Wuhan is the capital city of China’s Hubei Province with a population of 11 million. It is central China’s most populated city, and is up there with nine other National Central Cities of China. Nestled on Jianghan Plain between Yangtze and Han rivers, Wuhan is actually a composite of three municipalities, namely, Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang, otherwise known as the ‘Three Towns of Wuhan’, all linked by bridges. The three towns’ first syllable, ‘wu’ and the two ‘han’ make up ‘Wuhan’ when combined. Despite its 3,500 years of history, this city is an advanced metropolis in so many ways, and is leading the way in China’s modern industries. Apart from being a center of politics, economy, culture, and education in central China, Wuhan is a primary transportation center with very modern infrastructure set up that connects the city to the rest of the country. Wuhan has interesting statistics in terms of development, including having three major development and economic zones, four science and technology parks, more than 350 research institutes, and more than 1,500 high-tech companies and enterprises. Wuhan also impresses with its cityscape, with the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge dominating the scene, and complemented by contemporary skyscrapers including famous landmarks like Tortoise Mountain TV Tower, Wuhan Center, Yellow Crane Tower, and Greenland Center, among others. The city has a flat terrain in its central part, and hilly going towards the southern part, with its mighty rivers snaking through the city. It also boasts of close to 200 lakes, including the popular 33-square kilometer East Lake.
1. First-Rate Transportation SystemWuhan has an impressive and huge transportation system that developed over the years. The city’s long history with ferry services began in 1900 when steam boats were introduced to its waters, after which the train ferry became operational in 1937. Today, it is one of China’s four key railway hubs and is called Wuhan Railways Hub, with three major railway stations. Its high-speed train service began in 2009 connecting the city with Hefei, Nanjing, and Shanghai. With this service, getting to Shanghai, for instance, will just take under six hours. The city also has the world’s fastest train with a speed of 394 kilometers per hour. This means that a trip from Wuhan to Guangzhou will only take three hours, instead of 10 and a half hours. Within the city is the rapid transit system Wuhan Metro, trams, highways, and expressways. It has the Wuhan and Hangzhou Public Bicycle program, considered the largest in the world, with about 90,000 and 60,000 bicycles, respectively, being rented out.
2. Delectable CuisineWuhan is known for serving up the more than 2,000-year-old Hubei cuisine, one of the 10 major styles of cooking in China. Tracing back its origins to the ancient cuisine of the Chu people, be prepared to sample a number of local delicacies, such as preserved ham served in flowering Chinese cabbage, and the blunt-snout bream, steamed and served in a clear broth. Similar to other dishes in other parts of the country are its versions of rice wine, as well as the tangyuan, or glutinous rice balls served in hot broth or syrup, or sometimes deef fried. Then there is the ubiquitous pyramidal-shaped qingshuizong consisting of steamed sticky rice with tasty, savory fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. The city also has its version of xiaolongtangbao, a delicate dumpling with a very juicy meat filling. Always take care when eating this delicacy as the soup that spills out when you bite into it is scalding hot. A favorite snack, meanwhile, is youguo, deep-fried doughnuts in stick form that originated from the Song and Yuan dynasties.
3. City of Architecture and InfrastructureTwo things that will leave an impression when visiting Wuhan are its architecture and its infrastructure. Due to its landscape, Wuhan has developed into a city of bridges, with 11 plus one tunnel running across the Yangtze River. The Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, or the First Bridge, was constructed over the Yangtze River back in 1957. Spanning 5,511 feet long, the bridge has a four-lane roadway on top and a double-track railway below. The Second Bridge, meanwhile, is a cabled-stayed bridge spanning 15,348 feet in length with six lanes, which can handle around 50,000 vehicles daily. Wuhan is home to the Yellow Crane Tower, one of China’s Four Great Towers. The 1,437-foot Wuhan Center is the city’s tallest and the 8th all over China. In the coming years, one of the plans is to build a supertall skyscraper with a height of 3,300 feet, or a kilometer of glass and steel, which will be called Phoenix Tower, one of the tallest in the world once completed.
Wuhan Tourist Spots
1. Yellow Crane Tower: Sacred Site for TaoismThe Yellow Crane Tower, said to have been built around 220 A.D., is revered by Taoists for it is said to be the place where Chinese scholar and poet Lu Dongbin, who is worshipped by Taoists, ascended to heaven. Visitors to the Tower will find a cave especially dedicated to Lu Dong Bin and called Lu Zu Dong. Through millennia, the Tower was destroyed and rebuilt several times, with the last complete reconstruction happening in 1981. While the facade has maintained its original look and color, the facilities within it are all very modern materials, including the addition of an elevator for its five floors. Once a military watch tower, the Tower offers a great view of the Yangtze River. The Tower is 169 feet high and covers an area of 34,650 square feet propped up on Snake Hill. Around the premises are a large temple bell and a statue of military general, calligrapher, and poet Yue Fei. There are also special performances at the courtyard during the country’s National Day celebrations.
2. Chu River and Han Street: Entertainment GridsOne of Wuhan’s natural magnet for visitors and locals alike is Han Street, which stretches alongside the Chu River, all part of the Wuhan Central Cultural Zone. Stretching 1,500 meters and covering 210,000 square meters, Han Street is a lively area swarming with food booths, drink kiosks, and restaurants, apart from dozens of shops, all under pretty fairy lights. Walking along this street will take you to discovering lots of traditional and modern, European-style architectures, as well as be entertained by open-air performances on a public stage, or the spectacular Han Show Theater. The 2.2-kilometer long Chu River also provides nice views of the waterside and lined with shady trees. For some modern fun, head off to the west end of the street for the indoor Movie Culture Park showcasing seven attractions, including 4D, 5D, experimental, space, interactive, and flying cinema theater experiences. There is also an IMAX theater and a Madame Tussauds’ onsite. It’s very accessible, too, as a Wuhan metro station is located close by.
3. East Lake: Inner City SurpriseDon’t let Wuhan’s urban grey jungle fool you. For located right in the city is East Lake, Wuhan’s biggest scenic area and the largest inner city lake in the whole country with an area covering 80 square kilometers 33 square kilometers of which is the lake area. If you’re not in a hurry, take time and spend a full day discovering the lake park’s fabulous offerings. You can just chill and take a long, leisurely stroll around the lake, or try a more vigorous jog, or even just rent one of the carts around. Depending on the time of the year, East Lake takes on a variety of ‘looks’. In springtime, the lake’s shoreline becomes a beautiful blooming garden filled with mei and cherry blossoms. There are lots of viewing platforms offering a tranquil and gorgeous view of the surroundings. The Moshan Botanic Garden in the park is well-loved for its plum blossoms and lotus flowers. The summer season offers boat tours, while in autumn, the lake turns a picturesque red. The lake becomes an icy wonderland with snow, plum blossoms, and migrant birds dominating the scene.