Must see attractions in Hubei

  • Sights in Wudang Shan

    Wudang Shan

    Wudang Shan attracts a diverse array of climbers, from Taoist pilgrims with knapsacks and porters shouldering paving slabs and sacks of rice, to tired parents piggybacking young kids and bright-eyed octogenarians hopping along. It’s a gruelling climb but the scenery is worth every step; several Taoist temples line the route (where you can take contemplative breathers) and you’ll see the occasional Taoist inscription or trees garlanded with scarlet ribbons.

  • Sights in Shennongjia

    Shennongjia International Ecotourism Area

    Shennongjia is a vast wilderness area, and what you visit is largely determined by your driver, fellow passengers and available time; however, there are definitely some areas that are worth trying to get to. Seeing the rare golden snub-nosed monkey (川金丝猴, chuān jīnsīhóu) is a highlight for most, and Xiǎolóngtán (小龙潭), about 10km from the entrance, is one place to spot them.

  • Sights in Wuhan

    Guiyuan Temple

    An afternoon at this revered 350-year-old Buddhist temple can fluctuate between serenity and chaos, depending on the tour buses. Pass a large rectangular pond where turtles cling like shipwrecked sailors to two metal lotus flowers and examine the magnificently burnished cabinet housing Milefo in the first hall. Also seek out the more than 500 statues of enlightened disciples in the Hall of Arhats (罗汉堂, Luóhàn Táng). Completed in 1890, after nine years in the making, they remain in pristine condition.

  • Sights in Jingzhou

    Jingzhou Museum

    At this small but surprisingly good museum you'll find wonderful artefacts unearthed from Chu tombs around the area. The jade and porcelain halls are marvellous, and there is a collection of old silks that appear to float in their cabinets. The highlight is the incredibly well-preserved 2000-year-old body of a man found in his tomb with ancient tools, clothing and even food; the airtight mud seal around his crypt helped preserve him.

  • Sights in Jingzhou

    Xióngjiā Zhǒng

    Forty kilometres north of Jingzhou, the 2300-year-old tombs of Xióngjiā Zhǒng are the source of a large collection of jade – on display at the Jingzhou Museum – while there is a fascinating and huge collection of skeletal horses and chariots in a section of the tomb in a hangar-like museum that is open to visitors.

  • Sights in Wuhan

    Hubei Provincial Museum

    The highlights of Hubei's Provincial Museum are excavations from the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng (c 433 BC): there are bronze wares, weaponry and musical instruments – including one of the world’s largest, a remarkable five-tonne set of 65 double-tone bronze bells. Half-hour chime bell performances (¥30) are given thrice daily (10.30am, 2pm and 3pm) during the week, with an extra performance at 11.30am on the weekend. Other exhibits here include Palaeolithic fossils and Neolithic bronzes and pottery. Passport required.

  • Sights in Wudang Shan

    Forbidden City

    The walled Forbidden City encompasses the very tip-top of Wudang Shan and is accessed from the Taihe Palace near the cable car exit. The Chinese name Zǐjīn Chéng (literally, 'purple gold city') is actually a clever homophone for Beijing's Zǐjìn Chéng (紫禁城; Forbidden City), reflecting the Taoist belief that the organisation of the celestial and earthly worlds mirror one another.

  • Sights in Wuhan

    Yellow Crane Tower

    Wuhan’s mythical crane, immortalised in the 8th-century poetry of Cui Hao, has long flown, but the city landmark remains perched atop Snake Hill. The tower has been rebuilt often since the original was constructed in AD 223, and today’s five-storey, yellow-tiled version is a 1980s remake of the Qing tower that burned down in 1884.

  • Sights in Yichang

    Three Gorges Dam

    The huge, hulking Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest dam due to its length (2.3km) rather than its height (101m), and while it isn’t the most spectacular dam, it is worth a peek. You can’t walk on it, but there’s a tourist viewing area to the north. The easiest way to visit from Yichang is to join a half-day tour (in Chinese) leaving from the Three Gorges Tourist Centre (¥100, departures 8am and 2pm).

  • Sights in Wuhan

    Hubei Museum of Art

    Focusing on modern Chinese art, the first two floors here are dedicated to temporary exhibits, while the 3rd floor features a permanent collection tracing the development of art in Hubei in the 20th century. Don't expect anything too provocative, but as it's right next door to the Provincial Museum it's certainly worth a visit.

  • Sights in Enshi

    Enshi Grand Canyon

    Encompassing sheer limestone cliffs and a series of waterfalls cascading down the side of a narrow river gorge, Enshi has some marvellous scenery. It's divided in two sections: the lower gorge (云龙地缝, Yúnlóng Dìfèng; translated on signs as 'Yunlong Crack'; elevation 1034m) and the upper clifftop area, Seven Star Village (七星寨, Qīxīng Zhài; elevation 1704m). The river gorge is relatively short with several lovely waterfalls, while the clifftop is more of a hike, eventually opening up to far-reaching views over the valley floor.

  • Sights in Jingzhou

    Jingzhou City Wall

    Jingzhou’s original city wall was a tamped mud wall dating from the Eastern Han dynasty, and was later clad in stone during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. The oldest surviving sections today, around South Gate, are Song, but most date from the Ming and Qing. Small sections of the wall are open and charge admission: the East Gate or Binyang Tower (东门, Dōngmén; ¥35), South Gate (南门, Nánmén; ¥6), North Gate (¥18; 北门; Běimén) and West Gate (西门, Xīmén; ¥6).

  • Sights in Enshi

    Nǚ'ér Chéng

    This Tujia-focused outdoor mall-like area is Enshi's favourite option for nightlife. Local song-and-dance performances (featuring the usual communist-approved 'minority circle dance') are held throughout the day, but the most popular show takes place around 7.30pm nightly. Show up early to grab dinner at one of the innumerable street stalls, sample some local tea and browse the handicrafts displays and shops.

  • Sights in Wudang Shan

    Wǔdāng Museum of China

    This is a great opportunity to get a grip on Wudang Shan history, lore and architecture. There’s a whole pantheon of gods, including the eminent Zhenwu (patriarch of the mountain) and a section on Taoist medicine including the fundamentals of nèidān xué (内丹学; internal alchemy). There are also some stunning bronze pieces. The museum is down Bowuguan Lu (博物馆路), which leads to Culture Sq (Wenhua Guangchang). Passport required for entry.

  • Sights in Yichang

    Three Gorges Village

    This recreated village is definitely tacky and overrun on weekends, but nonetheless a convenient way to take in the stunning views near Xiling Gorge (西陵峡, Xīlíng Xiá). The Three Gorges Tourist Centre runs trips here for ¥210, which include bus fare, admission and a boat ride – this is a much better deal than trying to get there yourself. Departures are at 8am and 9.50am.

  • Sights in Enshi

    Tǔsī Chéng

    This re-created fortified Tujia town is essentially just a walk in a pleasant park combined with a few examples of recently built Tujia architecture. The main attraction is the large Nine Row House complex (九进堂) with a lovely circular tower and authentic examples of woodcarving and metalwork.

  • Sights in Wuhan

    Changchun Temple

    This restored Taoist temple originally dates back to the Han dynasty. The Hall of Supreme Purity (太清殿; Tàiqīng Diàn), containing a white-bearded statue of Laotzu, is the centrepiece, with other halls leading up the steep steps behind it. There’s a well-regarded vegetarian restaurant next door.

  • Sights in Wuhan

    Hankou Bund

    The Hankou Bund is a roughly 4km stretch of curated park running parallel to the Yangzi where locals gather to amble or gossip. There are some tea houses and bars, a few historic buildings, mahjong and chess boards, and some green areas. Mostly, though, it's locals escaping the concrete and posing for photos, especially around sunrise and sunset.

  • Sights in Jingzhou

    Tienü Temple

    There's not much to see at this tiny temple, but the nuns give you three sticks of incense upon entering – and it is entirely off the tourist trail, which is nice. It's about 800m northeast of the city museum, off a small lane.

  • Sights in Jingzhou

    Kaiyuan Temple

    This former Taoist temple was closed for renovations during our last visit. It's next to the Jingzhou Museum.