WUHAN, the political, economic, financial and
cultural center of central China, is known as one of the “three
furnaces” of China. So it’s best to avoid the sultry August season if
you are planning to travel to the capital of Hubei Province.
But in early summer, the city offers much for tourists. Its food is
famous, its 3,500-year history is rich and its scenic spots are worth a
The city’s location on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and
its interconnecting rail links make it a major transport hub in China.
Once famous as a smokestack center of steelmaking and automobiles, the
local economy has proliferated into new sectors such as
optic-electronics, pharmaceuticals and advanced industrial materials.
There are seven bridges across the Yangtze in Wuhan. The so-called
First Bridge was built in 1957. The city also boasts the largest lake
located within the boundaries of a Chinese city.
A weekend tour is ideal, and here are some of the places you might put on your itinerary.
This 150-meter-long lane, which has appeared on maps for more than
400 years, encapsulates the best of Wuhan snack foods. It is called “the
breakfast lane” by locals, but you can sample these tasty foods any
time of the day.
Hot and dry noodle is the most popular food for breakfast in Wuhan.
The boiled noodles are seasoned with sesame paste and served with
preserved Sichuan pickle and shallots. Westerners who prefer their
noodles without soup are especially drawn to this snack.
Doupi is made from sticky rice, egg, beef, mushrooms and beans — all
cooked between two large, round soybean skins and then cut into pieces,
somewhat like a pizza. This is also a popular breakfast for Wuhan
residents. The doupi is crisp on the outside and soft inside.
Tangbao, or soup bun is a classic Wuhan flavor. The buns are filled
with very juicy meat and are eaten with ginger strips, sauce and
vinegar. Be careful when you bite into one of these buns because the hot
filling will spill out.
Salty doughnuts are made from rice flour and fried with shallots.
These breads are said to have originated during the Qing Dynasty
(1644-1911). They are golden in color with a crisp outer crust.
Yellow Crane Tower
The Yellow Crane Tower at the south end of Hubu Lane was built for
military use in about AD 220. Cui Hao, a celebrated poet of the Tang
dynasty (AD 618-907), visited the site in the early 8th century and
wrote a poem about the tower, lavishing praise on its panoramic views of
The structure has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in
history. It underwent a complete reconstruction beginning in 1981, with
modern conveniences like an elevator added.
The tower stands 51.4 meters high, and has 60 eaves covered with yellow glazed tiles, supported by 72 huge pillars.
The university’s old architecture has long been a draw card for
visitors to the city. In 1893, the government of the day established the
Ziqiang Academy at the site, to train diplomats. The campus became a
comprehensive university in 1928. Some 26 structures build more than a
century ago still remain.
Sakura Avenue, lined with cherry trees, is such a popular campus spot
during the blossom season in spring that you have to be prepared to
jostle your way through the crowds.
The Old Library deserves a visit. Its main building and four annexes are built in traditional Chinese style.
Just beside Wuhan University is East Lake, which is the largest lake
within any city in China. It is five times larger than the famous West
Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province and is a popular visitor attraction
in all seasons, changing its face from summer to winter.
Tingtao and Mo Hill scenic areas are the two most notable spots along the lake.
Tingtao, meaning “listening to waves,” is the core area. It is so
large that standing on a bridge across the lake, visitor may get the
feeling of being at the seaside. Indeed, in 2000, a manmade beach was
Pavilions and gardens with a history dating back hundreds of years
dot the lake area, offering refreshing spots to stroll or find solitude.
The Mo Hill area is a peninsula in the lake featuring a botanical
garden and zone devoted to Chu culture. The botanical garden has more
than 2 million plants, and blooms can be seen there year-round.
The Chu culture zone showcases an ancient heritage dating back to the
sixth century BC. The Chu stage once occupied vast areas of what is
today Hubei and Hunan provinces. The culture was a rich mix of diverse
influences, with works of bronze, lacquer and silk. It is also famous
for the bianzhong, or bronze bell chime.
The Han Show was created under the artistic direction of Franco
Dragone, known for his work with Cirque du Soleil. It combines advanced
technologies with performances of dance and acrobatics that challenge
physical boundaries. The theater is shaped like a gigantic red lantern
and has a pool on stage. The show is an extravaganza that celebrates the
essence of the Han culture. Tickets range from 380 yuan (US$61) to
2,000 yuan, and reservations can be made at the online site
Wanda Movie Park
This theme park contains six multi-dimension movie rides, 4D and 5D screens and a space theater.
One of the shows takes you on an aerial flight, giving visitors a
bird’s-eye view of the Shennongjia forest, a nature reserve listed on
UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and Wudang Mountain, home
to a famous complex of Taoist temples.
There’s also a show that takes you on a spaceship trip.
This attraction is so popular that you have to be prepared to wait hours in lines to get a ticket.
Away from movie-going, the park also pays tribute to the
2,000-year-old local relic called the Bianzhong Bells. There are 24
bells in total, and each is covered in geometric aluminum panels. Strips
of LEDs fill the 100-millimeter gaps in between the horizontal rows of
paneling and wrap around massive, 60-meter tall, bell-shaped structures.
At night, the effect is vibrant and glowing.
Admission to the park, through June 30, is 188 yuan for an adult.
Wanda Reign Wuhan, Han Street
The Wanda Reign Wuhan opened last year, claiming to be China’s first
seven-star hotel. It has already become a landmark of luxury at its
With room prices starting at 1,200 yuan a night, many visitors to
Wuhan limit their experience to a walk through the hotel. Its lobby
boasts China’s largest jade artwork. Entitled “Spectacular East Lake,”
the painting is 60 meters long and 10 meters high.
The hotel was named after its principal investor, the Dalian Wanda
Group, which also set up Han Street across from the hotel as a
pedestrian street with retail and entertainment venues. Here you can
find plenty of cafes if you need a short respite from a day of