A small guide to the city with lots of recommendations for you all to try out! Wuhan is a big city with a lot going on. There are 2 main districts (Wuchang and Hankou) with 2 others bordering them (Hangyang and Jiangxia). Wuchang is a very ‘studenty’ area with about 6 big universities. Hankou is the richer area in town, which is a lot more ‘local’ and has some really good shopping and markets. Hangyang and Jiangxia are both a bit smaller and seem a bit out the way, but both have a lot of foreigners living there and great transport links. The city is a good distance from all the main places of interest and travel making weekends away relatively easy. Time by train: Shanghai – 4hrs (fast train) 8hrs overnight sleeper ; Beijing- 10hrs ; Xi’an- 10 hrs ; Guilin- 10 hrs ; Shenzhen- (access to Hong Kong) 12hrs ; Yichang (3 Gorges Dam) 5hrs by bus.
The bars in Wuhan are generally very safe. They all have free of charge cloak rooms and are always a mix of foreigners and Chinese people. If you are musically inclined both Prison and The Toucan love live acts and are always interested in new acts – just talk to the bar staff. All the bars have a basic level of English.
Helens – Helens is a great bar to start the night. They do great western food (I really recommend the pizzas and salads) for about £2.50 a meal. They have deals on every night with free beer from 8pm on a Friday (until it runs out). Wuchang District, Zhuo Dao Quan Road.
Dancing in Helens
Vox – Vox is one of busiest bars in Wuchang. It has live music nearly every night from around 8pm (both Chinese and Western) and then DJ’s from around 10/11pm. It is a great place to meet other foreigners. The drinks are cheap and the music is okay for Chinese standards. They have an Irish DJ who is regular on a Friday and a lot of fun with his music choice. It also serves a small selection of bar snacks. Wuchang District, Lumo Road.
Prison – Prison is just round the corner from Vox and is a favourite of many of the teachers in Wuhan. Cheap drinks and a great atmosphere. It has recently expanded and now has live music every now and then and DJs most nights. Wuchang District, just off Lumo Road.
Sawa – Sawa is new and located opposite prison. It is a sheesha bar with cheap drinks and really good food. The staff are really nice and often have foreigners working there. Wuchang District, just off Lumo Road.
Soho / Song Song / Muse – All these bars are quite similar. They are mainly full of Chinese people, with less known music that Vox or Prison. They are in Hankou and a bit more expensive than the Wuchang bars. However, in these bars they have tables which have been hired out by the Chinese and they are always wanted to be-friend you (even if they can’t speak English) and will more often than not invite you to drink at their tables! It’s a lot of fun, and you can learn the dice drinking game – an essential in China. Hakou District, Yanjiang dadao.
Burtons- Burtons is very similar to Helens. It has good western food, and lots of deals. (And buckets (literally) of alcohol.)
The Toucan – The Toucan is the local Irish bar. The managers are really nice; we got very close with them throughout my year there. The staff all have perfect English. It is the place to go for football and good pub food. Although it is very expensive, if you go on a Sunday around 4pm they have a free of charge BBQ in the beer garden (yes, it’s as good as it sounds). They have a lot of English beer and St. Paddy’s day here is fun. They also do a full on Christmas dinner if you don’t want noodles on Christmas day. Hanyang District, Wu Sheng Road.
St Patricks Day in The Toucan
Queens – Queens is very similar to Soho / Muse / Song Song, however, it has a bouncing dance floor. Enough Said. Wuchang District, Luoshi Beilu.
Sugar’s – This is nice place for pre drinking before Soho, Muse or Song Song. The owner ‘Sugar’ is really nice and will welcome you with open arms. His bar does great beer, and amazing cocktails. You can sit outside, and it is opposite one of Wuhan’s bigger parks. He also has outdoor screen for big football matches and Wimbledon tennis. Also, if there is a cocktail you fancy which is not on the menu, ask – he will let you go behind the bar and make it!! Hakou District, Yanjiang dadao.
Shopping and Markets
Wuhan has a lot of being shopping malls and areas. They tend to translate shopping mall as ‘walking street’.
In Wuchang area there is a big mall (walking street) called Guang Gu. This has a lot of shops – everything you may need! It also has a cinema which will always have an English film on. It is at the end of Lumo Lu in Wuchang. Don’t be afraid to haggle in the smaller shops – if the boss is around these often can be treated like a market stall. This shopping centre has also just built a ‘Spain Style Street’ which has a lot of good small Chinese restaurants to try out.
The local supermarkets have nearly everything you need. However, Wuhan does have western supermarkets you can use. Carrefore, Metro, Walmart and Theatre all stock almost everything you need.
Metro is in between Wuchang and Hankou, bus 709 takes you there from the Wuchang area.
Carrefore’s are all over the city. Guang Gu (above) has one and there are 2 big ones in Hankou district.
Walmart is on a busy shopping street in Hankou, (Zhongshan Dadao). Which can be reached by the 608 bus from the Wuchang area.
Theatre (in my opinion) has the best and biggest selection of western produce. There is one in Hankou at the K11 Walking Street and one in Wuchang about a 20minute walk from the Guang Gu centre.
Markets are a more local and cheaper way to shop. Most universities will have a fruit and veg market on campus and if you’re not on a campus your teachers will direct you to the nearest one.
Hankou has a great night market on Zhongshan Dadao which is open from around 5 – 10pm and is full of shoes, clothes, housewares, and snacks.
The food in Wuhan is one of my favourite things about living in China. It has a lot to offer and endless local delicacies.
I really recommend above anything else HU BU XIANG. This is a walking street of local snacks and foods, there is a lot on offer and I think is the best street in the city.
Hu Bu Xiang Vendors.
Western Restaurants are easy to find and luckily you aren’t limited to McDonalds and Pizza hut.
Helens- (as above in the bars section)
Burtons- (as above in the bars section)
Grandmas Kitchen – This is predominantly Mexican food but has good burgers and pizzas too. Located in the Chicony Mall on Luoyo Road. This place has the best milkshakes in China.
Ajisen Ramen – This is a chain of Japanese restaurants which are really cheap, clean and tasty. Located all over the city.
Show Coffee and Tea – All kinds of western food (mainly steaks and burgers) but also lots of Chinese options. Located mainly in Wuchang, one in Guang Gu and one on Luoyo Road.
Cafe Eurasia – This place specialises in Eastern European food and is the only place I found where you can order a Kebab.! This is close to Wuhan University, and in a street off of Luoyo Road.
Mr Mai’s- A coffee shop with amazing brownies and cakes.
http://www.mrmai.com/ (you will often find the Chinese come here to practise their English, it is a great place to make friends and meet people).
Giano’s – THE BEST PIZZA IN WUHAN! Jane, the owner of Giano’s lived in New York for a number of years and has learnt the trick of New York style pizza and it’s amazing (but pricey). http://www.gianos.cn/ They also deliver to the Wuchang area.
Wuhan also has its fair share of chains, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and Subway are all over the city. For amazing Chinese food, I recommend the smallest, dirtiest alleyway with a lot of people in it. Try everything and be adventurous, I often found myself eating dishes without a clue what was in them – they’re usually the best ones.
Being a vegetarian in China can seem daunting at first when you don’t really know what is what and how to ask for things. You will quite often find that dishes that are marked as tofu often come with bits of pork in aswell. I would recommend getting a Chinese friend to right “I don’t eat meat” in characters for you to show restaurant staff.
However, there are a lot of options for you, it will just take time to adjust. Learnt the characters for meat and avoid them on menus All western places have veggie options.
There are 2 main temples in Wuhan, in the Wuchang district both on Wuluo Lu. One is Red, the other yellow (you can’t miss them). Each of these temples has a vegetarian restaurant attached to it. Both of which are Chinese dishes with picture menus (easier for us!).
Vegetarian restaurant at the Red Temple.
Also, JJ’s Fusion Cafe on Guangba Lu has good vegetarian dishes.
Meeting other foreigners
There is a large number of foreigners in Wuhan and finding them isn’t hard. Vox and Prison are basically western bars and on the weekends you can meet people very easily. The Toucan also has this vibe but is never as busy.
I met 2 of the best friends I made during my time in China in the line at the hospital (for the first check up) don’t be worried about talking to anyone. We’re all in the same boat and most people appreciate you making the first move, as let’s face it, everyone can be a bit shy when first meeting people.
Grandma’s kitchen will often have other foreigners in it as it is very close to the 6 main universities. I have often seen other teachers who have taken marking or planning in here.
By Emma Toll (worked in Wuhan 2010-2011)