2020/09/04

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WNIC Top 10 Places (& Bar Areas) to Visit in Changsha






Changsha is a city of hidden gems and has some impressive old street areas and modern commercial zones. It is quickly establishing itself as a city of contrast, of backstreets that straddle the main avenues, of historic temples nestled in mountainous areas, of a huge river hugging party-central Orange Island, of a buzzing nightlife which feeds off the life and energy of 'Changsharen'. All this, and Hunan's rather spicy cuisine, it's incredible national parks and their love of fireworks, leads Changsha to be labelled the 'Star City' of China. Here's our guide to the top picks of what to visit...







Yuelu Mountain


Hike to the top of this mountain, which is always free of charge, check out the city views and watch the weekly fireworks from the top (May-Oct). Toboggan down, take the electric cart or cable car. There are also great hikes to be found around the paths that crosscross the Mount. Moon Crescent Lake is worth a photo, especially after some peaceful snowfall. It's also a nice walk down to the nearby riverside and through the university campuses that litter the West side of the city. In particular, you could take it the delightful grounds of the Changsha Academy, the oldest education building of all the complexes. Take water with you during the summer months.

TIP: Organise a summer evening picnic around the lake or at the top with friends, or find the hidden well for fresh drinking water at the far side of the mountain.

NEAREST METRO: YINGWANZHEN (L2)




Orange Island


Visit the temple, enjoy a music concert or walk to the huge Mao statue at the southern end. Spare a few hours for the roundtrip ...this island is long! Enjoy the picturesque pavilions that litter the isle, the impressive Piano Museum, or the spa resort in the far north which plays host to an array of live music concerts throughout the year and has it's own outdoor pool (summer only) and hot springs resort (open year round).

TIP: The easiest way onto the island is by subway (L2, Juzizhou) but be warned, during fireworks nights (usually Saturdays, May-Oct) it closes at 6pm, but it's still just a short walk over the bridge. Why not catch the fireworks from one of the beautiful bars or restaurants on the isle?

NEAREST METRO: JUZIZHOU (L2)


CHECK OUT OUR WNIC VIDEO BELOW




Walking Street


Walking Street is Changsha's main commercial area comprising of a pedestrian street (being extended) that struts onto lively and night-clubby Jiefang Xilu. Walking Street, or to be more precise, the Huang Xing Statue is a meeting point although Wuyi Square is also a good place to meet up as it's on subway line 2. But there's more to Walking Street than noise and shops. Meander through the alleyways on each side, lose yourself, and you'll find hidden Hutong-style streets. Capture the real essence of what Changsha used to feel like. There's a small street food alleyway near the top end and a collection of fascinating food units near Walmart (close to ID Mall). If you're lucky, you might even find the Banksy-style wall art found in the tiny streets East of Walking Street (or BuXinJie)!

TI: Near Walmart/ID Mall, the northern end of Walking Street, walk along PoZiJie to find local cuisine and the famous 'Fire Palace Restaurant' (complete with ancient courtyard and traditional 'Xiang opera' shows)! It's a great place to check out at night.

NEAREST METRO: WUYI SQUARE (L1 + L2)





Tianxin Pavilion


Tianxin Pavilion is a stones throw from Walking Street. Running along the southern part of Cai'E Lu, this small park helps preserve part of the old city wall. Inside, you'll discover a tranquil, relaxing walkway to the ancient city gatehouse which offers fine views of the surrounding area. You can catch evening dancers below in designated dance zones and the open-air antiques market is on almost daily in the square opposite the Pavilion. Tianxin is midway between Walking Street and Helong Stadium.

TIP: Check out old Duzheng Lu right behind the pavilion. A lovely stroll through this historic old city wall area is a great day out.

NEAREST METRO: NANMENKOU (L1)



Lieshi Park


Lieshi Park (aka Martyrs Park) is the city's largest with two huge lakes, a fairground, monument to the fallen and ample boating and BBQ facilities to make any day out full of variety. The famous Hunan Museum is near the West Gate (newly re-opened) and the park is a short bus ride from the Main Train Station. Lieshi Park is a delightful place to spend the day or go boating. It is also a popular BBQ location (which is set inside the 'ethnic village' nestled between the lakes) in a dense, leafy area. You can also explore the small islands that dot the landscape by pedal boat.

TIP: Hire a traditional wooden boat, complete with 'driver', and sample the local tea on sale while onboard. This is a fantastic way to chill out and visit some of the islets as you set the route. Prices start around 100yuan per hour which is easily split among friends.

NEAREST METRO: MARTYR'S PARK EAST (LP) then walk North for about 10mins




Taiping Street


TaiPingJie is a charming, traditional, cobbled street packed with souvenir and craft shops. Some are modern, others ethnic, so there's enough for everyone. This street is a place for artisans, almost Bohemian in feeling, with small bars, tattooists, art galleries and hidden music stores. At the southern end, there's an indoor food court with tasty snacks as well as a world cuisine section. TaiPingJie is also a place for chilled bars, like Mayou Bar and Friends Bar. The TaiPingKing art gallery is worth a visit (behind Starbucks) and opposite that is a funky alleyway that houses some quirky and cool 'alternative' shops.

TIP: Midway along the street you'll find a traditional stage with a small square. Walk up the street that runs beside it to get to Changsha's main 'pet street'. TaiPingJie is also being exdended towards the river and connects with lively JieFang Xilu in the South.

NEAREST SUBWAY: WUYI SQUARE (L1 + L2) then walk West 5mins

CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO BELOW






Meixi Lake


Meixi Lake is a relatively new development in the far West of Changsha but quite accessible by subway Line 2. 

The huge lake is best explored by bike. If on foot, expect half a day for a good stroll around the lake. There are also several long distance trails and bike paths which can make this a pleasant whole day out.

In the north of the lake you can check out the UFO-like theatre: The Meixi Lake International Arts Centre which has big scale, international productions. Further along, malls and restaurants dot the lakeside. Look out for new artistic buildings (check out the red wave-style bridge on the main road a few blocks north of the lake) and enjoy a glorious sunset. 

TIP:  Get an 'ebike' - a new nationwide initiative which means there are literally thousands of bikes littering every main street and square but you will need an online form of payment via your phone. You can pick up and drop off ebikes anywhere, at any time. There are no kiosks or attendants. This highly popular and convenient service requires that you have Alipay or Wechat payment enabled.

NEAREST METRO: MEIXI LAKE CULTURE & ART CENTRE (L2)





Helong Stadium Area


Helong Stadium was built in 1987 and is named after a famous Hunanese general. This is an interesting area of Changsha which is more than just a modern, 55,000 seat stadium that hosts international football matches and major city music concerts. It also has a large Ferris Wheel on the East side (50yuan a ride), and houses several other sporting stores (such as the Giant shop which also has it's own climbing wall). On Baisha Lu, West of the stadium, you can find and drink, the Baisha Well water. The locals swear by it. People swarm to fill up their containers. You might want to bring a scooper to collect the water. There's also a funky new mall area (DinDin Mall).

TIP: To the south of the stadium sits the mighty Qindao Theatre on Laodong Lu, behind that is Kubeiland, an indoor activity centre for kiddies with countless games and attractions to be enjoyed.

NEAREST METRO: HOUJIATANG (L1 & L3)






Kaifu Temple


In 927, Ma Xifan, son of the great Chu Kingdom leader Ma Yin, gave Huichun Park to Bhuddist monk Bao Ning who then built Kaifu Temple. Today, it is probably Changsha's biggest temple complex which sees crowds of both faithful and tourists visit and pray during Spring Festival when the whole neighbourhood springs into life with food stalls and entertainment. Despite undergoing extensive damage during recent wars, it wasn't until 1994 when many of the old buildings were restored to their former glory and the grounds expanded to almost it's original size. Nowadays, the temple is a relaxing place to hang out and still serves hot food to the homeless.

TIP: The Temple is very close to the riverside (XiangJiang Lu, northern part) so makes for a pleasant detour from the XiangJiang river. You can then head south, passed the Catholic Church, and back onto the riverside.

NEAREST METRO: KAIFU TEMPLE (L1)






Duzheng Old Street


This is a brand new restoration of old Duzheng Street, sitting next to Tianxin Park and a stone's throw from Walking Street. On Duzheng Street you can enjoy tea, sit outdoors with a beer and watch the world pass by or check out and numerous art and craft shops that straddle the street. Extremely picturesque and delightful, also housing an International Youth Hostel and hidden bars, this is a great place to explore while checking out the city centre.

TIP: Try some local food and nationwide delicacies at the many small, traditional style eateries dotted in and around the street.

NEAREST SUBWAY: FURONG SQUARE (L2) then an 8min walk South





Night Changsha


Changsha bursts to life at night! If you enjoy hitting the bars, clubs or food 'nightmarkets', then this city won't disappoint. It is in the 'China Top 10 Liveliest Cities' list. Changsha is also very compact with everything a short taxi ride, or even a short stroll sometimes, and overall, quite affordable with a price range to suit everyone.


JieFangXiLu

The heart of all night time fun is on JieFangXilu (near TaiPingJie and Walking Street). This busy avenue is as busy at night as it is in the day, with stylish bars and mega clubs thronging the avenue and small nightmarkets lacing the backstreets. Nearby is late-night food hub PoZiJie with more bars and clubs. Hot spots for foreigners include Playhouse Club and School Bar set inside a mall on the second floor. There are many clubs nearby. Windsor KTV is also nearby as are several other 24-hour complexes. This is a must-see night street rammed with noise, lights and late night revellers. Worth passing through!


Wanda Square/La Nova District

Slightly north of Jiefangxilu is transport hub Wuyi Square (the meeting point for many people in Changsha). Although not many bars exist in this area, there are some of interest. Zenlife has amazing views across the city from the 33rd floor of Wanda Business Building A as does the outstanding Niccolo Hotel bar on the top floor of Changsha's iconic IFS skyscraper. Just a 5min walk away, along ChaoZong JieChao (just North of La Nova Mall, behind Woll Up skateboarding shop) is cosy Red Lion Pub which is good for live music. Bouquet Wine Bar is 1min from La Nova mall and at the northern end of Taipingjie are exciting, small 'alleyway bars', including one with hanging balconies and pet cats.

For livelier bars, you could try Haunxhauer (a German-style bar/restaurant on the 7th floor of the IFS mall and Commune is a popular bar with cheap drinks (find it along Jiefangxilu). In fact, the only way to navigate Changsha at night is to explore the main avenues and small side streets along Jiefangxilu. There are dozens of great, live music bars scattered around downtown Changsha. Go for a stroll. Alternatively, why not join the annual WNIC Bar Crawl Challenge. Look out for details of this on WNIC!

Above: Red Lion Pub has live music and parties


HuaLongChi

HuaLongChi is often called 'the old bar street'. It is a visually stunning collection of small bars, nestled along a tight, quaint cobbled street, with hanging balconies and some great rooftops. This is a superb place for bar hopping and catching some live music acts. HuaLongChi is located midway on Walking Street and off RenMinXiLu (which crosses under Walking Street).


Nanmenkou (South Walking Street)

At the southern end of the pedestrianised Walking Street is Nanmenkou subway station which attracts many foreigners because of 17 Club, which usually keeps going until dawn at weekends. Get down to Afrobeats, dance music and more. You can also find some small local bars in old Duzheng Lu (see above). Many foreigners finish off their night in this part of town.


Fisherman's Wharf (Hexi District)

This is a modern European-style commercial complex which overlooks the river and has a vast array of restaurants ...and now, bars. The bar of choice is the Hexi Commune branch. Good pizzas, balcony views and cheap drinks make this a popular expat hangout. Fisherman's Wharf is North-West Changsha and currently only really accessible by taxi.

There are some other well known bars scattered around the city. Check out our special articles and city guides.



Changsha also does well for 'food nightmarkets'. There are many scattered around the city but the largest one is probably found just south of Walking Street and along the riverside. It is well known for it's seafood produce. There is also a large one at La Nova Shopping Mall (North end, outside KFC/H&M).

There are many more bars but simply too many to mention here. For more details, addresses and advice, check out our website www.wnichangsha.com which has more great, local city guides.

WNIC has info on all the parks, museums and shopping malls in Changsha. This list is just our pick. We only highlight bars that cooperate with WNIC.

Why not drop us an email to give your own suggestions?

[email protected]


What's New in Changsha, or WNIC, is "star city's" biggest foreign run group... a free service, with no registration and lots of great info!
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