Changchun (长春; Chángchūn; lit. Long Spring) is the capital of Jilin province and was formerly the capital of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Changchun is a very influential regional center city in China with high degree of openness and advanced science and education. It is characterized as the automobile city, film city and city of science, technology and culture. With four clear-cut seasons and favorable temperature in the mild temperate zone, Changchun has been called “Spring City in Northern China”. Since the virescent area covers 39% of its land.
With a population of more than 7 million, it is one of the major cities in Northeast China (东北; Dōngběi). In 2007, the city hosted the Asian Winter Games and 2012, The Chinese National Winter Games.
In terms of Chinese History, Changchun is a very young city. There has been a settlement on the banks of the Yitong River for around 2000 years, but it was only when Emperor Jiaqing of the Qing Dynasty decided to promote this tiny village by renaming it Changchun Ting in 1800 (later Changchun Fu), that the city was born. It has packed a great deal into 200 years: the peaceful industrious city it has become hides a tumultuous past.
Changchun is 212 years old from the founding of the Changchun Local Administration by Qing Dynasty in 1800
The city grew quickly in the years after 1800 due to its strategic position between the Japanese South Manchurian Railway and the Russian Chinese Eastern Railway.
In 1931, the Japanese attacked Chinese forces in northeast China, and quickly occupied the whole of Manchuria (the area covered by modern-day Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces).
In 1932, the Japanese proclaimed the region an independent state called Manchukuo, and made Changchun the capital (giving it the name “Xinjing“). The city underwent rapid expansion in both its economy and infrastructure; indeed there are still many historic buildings standing today.
The city was severely damaged when it was invaded in 1945 by the Soviet Red Army, who looted the city of everything they could. Kuomintang forces occupied the city in 1946, but were unable to hold the countryside against Chinese Communist forces. The city fell to the Communists in 1948 after a 12-month siege that resulted in a heavy civilian death toll.
Renamed Changchun by the People’s Republic of China government, the city became the capital of Jilin Province in 1954 and has since become an important domestic optical research centers, along with automobile and train manufacturing bases.
Changchun has recieved honor titles for China’s Best International Image City, Most Humane City and Most Well-being City. These Three honors is the ideal city cards for Changchun, adding vibrant colors and flaunting the city’s beauty, and marking the city’s gradual increase in its overall strength.
The satisfaction index and attractiveness of the city continue to rise and it’s export-oriented trades are climbing, highlighting Changchun’s importance and maturity, along with improvements on its urban landscape and city image.
Each building is one solidified music note, each street is a prolonged lyric, each square is one elaborate note and each sculupture is a sacred painting in eloborate style.
Changchun Geography and Climate
Considering China’s map as rooster, Changchun is located right on the rooster’s eye. Changchun is the hinterland of China’s North East plain, a nutural center of the plain and 970KM or hindred minutes flight from the capital, Beijing.
The total area of Changchun is 20,604 square kilometers, half the area of Netherlands or Switzerland, or almost the same area as Israel. The City proper occupies 4906 square Kilometers.
The city’s seasons are clearly-defined:
Spring is dry and windy, leading into a short and relatively cool summer with average July maximums of 27C (81F). During Autumn it’s mainly sunny and warm during the day but the temperature starts to drop at night, paving the way for a cold, snowbound winter with average January minimums of -23C (-9F). Average annual rainfall is around 600mm (24 inches), with the wettest months being July and August.
Changchun has a total of 6 districts, 3 other cities and 1 county. Five of the districts are close to the city centre:
Chaoyang District (朝阳区)
Nanguan District (南关区)
Kuancheng District (宽城区)
Erdao District (二道区)
Luyuan District (绿园区)
Further afield are:
Shuangyang District (双阳区)
West New City Development District (西部新城开发区）
Yushu City (榆树市)
Dehui City (德惠市)
Jiutai City (九台市)
Nong’an County (农安县)
The city is home to the following special economic zones:
Changchun Jingyuetan tourism Economic Development Zone (长春净月潭旅游经济开发区)
Changchun High Technology Industry Development Zone (长春高新技术产业开发区)
Changchun Technology Development Zone (长春经济技术开发区)
Changchun Automotive Industry Development Zone (长春汽车产业开发区)
Changjiang Lu Science and Technology Commercial Development Zone (长江路电脑科技商品开发区)
Get in Changchun
Changchun Longjia International Airport (长春龙家国际机场; IATA: CGQ) has been in operation since September 2005 and is around 30 km east of city center. It replaced a smaller military airport that had been adapted for commercial use. The airport is large and clean, and passengers can find standard amenities such as restaurants, cafes, shops, lounges, credit card acceptance, etc. For first class passengers there are two lounges available, but the standard is far below of the lounges of international airports.
Different local flight destinations are available, but the major routes throughout the day are to domestic destinations Shanghai (2:20 hours) and Beijing (1:40 hours). There are also some international flights to Incheon and Nagoya.
From the airport there are regular coach services (¥20-30 one way) available to the center (e.g. People’s Square (人民广场)). Travel time is around 45 minutes. A taxi to/from the city costs around ¥80 including toll, but from the airport to the city most of the taxi drivers reject a drive if you are not willing to pay at least ¥100 (do not discuss it, do it or take the bus).
Changchun has three passenger railway stations: Changchun Railway Station (长春站), Changchun East Railway Station (长春东站) and Changchun South Railway Station (长春南站). The latter two stations are very small and only local trains stop there.
Changchun Railway Station (长春站; Changchun Zhan) is situated at the north end of Renmin Avenue (人民大街). Although it is large and chaotic, providing you read Chinese and speak some Mandarin and are prepared to fight through the queues, you can buy a ticket to almost anywhere in China from here.
Thanks to the railroad-building efforts of Japanese in the early- to mid-1900s, the rail network in Northeast China is extensive and no place is very far by rail. (All times approximate.)
Beijing – 8 hours
Dalian – 7-10 hours
Dandong – 10 hours
Harbin – 4 hours
Jilin – 45 mins
Shanghai – 32 hours
Shenyang – 2-4 hours
Tonghua – 9 hours
Xi’an – 34 hours
Rail travel is by far the cheapest way to travel in and out of Changchun. If you do not want to go to the train station yourself, you can go to any good travel agent who will do this on your behalf, usually for ¥10-20 extra.
There are long distance coaches that regularly go from/to Beijing available from the coach station on Huanghe Road (黄河路), just off Renmin Avenue (人民大街). There is also a long distance bus station at the south end of Renmin Avenue (take bus Z306 from the train station).
You can also catch coaches and buses from pretty much anywhere in Jilin Province, though they have a reputation for being dangerous and are slightly more expensive, though faster, than the train.
The main Long-Distance Bus Station is at 226 Renmin Avenue.
Beijing – takes about 8 hours
Dalian – takes about 8 hours
Harbin – takes about 4 hours
Jilin – takes about 2 hours
Shenyang – takes about 4 hours
Get around Changchun
Changchun is a very compact city planned by the Japanese with a layout of open avenues and public squares (guǎngchǎng). It is pretty easy to travel from one place to another; however, with the increase in private car ownership, traffic is getting worse by the day.
Taxis are by far the best way to get around Changchun. They are cheap but you should have a piece of paper with the address in case you do not speak Mandarin. Taxi fares start at ¥5 up to 2.5 km (plus a mandatory ¥1 fuel surtax), after that ¥1.30/.5 km. Several taxi companies are serving the city and they will not try to cheat you. It is common for drivers to pick up other passengers who might be going in the same direction if there are unused seats.
An extensive bus network and most of the buses cost ¥1; however, those who can not read Chinese will find it nearly impossible to use the network.
Important bus numbers include:
362 – 6AM-8:30PM daily:
From the train station to Hongqi Street (红旗街), Chongqing Road (重庆路) and Guilin Road (桂林路).
306 – 5:50AM-11PM daily:
Busy route that goes north/south along Renmin Avenue (人民大街) from the train station to Changchun University (长春大学).
80 – 6AM-8PM daily:
Circular route around Changchun that goes pretty much everywhere including Hongqi Street (红旗街), Chongqing Road (重庆路), Guilin Road (桂林路), the train station and the zoo.
240 – 6AM-7:30PM:
Satellite Square (卫星广场) to Culture Square (文化广场) via Guilin Road (桂林路).
Places To See in Changchun
South Lake (南湖公园; Nánhúgōngyuán)
A large park which is a favorite picnic and recreation spot for locals. In the summer, the lake is used for boating and water sports, and there is a stand of huge lotus plants near one part of it. In the winter, the lake freezes over and serves as a natural skating rink. In winter months it’s a romantic and quiet place – but you have to suffer the low winter temperatures. The park almost feels like it is not part of a city, except that there is a good view of the skyscrapers in downtown Changchun across the lake. The park is a very safe place to wander around in the early evening.
Wenhua Square (文化广场; Wénhùa Guǎngchǎng)
Starting north of the crossroads of Xinmin Dajie (新民大街) and Jiefang Dalu (解放大路), is a pleasant urban hangout which offers a glimpse into Changchun’s Japanese imperial past. The square is surrounded by several historical buildings from the Manchukuo era. On the north end of the square sits the majestic former New Palace of the Emperor of Manchukuo (新帝宫), which was intended to replace the Puppet Imperial Palace mentioned below. On the south end of the square are the former Manchukuo State Council and Military Affairs buildings. These buildings, which are now affiliated with Jilin University, offer prime examples of early Twentieth Century Japanese architecture. On the square, vendors sell kites and various other products. Many people fly kites from this square, while others play traditional Chinese instruments or just sit and relax. More formal performances are sometimes held on a temporary stage set up near the high school. For casual visitors to Changchun, this is probably a good place to visit by taxi.
Puppet Imperial Palace (伪皇宫; Wěihuánggōng)
Another place to visit to take in historical Manchukuo. The palace was the home of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China and puppet emperor of Manchukuo, and this centre of the Manchukuo administration may be worth a visit. Signage is available in English (and Japanese) although many of the artifact descriptions are in Chinese only. There is an audio tour rental fee of ¥20 although the recordings do not add much to what is already provided by the signage (¥100 deposit for equipment). Scenes from the acclaimed 1987 film The Last Emperor were filmed here. ¥80 (Jan 2012).
Jingyuetan National Forest Park is the best place to go for sight-seeing and Clean air during Summer
Jingyuetan National Forest Park (净月潭国家森林公园 Jìngyuètánguó jiāsēnlín gōngyuán)
45 min from downtown to the south east of the city. It is the largest man-made forest park in Asia, and a great place for skiing in the winter. The admission is a rather steep ¥30; or you could, like the locals, just climb through one of the many holes in the fence.
People’s Square (人民广场; Rénmín Guǎngchǎng)
In the Chaoyang District around the cross streets of Xi’an Lu (西安路), Renmin Dajie (人民大街), and Changchun Dajie (长春大街). It is one of the focal points of Changchun. It is close to Baishan Park (白山公园), and a mini “Culture Square” of sorts. The site commemorates the Russian soldiers, and specifically Russian pilots that died to liberate Changchun during the Second World War
Education and Learning in Changchun
There are 39 institutions of Higher Learning in Changchun, Jilin University,Consisting of 5 former Universities directly administered by Ministry of Education, is the best and largest institutions in terms of campus size and majors. There are 103 Institutions for scientific research and technological development in Chanchun, 26 Academicians from China Academy of Science and China Academy of Engineering, 38 national key labs, and more than 300,000 technical personnel. The proportion od scientific and technical personel of the population is among the best in China.
The Following Universities are based in Changchun:
Jilin University (吉林大学)
Changchun University (长春大学)
Changchun Teacher’s College (长春师范学院)
Changchun University of Technology (长春工业大学)
North East Normal University (东北师范大学)
Buying/Shopping in Changchun
There are three major shopping areas: Chongqing Road (重庆路; Chóngqìnglù), Guilin Road (桂林路; Guìlinlù), and Hongqi Street (红旗街; Hóngqíjiē).
Sanfo is the leading outdoor gear stores in China and local store is at 668 Xikang Hutong, Ziyou Dalu District.
Here is the biggest selection of clothing shops and department stores in the whole city. Shopping runs along both Xi’an Da Lu and Changchun St.
A well-visited mall, Charter Mall, (Zhuōzhǎn 卓展), on Xi’an Da Lu across from the Shangri-la Hotel. One can find luxury brands co-existing with the likes of Wal-Mart.
Guilin Road (桂林路)
Guilin Road area is about 1.5 km (2.5 mi) to the south of Chongqing Rd along Tongzhi Jie (同志街) and is the most cosmopolitan part of town. The area along Guilin Lu, Tongzhi St, and the surrounding side streets offer much to see, buy, and eat.
Guilin Road area is where most expats live, Go to McDonalds, and there will be at least someone to help you
There are many restaurants in this area especially if you are interested in Korean food. Be careful with Korean food in Changchun as many Korean restaurants specialize in “Dog pot.” There is less overall choice than Chongqing Lu, but if you are looking for specifics – e.g. Korean fashions then is the best place in town – though the shops in this area are a little more expensive. This area can be extremely busy, and it is definitely a target area for younger shoppers. Many places will not haggle price.
Hongqi Street (红旗街)
Hongqi Street is to the west of Guilin Lu and is the smallest of the three shopping areas. It is dominated by one of the better department stores in Changchun:
Ouya (欧亚). The 6th-8th floors of Ouya contain the largest electronics market in the city. You can find anything electronic here, from mp3 players to laptops. Prices can be very high.
The Underground Markets (Dìxià Shìchǎng 地下市场):
These are now extensive underground shopping areas, originally dug out by POWs during the occupation, intended to be used as bomb shelters. There are three of these places in Changchun:
Chongqing Lu (重庆路), the Train Station (长春站), and Hongqi Jie (红旗街). If you want anything cheap (and probably fake) then these are the places to come. There are hundreds of small shops selling relatively undifferentiated products, and the term buyer beware definitely applies. There are some good deals to be had, but some products are poor quality and have high ticket prices. Therefore, be prepared to haggle as the shopkeepers will try to get you to pay the sticker price, which the local shoppers will never pay. If you don’t speak Chinese, bring a pen and paper to help negotiate your price. Start at 50% to 75% off the ticketed price. If the shopkeeper balks at your offer, go to another seller. More often than not, if the shopkeeper wants the sale, they will call after you. This can be a fun shopping experience, but you may get your best deal at a discount retailer at home.
Beifang Market (Beǐfāng Shìchǎng 北方市场)
Located along Ziyou Dalu near China-Japan Union Hospital, if you want a nicely tailored suit and for that matter anything for house decorations, This is the place to be. Be sure to bargain hard and you will be surprised how cheap things can be. I once paid 300 Yuan($40) for a nicely tailored suit with pure Italian garments.
Patrol Police: 110
Fire Department: 119
(Government-owned) Ambulance/EMS: 120
(some areas private-owned) Ambulance: 999
Traffic Police: 122
Directory inquiries: 114
Consumer Protection: 12315