heavily forested area and is the chief source of lumber in China. Usually Korean pines and other pines are the chief forms of lumber. You can also find larch which another good source of lumber. Daxingan Mountains and Xiaoxingan Mountains which house the endangered Siberian tiger, the lynx and the red crowned cranes are the main forest areas in Heilongjiang.
The common herds found in Heilongjiang are the cattle and the horses. The cattle of this area are very fertile and provide highest source for the milk amongst all the other province divisions in China.
Heilongjiang is rich with natural resources like gold, coal and graphite and other natural minerals. There are oil fields in Daqing which are the important source for the petroleum for China. Heilongjiang is also a very important location of windmills which are used to generate power.
Heilongjiang is the northern most part of China. This part of China is an original base for the industries in the People’s Republic of China. The industries located here are associated with lumber, coal, the food products, machinery and petroleum. Heilongjiang opens the gates for the trade and commerce between Russia and China.
This year the per capita disposable income among the residents in the urban area of Heilongjiang has reached 10,245 Yuan. This is a significant rise of 11.6% when compared to that of previous year. In the year 2007 residents of Heilongjiang had a nominal GDP of 708 billion Yuan. It had an annual growth rate of 12.1% and it’s per capita GDP was 18,500 Yuan.
What to visit in Heilongjiang
Harbin is the most important cities of Heilongjiang. This provincial capital has a lot of mixed cultural variety. Apart from the traditional Chinese and Russian culture, you get to see a lot of modern cultures as well. There are a lot of Christian churches such as the, Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Protestant churches throughout Harbin.
The natural ice formations gives opportunity to plenty of fun and talents in Heilongjiang, It is very famous for the ice sculpture exhibitions. There were more than 2000 ice sculptures for display in the 8th ice and snow world competitions which took place in 2007.
Between 1719 and 1721 the volcanic eruptions caused one section of the Amur to form a series of 5 lakes. These lakes are interconnected to each other. The geological view of the second lake is very spectacular and is very famous. The Jingbo lake is a part of Mudan river which resulted in beautiful shape during the volcanic eruptions. It is found in the Ning’an County and is a beautiful sight with Diaoshuilou waterfalls.