Hefei (合肥; Héféi) is the capital city of Anhui Province in China. It is an industrial, administrative and commercial centre bare of any special attractions. It is not often visited by foreign tourists, who mostly use it as a hub for trips into the hinterland of Anhui. It is however, possible to enjoy oneself for a day or two in Hefei before moving on.
- 1 Hefei Xinqiao International Airport (HFE IATA). Is the main airport and replaced the former Hefei Luogang Airport in May 2013.
Hefei has two major train stations.
- 2 Hefei South station (合肥南站) receives most of the high speed trains (G or D categories) from all over China. It is situated in a newly developed zone far south of the city center.
- 3 Hefei station (合肥站) is in the north part of the city. Few high speed trains arrive here, however, all of the conventional trains are operated through this station.
Both stations are connected by the Hefei Metro. Go between the two stations by Line 1, costs 3 RMB and takes around 30 to 40 minutes.
- Green, blue or orange taxis: These taxis are metered and start at ¥8 (November 2015).
- Black taxis: Black taxis are also properly signed and metered and are usually a more comfortable and newer car. The fare for these taxis starts at ¥9.
- Unmarked taxis: There are other unmarked cars (usually black Santanas) that may offer to give you a ride. You often see these kind of illegal taxis around the railway station, airport, or in the outskirts. These are unmetered and the price is negotiated beforehand. The fare will always be higher than usual. If you don't know Hefei well, the fare will be significantly higher. There is also the risk of taking a car that is not insured to carry you and having an unidentifiable driver. Saying that, there are times when legit taxis are very scarce, and if you really need to be somewhere, it might be an option.
Legally, every taxi must have the driver's picture and licence number displayed in a plastic plate affixed to the dashboard. If you have any major problems with a taxi driver, discretely write down this number if you need to make a complaint and ask for a fa piao (receipt) at the end of your journey. Avoid getting into arguments with drivers if possible.
Around the city area in Hefei, you can reasonably expect to pay between ¥10-30.
In Hefei, a driver might occasionally try to pick up an extra passenger and carry them with you. i.e. pooling. They sometimes try this on foreigners who don't know how to object. Make it known if you don't want this to happen. Chances are the other person has negotiated to pay a lower fare and is riding on your back.
You can also jump on the back of a motorbike if taxis are scarce. There are plenty of motorbikes and they usually congregate on the corners of busy intersections. They are not legal, but are generally tolerated. They are unmetered and you negotiate a price beforehand.
Public buses are the dominant mode of public transport in Hefei. The central hub is in Municipal Square. A single bus fare to anywhere costs ¥1 for an un-airconditioned bus or ¥2 for airconditioned. All bus routes, schedules, and announcements are in Chinese. But don't let this put you off. An excellent way to navigate the Hefei bus system is to use Google Maps app. on your mobile phone. Using the "Get Directions" function, you can search bus routes, find bus numbers/stops in Engilsh and pinyin. The results are very accurate. Beware that in peak hours buses are absolutely crammed to the limit. There is no such thing as a "full" Hefei bus; the driver will always allow more people on.
At present, there are two subway lines in operation and three more under construction. The Line 1 goes north–south direction, passing the Hefei South Railway Station and Hefei Railway Station. You can change to Line 2 at Dadongmen (大东门) subway station. The line 2 goes east–west direction, passing right through the cite center. English service is available when buying tickets.
As with other modern Chinese cities now; all over this city (particularly at major intersections) there are rows of self-service "bike-sharing" bicycles lined up, available for rent (provided by companies such as 'mobike' & 'hellobike'). Most are regular city bikes (no gears), but some newer models are also electric (no pedaling needed, or pedal-assist for charging the battery as you ride). To unlock/activate a bike (as a foreigner), you must have a Chinese bank account, Chinese cell #, passport (for ID), then download 'wechat' or 'alipay' apps on your smart phone, link your bank/personal info to said app, & scan the bar code. It's usually very cheap (1 or 2rmb per use), & when finished remember to physically lock the mechanical latch, on the back tire.
Hefei isn't known as a tourist destination, but if you are using it as a stop-off point there are some pleasant places to see. In particular, Hefei has many fine parks and gardens.
- 1 Lord Bao Park (包公园 Bāogōngyuán), 芜湖路72号 72 Wuhu Road, ☏ . 8:00-18:00 in summer, 8:00-17:00 in winter. The park is free, the attractions can be accessed for a through ticket of ¥50, you can also buy individual tickets for each attraction for ¥5-35. This is a combination of a very pleasant park with tea houses, gardens, a lake, a tower and of course the restored underground tomb of Lord Bao himself as well as the tombs of his family. The park is worth walking through. The attractions and in particular the exhibition in Qingfeng Tower require a certain background on Chinese history. The park is dedicated to an imperial officer who lived roughly one thousand years ago and gained popularity by upright and impartial governance. ¥50.
- 2 Xiaoyaojin Park (逍遥津公园 Xiāoyáo jīn gōngyuán), 寿春路16号 Shòu chūn lù 16 hào. Many amusement rides and duckboats for hire. Gets very crowded on weekends/holidays.
- 3 Xinghua Park (合肥杏花公园 Xìng huā gōngyuán), 庐阳区淮河西路482号 Huáihé xī lù. Usually less crowded than Xiaoyaojin park. In spring and summer, people fly kites there and practice tai chi early. Has amusement rides and duckboats for hire.
- Around the city park (环城公园 Huán chéng gōngyuán), 庐阳区环城南路29号 Lúyáng qū huán chéng nánlù 29 hào (South Huancheng Road, Luyang District).
- 4 Yaohai Park (瑶海公园合肥 Yáohǎi gōngyuán), 瑶海区 Yáohǎi qū (Yaohai district).
- 5 [dead link] Three Kingdoms Ruins Park (三国新城遗址公园 Héféi sānguó xīnchéng yízhǐ gōngyuán), 庐阳区 Luyang district (North of the Botanical Gardens and a fair way out. Take bus 114 to Botanic Gardens then change to bus 300). There are some minor pavilions etc. there, and the trees are very picturesque in Spring. 25 kuai entry.
- 6 Dashu mountain (大蜀山 Dàshǔ shān) (20 mins by taxi or catch any bus that goes to the end of Changjiang Road (长江路) or Huangshan Road (黄山路)). The view across Hefei is great on a clear day and there is a TV tower at the top. It can get crowded on days when the weather is nice. The walk up to the top of the mountain takes about 30 minutes. The Hefei Zoo is near but not much; it's a long walking distance along Wangjiang road.
- 7 Emerald Lake scenic area (翡翠湖风景区, Fěicuì hú), 开发区大学城内 Development zone University City.. Hire tandem bikes and pedal around the lake. Good place to have a picnic or read a book. Few people and quiet.
- 8 Chao lake (巢湖, Cháo Hú). This is the great lakes of China. Sights on or around the lake include Lao Shan in the middle and Zhongmiao Temple on the northern bank. There are also some natural springs. Catch bus at 合肥汽车站 (Hefei Bus station) at 明光路168号Míngguāng lù 168 hào.
- Feng le ecological park (丰乐生态园 Fēng lè shēngtài yuán). 安徽省合肥市双凤工业区魏武路中段 Shuāng fèng gōngyè qū wèi wǔlù zhōngduàn (Shuangfeng inductrial area, Wei Wu middle Rd)
- 9 [dead link] Zi Peng mountain (紫蓬山 Zǐ péng shān). 肥西县 Feixi county. A forest park with some walking tracks. There is a large Buddhist temple at the top of the mountain and multi-storey Buddhist statues carved into the side of the mountain. Best to have a driver/take a local. Stop somewhere to try 肥西老母鸡 Féixi lǎo mǔjī (famous Feixi old hen) for lunch. About 30-45 mins drive from Hefei.
- 10 Anhui Hall of Fame (安徽名人馆), 蜀山风景区 Shǔshān fēngjǐng qū Dashu shan scenic area. Has 50 wax figures of prominent people in Anhui history and 23 scenes.
- 11 Anhui provincial museum (安徽省博物馆 Ānhuī shěng bówùguǎn). 安庆路268号 Ānqìng Rd.
- 12 Hefei Science and Technology Museum (合肥科技馆 Héféi kējì guǎn). 黄山路446号 Huángshān lù
- 13 [dead link] Hefei Botanical Gardens (合肥植物园 Héféi zhíwùyuán), 近郊开发区环湖东路123号. There's a nice bonsai garden there. ¥20.
- Kai Fu Buddhist Temple (开福寺 Kāi fú sì) (Located near the bottom of Dàshǔ shān).
- 14 Hefei Zoo (合肥野生动物园 Héféi dòngwùyuán), 望江西路600号 电话 Wàngjiāngxi lù, Shushan district (Also located near the bottom of Dàshǔ shān).
- Anhui University Fěicuì hú campus, 安徽大学翡翠湖风景区 Ānhuī dàxué fěicuì hú xiàoqū. Adjacent to Fěicuì lake.
- 15 Swan Lake (天鹅湖 Tiān'é hú). 市蜀山区 Shushan district. There is an artificial beach there + 合肥大剧院 Héféi dà jùyuàn (Hefei Poly Grand Theater). Live theater and concerts and MBox cinema.
- 16 Hefei Sea World/aquarium (合肥海洋世界 Héféi hǎiyáng shìjiè). 繁华大道321 Fánhuá dàdào.
- 17 Huī yuán tourist park (合肥徽园 Héféi huī yuán), 繁华大道276 Fánhuá dàdào. Pavilions showcase each city in Anhui.
- 18 Hefei Happy Island (合肥欢乐岛 Héféi huānlè dǎo), 合肥市经济开发区繁华大道315号 315 Fánhuá dàdào. A leisure and amusement park with rides, activities etc.
- 19 Daishan lake (岱山湖 Dàishān hú). 岱山湖旅游度假区肥东县 Daishan Lake tourist resort, Feidong county. Somewhere to go if you have a driver and want to get out into the countryside. There are some minor attractions there incl. 4 wheel buggies, skirmish, and a buddhist temple with large statue on the lake.
- 20 Hefei Pedestrian Mall (合肥步行街 Héféi bùxíngjiē). Along the mall is 李鸿章故居 Lihóngzhāng gùjū (Former residence of Li Hong Zhang) + 合肥明教寺 Héféi míngjiào sì (Mingjiao temple). From the Suzhou lu end of the mall is 市政府广场 Shì zhèngfǔ guǎngchǎng (Municipal government square).
- Temple Market (合肥城隍庙 Héféi chénghuángmiào), 庐阳区合肥霍邱路99号 Luyang Rd. A bustling market + temple area where you can buy everyday items. Known for cheap products. UPDATE 14 Jun. Temple Market is being renovated. Still worth visiting but a lot of the sellers have been cleared out for the renos.
- 21 Sanhe Ancient Town (三河古镇 Sānhé gǔzhèn) (40km (1-1.5 hours) south of Hefei by bus. The regular bus (¥15) departs at Xinya station (新亚汽车站) near the train station and stops over at the Southern Bus station (合肥南汽车站). From the bus stop in Sanhe, continue the street down for around 300 meters.). Day trip 40km. Small but orderly town which is well known for its 米酒 Mǐjiǔ (rice wine). It has some cultural attractions like temples and pagodas. Unlike in other ancient towns, most of the buildings are newly built, if in a style resembling old Chinese houses. Streets are unusually wide and straight. It is a pleasant trip out of Hefei, especially if you have not visited any Chinese ancient towns yet. You may end up disappointed if you have seen other gǔzhèn before. Avoid visiting on weekends if you can. No entrance fee..
- Yu Feng Flower Market (裕丰花卉市场 Yù fēng huāhuì shìchǎng) A market that sells plants, pots, sculptures, aquariums, pets, paintings, ornaments etc. Bus 137 from Municipal square.
- Dà wéi Township (大圩乡 Outskirts of Hefei City). Go there to pick seasonal produce yourself from the farms or go fishing. Very comfortable in Spring. Catch bus 14 from Municipal square to 包河花园 Bāo hé huāyuán (35mins), then change to bus 23 or get a taxi to Dà wéi township. A taxi direct from Hefei will cost maybe ¥40-50.
- KTV (Karaoke TV) Going to KTV at least once is an essential part of experiencing China. Many of the bigger, flashier places have a larger selection of English songs. Best to go with some Chinese friends/colleagues so you can see how it's done.
- Ten Fu Teahouse These are nice stores on Huayuan St (花园路) and near the corner of Mengcheng and Shouchun lu (across from the main gate of Xinghua Park). Complementary tea and snacks. You will be presented with some tea sets etc. but there is no pressure to buy.
- Take a picnic to Emerald Lake scenic area (翡翠湖风景区 Fěicuì hú). A good place to escape the bustle of the city and ride bicycles around the lake.
- Ferris wheel at Xinghua park Costs ¥10/person and you can get a good birds-eye view. Early in the morning you can also see observe people practising Tai Chi in groups. At other times of the day you might see older people singing traditional songs or playing er'hu or flute in pavilions. In summer, the park is filled with people flying kites.
- Have a massage There are a few well-known places (incl. Laohu massage) along Hupo Ave. in Hǔpò shānzhuāng (琥珀山庄) area. ¥40/hour.
- Go-Karting at Anhui Fu Bang Racing Club D1 Indoor Go-Karting (安徽馥邦赛车俱乐部D1卡丁车馆 Ānhuī fù bāng sàichē jùlèbù D1 kǎ dīng chē guǎn)新站区铜陵北路与物流大道交叉口馥邦汽车城3栋 New Station area, intersection of Tongling North Rd and Wuliu Ave., Fu Bang Motor City 3.
- Tian an Bowling Alley (合肥天安保龄球馆 Héféi Tiān'ān bǎolíngqiú guǎn)马鞍山路68号 68 Ma'anshan Rd
- Drive duck boats around the lake at Bao Gong park or Xinghua park. Costs about ¥30/half an hour.
- Watch dancing in the square Go in the evening to Municipal Square (市政府广场 Shì zhèngfǔ guǎngchǎng) or the square outside the main gate of Xinghua Park to see mass numbers of people (mainly older women) dancing.
Culture and theater
- Snow Villa (雪霁山庄 Xuě jì shānzhuāng), 合肥市蜀山区玉兰大道8号(近名人馆) 雪霁山庄 Héféi shì shǔshān qū yùlán dàdào 8 hào (Magnolia Ave.) (at the foot of Dàshǔ mountain), ☏ , . A traditional Anhui opera hall + restaurant. Have dinner in a traditional Anhui setting and watch a local Hui opera show. Good ambience. There is usually one show every evening. Call for show times.
- 1 Anhui Grand Theater (安徽大剧院 Ānhuī dà jùyuàn), 合肥市芜湖路301号 Wúhú lù 301 hào.
- Anhui Huangmei Opera Theater (安徽省黄梅戏剧院 Ānhuī shěng huángméixì jùyuàn). 桐城路136号 136 Tongcheng Lu.
- Anhui Provincial Opera and Dance Drama Theater (安徽省歌舞剧院 Ānhuī shěng gēwǔ jùyuàn). 宝他区曙光路45号 bāo hé qū shǔguāng lù 45 hào. (45 Shuguang lu, Baohe district)
- Anhui Drama Theater (安徽省话剧院 Ānhuī shěng huàjù yuàn). 合肥市金寨路445号 Jīnzhài lù 445 hào
- Wansheng JAC Grand Theater (万盛江淮大戏院 Wànshèng jiānghuái dà xìyuàn). 合肥市淮河路252号 Huáihé lù 252 hào
- Temple Market (合肥城隍庙 Chénghuángmiào). A bustling market area with sellers peddling low end household goods and knicknacks. Always bargain. NOTE: As at Jul.2012, this area is under renovation. So the number of sellers has diminished, but still worth a look.
- [dead link] Wanda Plaza (合肥万达广场 Wàndá guǎngchǎng). A very large shopping mall + cinema complex. Has Starbucks, movie cinemas, and a variety of restaurants on the top level. The mall is very new. 包河区马鞍山路与芜湖路交叉口(Ma On shan lu)
- Yintai Center (合肥银泰购物中心 Héféi Yíntài gòuwù zhòngxīn), 长江中游路98号 Chángjiāng zhōngyóu lù 98 hào (98 Changjiang middle road). Another very large shopping mall with restaurants on top level. This mall has a huge range of designer stores, from high-end to mid-range. As at Jul.2012, the mall is very new. No cinemas.
- Baida CBD Mall (百大CBD购物中心 Bǎidà CBD gòuwù zhòngxīn), 庐阳区长江中路150号CBD中央广场 (Chángjiāng lù 150 hào). Comprises one large, multi-level department store. There is also a Habitat Coffee lounge in the center that has a very nice atmosphere. No restaurants or cinema.
- Guo Gou Plaza (合肥国购广场 Guo Gou guǎngchǎng), 长江路199号 Chángjiāng lù 199 hào (Changjiang West Road). A large shopping mall + cinema complex. Has a number of restaurants on the top level (but not as much variety as Wanda) + movie cinema. The center contains a very large Carrefour supermarket/dept. store. This is one of the older malls in Hefei.
- Yuan Yi Times Square (元一时代广场 Yuán yī shídài guǎngchǎng), 新站区胜利路89 Xīnzhàn qū shènglì lù 89. Has a Walmart and Parkson department store + cinemas. This is one of the older malls in Hefei.
- Hefei Bai Shui Ba (合肥白水坝 Bái shuǐbà), 蒙城北路 MengCheng bei lu. A medium-sized mall mainly based around one large TESCO supermarket. The center has quite a few clothing stores and restaurants, incl. Thai and Korean. In warmer months, sellers set up a small night market in the square outside.
- Carrefour Shopping Center on Ma’anshan Rd (家乐福 吗 鞍山路 Jiālèfú Ma'ānshān lù). 马鞍山路1000号 (1000 Ma'anshan lu Baohe district)
- Hóngxīng lù (红星路 Hóngxīng St.) A tree-lined street with little boutique clothing stores and some homeware/knicknack stores.
- 合肥步行街 Héféi bùxíngjiē (Hefei's main pedestrian street or 淮河路步行街 Huaihe Road Pedestrian Street). Includes Gu Lou, a well-known, high-quality department store on the Suzhou lu end of the mall. Also includes a Parkson department store and a Starbucks. Many clothing retailers. A cinema complex is near the temple. After 9PM (and after 11PM directly on Huaihe Road, before only around the Pedestrian Street), street sellers peddle goods and the pedestrian street is transformed into a night market.
- Huizhan Center (会展中心) Has a market of locally produced Chinese products, including painting, wooden sculptors and furniture, jade and tea pots. This is a fairly tourist free zone so expect to be able to get deals you might not be able to get in bigger cities.
Local specialties include:
- Crayfish (小龙虾 xiǎo lóngxiā). This is Hefei's signature food. The longxia are boiled and then eaten with dipping sauces, usually vinegary or spicy. One pound (一斤 yijin) of longxia is now around ¥50. Longxia are known as a spicy food and are typically eaten outside with beer. Chinese are often selective about where they buy longxia because longxia needs to be cleaned and cooked thoroughly. They are finger food typically eaten with gloves, which helps with the messiness.
- Fish Bites Lamb fresh mandarin fish stuffed with lamb
- Li Hongzhang's Combination prepared with fresh water prawn, snails, chicken, sea cucumber, abalone and shark's fin.
- Clay Pot Fish fresh fish from Changjiang River cooked with ham
- Pigeon and Mushroom soup Yellow Mountain fungus, baby pigeeon slowly cooked in a clay pot
Local food areas include:
- Níngguó Rd. (宁国路龙虾美食街 Níngguó lù lóngxiā měishí jiē). Hefei's most famous longxia street. Even though this appears to be an attempt at a tourist attraction, most of the restaurants cater only to large groups (solo travelers may have trouble), and the service is unfriendly.
- Hupo street food (琥珀山庄美食街 Hǔpò shānzhuāng měishí jiē). Street is lined with restaurants and vendors selling bbq. Pedestrian street filled with tables. Very cheap.
- Bitburger Beer Hall, 258-6 Wuhu Road. Hefei’s first German bar and one of the first establishments in the city to serve imported draught beer – German, of course. With its helpful staff, spacious layout, mellow ambience and a decent selection of bar snacks and East-West fusion food, Bitburger is a popular destination for the more discerning tourist or business visitor. German-brand draught beers start at around ¥45. Imported wine store sells red and white wine at medium to top range prices (¥100–500).
- Soho Bar, 198 Shengli Road. Top range sports bar located in The Hilton Hotel. Showing live sports on a multitude of widescreen TVs and with its athletic-themed staff, Soho Bar is the best place in town to watch Premier League football, rugby and whichever international sports events you care to imagine. Due to the plethora of TVs available, staff are quite happy to let you take over the remote control to find the game or event of your choice. Draught Tiger beer is chugged out for about ¥45.
- Somerset Swan Lake Hefei, No. 888 Qianshan Road, New Municipal and Cultural District, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. They offer accommodation ranging from studio to three bedrooms serviced apartments that are equipped with a home entertainment system and dining and living areas.
- Hilton Hefei, 198 ShengLi Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The Hilton Hefei hotel is located on the crossroad of Sheng Li Road and Feng Yang Road. It is just 3 minutes from Hefei city centre and 5 minutes away from Hefei Train Station.
- Holiday Inn Hefei, 1104 Changjian East Rd, ✉ email@example.com.
- 1 The Westin Hefei Baohe, 150 Ma'an shan Rd, ☏ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Westin is the best hotel by stars - 6 star hotel - in Hefei. The price is relatively high but very nice service. Because of the spending, only recommended for business trips.
- Crowne Plaza Hefei, Tower A 598 Huangshan Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Crowne Plaza Hefei is a 5-star hotel located at the new Hefei High-Tech Industrial Development zone, the perfect place for your business trip or meetings and events.