Within Changsha City
1. Martyr Memorial Park
This large park was laid out in 1955 in memory of those who died in the liberation struggle. At the center is an exhibition hall in the base of the 38m/125ft high pagoda. Martyr Memorial Park’s other features include a man-made lake, several pavilions, boating, an open-air movie theater, a chrysanthemum garden, and a restaurant that serves fish from the lake.
2. Ju Zi Zhou (Orange Islet)
The Orange Islet, so named after the large numbers of orange trees growing here, is a narrow strip of 5km long land in the middle of the Xiangjiang River. Now the islet has been made into a public park. Here the visitor will find a pretty pavilion and a stone tablet on which is engraved a poem about the town written by Mao Zedong. From the southern end of the island there is a particularly good view of the river.
3. Tian Xin Ge (Heart-of-Heaven Povillion)
This is the only remnant of Changsha’s ancient city wall. Perched on the highest point within the city, the wall was purportedly first built during the Han (Western Han) Dynasty, although the gun portals are known to have been added in the 1850s. Tian Xin Ge on top of the wall was originally built during the Qianlong period (early 19th century) as a star-gazing platform. Most of the wall was gone by the 1920s and its pavilion burned down in 1938. During the mid-1980s, a park and restored three-story pavilion were constructed.
4. Mt. Yuelu
Mt. Yuelu is the last of 72 mountain groupings of the Hengshan range, with its summit at 295.4 m. above sea level. Among the hill’s principal pavilions is the Aiwan Ting (Admiring-the-Dusk Pavilion), built in 1792 by the dean of Yuelu Academy (the “Aiwan Ting” signboard at the entrance uses Chairman Mao’s calligraphy). Baihequan (White Crane Spring) has a small pavilion overlooking the spring; its teahouse uses the spring water to brew its famous “Cloud and Fog” tea. Yuelu Palace on Yuelu Peak was built in the Ming Dynasty (c. 14th century) and also has a pleasant teahouse. The “Drum-Sounding Ridge” is located behind the palace-if you stamp hard on the rock, it produces a drum-like sound.
5. Yuelu Academy
Built in 976 (Song Dynasty), Yuelu Academy was one of China’s four imperial academies of higher learning during that period. It is located at the foot of the Yuelu Mountain behind Hunan University.
6． Kai Fu Temple
First built in 896 (Tang Dynasty), the premises of this ancient Buddhist site were occupied by a factory during the Cultural Revolution. The factory has not yet fully moved out and the temple has not officially reopened but they do admit visitors, as one hall (the Mahavira) has been restored (in 1985, the entire area was turned into a protected park). There is a Sakyamuni mural and two bodhisattvas. There are also 18 arhats (clay figures) and a Goddess of Mercy statue behind the mural.
The temple is a nunnery of the “pure land” sect; some 40 nuns and two monks (the only ones in Changsha) live there.
Within Hunan Province
1. Dongting Lake
As China’s second-largest freshwater lake, it is located in northeastern Hunan Province. It is a large, shallow body of water surrounded by mountain chains. Four streams including the Xiangjiang River, the Zishui River, the Yuanjiang River, and the Lishui River, all flow into Dongting Lake. It is also known as ’eight- hundred Li Dong Ting Lake’ (The Li is a Chinese length unit equal to 500 meters or about 1,640 feet). An impressive characteristic of the lake is that it is inter-nested. Depending on the season, concentric ridges of land appear in the lake in many areas. This is because the lake acts as a flood basin for the Yangtze River. The appearance of Dongting Lake changes throughout the seasons, sometimes even during the same day. Many ancient Chinese poems and stories were written about the beauty of Dongting Lake.
2. Yueyang Pavilion
As one of four famous Chinese pavilions, Yueyang Pavilion is an ancient architectural treasure which is located on the shores of Dongting Lake in Yueyang City, Hunan Province.
Yueyang Pavilion is a three storey, rectangular building which reaches 15 meters (about 49 feet) high and is constructed entirely from wood. Surprisingly, no nails or beams have been used in its construction. Pillars have been included in the construction to ensure the strength of the building. Four pillars made of ’Nanmu’ wood support the entire pavilion; twelve pillars of catalpa wood support the eaves of the first storey and a further twelve pillars have been included to support the second storey. The roof of the pavilion is built using unusual curved lines which are similar to the shape of a helmet used by a knight of ancient times.
The age of the pavilion is disputed. However, it is generally believed that the pavilion was built more than 1,700 years ago. The pavilion was made very famous during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) by the works of Fan Zhongyan who was a great politician and writer.
3. Mt. Hengshan
Being one of the famous mountains Wuyue (a collective name given to five famous mountains in China), Mt. Hengshan is located in Hengyang City of Hunan Province.
Mt. Hengshan is composed of 72 peaks. There are various kinds of precious trees and a vast area of primeval forest. People summarize all the spectacles here as “the eight marvels in Mt. Hengshan”. They are the height of the Zhurong Peak, the grace of the Sutra Collection Hall, the profundity of Fangguang Temple, the quietness of Mojingtai, the magic of the Shuilian Cave, the antiquity of Dayu Stele, the majesty of the Nanyue Temple and the steepness of Huixian Bridge. Zhurong Peak is the highest mountain peak of this scenic area. Sutra Collection Hall is located deep in the glen and is surrounded by towering trees. The running spring and flying birds make this place very peaceful and leisurely. Huixian Bridge is in fact a bridge on a big stone. It is narrow and dangerous, and few people are brave enough to go over it.
This scenic area is also a well known and hallowed Buddhist ground. It has abundant temples including nunneries and Taoist temples.
4. Zhangjiajie Scenic Spot
Located in western Hunan province, the famous tourist city of Zhangjiajie is the home of China’s first forest park - the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park - and a World Natural Heritage site Wulingyuan.
There are many famous scenic spots in Zhangjiajie, such as Baofeng Lake, the Huanglong Cave (Asia’s largest cave), and many beautiful waterfalls and brooks. But the most attractive scene that Zhangjiajie features is the mysterious mountain covered with dense, primeval forests. It is said that 23 species of rare animals and more than 3,000 species of plants are living in the misty world.
There are 243 pillar-peaks, each over 1,000 meters high, which are often shrouded in mist and drizzle. Together, the peaks form several "peak-forests" that are rarely found anywhere else. Visitors to the top of Mt. Tianzi will see many pillar-peaks gathered together like soldiers in an enormous battle array.
The new cableway on Mt. Tianzi is new and is 2,084 meters long. As the cable car runs across the dizzying peaks, passengers get a full view of the spectacular landscape that cannot be enjoyed any other way. Despite the new cableway’s presence, there are still mountain-climbers struggling to reach the top of Mt. Tianzi. Sedan-chairs can also be seen among them.
5. Feng Huang Cheng (Phoenix Town)
’Feng Huang’ is Chinese for ’Phoenix’, the mythical bird of good omen and longevity that is consumed by fire to be re-born again from the flames. Feng Huang Cheng or Phoenix Town is so called as legend has it that two of these fabulous birds flew over it and found the town so beautiful that they hovered there, reluctant to leave.
The town is situated on the western boundary of Hunan Province in an area of outstanding natural beauty where mountains, water and blue skies prevail. Upon entering the town visitors will be impressed by its air of mystery, elegance and primitive simplicity. Feng Huang Cheng is a wonderful example of what villages were like prior to the onset of modernization.
Feng Huang Cheng does not rely entirely upon natural beauty to attract the visitor for this ancient town with a history spanning 1300 years has a number of remarkable old gardens as well as distinctive residential buildings, elegant bridges and mysterious towers and pagodas. Those of special interest are the Wengchen Pavilion, Huang Si Qiao Castle, Tian Wang Temple, Da Cheng Hall, Chao Yang Palace, and the tomb of Shen Congwen and the residence of Xiong Xiling.
The Miao Minority is predominantly settled here and a visit to a Miao village is a must when going to Feng Huang Cheng.