Anhui Province, located in eastern China and bordered by six other provinces, offers a plethora of captivating attractions. From the ancient city of Hefei to the awe-inspiring Mount Huangshan on its southern border with Jiangxi province, this quick travel guide will lead you through the highlights of Anhui’s rich cultural and natural heritage.
Discovering Anhui Province: Where to Visit
Hefei, an ancient city steeped in over 2000 years of history, entices visitors with its diverse array of attractions. The sprawling Chao Lake, one of China’s largest freshwater lakes, stretches over 54km by 15km and offers a scenic cycle route. Alternatively, you can opt for a tourist bus tour to explore the nearby Zhongmiao Temple, Yinping Mountain, and Mushan Island. At the southern end of the lake, Sanhe Ancient Town and Shengqiao Ancient Tomb await your exploration. Baohe Park houses the Memorial Temple to Lord Bao, a prominent figure who served as an officer during the Northern Song Dynasty. This park commemorates his legacy, with numerous temples built in his honor, including the famous one in his hometown.
Huangshan City serves as a major tourist destination, drawing crowds with its proximity to the Yellow Mountain Scenic Area. Alongside the majestic mountain, ancient villages in the Huizhou architectural style dot the landscape. Must-visit attractions in this area include Tunxi Ancient Street, as well as the captivating Xidi and Hongcun Ancient Villages. To reach the scenic area, you can take a bus from the city, and as you explore, you’ll encounter Shexian, a town adorned with memorial archways and temples. The village’s charming streams are adorned with picturesque small bridges. As the first mountain in China renowned for its scenic beauty, the Yellow Mountain features mesmerizing spots like the “Flying Over Stone” and Lotus Peak. Many adventurous souls venture up the mountain in the early morning darkness to witness the breathtaking dawn. It truly is a sight that leaves an indelible impression.
Anqing City allures visitors with its renowned Yingjiang Temple, located on the banks of the Yangtze River. The temple’s 7-story pagoda offers breathtaking views of the city. Close by, Mount Tianzhu stands as one of Anhui’s three famous mountains, captivating visitors with its peaks, caves, and lush green environment.
Bozhou, situated in the northwest of Anhui Province, boasts an underground tunnel system dating back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD). The tunnels, constructed from brick, clay, and wood, lie beneath the old city center. Another wooden marvel is the Great Guandi Temple, a Qing Dynasty stage where opera performances take place. The intricately carved wooden stage adds to its allure. Huazu An, a nunnery established during the Tang and Song dynasties, pays homage to Huatuo, the revered father of surgery who invented a form of anesthesia over 1600 years ago.
Huaibei, located in the north of the province, is surrounded by Jiangsu, Shandong, and Henan provinces. Its prominent attractions include Xiangshan Mountain, with the Xiantong Temple serving as a focal point for visitors. Originally built during the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), the temple holds historical significance. Linhuan Ancient Tea Town is another gem in the area, boasting a history spanning over 3000 years. This town played a crucial role in an uprising centered around tea culture more than 600 years ago. Its central street stretches for 500 meters and features 16 teahouses.
Wuhu City, situated in the southeast of the province along the southern bank of the Yangtze River, offers Zheshan Park as its major tourist destination. This park combines entertainment, historical attractions, and local scenery, featuring a zoo, children’s playground, watchtower, pavilion, and the renowned Guangji Temple—an ancient Buddhist site dating back to the Tang Dynasty.
The Longchuan Scenic Area
The Longchuan Scenic Area, located 11km from Jixi City in Xancheng County, offers a glimpse into history as the ancestral home of the Hu Family for approximately 1000 years. Nestled in a small basin surrounded by towering mountains, this area boasts seven major attractions that promise an enriching experience.
The Ideal Time to Visit Anhui
Anhui experiences an annual average temperature ranging between 14°C and 17°C. Winters can be cold, while summers are hot. The best times to visit are during the spring months of April to June or the autumn months of September to November. However, if you are fond of snowscapes, winter unveils the enchanting beauty of Huangshan and the Yellow Mountain, with the added advantage of fewer crowds.
Finding Accommodation in Anhui
Across Anhui, you’ll find a wide range of hotels to suit various budgets. Cities like Hefei and Huangshan offer a multitude of options, while smaller cities provide fewer choices at more affordable prices. Online platforms such as Expedia and TripAdvisor can assist in finding the best deals and often secure discounts.
Culinary Delights: Where and What to Eat
Anhui cuisine, also known as Hui cuisine, represents one of China’s eight culinary traditions. Originating from the Huangshan region in southern Anhui, it bears similarities to the culinary style found in neighboring Jiangsu province. Local dishes showcase the use of wild herbs and highlight braising and stewing techniques over frying methods.
Some of the most famous dishes include Stinky Tofu, Egg Dumplings, and Luzhou Roast Duck. Hefei, once known as Luzhou, offers a variation of the renowned Beijing Duck. Other local delicacies include Wushan Imperial Goose and the intriguingly named Steamed Stone Frog.
Getting Around Anhui
Anhui boasts five operational airports, with four more under construction. Hefei and Huangshan airports are the busiest, offering flights to and from major cities in China and select international destinations across Asia. For example, a flight from Guangzhou to Hefei takes approximately 75 minutes and costs from CNY 700. Bus services and trains connect Anhui to neighboring provinces and cities. Trains, especially the high-speed rail network, have significantly improved transportation within the province. Hefei South Railway Station serves as a major hub, providing connections to various destinations. A high-speed train from Hefei South to Huangshan North takes around 90 minutes and costs approximately CNY 140.50. Slower trains make the journey in nearly 7 hours, with a hard sleeper ticket priced at CNY 145.50. An extensive system of express buses operates between major cities within the province, such as the 3-hour bus journey from Anqing to Hefei.
Journeying to and from Anhui
By Air:Anhui, a province rich in cultural and natural treasures, offers several options for travel. Hefei’s International Airport connects to major cities in China and select international destinations in Asia. Huangshan’s International Airport also serves as a gateway, albeit with fewer international flights. Travelers can also opt for bus services from neighboring provinces or train journeys, which provide convenience and comfort. For instance, there are 18 daily trains from Beijing to Hefei, with a travel time of under 5 hours for most services. Prices range from CNY 436 for a second-class seat to CNY 745.50 for a deluxe soft sleeper ticket on the T63 train.
Safety in Anhui: A Peaceful Journey
While major cities in Anhui are accustomed to welcoming foreigners, it’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Stares from locals are common, but you’ll generally encounter no danger. It’s worth noting that outdoor activities in the mountains, which are abundant in Anhui, carry the inherent risk of injury. In case of medical assistance, facilities in Anhui are readily available, although communicating your needs in English may pose challenges.
Embark on an Anhui Adventure
With its historical sites, scenic landscapes, and delectable cuisine, Anhui province invites you to embark on an enriching journey. Whether exploring ancient cities, ascending majestic mountains, or savoring the flavors of Hui cuisine, Anhui promises an unforgettable travel experience.