China // The Yangzi basin //


Nestled in the heart of the province but generally overlooked in the rush to cross the Yangzi and reach Huang Shan, Anhui’s capital, HEFEI (合肥, héféi) gets few chance visitors. Only developed as a modest industrial base after 1949, Hefei’s sole points of interest are a couple of historical sites and an unusually thorough museum. The street layout retains its concentric ring-roads of yore, which can make navigation confusing, but aside from that, with its concrete highrises and KFCs, there’s little to differentiate Hefei from countless other modern Chinese cities. Nevertheless, it’s a comfortable enough place to stay, can be a handy transport hub and the locals will be happy, if perhaps surprised, to see you. Ringed by parkland and canals – the remains of Ming-dynasty moats – downtown Hefei resembles a suburban high street more than a provincial capital. The few sights worth visiting aren’t too far off that main strip.