Backpacking in Hunan Province: The Unknown Town of Huayuan

About Huayuan
Huayuan is a place with a very small population in the province of Hunan, China where I had a chance to live for 10 months from September 2011 to June 2012. I was teaching English in one of public high schools here and therefore I was able to experience the rural life being surrounded by locals who never spoke a word of English.

SONY DSCCities, towns and places near Huayuan include Anxinguan, Shuangqiao, Wenping and Feishan, famous Fenghuang or the Floating Hallelujah Mountains in Zhangjiajie. The closest major cities include Shaoyang, Guilin, Hengyang and Zhuzhou.

SONY DSCWhy visiting Huayuan
Apart from me, Huayuan had no foreign visitors. Therefore, many Chinese people have never met someone from another country in person. It makes you quite an attraction for them. They will often ask to take a photo with you and even more often invite you for a meal with them. Take them on with their offers with a smile and you’ll be blown away with the experiences.

SONY DSCWhen walking in Beijing or Shanghai, you will notice that a lot of things are westernized, but from time to time you will see something that is traditionally Chinese (as far as you know).

SONY DSCYou will find yourself wondering whether that is a “real” thing or they are just feeding us with what we expect to see. By going to a place less travelled, or not travelled to at all such as Huayuan, you will know for certain what is part of contemporary culture, architecture and customs, and what is not.

SONY DSCMoreover, getting to see off the tourist paths in China such as Huayuan will allow you to spend much less money than you would spend when visiting big cities.

SONY DSCChinese people are extremely hospitable and they will often invite you for a free meal, drink or even let you stay in their houses for free. After travelling for a week, you will see your wallet is much bigger than you though it would be.

Lastly, Huayuan is located close to such stunning places as Fenghuang or Zhangjiajie. Have you heard of them all at? If you have been to China, watched the “Avatar” movie, but never heard of the Hallelujah Floating Mountains, you should shame on you as these mountains are one of the most beautiful in the world. Here was filmed the American blockbuster called “Avatar” and yes, the Pandora world is real and can be found in Zhangjiajie.

SONY DSCAs for Fenghuang, it is a town frozen in time where you can experience the real ancient Chinese life. You will be surrounded by typical ancient buildings, wooden bridges, lakes and rivers. The good news is that Fenghuang can be easily explored for less $25 a day so if you are a budget traveller, it’s a perfect travel destination for you.

The weather

As Huayuan is located in Hunan province, it has a humid, subtropical climate. The monsoon rain falls mostly in April, May, and June. The best time to visit is in the fall, when temperatures are cooler and the rainfall lighter. For persons who live in cold northern climate, visiting it in the winter can be pleasant. After all, any place that grows oranges can’t be all that cold.

The food
Hunan cuisine is well known for its extremely hot spicy flavour, fresh aroma and deep colour.

SONY DSCSONY DSCCommon cooking techniques include stewing, frying, pot-roasting, braising, and smoking. Huayuan is famous for its baozi (fried dumplings filled with mince), hot pot, smoked tofu and fried noodles.

Have we convinced you to visit Huayuan?


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