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Regular buses leave three main points in Changsha for the Changsha Huanghua Airport. The airport is just 30-45 minutes (depending on traffic and distance). The local government is currently building a rail link to the airport. Buses also connect the airport with other locations in Hunan and both Changsha Main Train Station and Changsha South Train Station (for high speed services).
- See our comprehensive guide (with prices and times) about all airport buses here
There are various small areas and streets that have simple military or construction clothing and equipment. There are a couple of such shops along 八一路 (bāyī road) near the Friendship Shopping Centre. Best of all, on the east side of the street that goes south from the south gate of Martyr's Park (Lieshi Park), from Yingpeng Lu to Bayi Lu, there are at least half a dozen shops carrying a variety of assorted army gear and clothing. See Parks for more.
A decent baking shop has been found in Changsha (not that expensive according to reports) with a good range of imported associated baking items and ingredients. Please check out photos of their business card, imported items and equipment.
Check their taobao store here: https://cooktao.taobao.com/
Bank cards (using Chinese bank cards abroad)
There appears to be mixed reviews about the success of this. Some mainland China banks require you to 'activate' international ATM ability before leaving China, whereas others have no issues whatsoever. One WNIC Facebook member was able his China Construction Bank card in most ATMs back in Canada. So, it appears possible and easy but you should check before going abroad that this is the case (with both your Chinese and overseas banking company).
It has been reported, however, that once a UnionPay bank card (most Chinese bank cards are associated with this) has been 'activated' for international use by the bank it can be used in most ATMs around the world. The following link gives more information on the use of UnionPay bank cards in countries across the world. Check which ATMs can access UnionPay bank cards in your territory.
Info on where you can buy a bicycle can be found in our Living section (see below) as well as a funky biker shop located close to Walking Street in Changsha. You can also purchase a bike in the walkways under Furong Square where haggling is the norm. These bikes may vary greatly in quality and it is advised not to buy one from here. You can buy authentic Giant bikes from a store located in DongTang South (beside a bowling alley) and there is also a Scott outlet on the West side of HeLong Stadium (opposite the main public football and athletics ground). There is also a Giant bike shop at the bottom (river end) of popular bar street Xinmin Lu (West side of the river). Xinmin Lu is where many of the expat bars are based.
Body jewelry items can be found in many malls in the city but the trendy street TaiPingJie has an array of established and 'tried and tested' tattooists who might sell decentbody jewelry.
- See the shopping section for TaiPingJie
The best book shop in Changsha is the Xinhua store located on the junction of Renmin Lu and Furong Lu, not far from the Furong Square subway station. Head south along Furiong Avenue when exiting the station (on the right handside, southern direction, of the avenue). You will pass a Helen's Bar and the bookstore is opposite. There is a separate 'Reading Garden' coffee store above. Xinhua has a range of books on all subjects but very limited for English language books.There is also a small academic bookshop opposite the Xinhua store which mainly handles books and materials for learning languages. That store closes around 5 or 6pm.
Some WNIC Facebook members have cited The Book Depository as a great source of books with free or decent delivery options/charges. Their website is HERE.
Finally, there is a small choice of books in some of the bars, such as Crave, but these are mostly confined to second hand, donated or the usual tourist books (e.g. Lonely Planet).
There is a decent bowling alley in DongTang South (not far from MEGA, the Kempinski Hotel and Yali High school/The stadium area, Houjiatang). Walk down a small street that runs next to the bowling building (where there is also a roller-disco) and there is a swimming pool and gym.
WNIC members have also reported that there is a bowling alley in the 'Golden Source Hotel' across the street from the Ferris Wheel on Furong Lu. 10 pin only. There are ping pong and snooker/pool tables too. Images below are in Dongtang.
Some local car rental agencies operate in Changsha but we would recommended the use of a more trusted company when it comes to this topic. In particular, eHi is a national company which offers vehicles for local hire (self drive) as well as chauffeured services. Their website is also in English and you can also book online.
If you want to attend local church services, or need a church for any other reason (including a wedding ceremony) then you can find a list of city churches here.
We have gathered some of the main church mass info which are usually held in English or bilingually. This info may change periodically (and mass info is not easy to find). However, this is what we have found so far from fellow expats:
The beautiful (Catholic) church in Changsha is on Xiangchun Lane (same backstreet as the famous German bakery Bach's Bakery). They hold Sunday mass at 10:30am. Here is a photo of the mass street sign taken by a WNIC follower and an accompanying map. Here is a contact card photo.
There is also a Church (BeiZhengJie) on 72 Huangxing North Rd, near La Nova, which sometimes holds an after-service in English and has a popular Easter and Christmas service and is a very popular wedding location.
There are some other churches scattered around the city, notably the French built (colonial) church on Chaozong Old Street (in the street which starts opposite to the Beizhengjie church and end at the river) and the Changsha Christian Association is located over at 80, Waixiangchun Street, Changsha.
Cinemas (movie theaters)
There are a few decent movie theatres inside some of the major shopping malls in Changsha. In particular, these are found in the ID Mall, La Nova mall and in the 'Walmart Wanda building. These are all close to the main walking street with La Nova slightly further north (of Wuyi Square). See more about shopping malls here.
WNIC has a dedicated page for all movies now showing in Changsha and the main cinemas. The page is only as up to date as the information we receive though.
- Check out the special Changsha cinema zone right here!
Moungar 423 offers good coffee, service and environment and can be found in various locations across the city (notably, close to the PingHetang/Haiwado mall and also opposite Hooligans Pub just off Xinmin Lu). Changsha has a large number of Starbucks with a traditional structure adorning the branch on TaiPingJie (good for souvenirs, tattooists and snacks). 'Dust of Time' has been cited as a decent coffee shop, in the university area.
Computers & cameras (buying a...)
You can buy a genuine or own-build computer in the area directly opposite the Main Train Station in Changsha. This is known as 'computer city'. Be sure to haggle and explore the smaller buildings behind the large two (which are situated directly opposite the bus station zone adjacent to the station). There is a 'Dicos' fast food outlet next to the main computer buildings.
- Check the WNIC Shopping guide about this area and others.
Need consular advice or have a question or emergency to raise with your embassy? Changsha has several consular wardens (which are non-diplomatic roles) which you can contact. Check out our dedicated webpage on the listed wardens for Changsha and Hunan HERE.
There are many small dental clinics in Changsha but most of them have open-window dental theatres which is very unappealing for most foreigners. The dental surgery that has got the most praise from the WNIC Facebook forum is called Mayo Clinic. The details below have been posted by a WNIC member (with some limited English ability):
Mayo Dental Hospital
Doctor: Baoding Ye
No10 Rongsheng International, NO 568 People Middle Rd (Renmin Zhonglu), Changsha.
Another dentist clinic recommended by foreigners is behind the Xinhua Bookstore (on the junction of ReMin Lu and Furong ZhongLu next to a bridge). Go up the stairs behind the bookstore and turn left. The entrance is set back from the street and inside is a very clean and smart-looking clinic. The dentists here have been praised for being gentle. Basic work can only set you back a few hundred on average (unless major work is needed). It is always advisable to take a Chinese friend to translate the intricacies of the dental work you need.
Other specialists that have been cited as decent include 'Dr. Zhou' at the Xiangya Stomatological Hospital on Renmin Road who, apparently, speaks good English! His number is: 159-7411-2540. WantWant is also given a high satisfaction rate by some WNIC members.
Driving license (applying)
Based on the experiences of one WNIC Facebook member, here is a breakdown of the process of applying for a Chinese (Changsha) driver's license based on a full 'home' driver's license.
1. Valid Foreign Driver's License.
2. Foreign passport with resident Visa (e.g. Z/working) with at least 3 months remaining.
3. Valid "Accommodation Registration Form for Foreign Nationals." This is the piece of paper given to you when you register with the Public Security Bureau (police) station.
Step 1: Go to City Hall, in Chinese: 长沙市政府 长沙市岳麓区. Go to the 9th floor, the office is called the "Changsha Service Center for International Exchange" (closed 12:00-2:30). A 300RMB passport and driver's license translation is necessary. This cost has been known to vary. Take extra cash just in case.
Step 2: Go to the 长沙市公安局交警支队车管所 长沙市岳麓区. This is the Chinese equivalent of the 'Department of Motor Vehicles' (DMV). Go to the first floor of the main Public Security Bureau (police) building next to Number One bridge on the west side of the river. This is the tallest building on the West side of the river. Show these words to the guard: "转换国际驾照."
You will then be taken to a counter or waiting area (for the next stage it would be good to have a Chinese person to translate). You will then be asked to do an eye test (30RMB) and have photos taken (25RMB). After returning to the original counter you will be given a bill to pay at a nearby cashier (around 90RMB) which entitles you to take the test twice.
Step 3: Go to: 普瑞大道驾考中心. This place is very far away, in the northwest of the city. Go to the main building and show the receipt entitling you to take the test. They'll give you a piece of paper with a time on it that entitles you to take the test almost immediately. You'll then have to walk to the car park area (some way from the main building). You will then have to leave your belongings and phone at a booth, which costs 2RMB. At this point you may have to join a queue and pass a security check. Inform the attendant that you would like the test given in "YinYu" (English). You'll then be allocated a computer desk. There were about 100 stations in the testing room. The testing station consisted of a computer with a mouse and a camera which photographs you at regular intervals. The test questions consist of 100 randomly chosen questions out of a pool of 1,000. Many of the questions are common sense but many are specific to China (e.g. their point penalty system). Chinglish is rife. You have a timer that gives you 45 minutes to take the test. You need 90 correct to pass the test. You can then leave and collect your results (a printout) after showing your passport.
Step 4: Return to 长沙市公安局交警支队车管所 长沙市岳麓区. Hand over the test results back to the same counter. At this point you may be asked for more documentation, before it gets 'red stamped' (approved). You'll then be given a date in the near future to return.
Step 5: Return on the date you have been requested and show your passport. At this point you may be given your new Chinese driver's license. This is a vehicle driver's license and still cannot be used to drive a scooter or motorbike within the city limits.
You can also check out this online test website: www.chinesedrivingtest.com
1. There are many English and also Chinese corners where you can meet new people, play interactive team games and learn more Chinese in the process. Details about the groups change regularly but the most active groups are listed in the WNIC Regular Events section here.
One of the biggest (longest) groups is run by Cici Tang. More details can be found below.
- Visit the Cici English Salon Page
If you're looking for expat (meaning, mainly foreign-run or owned bars/restaurants which cater for foreign tastes) then we here at WNIC can fully recommend the following 3 'bars'.
1. Crave Deli & Bar is located behind Wanda Plaza (Wanda Square) near the Xiangjiang River and has a great, lively expat crowd, plenty of drinks parties and some fantastic burgers, pizza and so on. Look out for their special deals. Nearest metro is Xiangjiang Middle Rd. Crave used to be based on Xinmin Lu and moved in late 2016 to it's newer and bigger location.
2. The Red Lion Pub (was Barry's Irish Pub) is a very small but cosy and authentic pub-style bar with plenty of great drinks and light snacks on offer. The pub focuses mostly on drinks and live music and some very late nights. The pub is hidden behind a large building complex and Woll Up skateboarding shop/park. It is close to La Nova Mall and close to Peiyuanqiao subway station. There is a large (colonial) church on the main street opposite.
3. Mega Sports Bar & Cafe is found at Dongtang East (opposite a large supermarket, BuBuGao). There is a pedestrian bridge over the main road. Mega has high quality, delicious burgers, pizza and other types of foods (including occasional 'Sunday Roasts') and a great range of drinks and shots. It is a sports bar boasting multiple screens and fussball, darts, etc.
These three bars are all found on the Changsha Card network HERE
Fabric (sequins, buttons, haberdashery, etc)
Probably the best indoor market area that sells all kinds of haberdashery and garment items and buttons, would be the old residential block near TaiPingJie and WangFuJing Department store. Hidden in between the small shops, with seemingly never-ending scaffolding, are alleys that leads into a network of indoor counters and stalls. Many of them will also sew and adjust your purchase or garment in minimal time. This special area is worth a browse. It is very close to the 'pet street' which is up from TaiPingJie. It is expected that this area will be demolished.
Another, larger area (specialising more in furnishings and curtains, blankets) would be at the bottom of NongHu Lu, close to the river. This is a large outdoor market, industrial area that makes for a pleasant visit. They can tailor make all kinds of fabrics including car seating!
- See more on TaiPingJie and WangFuJing area
One of the mos common requests by foreigners in Changsha is regarding the viewing of fireworks. Hunan is the home of fireworks and thousands visit Liuyang town (east of Changsha) to visit the hundreds of small fireworks factories which export globally. It is easy to get to Liuyang by private van/car hire or public bus from South Bus Station or East Bus Station (see also our Transport section).
During the summer months, from around May to October, Changsha holds free, weekly fireworks displays along it's riverside. You can find pretty much any river spot south of the main bridge that goes over Orange Island -where the fireworks are set off from- and enjoy the spectacle. Beware, nearer the centre of Changsha gets very crowded and public transport is not an option, especially on warm evenings. Also, the Juzizhou (Orange Island) subway station closes at 6pm on these evenings. Additionally, travelling across town and the river becomes a nightmare during the fireworks time (usually at 8:30pm every Saturday). That said, you can find nice, cool spots on the island from where to view the displays and escape the hoards. Then, it's only a 10-15min walk off the bridge in either direction. WNIC published a government schedule for all fireworks dates here.
There are a large number of fishing pools, sometimes resembling swamps, and lakes scattered around the outskirts of the city. Head in any direction and in a short time you're sure to hit a fishing pond where you can sit and fish the whole day. Foreigners have recommended a large fishing lake near Xingsha (on the Loadong River just east of Biguiyuan). See an image right here.
You could check out Chaoyang Fishing Tackle on RenMin DongLu (Yuhua district). The shop is between the big Want Want Hospital and Mawangdui Lu. It's opposite RT Mart andis served by Metro Line 2. Alternatively, there is a well equipped fishing accessory store at 88 TiYuGuan Lu (near Hunan Museum/Lieshi Park). Tel: 0731-84514037, QQ: 35854519. www.csyuju.com. Business Card image here.
There are many gyms and fitness centres scattered across the city.
You can find several good gyms on the Changsha Card network:
HN Fitness (near Lieshi Park)
HN Fitness (near Central South University)
Curves (ladies fitness centre in Hexi area).
You can find their contacts details on the Changsha Card homepage.
Flights (Chinese websites)
Foreigners often ask for reliable Chinese flight ticket websites in order to avoid needing to use Western credit cards or go through a more expensive flight booking process using Western websites. However, the prices can sometimes be almost the same as Chinese sites. Long distance flight prices vary according to their demand and sales and there is a hefty tax on all China flights. That said, you can book look-up and book tickets through these two well known sites:
In both cases, after finding the flight of your choice, you should call their hotline and go for the English option). From there, you'll have to provide your full name and passport details. A text message confirmation can then be sent. The flights are usually ticketless. Payment of tickets can be done electronically or via a bank transfer (see websites for more info on this).
Changsha has a flower market which is akin to the outdoor garden centers which are well established in the West. The garden centers mainly sell plantlife and flowers along side huge statues and other novelties for both indoor and outdoor use. It is located on the Southern road of the Changsah Botanical Park (Shaoshan Nan lu, a little before South Bus Station). You can find it on baidu maps using the following phrase: 红星花卉大市场 长沙
Footware (large size)
Tailor made shoes could be found close to orthopedic hospitals in Changsha and there have been some reports of small stores doing this and other shoe repairing services (cobblers, to that) in between La Nova and the Wanda Vista Hotel area (the small back streets with a marketplace). It would be fair to assume the quality and style of these shoes to be far below what many would like.
There are no establishedlarge-sized footware retailers in Changsha although it might be possible to find a manufacturer that could produce a larger size specially. The following online (Taobao) store has been recommended by WNIC Facebook members as a good place to choose a larger shoe size: http://shop71479343.taobao.com/?spm=2013.1.1000126.d21.uMv3Xg
If you're after a bargain on second-hand furniture, fridges, music amps/mics, chairs, desks and even sink units, you may want to check out the well known SiFangPing district, which is conveniently located opposite Metro superstore (the branch near Hunan TV and en-route to Xingsha - the other branch is located in Hexi). Cross the main road which straddles the store (bus 101 terminates around the corner of Metro - and runs passed the Main Train Station and to Houjiatang) and cross through one of the small alleyways or streets and you'll find yourself in a busy, warehouse-style neighbourhood of small shops and second hand furnishings. This is a great place if you want to kit out a business or need cheap, new equipment. The area usually closes around 6pm (open daily) and haggling will get you cheaper prices. Check the quality once bought and push for delivery if you need it. SiFangPing is also handy for traditional Chinese home furniture.
There is a sizeable store complex opposite the RT Mart at Linkeda (South Shaoshan Lu). However, the finest wholesaler of high quality furniture and house-ware might be that of Zurbrüggen Wohnzentrum (which also has an impressive imported supermarket). Zurbrüggen can be found on the outer permiter of the south entrance to HeLong Stadium. You can park directly outside. Here is an article announcing the opening of the store. Here is their official China website (also in German).
- See Fitness Centres
Gay / Lesbian
Changsha has pretty muchno facilities or hang outs for the gay community. Changsha has had a few gay bars spring up in various locations but they have not lasted very long, probably due to local police control. That said, there is a lesbian bar in the high rise building on the left of SiMenKou (the start of Walking Street, where the HuangXing statue is located) and across the street. The entrance is around the back.
Changsha has a multitude of hairdressers and stylists, each vying to give you the perfect cut. 'MBeauty Salon' branches have been given high praise by foreigners in Changsha. Below are more comments by WNIC Facebook members on places to go for a good haircut:
"I get my hair cut across from the only Citibank in town at the corner of Furonglu and Renminlu. All the people in there are always really nice to me... My girlfriend gets her haircut at the South end of Walking St next to the entrance to Changjun Middle School. And that's about the extent of my hair salon knowledge. Be prepared for both a pre and post haircut wash as well as a possible head massage at most any place you go to"
"[there is a street called] 'dong pai lou' which is across from 'Wang Fu Jing' (the building with a theater and pizza hut. It's only a half a block away from Moungar 423"
- For more Facebook comments, join our active WNIC group!
There are reports of a Pakistani-owned (Named: Pakistan House) is near Changsha Yi Xue Yuan, Lei Feng Da Dao (长沙医学院, 雷锋大道).
Bearing in mind the HSK system (and therefore, books and materials) has changed in the last few years, your best bet might be the Xinhua bookstore, where Jiefang Xi Lu and Furong Zhong Lu meet alongside a bridge and opposite a Helen's Bar branch. There is also another, smaller bookstore right across the street from Xinhua.
A photo of the Xinhua book store can be viewed here.
If you want to know more about the HSK (Chinese language) examination you can find a fair bit of info here, from centres, resources and test regulations. < MORE >
In response to a request by a WNIC Facebook member, here is a reply for a budget hostel in Changsha:
"if you're staying near central south university, try 后街, you need to ask people around near 校本部， there are neat, clean, bed and breakfast with hot shower, 60 rmb per night for a double bed room (30 rmb per head). you just show up, they always have rooms available. walk around anywhere and you'll always find lots of 住宿 (zhu su) - this is cheap accommodation. 酒店 jiudian hotels starts from 80rmb per night, but in the centre you won't find anything decent for less than 120."
- See also our hotels and hostels page for expensive and budget accommodation
There is an ice skating rink on the 4th floor of ID Mall (off Walking Street, north end). According to reports, it costs about 40-60RMB to skate. The problem is that the skates only go up to a size 44. It is open until late and opposite Let's Bar.
There is now a wide range of imported (mainly European) goods in Changsha. Carrefour now stocks biscuits and snacks from a range of countries, including brown sauce from the UK. Metro, however, is the main go-to place with products -mainly from the store's nation, Germany- and a range of cheap wine, genuine and affordable spirits and some decent Christmas decorations (although these can be pricey).
There are now lots of neighbourhood 'snack shops' offering confectionery and some imported products although these are limited to chocolate and they mainly offer Thai or Korean items. You can now also buy a range of imported beers (mainly German) from similar small shops.
There is also a Zurbruggen (German furniture store) with a large imported supermarket section at the south entrance of the main stadium (Helong Stadium).
Metro is also good for cheese and meat products as well as a wide range of beers and oven chips. You will need ID for a membership card on your first visit and the store does not issue plastic bags (there are boxes outside the exit or reusable fabric bags). Bus 101 terminates opposite the main Metro care park area.
- See more on shopping here
Fuyou Bar is located on JieFang Xilu close to Walking Street and the other main clubs. This is considered the only and best major jazz venue with large stage and selection of good drinks. Other venues also have jazz events throughout the year.
< More >
KTV (in English)
There are quite a few giant KTV centres in which you can hire a room for the whole day and night! Many of them do not close at all. Each will have a drinks 'shop'. English songs vary from place to place.
Windsor KTV is probably the most popular choice and conveniently located on JieFang Xilu close the Walking Street, but there is also a branch near the train station opposite the Huatian Hotel. Windsor has the best for contemporary song choice as well as classics. Partyworld on Furong North Rd (opposite Sheraton Hotel) is also good for golden oldies. On the East side of the stadium (below the Ferris wheel) is Haoleidi which is a popular choice but limited in song range). For a very special and visually impressive experience there is a large KTV centre on the 4th floor of La Nova shopping centre, with pirate, street-style and aquatic room themes!
There are many, many others scattered across the city. The size and elegance of the KTV place has no bearing on the number of KTV songs in English!
A waxing company on the 5th floor of ID Mall has been approved by WNIC Facebook members, (IMP Nails) for 197RMB.
- See more about ID Mall and other shopping areas
Live music venues
This website has a comprehensive list of live music, as well as bar, scenes. Notably, 46Livehouse and RedLive Clubs offer the best places for an all-night dance fest, including a wealth of alternative music, rock bands and other artists that offer out of the ordinary live music.
- See our decent guide to bars here
Long distance bus information
The following websites have been recommended by WNIC Facebook members:
http://nanzhan.cstong.net/ (for the South bus station)
http://www.piaojia.cn/changtuzhan/z38/ (East bus station)
You can use Google auto-translate to find your way around this and any other Chinese website.The validity of these websites has not been approved by WNIC.
Like all Chinese cities, massage complexes are scattered across the city and vary greatly. Small, backstreet massage shops for around 20-40yuan, visible from the street, can be found in many older neighbourhoods, as well as the distinctive 'red light' girls open until very late (illegal in China). However, medium priced massage centres can be found on the main avenues.
Medical examination (including HIV and drug testing)
There is only one official non-Chinese citizens hospital in which foreigners can have a full medical check. This is now situated on "2nd Section of Renmin East Road, 199" (formerly on ShaZiTang Lu). You can see a map here. Do not head to 199 Renmin Rd East (that is a different location).They can do 'standard' visa medical checks or specified checks for HIV, drugs, cancer and other issues. You will need 1-2 passport sized photos and your Chinese address information (written in English/Pinyin is acceptable).
Allow for at least 2 hours and avoid eating breakfast if your visit includes a blood test. Urine sample testing has been discontinued for the 'standard' visa medical check up which may cost around 400-500RMB for a next afternoon results collection. Always take your passport. See the news article on it's location, here.
We have also created a handy guide about the whole medical exam procedure, here.
If your medical matter is not regarding normal visa application procedures, then you can head to the Want Want Hospital which has English speaking staff, doctors and provides fully approved international-standard medical care. The hospital is located in the east of he city (keep following Renmin Lu eastwards, or subway station RenMin East Rd, Line 2) and has most equipment supplied by Siemens. It also employs non-Chinese medical staff and doctors. In the first instance, you can contact English-speaking Dr Sun who will guide you through the process. WNIC has formed a partnership with Want Want Hospital. You can find out all the details of the hospital in this dedicated section here.
WNIC also has a medical page which summarises both hospitals and dentists in the city. The page has links to both internal and external webpages with more info.
Money transfers (International)
The easiest and most efficient way to send money abroad is through the Bank of China. In most cases, you'll be best heading to their main Changsha branch on Furong Zhong Lu (subway station Furong Square, Line 2). The Bank of China has staff with limited English.
Firstly, exchange your RMB notes into Dollars, Pounds or Euros (other currencies may not be on offer or local bylaws could prohibit their sale, such as regions close to borders, such as Vietnam).
After that, you should complete a form with the following payee details:
- Remittance currency and amount;
- The payee's name and address;
- The payee's account number in the opening bank;
- Name, SWIFT code and address of the payee's opening bank.
You can get these details, including the SWIFT code, from the recipient bank (abroad).
Then, you hand over the money along with your own ID (a passport should suffice). Some foreigners have reported that, due to strange domestic regulations, you will need to take a Chinese person (with their Chinese ID card) to actually undertake the process. They can also help with the translation process. For more information, check the BoC transfers website HERE.
Some foreigners have reported a cap of about 500USD on all transfers. You'll then have a 200-500RMB bank transfer fee on top of that. Be aware that some recipient banks may also charge. The actual process could take between one and several days depending on national holidays.
WNIC Facebook members have mixed views on using PayPal for international money transfers with some citing issues with high transfer fees and the requirement to have a credit card.
The home of the Islamic Association in Hunan is over at the main Baishaling Mosque, 115 Sanxing Street (长沙市西区三兴街115号), with a capacity of 300 and (according to our knowledge) accepts males and females. Mecca is some 8182.68 kilometers from Changsha, the time difference is 8. Prayer times can be found via this link: prayers-time.today/changsha. The temple was built in 618-907.
There are many Halal and Islamic-orientated Xinjiang restaurants and a few Pakistani ones too which are usually run or co-run by Muslim foreigners. Check out WNIC info on wechat for up to date details.
There are a lot of online news outlets in Chinese so one of the most comprehensive would be that of rednet.cn. Additionally, the Hunan Government website and Changsha City website are good resources, albeit less frequently updated. In English, for both events and news, WNIC provides a great and informative service!
Online TV, movies and sport
The following are live (mostly free) sporting streams and movie websites. Please note that most of the websites have Western internet copyright restrictions but work fine within mainland China. In addition to this, you may want to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service provider.
Be extra careful when downloading files from Chinese websites as they appear to contain more virus and malware than Western websites, as well as auto-installing of pop-up advertisements!
Hunan has a opera history and this can be found in the old opera house on PoZiJie (close to ID Mall). Opposite is also the HuoGongDian restaurant which has open air opera shows in it's historic courtyard (you may freely enter and take photos). If you want to know more about Hunan opera, Kunqu and other facts then you may want to check out this beautifully crafted ebook here.
If you need to print photos your best bet is to head to a major supermarket (such as Carrefour or Walmart) and on one of the floors surrounding the complex you may find a small photo specialist. These are usually able to print photos of a good enough quality.
If you require passport-sized photos, again these small shops may be able to offer this but you could do better by visiting a more professional photography studio. There are hundreds across the city. Many of them are housed in tower buildings on various floors. They will usually advertise wedding photography but they can also probably do passport photos. Make sure you have the exact passport dimensions and background colour requirements. Traditional passport photos in China use a red background with whitened facial features, whereas many non-Chinese passport agencies carry a white or tainted-white background and 'natural light' requirement. Be sure to double check the colour and editing specifics with the photographer.
In China, you will need a batch of at least half a dozen passport sized photos for all kinds of legal and official documentation.
Photo (picture) frames
There are a bundle of small shops selling a range of small-large (and of varying quality and cost) photos frames in the building directly opposite the Main (old) Train Station. The building is set on a corner (there is a McDonalds there) and on the Ground Floor you will see a flurry of mobile phone shops. Head to the 3rd floor and this changes to small frames shops. Something for everyone. Usually open daily but close around 6pm normally. These stores may also offer printing services and have other accessories.
There is a Scott bike shop which is on the west side of HeLong Stadium (opposite the running track). It is part of the stadium building. In it, you will see bikes and a rock climbing place in which, for a cheap price, you can spend a few hours being taught how to rock climb (special shoes are available too). This company also organises trips to mountains out of Changsha.
- See more about the HeLong Stadium area and our feature about rock climbing
Repairers (of electronics)
There are quite a few small repair shops around the DongTang North junction area but the best area with the widest range of expertise is in the 'computer city' area opposite Main Train Station. In the tower building (called 'Guo Chu') directly opposite the bus station, which is adjacent to the train station, head to the basement level and you'll find a sea of small independent stores, all offering phone and electronics repairs at reasonable prices. They're able to fix most gadgets within a day or two. You'll be charged an 'opening fee' of the item plus what it costs to fix it. You can haggle. In the upper floors, 4th-5th, you'll find laptop repairers. The same applies. There are also various smaller buildings behind this building. 'HeFang' -one such building- houses many small laptop and computer retailers and repairers. Many of them are self-build computers and buying the cheapest model is never recommended. If you want to purchase a decent laptop, computer or any other electronic you're better off visiting Sunning or Gome (major electronics retailers) are commercial centres across the city. These only sell genuine products and they also deliver. Check the Operating System (e.g. Windows) is in English before buying. Sometimes they can offer an English version on request. Finally, there is a good camera/camcorder sales building opposite the Main train Station (Xiao Yuan). These products are negotiable.
A recommended repairer, used by a WNIC member to fix the lens on a Canon digital SLR camera and on a different occasion, the software on a Samsung smartphone, is Mr Tang Sheng: 13873137535. His unit is located in the basement level of the building opposite the bus station (of the Main Train Station). Business unit number "B-47". You can also check out his website with examples of his work here. Here is a photo of his business card.
Another worthy phone repairer is the small unit (set next to the McDonalds) of 2C39 who fixes most types of phones and issues. Totally recommended.
If you are up for running through the woods, atop mountain paths and into villages, you can join the Hunan Hash House Harriers (visit their page HERE). This is a group of friendly Chinese and expats who meet regularly for fun runs and more competitive. off-road challenges and finish off with a beer drinking 'circle' and dinner afterwards. This is one of the best ways to make new friends in Changsha and do some important exercise/sightseeing! 'On-On' as Hashers would say! If you attend often enough, they'll even bless you wish a Hash Name. Hashing is a global phenomenon open to all.
There are a few other running clubs based around the city and the annual marathon which takes places around April. Running tracks at local universities and colleges can be used, usually, for free by locals and Orange Island tends to be a favourite circuit.
If you want to catch some salsa dancing, Meet Bar (next to La Nova Shopping Mall in a side alleyway) is a beautifully decorated, stylish bar with a regular group who strut their stuff. There is also a dance company that run courses in Salsa, Bachata and Belly Dance. You can find their weixin information here. Address and contact details:
联系电话：天娜Tina：13873122040； 郭威：18075192225； Steven：18684921125
There is also a Salsa group that you can contact for more details: here
See our list of middle schools in Changsha here.
Shipping / sending (packages abroad)
By far the best method is by China Post. They have three types of postal service, from slow land-only to Air mail which can cost significantly more but cut travel time to Europe or the US by a month or two. In general, you should expect a package journey time of anywhere between two months to four months. Avoid putting fragile or expensive items inside as, occasionally, boxes have not arrived at their destination (ever). If you opt for DHL or UPS then you'll get a much quicker service (see their websites for more) but there is still the matter of packages potentially getting lost or being 'held' until a fee is paid. All China Post Offices can provide package postal services. Prices can vary, according to weight, from anywhere between 500-1000RMB typically.
Buy an official/approved China Post box (choose from various sizes) from a Post Office, take it home and fill it. Do not seal it as this box will be checked at the Post Office by the counter staff. You can seal it at the Post Office (they all have glue and tape). Items not permitted include CDs, liquids, free food, some medicines, certain sensitive literature and so on. The list varies from time to time. Try checking at the official China Post website (English) HERE.
You could also use a China-based private firm, such as SF, to send smaller documents. They are best used for urgent or important documents (such as a passport) and are very reliable. They can collect from your home and deliver, in most cases, within 48 hours to anywhere across China. SF offer a fully English postal service. Check their website for more right HERE.
If you want to send heavy-duty, large or even container shipments across the globe then you can get in touch with a major English-language company Traders Easy Way Company (based in Nanjing) right here.
There are now a selection of bars that offer this service, including Wow Bar, Hooligans Pub, Helens Bar, Hawa as well as , reportedly, a Yemeni restaurant near Hunan University.
- See more on bars
There is an indoor ski slope (瑞翔冰雪世界), quite suitable for beginners, in the fireworks hometown of Liuyang (roughly 50km from Changsha). Expats have reported there also being go karting and paintballing facilities close by to the ski complex although this is unverified. You can find more on the ctrip ticket website here. The easiest and quickest way to Liuyang is by sharing a taxi (illegal car will almost certainly be cheaper) with friends. These can be found at major Changsha stations. Tuniu.com has a lot of photos of the slope and further details (in Chinese).
Skype is available in China although there have been unconfirmed reports that it has been blocked on numerous occasions. Generally speaking, this has remained unaffected by the 'Great Firewall of China'. Local WANS (e.g. University campus) may have bandwidth protective blocks.
Streaming (of online TV, movies and sports channels)
There are lots of swimming pools and WNIC has a special feature about this. You can find good quality pools in some of the major hotels in Changsha. Dong Tang South junction area (behind the bowling alley) has a large, public pool. There is also an outdoor pool on Orange Island along with heated spa pools and an indoor sauna, steam room and other modern amenities (100RMB at 2014 prices but due to increase).
In China you are required to wear swimming caps. These can be easily bought from all swimming pools or from any major supermarket clothing section.
Tailor / dressmaker
Tailors are often found inside large department stores with extensive clothing sections. They can often have a workroom, with patterns and measuring tapes and machines, and adjust recently purchased garments for customers. You can ask staff about the whereabouts.
Other WNIC Facebook members have reported:
"Hong Mei located in pozijie, near the ID mall. I've had her make clothes for me and am quite pleased. need to take a native speaker with you and negotiate price. 15973138090 is her number"
"BBG shopping. Jinxing Zhong lu. 5 floor"
"There's some pretty awesome tailors in the Zhong Shan Lu area as well, although I don't know how far that is from your place."
"Check my map www.chinanon-stop.com end of Nanhu road go to the clothes market: can custom made. Check my blog: down Nan Hu Road there is Changsha main clothes maker... and fabric market you can find everything many tailors there."
"Call Suri at 15074909306"
There are a number of small tattooists in and around TaiPingJie. There have been no complaints about both the quality or tattooing nor a lack of hygiene. Some foreigners have tried and recommended the following tattooist:
HuangXing Lu (Walking Street), 'Two Building Animation SKY No. 2164' (near the south gate next to McDonald's elevator, upstairs on the right). 天心区黄兴南路步行街B区二楼动漫SKY 2164号(靠近南门口麦当劳旁电梯上楼右转) . Tel: 15387546429. Hours: 10:00-22:30. www.cswenshen.com
Taxi are generally hailed down (please read our Transport section for the various dangers or annoyances involving taxi use). There is, however, a rapid increase in the number of people booking taxis using various taxi-booking applications (usually via the wechat social media app, which has it's own taxi booking function). Didi app can be downloaded onto your smartphone, enter your location/time for the taxi booking and a taxi, if nearby, will then call you to confirm the pick up. It doesn't guarantee a taxi will collect you even though most taxis use the app now. Beware, if you book a taxi to collect you and you find a new one in the meantime, you'll eventually be blocked from using the app.
Alternatively, some foreigners in the city have used a private car hire service (that is, no taxi markings, comfy cars and a friendlier chauffer-driven service) called 神州优车 ('Devine, Excellent Car' as a rough translation). Website here: http://www.10101111.com. You can book online or call or download their app.
If you need to buy train tickets the Main Train Station is the best location but this can be a busy, crowded place with the occasional pick-pocketing issue being heard of. The ticket office is not part of the actual main building, but (like many other Chinese train stations) is located in a separate building to the right of the actual station, if you're looking at straight at the tower. There is no designated English counter but there are now ticket machines at the far end of the hall.
There is now a relatively new online ticketing website and phone service (both only in Chinese). There are many non-official travel website offering Chinese train tickets but most only handle main rail routes and/or add a very high fee. In fact, rail travel in China is dirt cheap if you're prepared to rough it on the fairly well-maintained sleeper services. High speed trains, and their tickets are easier to get, except at that busy time of the year: Spring Festival, when every mode of transport becomes a total sellout! See this website for more on Chinese trains:
If you want to buy a train ticket, the best thing to do is simply find a local kiosk (usually, a small hidden office, sometimes set back from the high street) and show a copy of your passport. This is the case for both regular and high speed train tickets. Check the info when you get your ticket. Most kiosks shut around 6pm. They will often charge a 5RMB fee, but this is well worth it.
- Check out more on transport in Changsha!
Translation & Legalisation Office
This office is in HouJiaTang, close to the stadium, and they can do several world languages. This official office also provides Notorial services. 长沙市蓉园公证处 on 韶山北路9号. This offices is upstairs on a corner building opposite Yali Middle School on Laodong Xilu. 公证办事处！Foreigners have reported the cost being around 200RMB per page for translations. They should provide the all-important red stamp (without which the translation is meaningless).
It is not easy to find good or authentic vegetarian restaurants in Changsha. However, we have heard of a few dotted along Baishu Lu (near to Helong Stadium). There is a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant near to the Wanda Plaza/La Nova Mall area. A map to Lotus restaurant, themed on Buddhist values, can be found here. Prices are mid-range and the food, apparently, is extremely good! t is located just north of the La Nova Mall. You may need to baidu map search for it or give them a call (details in the image link, above).
Changsha has many small-scale animal veterinarians although they will probably only be able to give the most basic medical care or vaccination and might be better at looking after your dog for a short time (a few days) in which they will most likely be contained in a small cage.
Your best choice is the visit 'pet street' which is off TaiPingJie in the centre of town. There are several with small operating room areas (although the ability of staff to operate on your pet might not be as qualified as back in the West). They will have, however, medicine which (unlike the smaller establishments) is most likely to be the real product and not a fake second best.
You might have difficulty getting your pet to the centre of town if it's big in size. Buses may refuse you entrance (this could be alleviated if your dog if muzzled) and taxi drivers can be equally hesitant. The best way is to find a friend with a car. Some taxis may oblige though.
- See more about TaiPingJie and the surrounding area
Visas and permits
WNIC has a dedicated Visa & Legal section on the website which can guide you about the local working, studying, tourist and other visa processes, which are generally straight forward. What is less known, is the legality and reliability of some employers of foreign nationals. You can get advice and info from other expats living in Changsha on our active Facebook group, or shoot us an email (please go to the Visa & Legal section first). There is also a link to the Hong Kong visa process. WNIC is in the process of developing a stronger support system for foreigners in Hunan province who require advice or guidance about such matters, but ultimately, this is the domain of the local Public Security Bureau (police) and their relationship with local employers. Always check, if possible, with your employer that they possess the full legal license to hire/enroll foreigners. We are here to help, but often our help is very limited due to lack of information available to us (not to mention the shifting visa process that has been ongoing for the last few years).
The best place to volunteer your time or resources would be at the Changsha Welfare Centre on Furong South Road which is the base for two overseas charities who care for ill and orphaned infants and children. Their respective websites are given below:
International China Concern:
Butterfly Children's Hospice:
These charities help one another and have received major international attention for their great efforts. ICC is Australian whereas Butterfly is British owned (registered charities).
You can check out all the charities supported by WNIC in our dedicated section.
CHECK OUT OUR HANDY VPN GUIDE HERE
A 'Virtual Private Network' essentially allows you to access blocked websites and information on the Internet by changing your IP (location) to that in another country. Most VPNs operate out of the States and, when America is not online, this country setting (if your VPN allows for that) is the best/quickest. The quality and choice of these VPN providers varies so below is the feedback from various WNIC Facebook members on VPN services and their varying quality:
"I've been using 12vpn. It's very simple to set up. I use it on a Windows box and an iMac without problem connects on demand on my mobiles, for example if I open a twitter or Facebook app it auto turns on. Servers all over the world without extra cost. Very good customer service through email. It's fast. On my main machine i leave the vpn constantly running. It doesn't let you download torrents. I've been using them for 1.5 years. I've never used StrongVPN but have heard its good. I won't switch."
"Viscosity as served me well with only a couple of brief [hours/minutes] problems which were due to the time needed to adjust to government moves. I have a 4 year old macbook; use google and QQ"
"Witopia, and it's good. I use a PC, Acer, and sometimes it can be a little slow, but normally it works well."
"I am using Astril, it is only 6 USD per month and even has free live chat support (but I have never needed to use it). I can send you an invite if you want."
"im using Go Trusted.its just 50 RMBper month.and its stable and fast."
WNIC can give you access to the world's most popular VPN Astrill HERE.
Western Union (transferring money)
Western Union operates services through China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank and the Postal Savings Bank of China. Check HERE for a list of up-to-date, authorised WU counters in Changsha. With WU you are able to send money, receive money and pay bills for a fee in a matter of hours. Be sure to arrange someone on the other end, abroad, to collect or send the cash. Transfers can be tracked online and more information can be found HERE.
What is meant by 'XKTV'? As is sometimes asked by foreigners in Changsha, it is a normal KTV (karaoke) private room hire, with the usual range of songs and with the choice of 'girls' that will accompany you while you sing, dance and drink. This does not necessarily mean anything explicit. You are under no obligation to take anything further, except -as is sometimes common in China- to be accompanied by a pretty girl beside you. Good for a stag do/bachelor party. A stylish 'XKTV' that may suit 'the boys' can be found inside the Yee Yoo Hotel (lifts on the right hand side). Go to the "Wanyunhuasheng KTV" on the 4th floor. You will enter the smart, pricey KTV. Naturally, it operates mostly in the evenings. There are no provisions in the KTV centre for 'massage'. The hostesses merely offer you ample company!
The Yee Yoo Hotel overlooks Furong Square (next to a large buffet and hotel building) opposite a Carrefoure (Furong Square subway station). Parking is limited. The hotel has a distinctive red shelter above it's entrance. Tel: 0731-84664708. You can see a photo of the hotel here.
Opposite here, there is another, more stylish 'hostess' KTV place. It is called Xin Chang Fu (there is a restaurant of the same name). It is located at 228 Furong Lu, entrance is both at the side of and inside -behind the reception- of the Vienna Hotel which overlooks Furing Square (Carrefour and Pizza Hut). With elaborately decorated rooms, marbled style and a range of pretty ladies to accompany you, this KTV experience is pleasant with a very wide range of Western songs to choose from. It is, coincidentally, normal for both sexes to enjoy this as a 'normal' KTV.
There is a small, yoga studio in which classes in English and Chinese are given. This has been a popular yoga place with many foreigners. Contact details: 0731-88030424 QQ：2107045255，weichat：one-taste-yoga. 公众微信号:yiweijingxiufang. 地址:天心区西湖路33号鸿信大厦南栋B座1715室. In English, that's: No.1715, HongXin Building (South), Xihu Road, No. 33, Tianxin District, Changsha. This group also arranged occasional yoga sessions in outdoor area.
You can find numerous tour packages to this large scenic region. One WNIC Facebook member reported a trip of "three days, 2 nights, room and board and entry into the important places for 1000Y". Below are further explanations from other WNIC Facebook group members:
"I was able to find a hotel in Wulingyuan for 80 kuai and there is also a hostel that is nice. There is a lot to do here: Baofeng Lake is the cheapest (80kuai). Has a waterfall, a boat ride, and there is a mountain you can climb behind the temple. The ticket for zhangjiajie is expensive but you can spend 3 days there. You have to pay extra for the elevator (50Kuai). There is another park with a glass walkway on top of the mountain that is worth doing but it's also expensive. The Yellow Dragon cave is also worth going to. When you leave if you want to go somewhere cheap go to furongzhen. Its an ancient town with a 2 tier waterfall in it's center. It's free and there is a nice gorge 30 minutes away. Also nearby there is the red rock forest but i never went there because i didnt have enough time. From furongshen you can get a cheap bus to Jishou and go to Dehang which is really cheap (50kuai/guest house) and the ticket is less than 100. The guest houses are below all the strange karst mountains and there are two paths you can hike with many waterfalls. Also nearby is fenghuang, the southern great wall (stone village), and some other miao villages. Southern Hunan is really nice too if you get a chance go to langshan (there are 5 mountains to climb and a nice river) its pretty cheap there. Chenzhou has a really beautiful lake that is worth seeing and a mountain called mangshan nearby. there are many caves and salmon bbq is only 20-30 kuai for a large fish."
"Inside the park, there's a little village of hotels near the upper station of bailong elevator, take the free bus from the station and get off at the first stop, there's a path past a few places, but we stayed at one in the village proper called Ding Ding. Triple room was 150 total, clean and comfy, but the bathroom's Chinese."
You can travel by train or long distance bus from Changsha Main Train station (overnight sleeper trains are a good bet) or buses operating from, mostly, West Bus station.
- Please refer to the section in this website on Transport for more info.
- You can also visit this interactive Hunan Gov website for a park overview