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Hunan Travel Guide

Hunan Overview

Hunan, literally means south of the lake, is located in the southern area pf middle reach of Yangtze River. Most of the part is in the south of Dongting Lake, hence its name. It is said that there was a large area of hibiscus in Hunan region in the past, so that Hunan also can be called the hometown of hibiscus.

Hunan boasts many historical relics, such as Yueyang Pavilion, Dongting Lake, Manwangdui Han Tomb, Phoenix Ancient City, Orange Islet, Mt. Hengshan, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, etc… These historical sites record the civilization development as well as Hunan special Red culture comprehensively.

As the birthplace of Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China(PRC), Hunan province has contributed to the founding and growth of the country. Over the first decade of the 21st century, the province’s gross domestic production(GDP) has annually increased over 10%. Despite the global financial crisis throughout 2009, Hunan achieved leapfrog growth with its in-depth implementation of development strategies: pushing forward innovative industrialization , as well as stepping up efforts to improve basic industries, infrastructure, and fundamentals. In the same year, the province’s GDP hit nearly 1.3 trillion yuan, and its economy grew 13.6%,4.9 percentage higher than the national average. This ranked the province among the nation’s top six performers in terms of growth rate, and placed it among China’s top ten for the consecutive year in terms of its economy. Hunan is emerging as one of China’s central provinces maintaining stable and fast growth.

Hunan Facts

Provincial Capital: Changsha

Area: 210,500 sq km

Geography: Xiangjiang River is the largest river in this region. It adjoins with Jiangxi Province on the east, Chongqing Municipality and Guizhou Province on the west, Guangdong Province and Guangxi Autonomous Region on the south, and Hubei Province on the north. The east-west distance of the province is 667 kilometers; the north-south distance is 774 kilometers.

Sheltered by mountain ranges to the east, west and south, the center of Hunan comprises hills and basins, and the north is composed of plains. The landform of the province therefore takes the form of a horseshoe, open to the north, low in the center, and high in the other three directions. Hunan’s highest mountain Huping in Shimen County, Changde, reaches 2,009 meters above sea level, while its lowest area. Huanggai Town in Yueyang, lies at an altitude of only 21 meters. 

Population: Hunan covers 2 percent of China's land mass, and contains about 5 percent of its population, ranking No.7 in China with average population density of 325 per square kilometer. The Dongting Plain and the main river valleys are where the population is primarily concentrated. At the end of 2009, the total population of Hunan is 69.251 million, 550,000more than last year, among which the urban population is 29.8089 million and the rural population is 39.1931 million.

Administrative Division:
► Changsha City - capital of Hunan
► Zhuzhou City - an important industrial city in Hunan Province and one of the five busiest railway centers in Mainland China.
► Xiangtan City - With an area of 5016 square kilometers and a population more than 3.0204 million, it consists of two districts (Yuetang, Yuhu), Xiangxiang city, Shaoshan city and
► Yiyang City - a famous "home of rice and fish" in the Dongting Lake area.
► Changde City - A city bordering the west side of Dongting lake
► Hengyang City - Second largest city in Hunan and home of Mount Heng (Nanyue mountain).
► Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
► Zhangjiajie City – has a first-rate scenic area at Wulingyuan. Tourism is the city's main industry.
► Huaihua City - important railway center in western Hunan
► Loudi City - The local Lianyuan Iron and Steel Company is a backbone enterprise in Hunan.
► Shaoyang City - a very beautiful city of southwest Hunan
► Chenzhou City - s the southern gateway of Hunan and a well-known "home of non-ferrous metals", with a population of 4.7708 million.
► Yongzhou City - was one of the three well-developed areas and one of the four ancient prefectures in Hunan.
► Yueyang City - consists of four districts (Yuanyanglou, Junshan, Yunxi, Quqyuan), two cities (Linxiang, Miluo) and four counties(Huarong, Yueyang, Pingjiang, Xiangyin).

Climate: Hunan in the sub-tropical area has a warm climate, with cold, short winters and hot, long summers. It has four clearly contrasted seasons, abundant rainfall, and a mean annual precipitation of 1,300-1,700 mm. Its mean annual temperature is 16 to 18.5 degrees Celsius -- the hottest month, July, averaging 26 to 30 degrees Celsius and the coldest month, January, 4 to 7 degrees Celsius.

Hunan Climate & Weather

Hunan is located in the region of continental subtropical seasonal humid climate. It has four distinct seasons, abundant sun, long frostless periods and abundant rain. The total number of annual sunshine hours is between 1300 and 1800. The annual average temperature is between16℃-18℃. The frostless period is as long as 260-310 days. Annual rainfall is between 1200-1700 mm, which is favorable for the growth of agricultural crops and green plants.

The north generally experiences more extreme weather conditions, both in summer and in winter than the south. In winter, occasional waves of cold front forms a high-pressure zone centered over Mongolia that sweeps southward, damaging tea bushes and fruit trees in northern Hunan. The average minimum temperature in December and January is 6 ℃. Summer is usually long and humid, and temperatures are slightly higher in the north. The average maximum temperature in July and August is 30 ℃.

Tips for Hunan Weather

Best season to visit Hunan
The best time to travel in Hunan is in spring and autumn, especially from April to June. Spring in Hunan is short and rainy season, and the weather changes a lot in this season. Summer is long and extremely hot in Hunan. The average temperature is higher than 28ºC. Hunan is very dry and cool in autumn. The average temperature seems to be 16 ºC-19℃. In winter, it is a little cold in Hunan. The average temperature of the coldest month January may be 4 ºC-7℃.

Clothes for travelling
Spring is warm in Hunan; tourists can put on T-shirt and thin coat. However, a thicker coat is also needed as the weather changes a lot in spring. While enjoying your Hunan Tours in summer, you just need to take your T-shirt because it is extremely hot there. Hunan seems to be a little cold in winter, travelers had better bring your sweater and thick coats, or down jacket.

Avoid Peak Holidays
It is not a good idea to travel in China during Chinese holidays when huge numbers of Chinese people are travelling around. The busiest three national holidays in China are Chinese Spring Festival (usually in late Jan or early Feb.), International Labor Day (May 01 to 03) and National Day (Oct 01-07). Spring Festival is an especially crowded time to travel. The advantage of being in China at this time is that you will get the opportunity to experience "first hand" the significance of these celebrations in Chinese culture.

Other Tips
Mountain scenic area like Zhangjiajie, has large temperature difference; visitors need to prepare enough clothes to cold-proof and take good care of your body.

The weather is changeful in summer, bring rain gear or buy disposable rain cape before enjoying your interesting Hunan Tours.