Home to the birth village of Chairman Mao, Hunan is a rugged and mountainous province in southern China. It’s renowned for the “Avatar”-inspired landscapes of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and is home to the longest pedestrian cableway in the world.
Things to do in Hunan
See the mud-brick house where Mao spent his childhood in the village of Shaoshan, which is now home to the Mao Zedong Memorial Museum. Wander through the beautifully preserved rooms and browse the Communist leader’s personal belongings, with a grand bronze statue of Mao watching over the site.
Want to ride the world’s longest cableway? Travel along the 7,455-metre-long Tianmen Mountain Cableway to the Tianmenshan Temple at the mountain’s summit. Brave the vertigo-inducing Glass Skywalk, then photograph the mist-shrouded scenery of the Heavenly Door Cave below.
Witness the sky-soaring sandstone pillars of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park while hiking through the UNESCO-listed Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Walk along the precarious “First Bridge of the World” and marvel at the Southern Sky Column that’s believed to have inspired the floating Hallelujah Mountains in the movie “Avatar”. Afterwards, soak up the cloud-draped landscape from the park’s highest peak, Tianzi Mountain.
Travel to the birthplace of dragon boat racing at Dongting Lake, a seasonal flood basin of the Yangtze River home to the finless porpoise. Spot red-billed leiothrix in the wetlands and wander through the picturesque fishing villages before jumping aboard a ferry to explore the bamboo forests and temples of Junshan Island.
Getting around Hunan
Changsha Huanghua International Airport is a 45-minute drive from the centre of Changsha and there are regular trains to Beijing and Shanghai from both Changsha and Zhangjiajie. Buses connect towns and cities across the province.