Often referred to as the “Chicago of China”, Wuhan is an ever-growing metropolis widely known as the transportation hub of Central China. It is the most populated city in central China, home to more than 10.6 million people. Although the city may not be known as a top tourist destination, travelers may be pleasantly surprised by a visit there. Wuhan’s vibrant culture, rich ancient history, modern technological advances, and impressive transportation system, make for a smooth visit, even for the more directionally challenged tourist.
Located in Hubei province, Wuhan is divided by the Yangtze and Han rivers. Wuhan is relatively close to many populated cities, including Jiujiang (197km), Nanjing (258km), and Changsha (278km).
Wuhan is also easily accessible by high-speed train from China’s two major cities, Shanghai and Beijing. There are a total of 54 pairs of trains that depart daily from Beijing, of which 31 are high-speed bullet trains with a travel time of about 4 and a half to 6 hours. The rest of the departing trains travel at normal speed and take about 10-18 hours. There are approximately 35 pairs of trains traveling from Shanghai to Wuhan daily. Among these, 29 are high-speed bullet trains that take about 4 to 6 and half hours to arrive. The other remaining 6 pairs of trains take anywhere between 10 to 17 and a half hours to arrive.
According to archaeologists and ancient records, the area where Wuhan is located was first populated over 5,000 years ago. As far back as 3,500 years ago the city was known as Panlong.
During the years 770-221 BC, the Eastern Zhou Dynasty ruled the region, bringing with them The Chu Culture, which still has a very large influence in Wuhan today. The area of Wuhan is divided by the Yangtze and Hanjiang rivers and is comprised of three major cities including Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou, all of which have very different histories.
Yellow Crane Tower: Wuhan is home to many historical monuments and museums that represent the city’s history. One of the best is the Yellow Crane Tower, which is located just off the main bridge over the Yangtze River. Visiting the Yellow Crane Tower, and climbing the stairs to the very top, will give you a breathtaking view of the city. There are several local pubs and restaurants located near the Yellow Crane Tower that are great for an evening out.
Hubei Provincial Museum: The Hubei Provincial Museum is home to a large number of artifacts from Wuhan and around Hubei province, and is a great stop for anyone who wants to learn more about the area. One of the more interesting attractions is the artifacts discovered in the Tomb of the Marquis of Yi, which dates from sometime around 433 BC. The tomb is one of only a handful of Chinese royal tombs to be discovered intact and excavated using modern archaeological methods.
East Lake: Wuhan also has many scenic areas. East Lake is a massive lake located near Wuhan University that offers a nice scenic route for a relaxing stroll during the day or close to the evening. The younger crowd is mostly found in this portion of the city due to the location of the university being so close to the lake. There are six scenic spots located around the lake. For instance, there is Tingtao, which is a popular place to listen to the waves on the lake and Louyan, which is home to many wild geese.
Wuhan, or rather Hubei province as a whole, is known as the land of rice and fish. Due to its freshwater resources, the province has a thriving fishing industry that has influenced the local cuisine.
Steamed Wucheng Fish: This dish has been a staple in Wuhan for over 1,700 years. This freshwater fish is prepared together with steamed mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and chicken soup, which help preserve the original flavor of the fish along with all its vitamins and nutrients.
Mianyang Three Steamed Dishes: The three steamed dishes are known as steamed fish, pork, and meatballs or shrimp balls. The people of the Hubei province have prepared these dishes in the same manner for several thousand years.
Hongshan Vegetable Bolts: This dish is made with a red vegetable local to the Hongshan district and is a specialty of the city. Made with smoked pork, the dish can be found on the menu of practically every restaurant in Wuhan. The pork and vegetables are marinated and stir-fried to create an astounding dish that is always fresh and tender.
The nightlife in Wuhan is vibrant and eclectic. Although Beijing might be known for having the most bars and Shanghai the fanciest bars, Wuhan definitely has the most unique bars. Wuhan’s bars can usually be divided into three different types: casual bars, which can mostly be found in the Bo Da area of Wuchang district; upscale bars, which can be found around Jianshe Dadao in Hankou; and student bars, which are located near the universities.
The best times to visit Wuhan are Spring and Autumn (March to April and September to October), when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, making it perfect for exploring outside.
Wuhan International River Crossing Festival: One of the city’s main festivals, the Wuhan International River Crossing Festival, falls on July 16. The central part of the festival is a race to cross the Wuhan Bridge as quickly as possible, along with rafting and a local carnival.
Plum Blossom Festival: Held every February, the Plum Blossom festival takes place in East Lake Park in Hankou. The plum blossoms are at their liveliest at this time.
Lantern Festival: This festival marks the conclusion of Chinese New Year, which takes place in January or February. Sticky rice dumplings (tangyuan) are the most popular food at this time of year.International Tourist Festival: This festival is held towards the end of September and early October. This festival is dedicated to all the international tourists that decide to pay a visit to Wuhan. Musical performances by local artists and artists from all over the world are held in order to make this a vibrant time for tourists that visit the city.