Changsha's coolest autumn spots
Orange Island Park
The 32m high granite sculpture of Mao Zedong is located on Orange Island, Changsha.
Orange Island rests in the center of the Xiangjiang River, which divides Changsha in two with the lush Mount Yuelu to the west and city's bustling downtown area to the east.
The island is a tranquil oasis from the noise and industry of Changsha but is easily accessible with a Changsha Metro stop located on the 5km long island.
Although the island gained an official capacity under the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Orange Island has long been a famed local reaction spot.
Yet the island has perhaps gained most attention for being a favorite leisure site for Mao Zedong. As a young man he enjoyed spending summer afternoons with friends swimming in the river, a spirit of being young that is captured wonderfully in his well-known poem Qin Yuan Chun-Changsha.
The island has a number of worthwhile sightseeing spots including Wangjiang Pavillion, some colonial-style buildings from its time as a center for foreign embassies, and a large granite bust of a young Mao.
Running enthusiasts should take advantage of the shaded and well-maintained roads. Rowers might want to try contacting one of the local rowing clubs and dip an oar in the Xiangjiang River.
Tourists enjoy a boat ride on Qianlong Lake.
Spread across a charming 9.2 square kilometers, the Qianlong Lake Eco-Tourism Resort is located in Wangcheng county 30 km from downtown Changsha. Qianlong became an official wetland area in January 2015 as a testament to its immense environmental and touristic value.
Take a trip to Qianlong Lake to enjoy nature in all of its unadulterated glory. The water is clear and cool, the trees tall and generously shady, the scenery enthralling and romantic. Elegant villas stand proudly beside the water, small islands rest in the midst of the vast lake like precious stones of jade, bridges of traditional architecture are dotted along the water's perimeter. Simply put, one look out over the vast lake is enough to get the pulses racing.
The local ecosystem is incredibly rich and supports more than 400 types of plants, 46 varieties of fish, and 126 kinds of birds. Qianlong Lake is the ideal place to take some time to enjoy life's simplest pleasures. Stroll along a lakeside path, sit on a bench and enjoy the sound of rustling leaves, take out a rowboat and watch clouds drift leisurely overhead.
Jinggang Ancient Town
Old-fashioned Wupeng boats line the lake at Jinggang Ancient Town.
Tourists hoping for a taste of ancient Hunan culture during their stay in Changsha should be sure to make a trip to historic Jinggang, a 5A rated site and one of only a handful to be singled out as a place of high historic and cultural value in the region. Restored in 2009, this remains a charming water town complete with granite-paved streets, ancient building facades, artisan workshops, and the famed Wupeng boats, all of which serve to echo ancient times.
Jinggang has a rich economic history and rose to prominence during the waning days of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and Early Republic of China (1898-1919) as a salt and rice trading hub. Unfortunately for a town located at the intersection of the Xiangjiang and Weishui Rivers, the bulk of transportation gradually shifted from waterways to roads. Jinggang fell into decline and physical ruin but with the preservation efforts of the local authorities the charming wooden buildings can once again be experienced in all their glory.
The town has retained many of its ancient customs and with fine scenery, a peaceful atmosphere and friendly locals, Jinggang makes a wonderful place for a day trip - make sure to try some roasted river fish which goes well with the locally produced sweet wine.
Xunlong River Eco Art Town
An artist's impression of Xunlong River Eco Art Town.
Xunlong River Eco Art Town is located about 25 minutes' drive away from downtown Changsha.
The site covers 14,000-mu (930 hectare) and offers visitors a chance to experience authentic local culture and customs. It was opened to the public last October and has been protected as a place of exceptional natural scenery.
The infrastructure of the town stands as a beacon for eco-friendly development. This includes the building materials used, the intelligent use of heat-insulation, and the number of green spaces planted, which contribute to the foundation of a harmonious and ecologically responsible area.
Furthermore, the town is rich in natural and cultural resources. The air is fresh from the thick bamboo and tree forests and the area teems with fresh springs and rivers. On the cultural front, the town has some cultural sites that date all the way back to the Three Kingdoms period (220-280). Many of the local sites are in honor of the fabled general Guan Yu, who even in contemporary China stands as an embodiment of loyalty, honor and strength. These locations include the Guandi temple, the Tuodao Stone, and the Yiyun Pavillion.