Admire the verdant ornamental gardens, small lakes, pagodas and winding stream that so inspired Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu. The thatched-roof Tablet Pavilion marks the original site of the famous bard’s cottage.
SEE & DO
Dufu Thatched Cottages
Gongtan Old Town
Perched on steep slopes overlooking the Wu River, this 1,700-year-old town was once a prosperous port. Today, you’ll find well-preserved traditional houses that date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Guandu Ancient Town
Immerse yourself in Kunming’s folk customs in this revitalised old town. Here, you can watch traditional opera, explore storied pagodas and temples, and sample an array of local snacks, from chicken feet to stinky tofu.
While the ambassadors may have already left this car-free island just off the coast, their Western-style mansions, gardens and embassies remain. The architecture and the numerous museums are a reminder of the region’s rich history.
Jin Li Gou
Take a trip to this riverside village, which offers fascinating insights into the historic culture and architecture of the Tujia, an ethnic minority found in the Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces.
For a change of scenery, visit this peaceful green lung that’s embedded in the centre of the city. Take a stroll along its 4km-long boardwalk and chat with the friendly locals along the way.
Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning Exhibition
This striking new cultural space houses two independent museums. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents works from both Asian and Western artists, while the displays at the Planning Exhibition (PE) are themed around architecture and town planning.
The grounds of this Buddhist temple dedicated to the Bodhisattva Guanyin rise high above the city. When you’re finished with the temple, hike up the surrounding hills for picturesque views of the ocean and countryside.
Sha Po Wei Art District
The city’s old fishing port has recently been converted into an art district. Head here on weekends to visit galleries, dine at cafés, and peruse craft markets, where local artisans showcase homemade accessories and food.
Founded by Kunming-based painter and performance artist Liu Lifen, this gallery promotes Yunnan’s young artists and offers a platform for them to collaborate with foreign creatives.
Once the highest point in Changsha, this Qing dynasty tower is now a rare reminder of the city’s ancient past. It sits in a pleasant park that also contains a restored section of the Ming-era city wall.
Wang Qi Art Museum
Admire a retrospective of renowned artist Wang Qi’s works, from wood block art to ink paintings and elaborate calligraphy. You’ll also find exhibitions by other local creatives on the top floor.
Considered one of the most beautiful campuses in China, Wuhan University prides itself on its magnificent traditional architecture. Come spring, cherry blossoms burst into bloom along the famed Ying Hua Ave.
Established more than 1,000 years ago, this ancient Chinese academy – which counts some of China’s brightest generals and diplomats among its alumni – is now part of Hunan University. Anyone is free to wander its lecture halls, classical pavilions and beautiful landscaped gardens.
EAT & DRINK
A’re Tibetan Restaurant
This rustic eatery is every Tibetan’s first choice for a taste of home. With décor like thangka paintings, organic ingredients sourced directly from the Tibetan plateau, and traditional specialties like yak meat dumplings and yak butter tea, it’s not difficult to see why.
An iconic dish in Shenzhen, the Gongming barbecued goose at this restaurant takes two days to prepare. The birds are flavoured with soy sauce, sugar, salt, wine and honey, before being roasted in traditional pottery ovens.
This club recently relocated to new premises, bringing its underground vibe to a downtown location high above Wuyi Avenue. DJs from China and abroad play a variety of electronic, techno and alternative sounds.
Boasting the best craft beers in town, along with tasty Tex-Mex finger food, this American-style bar has garnered a loyal following among locals and expats alike.
Dian Pu Zi
Tuck into affordable and authentic Yunnan fare at this new restaurant. Atmospheric décor, such as traditional wooden screens, circular aches and antique furniture, completes the dining experience.
Fat Fat Beer Horse
Housed in a former fish factory, this local brewery is responsible for kickstarting the city’s craft beer craze. The range of ales here blends East and West seamlessly, with homegrown flavours like Chinese bayberry, seaweed and coriander.
He Lao Ban Music Factory Bar
Soak up the sounds of the 70s at this old-school bar. Dark wood, dim lighting and a collection of old-school radios and speakers mounted on the walls all make for a nostalgic experience.
Huo Gong Dian
This temple-turned-restaurant is undoubtedly Changsha’s most prominent landmark and one of its top eateries. Here, pushcarts circle the dining hall, stopping just long enough for hungry customers to pick out a dish or two.
Michelin-starred chef Christian Tetedoie’s latest venture specialises in elegant French degustation menus, paired with wines from its extensive cellar. There’s also a series of themed private dining rooms designed in the style of French landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Versailles.
Mao Family Restaurant
Revolutionary red flags and a gold bust of Chairman Mao set the tone at this restaurant, named after Hunan’s most famous native son. It’s also a top destination for classic Hunan cooking, including red braised pork and beef stir-fried with peppers.
Meeting U Café
This rooftop café offers some of the best coffee – and views – in town. Snag a seat at the outdoor terrace for gorgeous vistas of the city skyline.
This circa-1924 steam train might have retired decades ago, but it has recently come back to life as a fashionable eatery. It makes for a great pit stop after a stroll along the promenade.
Niumengxiang Chaoshan Beef Hot Pot
At this Chaoshan-style hot pot joint, patrons dunk thin slivers of beef into a clear consommé, before dipping them into condiments like satay sauce, garlic oil and yellow bean paste.
A record store front, a secret door, imported spirits from all over the world and an infusion of 1920s blues and jazz all combine to serve up Chengdu’s first speakeasy. Pick your liquor of choice and the bartender will handle the rest.
Changsha’s first speakeasy is a low-lit drinking den hidden behind a sandwich counter. Sip on creative cocktails (numbered 001 to 010 on the menu) in unusual vessels; for instance, 006 is a blend of vermouth, lychee and lemon served in a three-legged Chinese wine goblet.
U Café and Club
A fun café by day that transforms into a chic after dark venue, this new nightspot offers a quirky bovine-heavy theme, complete with a life-sized cow in one corner. Try the Shizuka Gozen’s Smile, which is a heady blend of vodka, matcha powder and homemade green tea syrup.
Wanzhu Lounge Bar
Ensconced in the city’s historic Sanfang Qixiang neighbourhood, this picturesque bar features a gorgeous wall of rambling roses. Graze on Chinese-inspired bar bites, before washing everything down with classic cocktails.
West Lake Restaurant
Hunan cuisine gets upsized at the biggest Chinese restaurant in the world (according to Guinness World Records). Its imperial-style compound is large enough to host 5,000 people at once.
Yang Ji Long Fu
Feast like an emperor at this popular Sichuan restaurant. Try the laziji (deep-fried pieces of chicken stir-fried with chilli bean paste, peppers, garlic and ginger) and mao xue wang (a stew comprising tripe and cubes of dried chicken and duck blood). Go early, as queues can start from 5pm.
Yi Zhan Deng
Named after the single lantern the chef used to hang outside to show it was open, this modest restaurant is a favourite among Changsha’s chefs for its fiery Hunan dishes. Try the stir-fried beef with pickled red chillies and leeks.
Yu Chi Yu Zui
The Yangtze River has gifted Wuhan with an abundance of freshwater produce. Sample some at this restaurant, which serves up to 30 kinds of seasonal fish, alongside other local dishes.
Chengdu Spice Market
Located near the North Railway Station, this maze of a wholesale market is lined with enormous bags of Sichuan peppercorns. Choose from an endless array of artisanal chilli oils and sauces, and sample local delicacies like spicy rabbit’s head.
This storied street traces its history back two millennia, and still retains the look and feel of old Changsha. It’s lined with cafés, bars and boutiques selling antiques and snacks.
Yang Gong Qiao Old Books Market
Embark on a literary treasure hunt at this underground market, where up to 40 stalls sell all sorts of precious tomes – from classic comics to valuable first editions, and even old diaries and photo albums.
Besides hand-brewed coffee, you’ll also find artisanal products for sale – from cotton handbags and paper bookmarks to folding fans adorned with traditional Chinese calligraphy.
Zhi Jian Bookstore
With three outlets across Changsha, this bookstore has made reading cool again in the city. Local creatives approve, and you’ll often find them in one of the reading rooms, or browsing the shelves stocked with over 10,000 Chinese-language titles.
From exquisite tea sets and lacquerware to adorable dolls depicting Chinese mythological figures, you’ll find a wide array of tasteful souvenirs at this emporium.
DoubleTree by Hilton Shenzhen Longhua
The offerings at this new urban hotel are undoubtedly luxe – think spacious guestrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and standalone bathtubs, along with a heated outdoor pool. Its prime location beside Shenzhen North Train Station also gives you easy access to neighbouring Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Strategically located in the heart of the city’s Hi-Tech Zone, this luxe 336-room hotel offers dramatic views of some of Chengdu’s tallest buildings. Taking pride of place in the lobby is a stunning embroidered tapestry that blends traditional landscape painting with modern photography. For a memorable dining experience, check out Cube – a lounge, cocktail bar and Japanese restaurant spread across three floors.
This 396-room riverside hotel combines modern flair with design elements drawn from ancient Changsha’s bronze culture.
Meixi Lake Hotel
This hotel became the city’s first property under The Luxury Collection group when it opened in October 2015. Its 310 rooms look out over Meixi Lake and Yuelu Mountain, and feature design touches inspired by the Tang dynasty poem Journey to the Immortal Peach Garden.
This four-storey villa on verdant Nanshan Hill is especially favoured by book lovers. It houses an expansive reading area lined with bookshelves, a café with gorgeous views, beautiful rooftop spaces, and eight elegant book-themed rooms.
Olive Commune 1966 Hotel
Run by a former editor, each of the 24 imaginatively designed rooms at this boutique hotel is inspired by a popular book or movie, such as The Little Prince, Gitanjali and Norwegian Wood.
The Conrad Xiamen
Located in the heart of Xiamen’s old Siming district, these twin sailboat-shaped towers form the city’s tallest seafront hotel, offering spectacular views of Gulangyu Island. Besides a spa and an indoor pool, the hotel is also home to the highest bar in the city.
The Temple House
Spanning a restored Qing dynasty courtyard building and two modern blocks, The Temple House is a seamless blend of the traditional and the contemporary. Its 142 rooms and suites are an exercise in elegance, with light wood panelling and sumptuous bedding. You’ll also find a traditional teahouse and a lavish spa on site.
Fat Fat Beer Horse
Sha Po Wei Art District
The Conrad Xiamen