Hubei Province, 1,125km (699 miles) W of Shanghai, 1,354km (841 miles) E of Chongqing, 1,047km (650 miles) SE of Xi'an

Wuhan is primarily an industrial and business center. Were it not for the fact that many of the Three Gorges tours traditionally begin or terminate in Wuhan, few Western tourists would ever make it here. However, trisected by the Yangzi River and its longest tributary, the Hanshui, and dotted with a hundred-plus lakes and scores of parks, this city of 4.8 million urban residents is an agreeable place to spend a couple of days. Wuhan is also the gateway to the Daoist mountain Wudang Shan. Three districts -- Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou -- which used to be separate cities, comprise present-day Wuhan. Avoid summers when the city inevitably lives up to its reputation as one of China's Three Furnaces.