Hunan, nestled amidst the rolling hills and verdant landscapes of southern China, is a province that beckons with its enchanting beauty, rich cultural heritage, and tantalizing cuisine. From the awe-inspiring peaks of Zhangjiajie National Park to the captivating allure of Fenghuang Ancient Town, Hunan offers a tapestry of experiences that will leave you spellbound.
Unleashing the Wonders of Hunan
Embarking on a journey through the enchanting landscapes of Hunan, China, is like stepping into a realm where the wonders of nature and the rich tapestry of human culture seamlessly intertwine. In this mesmerizing province, every mountain ridge tells a tale, and every tranquil waterway whispers ancient secrets. Hunan, with its lush greenery, mist-covered peaks, and historic landmarks, is not just a destination; it’s a living, breathing testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and humanity.
Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan Scenic Area – They say you can catch some pretty amazing views in Jiuzhai Valley, and Zhangjiajie has some stunning mountainscapes. You’ve probably seen the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain from the movie ‘Avatar’ – that’s in Yuanjiajie, in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area of Zhangjiajie, China. It’s been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1992. Wulingyuan has the famous Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, and there you can spot over 3,000 tall stone pillars and a mysterious fog, making it look like a magical kingdom.
Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge – If you’re feeling daring, don’t miss out on a walk on Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge! It was listed as one of the “12 Most Spectacular Bridges in the World” by CNN and it’s a great way to get your heart pumping. It’s 430 meters long and hangs 400 meters above the valley in the gorgeous Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon.
Tianmen Mountain – If you’re visiting Zhangjiajie, you have to check out Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park! You’ll be amazed by the abundance of bridges, roads, and steps. Take the world’s longest cable car and look down at the 99-turn mountain road, or walk along the cliff-hanging plank and glass walk above the abyss, and through the giant Tianmen Cave.
Fenghuang Ancient Town – Fenghuang Ancient Town in West Hunan is referred to as “The Most Beautiful Town in China” and “Painting Hometown”. This old town which was constructed in 1703 is nestled between Fenghuang Mountain and the Tuojiang River, and gives off a nostalgic vibe. Take a leisurely walk through the dark stone streets and alleyways and get lost in a random corner.
Hunan Provincial Museum – The Hunan Museum is an awesome place to check out if you’re looking for an enriching cultural experience. It’s a national museum, so the collection is top-notch – boasting over 3,000 priceless relics and an incredibly well-preserved female corpse from the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tomb.
Yuelu Academy – Head on down to the Yuelu Academy, located at the foot of Yuelu Mountain in Changsha. You can check out the well-preserved ancient architecture with black tiles and white walls, surrounded by old trees, ponds, and gardens. Pass through the courtyards, read the stone tablets, and take in the tranquil atmosphere of this old school.
Chairman Mao Former Residence – If you’re into Chinese culture from the past century, Shaoshan is the place to be since it’s the hometown of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China. The best stop is the Former Residence of Chairman Mao, the spot where he was born and raised. You can take a stroll through the humble farmhouse and get a feel for the life of the great leader.
Yueyang Tower – Lots of people love exploring Chinese culture and one of the most popular places to visit is Yueyang Tower. It’s the only one among the “Three Great Towers in Jiangnan Area” to preserve its original appearance. You can’t miss it if you’re into Chinese poetry and traditional literature. You can explore the carvings, couplets, calligraphy and the famous poem “On Yueyang Tower” inside the tower.
A Culinary Adventure
Hunan cuisine, also known as Xiang cuisine, is one of the top eight cuisines in China and it’s super popular not just in Hunan Province, but all over the country. It’s even popular outside of China, like in the US, Europe, Japan, and Southeast Asia. It’s known for its super flavorful and spicy dishes, since pepper is the most popular condiment.
Steamed Fish Head with Chopped Chili – This famous Hunan dish is fiery and has really tender fish meat. The fish head is from a bighead carp. Along with the chopped chili, they add soy sauce, ginger, shallots, and garlic to give it even more flavour.
Steamed Preserved Meat – Heating up cured meats like pork, chicken, fish or other preserved meat with chicken soup is a super simple way to make a tasty and salty dish that’s easy on the stomach.
Chairman Mao’s Red Braised Pork – This dish is a fave of Mao Zhe Dong. It’s got a complex mix of spicy, salty, and sweet, and it looks dark red. The pork has to be half fat and half lean, cut into large cubes.
Fried Pork with Chili – In Hunan, fried pork with chili is a popular home-cooked meal. The pork is fragrant and spicy, and the chilies are long, firm, and about the size of your fourth finger.
Hunan is a land that will capture your heart with its enchanting beauty, rich cultural heritage, and unforgettable culinary experiences. It is a place where nature’s wonders unfold at every turn, where ancient traditions linger in the air, and where the flavors of the land dance on your palate. Embark on a journey to Hunan and discover a province that will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
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