Changchun was significantly damaged during WWII however has since industrialised and come out as an attractive city. Changchun is Jilin’s modern capital, designed with large public areas and wide streets, and well known for its prosperous automotive industry.
Unfortunately there is little here for tourists apart from the Puppet Emperor’s Palace that has since lost a lot of its charm through renovation, and the South Lake, a seasonal hotspot for water sports and ice skating. The Palace was the home of the “Last Emperor” Pu Yi who had very little in the way of power during his reign and therefore a rather uninteresting residence. It has since become a museum with photographs and displays of the time that was his.
The South Lake in contrast can be a hugely fun place to go in both summer and winter. During summer you will see many boats out on the lake while in winter it turns into a natural skating rink.
If you have had enough for the day and you want to sit down for a drink, there are a couple of places to take note of. The 3 Monkeys will serve you an English Ale out on a pleasant terrace, while Angels is the place to go for a dance or to join in at the sports bar. (While you are there, check out the wicked mirrored bathrooms!)
Getting in to Changchun can be done easily by air with the Changchun Longjia International Airport which is located 30km from the city centre. From the airport you can either take a taxi or a bus into town. Keep in mind that taxis are a good four times more expensive than the bus and most cab drivers will not accept you if you are not willing to pay their higher prices, these are not negotiable.
Alternatively you can get into Changchun by train, however these rides can be long and rather hard to endure. Beijing is approximately eight hours away while Shanghai is about 32 hours away. Do note that the train stations can be very daunting for tourists as few have English translations and if you can’t read or speak any Chinese you may find it hard to navigate and purchase tickets.
Staying in Changchun can be done on any budget, from the Chunyi Hotel as your cheap option to the luxurious Noble Hotel for those willing to fork out the extra cash.
All in all, Changchun is a delight to visit so long as you don’t need constant entertainment. If you are quite happy wondering the streets and parks you will enjoy your time here, but if you are after a more lively city, it may not be the destination for you.