Once a prefecture-level city in the province of Anhui Province, Chaohu (Cháohú in traditional pinyin) is now a county-level city that is home to the scenic Lake Chao. The city is bordered by Lu’an city in the west, Tonling city in the south, Wuhu in the southeast, Anqing in the southwest, and Jiangsu Province in the east.
As of 2011, the government of Anhui Province decided to split Chaohu into three parts.
Chaohu city is best known for its namesake lake, the Lake Chao. This 400-kilometer lake is located right in the heart of Anhui Province, and is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the country. Lake Chao is shaped like a bird’s nest, with the islands of Gushan and Laoshan prominently embedded in its waters. There are three hot springs circling the lake: the Tangchi, Bantang, and Fragrant Spring. Also surrounding the Lake Chao are four national forest parks and five caves, which are popular destinations for local and international tourists.
Aside from the scenic lake, Chaohu is also known for its rich history, which can be traced back to the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BC). There are a good number of historic sites in the city, including ancient Paleolithic evidence, sites of historically significant battles, and ancient architectural gems.
Hills and plains are typically found in the northern part of Chaohu, with the plains being more common in the southern part. The land in the city is considered by many as the most fertile in the whole province of Anhui—Chaohu has plenty of resources and geographical advantages to be an agricultural leader in the province.
Chaohu, like most of the cities in Anhui Province, has a subtropical humid climate, influenced by the monsoon. The average temperature clocks in at 16 degrees Celsius, and the mild weather in the spring and autumn are most pleasant for tourists. Rainfall is heaviest during the months of July and August.
April is a good time to visit Chaohu, as the city celebrates the blooming of spring flowers with an annual peony-viewing festival.
The fertile land of Chaohu is ideal for growing a wide variety of plants and trees, including those that yield fruits and vegetables. The Lake Chao is also home to different fish species prepared and served fresh in the tables of the city. One of these fishes is the Chaohu silverfish (Neosalunx taihuensis), which is typically harvested between September to November.
Another delicacy famous in the city is the Chaohu white prawn, a small and slender prawn species that do not turn red when cooked. Chaohu crabs are also considered by many as one of the best in China. The dongguan old duck soup is a good choice during colder weather—the duck meat is very soft and pleasantly oily (not greasy), while the soup is perfect for warming up one’s body.
Chaohu tea is especially famous, as well as red melon seed.
Breathtaking natural scenery combined with history and good food is the main asset of Chaohu. There are a number of must-see attractions in the city, as well as its neighbor cities in the province of Anhui.
Lake Chao remains to be the major destination in Chaohu. This scenic lake, as mentioned earlier, has a distinct bird nest’s shape. The lake, according to legend, used to be the site of an ancient city called Chaozhou. Lake Chao is famous not only in the Anhui Province, but also in the whole country. Aside from being one of the largest freshwater lakes in all of China, the two islands in the middle of the waters, and the hot springs and forests surrounding Lake Chao are very famous as well.
Most of the noteworthy attractions are near or by the lake. The cultural sites of the Wenfeng Pagoda, Nantang Port, Shengfei Temple, and other pagodas are all very near the lake.
The Wenfeng Pagoda is located near the Lake Chao. This majestic pagoda was built in the 1600’s and inscribed with poems and epigraphs of high historical significance all over its walls. This structure houses more than 800 Buddhist figures and 25 horizontal picture boards.
Found in the northern side of the Lake Chao, the Zhongmiao Temple is an ancient religious site rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911). There are three distinct halls inside the temple: the front, the middle, and the rear. Most of the religious activities in this Buddhist temple were conducted in the middle hall. One of the most important features of the Zhongmiao Temple is the statue of the Taoist deity Bi Xia Yuan Jun.
Chaohu Bantang Imperial Spa Resort
Chaohu has been famous in history for its mountain spa resorts, with three of the best hot spring resorts in the province surrounding the Lake Chao. One of them is the Chaohu Bantang Imperial Spa Resort, which lies at the foot of the Tangshan Mountain. Those looking to relax and recuperate from sickness or low moods will definitely benefit from the therapeutic waters. This spa resort is also very unique, as it offers both hot and cold springs.
Also worth visiting are the Lujiang Tangchi Spa Resort and the Chaohu Fragrant Hot Spring Resport.
Classes and Courses
Chaohu has a university and a college that offer formal degrees in Chinese language. However, if you are visiting for a few weeks or months, you can always inquire for short-term (for example, during the summer) courses to learn more of the language of the country and the rich culture of Chaohu.