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Changsha is flanked by two considerably more high profile cities – Chengdu, a heaven for foodies, and Guilin, famous for its breathtaking mountains. However, visitors will be surprised to find a rich history and some magnificent natural attractions in this underrated city.

Located on the lower reaches of the Xiang River, the capital city of Hunan Province has been a major political, economic, and cultural centre since the Han Dynasty. Here, travellers can find a plethora of historical relics including tomb sites, paintings and weapons that are well-preserved in the local museum, a must-visit destination for those with a strong interest in Chinese history. Changsha was also once home to many Chinese leaders including Chairman Mao Zedong and former prime minister Zhu Rongji.

In Chinese culinary circles, Changsha is known as the birthplace of Xiang (or Hunan) cuisine, one of the Eight Great Cuisines in China. Dishes here are predominantly spicy and sour, and the preferred method of cooking is steaming.