I never had any high expectations for the capital city of Jilin province. We only bought train tickets there because my friend had previously posted a stunning picture of a lake, I just had to see. The lake was located far out of the capital city but the train was of course going to the capital city so we had to go. After spending a few days there, I don’t for a single second regret that we went because wow, what a place to explore.
We arrived on a rainy evening and rushed to our hotel. There weren’t many smiles from the reception in the lobby, so we just handed over the cash for the room and then took the elevator up to the forth flour.
The next morning, I looked up all the things we could do in town and there are actually a lot of options for tourists. It’s also very convenient because bus number 160 is running towards most of the tourist attractions so it’s cheap as well. We jumped on the bus from Renmin Dajie which is the big road running behind the train station. If you can’t find it, just ask your hotel staff for directions.
The best thing about Changchun is that the sky is blue and the temperature is 24 degrees on average during summer time. The humidity in Beijing is nowhere to be found in Changchun which is such a pleasure. Furthermore, the city isn’t really a tourist destination so the locals are really excited to talk to you and help you around which makes it an even better place.
We chose to go to three places in Changchun which were; Jingyuetan Park, the zoo and another park called Shengli Park.
How to get there:
Take bus 160 to the end station and you will arrive just outside of the main entrance of the park.
Entrance: 30 RMB
The park is very big and the best way to get around is to rent a bike and bike around the smalle and bigger lakes. The views there are so beautiful. We didn’t know what to expect but when we arrived, we were happily surprised.
Bike Rental: 50 RMB/hour
For such a pretty place, I was surprised that it wasn’t more overrun by tourists but that was only good. It was easy to get around and there were maps everywhere.
After finishing the trip to the park, we bought an ice cream from one of the locals on the side of the road and then we jumped onto bus 160 again. We wanted to go to the big movie park in town because it was half price on Tuesdays (we were there on a Tuesday) but I think we missed the stop, so we got off at the zoo instead.
We chose to go to the zoo to see the famous snow lion from the North Eastern Chinese forests. We saw the big animal and took a few photos but we weren’t thrilled about the situation. If you really want to see the snow lion, you could go but don’t stay too long in the park because many of the other animals aren’t being well-cared for. It broke my heart to see the polar bear walking back and forth in his little cage. But on the positive side, the red panda was so adorable. I think my sister just got a new favorite animal.
Entrance fee to the zoo: 30 RMB
When back at Renmin Dajie/Shengli Park area, we first walked towards a Walmart sign which turned out to be a fake sign because there wasn’t a Walmart. That didn’t matter though because we bumped into the most 热闹 (buzzing) area of town with locals selling everything on the street. The shops were open everywhere and locals were eating outside the small restaurants. We were so excited because we personally love to experience local life. It is even more fun than going to the big tourist sights so we just walked around, bought some necessities and souvenirs. We had some fresh fruit from the street vendors and grabbed dinner in one of the small restaurants.
After a break at the hotel, we walked down to the same area again and around the corner we found the Shengli Park. I didn’t know it was anything interesting before we reached the entrance. At the entrance, we were met by an elderly man who asked if we wanted a massage so my sister got 20 minutes of massage for 15 RMB and after chatting with the masseuse and the other street vendors, we walked into the park where the real party had just started. Children were dancing to a Chinese/English/Chinglish rap song, people were clapping and the big ferris wheel was slowly moving to the rhythm of the music playing loudly.
If you want to explore local life at its best, the park in the evening is the nicest place to go. We joined the dancing youth swinging ourselves around to the music. This is the Chinese way of exercising and everyone is welcome so don’t be shy to join in. I always stand in the back of the group so people won’t pay too much attention to me. It’s also dark when dancing so you don’t have to worry that people will be able to see if you can’t follow the rhythm. Just have a try, it’s so funny!
The park also has a beautiful lake where you can walk around for an evening stroll and when you feel like you’ve had enough of the Chinese local life, you can walk back to your hotel and I promise you that you’ll be sleeping very well.