Located in the central Anhui Province, the city of Huainan (Huáinán in traditional pinyin) boasts of over two million residents spread out in five districts (Bagongshan, Datong, Panji, Tianjia’an, and Xiejiaji) and a county (Fengtai). Huainan is situated near the northern part of the Yangtze River and the southern part of the Huai River.
The city of Huainan first appeared in Chinese history in 203 BC, when Ying Bu—one of the trusted generals of Liu Bang—was awarded the title of the King of Huainan. The old capital of this ancient kingdom is located in Lu’an at present. Huainan was divided and claimed over and over again throughout its long history, even during the Cultural Revolution in the country. Huainan has been a valuable territory for many political powers, thanks to its rich coal resources.
The present day Huainan is a bustling metropolis, with over 700 square miles of the city assigned as a metro area. The city still remains to be one of the major centers of coal production in the country, with an annual output of more than forty million tons of coal every year. Other industries are fast emerging in the city as well—for example, bean products are just one of the main focus areas of this prefecture-level city. Huainan has been the host of the 2010 China Tofu Cultural Festival.
Aside from being an industrial hub in the Anhui Province, there are a wide variety of cultural, historical, and artistic attractions located in Huainan, complemented by the mild weather and plenty of sunshine.
Getting to Huainan is relatively convenient, but there is no airport in the city proper itself. However, tourists coming in from nearby airports can easily take advantage of the railway networks—over 70 passenger trains stop by the city each day. Tourist, urban, and link buses are a great way to get to and explore Huainan.
Like its neighbors in Anhui Province, the city of Huainan has a subtropical climate, influenced heavily by the monsoon. The weather is relatively moderate, and the strategic location of the city makes for an abundance of sunshine throughout the year. Rainstorms typically occur during the summer, between the months of June and July.
Huainan might be best known throughout history for its rich coal industry, but there are plenty of delectable dishes in this Anhui city as well. A must-try dish in Huainan is the Bagong Mountain Tofu (also known for its generic name, “Huainan tofu”)—this tofu dish is known for its delicately fresh taste, and is considered to be an important element of Anhui provincial cuisine. Tofu manufactured in Huainan is considered to be one of the best in all of China. Huainan is considered as the bean curd country of China, and local dishes incorporating this special ingredient are guaranteed to be unforgettable.
Aside from the heavenly tofu, tourists should also try the luohe bean cake (with green beans as the main ingredient), sweet bean dumpling, fried wheat (“shangyao sanzi”), sweet dumplings (xiaji mian yuan), Huainan bean curd, and the famed Huainan beef soup. There are a couple of restaurants in the city that serve these delicacies and other Huainan specialties at different price ranges.
Despite being an industry leader in the province, Huainan still boasts of natural, cultural, and historical destinations.
This destination is best visited during the fall, when the leaves of the trees are turning to a different color. The mountain is a welcome break in scenery in the bustling Huainan metropolis. Bagong Mountain is a sacred location for many locals, and features over 40 peaks, an ancient battlefield, a historic private garden, temples, pagodas, and even an ancient nunnery.
Shangyao National Forest Park
Another natural destination in the city, the Shangyao National Forest Park is perfect for tourists who want to be one with nature. This forest park is also home to a number of important religious and historical sites, with the ancient temple built in the Jin and Ming Dynasties.
Ancient Shouzhou Kiln Site
This destination is just one of the ancient kiln sites in China, but it is one of the most important in the province. The kiln site is vital in the production of ceramics, which is an important export of China up to present. Other features of the Ancient Shouzhou Kiln Site are the Gaoyao Reserve, the Chexiaowan Reserve, the Guanzaiwen Reserve, and the Pine Forest.
This interesting destination does not have the centuries-long prestige of other attractions in Huainan, but the Piano House is a must-see site. This building is built for music lovers, and the distinct grand piano shape is one of the biggest indicators of this passion for the arts. The giant piano is accompanied by a transparent violin, which contains a staircase to get inside the piano house. This remarkable structure is dedicated to musical performances and practice sessions of local music students.
Other must-see attractions in Huainan include the scenic Jiaogang Lake, the Maoxian Dong Cave (known as an immortal cave in Taoism), and Longhu Park.
Classes and Courses
There are a couple of universities within Huainan City, and most of them offer short Chinese language courses for tourists and visitors. It will be important to apply for a student visa before visiting the country to study in a formal setting. While there are no formal schools that offer cooking classes to visitors, you can always mingle with the locals and find out the ways to cook the Huainan specialty bean curd.