Wuhan

The largest city in central China, Wuhan is home to colonial architecture, a lively waterfront, fine restaurants and street markets. 

Ancient Wuhan is home to beguiling colonial-era architecture, a lively waterfront and enough fine restaurants to make your mouth water. The largest city in central China, Wuhan has modernised rapidly, but you’ll still find fantastic temples and street markets here.

One of China’s oldest cities – dating back a staggering 3,500 years – Wuhan is deservedly proud of the role it has played in China’s development. From as far back as the Han dynasty right through to World War II and beyond, Wuhan has been at the centre of some of the most pivotal events in Chinese history.

Despite its ancient roots, the city only started going by the name of Wuhan in 1927, when three separate settlements joined together to create one massive city. Cut in half by the Yangzi River, also known as the Chang Jiang, Wuhan is made up of Hankou and Hanyang, on the eastern side of the river, while Wuchang sits on the right-hand bank. Hankou makes the best base for visitors, with many hotels, shops and restaurants close by.

Wuhan features in the classic 14th-century Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but in 1861 it was forcibly opened for trade with the West in the wake of the Opium Wars. Wuhan, though, is perhaps best known for the Wuchang Uprising of 1911, which led to the fall of the Qing dynasty and the end of thousands of years of rule in China by emperors.

 

When to go

Wuhan swelters in July and August, justly earning its nickname of the 'furnace' of China. But during the rest of the year, it's much more pleasant. Expect some rain from April through to July.

Visa requirements

Singaporean citizens can visit China for a period of 15 days without a visa, while most other nationalities require a visa in advance. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months and that you have a return or onward ticket.

Money

China's currency is the yuan (Y), also known as renminbi, or colloquially as kuai. There are ATM's and exchange counters at the airport. ATM's accepting foreign bank cards are plentiful across Wuhan. Credit cards can be used at high-end hotels, shopping malls and restaurants. Everywhere else, it is best to carry cash.

Transport

Wuhan's Tianhe International Airport is 32km (20 miles) northwest of town.  Airport shuttles run along two routes to Hankou train station (Y17) and the Fujiapo long-distance bus station (Y32) every 30 minutes from 9am until the last flight arrival. There are less frequent buses to Wuhan train station (Y37). A taxi from town will cost Y100-120. Wuhan's expanding metro system is a great way to beat the traffic congestion. Currently, three lines operate and tickets cost Y2. Taxi flagfall starts at Y6. Buses around town cost Y1.50-2. Ferries (Y1.50) cross the Yangzi River from 6.30am-8pm.

Health and safety tips

Wuhan is a very safe city by international standards with violent crime against foreigners extremely rare. But pickpockets are active so watch wallets and purses on buses and in crowded areas. Avoid using unlicensed taxis. Don't drink the tap water.

Emergency details

Singapore Embassy:

The nearest Singapore Embassy is in Beijing (tel: (86) 10 6532 1115). 
 

Police:

The main police station, known as the Public Security Bureau, is at 7 Zhangzizhong Lu on the Hankou side of the river (tel: (86) 27 8539 5351).

Basic greetings
English Mandarin
Hello Ni hao
How are you? Ni hao ma?
Fine, thanks Hen hao, xie xie
Goodbye Zai jian
Excuse-me! (to get attention) Qing wen!
Thank you Xie xie
Yes Shi de
No Bu shi
OK Hao de
What's your name? Ni jiao shen me ming zi?
My name is… Wo jiao…
Nice to meet you Jian dao ni hen gao xing
Are you on Facebook/Twitter? Nin zai shi yong Facebook/Twitter ma?
Where’s an internet café? Wang ba zai na li?
Where can I get a taxi? Wo ke yi zai na li zhao dao chu zu che?
Where is the bus/train station? Qi che zhan/huo che zhan zai na li?
A one-way/return ticket to… Yi zhang dao…de dan cheng/shuang cheng piao
Do you have a room for one/two? You yi/liang ren de fang jian ma?
When's check out? Ji dian tui fang?
Can you recommend a good restaurant/bar? Ni neng tui jian yi jia hao can guan/jiu ba ma?
A table for two, please Qing gei wo liang ge ren de zhuo zi
A menu, please Qing gei wo cai dan
The bill, please Qing gei wo zhang dan
Where's the toilet? Xi shou jian zai na li?
Help! Jiu ming!

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The Revolution of 1911 Museum

1 Wulou Lu

Sometimes known as the Red Chamber, The Revolution of 1911 Museum chronicles Wuhan's most famous moment: the Wuchang Uprising. Led by Sun Yat-sen, China's first president, the uprising prompted the fall of the Qing dynasty and led to the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912. There's some heavy communist party propaganda on display here, but the building itself is an imposing redbrick structure.

Hubei Provincial Museum

156 Donghu Lu

Hubei Provincial Museum is one of the best museums in China. The star attraction is the tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng, which dates back to 433 BC. Equally fascinating is the collection of musical instruments. They include a five tonne set of bronze bells, one of the largest instruments in the world. There are also pottery and jewellery exhibitions here. The museum is located by the vast East Lake in the east of Wuchang district and is open Tuesday–Sunday 9am–5pm.

Changchun Temple

Wulou Lu

A lovely Taoist shrine, the Changchun Temple, just west of Snake Hill Park, traces its roots all the way back to the Han dynasty in the 3rd century AD. There are many monks in residence here, but the centrepiece is the Hall of Supreme Purity and its statue of Laotzu. Less spiritually-minded visitors are drawn to the excellent vegetarian restaurant located here.

East Lake

East Lake

If you're in Wuhan during the blistering summer months, do as the locals do and make tracks for the East Lake. This large expanse of water within a huge park in Wuchang is the place to cool off, with designated swimming areas and even a couple of beach areas. The most popular place to swim is at the northwestern side of the lake.

Guiyuan Temple

20 Cuiweiheng Lu

The Guiyuan Temple is over 350 years old and is Wuhan's biggest Buddhist monastery, attracting local worshippers aplenty. Check out the Buddha carved out of white Burmese jade in the Canjing Pavilion. Make sure too, not to miss the 500 arhats, or enlightened disciples, housed in their own hall.

Shop

Cultural Street

209 Xianggang Lu

Anonymously-named Cultural Street in the Hankou section of town is the spot to come for antiques, handicrafts and jewellery. Exquisite carved jade animals can be found here, as well woodcuts and even traditional Chinese music instruments. Not everything is the real thing, though. Be prepared to bargain.

Budget $$

Hanzheng Street

Hanzheng Street

Hanzheng Street has been in business since the Ming dynasty, when it was the place for local artisans to sell their wares. Now, it's the largest wholesale market in central China. As well as clothes and household items, it's a great place to pick up souvenirs and art work. Prices are low, but be aware that what you're buying may not be the real thing. It's located in Qiaokou district, in the Hankou section of town.

Budget $

Han Street Walking Plaza and New Wanda Mall

Donghu Lu

Han Street Walking Plaza and the New Wanda Mall offer upmarket brands, as well as supermarkets (the one in the Wanda Mall is good if you're craving western or imported food items), restaurants, bars and cinemas. Han Street is effectively an outdoor mall (with the shops housed in faux-European-style buildings). The New Wanda Mall is enclosed and has much-needed air-con in the summer. It's a huge complex located in Wuchang, close to East Lake.

Budget $$$

Jianghan Lu

Jianghan Lu

By day, Jianghan Lu is the place to watch China's ever-expanding middle classes indulging in one of their favourite activities: shopping. The street in the heart of the old colonial quarter is home to brand name outlets and big department stores. But come nightfall, from 7pm onwards, Jianghan Lu becomes Wuhan's finest night market. Prices drop as hundreds of hawkers set up stalls selling everything from clothing and cosmetics, to household items, music and movies. Haggle hard.

Budget $$

Dine

Crown Bakery

345 Wulou Lu

Housed in a former Methodist church that dates back to 1907, the Crown Bakery is renowned for its extremely fine cakes and pastries. They're all very reasonably priced, and the location close to a number of key tourist sites in Wuchang makes it a great place for a coffee or tea break in between sightseeing.

Budget $

Fisherman's Wharf

1F Guangxi Mansion, 309 Zhongshan Lu

Fisherman's Wharf is nowhere near San Francisco. Nor is it even very close to the Yangzi River, being located in central Wuchang. But it's one of the very best places in town for fabulous, fresh seafood. Everything from clams to giant prawns, as well as Yangzi River fish dishes, is available here. It's very much a local's place and unpretentious, despite the high-end prices. Still, the quality of the food make eating here a memorable experience.

Budget $$$

Jiqing Street

Jiqing Jie

Jiqing Street is famed across Wuhan for its dapaidang restaurants: open-air food stands with outdoor seating. They serve all manner of seafood and barbecue, as well as duck and standard noodle and dumpling dishes. It's an atmospheric way to spend an evening, especially in the summer. Be warned that you'll be serenaded by itinerant guitar players and singers, which not everyone enjoys.

Budget $

Maojiawan

29 Shouyi Yuan

Take a trip back in time at Maojiawan, a Cultural Revolution-themed restaurant in Wuchang. The waitresses in their 1970's-style green Red Guard uniforms and caps make dining here a kitsch experience. But there's no doubting the quality of the fiery Hunan dishes. Mao Zedong, who came from Hunan, would approve.

Budget $$

Xiao Beike

129 Dongting Jie

Stylish and hip, Xiao Beike is housed in a yellow colonial-era building close to the riverfront in Hankou and on the corner with Cai'e Lu. While the locals come here for the homestyle Hubei dishes – the sweet and sour ribs go quickly, as do the Yangzi River catfish – the menu spans other regions of China too. If you want a table on the pleasant terrace, book ahead.

Budget $$

Stay

Marco Polo

159 Yanjiang Dadao

It's hard to beat the Marco Polo's fantastic position right on the riverfront in the heart of the former colonial quarter. Superb river views in the more expensive rooms, but every room here comes complete with huge, modern bathrooms. There's an eye-catching lobby, Cantonese and Asian fusion restaurants, well-equipped gym and indoor pool and very helpful staff.

Budget $$$

New World Wuhan Hotel

630 Jiefang Lu

The New World Wuhan Hotel is convenient for sightseeing, shopping malls and restaurants. Rooms are big and have been recently refurbished, while the bathrooms are upscale and decent-sized. There are on-site restaurants, a gym, outdoor pool (useful in the summer) and there's free Wi-fi.

Budget $$

Pathfinder Youth Hostel

368 Zhongshan Lu

Long-established, the Pathfinder Youth Hostel is Wuhan's best budget option and is a short taxi ride from Wuhan train station. Dorms and plain but effective rooms are on offer, while both the staff and the on-site bar and restaurant get rave reviews. There is also free Wi-fi and a big communal lounge.

Budget $

Shangri-la Hotel

700 Jianshe Lu

All the trimmings you'd expect are on offer at the Shangri-la Hotel. Giant rooms, super-efficient staff and the on-site Café Wu with its open kitchen is one of Wuhan's current hotspots. It's located in the business district in Hankou, so the sights in Wuchang are a bit of a trek. But if you're looking to be pampered, then this is the place for you.

Budget $$$

Tomolo

56 Jianghan Sanlu

The Tomolo is excellent value, especially given its prime location just off Jianghan Lu and close to the riverfront in Hankou. Large, clean and modern rooms come with free Wi-fi and air-con, while the friendly staff can book onward travel. Metro stations and many restaurants and shops are in close proximity.

Budget $$





Chinese New Year

January, February

Wuhan is one of the best places in China to see in the New Year, with fireworks exploding over the Yangzi River and firecrackers detonating everywhere.


Dragon Boat Festival

May, June

With the Yangzi River cutting Wuhan in half, the city is a top spot for watching dragon boat races. The festival is taken very seriously, with beautifully decorated boats and very competitive crews.


Lantern Festival

February, March

Wuhan marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations in traditional fashion, with elaborate lanterns illuminating streets all over the city.


Mid-Autumn Festival

September, October

Also known as the Moon Festival, this is the time when Wuhan's snack vendors get busy making moon cakes: a rich mix of bean paste, egg and sugar.


Wuhan International River Crossing Festival

July

Starting from Wuchang's riverfront, swimmers compete for prizes of up to US$10,000 as they race downstream for 1800 metres.






Culture

Wuhan is the perfect destination for anyone remotely interested in Chinese history. You can explore buildings that date back thousands of years or neighbourhoods that are only a hundred years old but all are equally fascinating.

Any visit to Wuhan has to start with climbing the Yellow Crane Tower. First constructed in AD 223, but re-built at least twelve times since, it is the symbol of Wuhan. Immortalised by the Tang dynasty poet Cui Hao, who visited it in the 8th century, it soars above Wuhan from its strategic position atop Snake Hill on the Wuchang side of the Yangzi River. On a clear day, you get awesome views of the river and Wuhan. The tower is accessed via Snake Hill Park (open daily 7.30am–5.30pm).

From Snake Hill Park, walk east for ten minutes to the river and catch a ferry across the Yangzi to the Hankou side of town. The ferry will drop you on Yanjiang Dadao, the new name for what used to be called the Bund, or the riverfront, when Wuhan was a treaty port dominated by the western colonial powers.

A short walk north from the ferry stop takes you into the heart of the colonial era quarter. The former consulates and homes of the western traders are well-maintained. Some of the grandest stone neo-classical buildings are now trendy boutiques, especially along Jianghan Lu which is a very popular shopping street with the locals. In the early morning and evening, Yanjiang Dadao is also a fine spot for people-watching, as Wuhan residents crowd out the riverfront to chat, exercise and fly kites.

Places to visit:
Yellow Crane Tower, Yanjiang Dadao, Jianghan Lu.

Foodie

Wuhan is foodie heaven, especially if you believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Nowhere else in mainland China do people place such value on finding something super-tasty to snack on before they head off to work. In fact, Wuhan residents even have their own word for breakfast: guozao.

While you’ll find Wuhan’s famous breakfast xiaochi, or small snacks, all over town, the best place to go for early morning eats is Hubu Xiang, an alley in the Wuchang district that has become one of Wuhan’s most famous dining destinations. This is the place to come to sample the most popular breakfast eating option in Wuhan: regan mian, hot and dry noodles flavoured with peanut sauce and sesame paste. All along Hubu Xiang, you’ll find hole-in-the-wall outlets selling the dish for as little as Y4–5. 

Noodles are just one breakfast choice. Savoury doughnuts, light and sweet pancakes and tangbao, delicious dumplings filled with pork and a scalding soup (wait for them to cool a bit before biting into them), also go down a treat here. Another must-try is mijiu tangyuan, a rice wine-flavoured soup.

Nor will you go hungry during the rest of the day. There are any number of places serving Yangzi River fish dishes, fiery Sichuan-style hotpot, Cantonese and northern Chinese favourites. Western food lovers will find everything from classic French cuisine, to Turkish kebabs. Late-night snack fiends should make a beeline for the street vendors who emerge after midnight armed with their woks.

Places to visit:
Hubu Xiang, late-night food stalls.