CHANGCHUN has historical notoriety from its role as Hsinking, capital of Manchukuo, the Japanese-controlled state that, from 1932 to 1945, had the former Manchu princeling Xuantong (better known as Puyi) as its emperor. Now a huge, sprawling, industrial city, it’s also renowned for its many colleges, its movie studio and the Number One Automobile Factory. The city retains its imperial architecture and design, with straight boulevards and squares throughout.

If you’re short on time, or just don’t feel like staying in Changchun (nobody would blame you), it’s perfectly possible to rock up on a train in the morning or early afternoon, take a subway train to the Puppet Emperor’s Palace – the city’s most memorable sight – and then head off again in the evening.

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