Henan, known as Yu, is China’s most important province historically. It sits in the east of the country in the central plains region and has the Yellow River running through it, along with sacred mountains and the Shaolin Temple.

Henan is the crux of China’s long-running civilization, being home to scores of emperors over successive dynasties and featuring some of the most revered temples in the country. Of its many national parks and scenic areas, Song Shan National Park and the Yellow River are two of the most visited.

The province of Henan is loaded with historical cities, most of which reside in the center of the region. Zhengzhou is the capital and main hub. It is the main rail terminus in China and is just over an hour away from Beijing by plane. Other popular cities are nearby Kaifeng and Luoyang, and Anyang toward the north.

The town of Luoyang is a couple of hours by train or expressway from Zhengzhou. It is home to the UNESCO Longmen grottoes and the Ancient Han Tombs Museum and comes with traffic-free streets and a nice look. Laidback Kaifeng is in the other direction from Luoyang. It is an hour to the east of Zhengzhou by expressway and also lies on the Yellow River.

One of the most revered places in China is Song Shan (Mount Song). It is between and slightly south of the cities of Zhengzhou and Luoyang are high mountains, Song Shan National Park, and the vaunted Shaolin Temple. There are stupas galore here along with monks practicing kung fu.

Gongyi City is also in this general region of Henan and is known for the Imperial Tombs of Northern Song Dynasty. It makes a good daytrip from either Zhengzhou or Luoyang and boasts the restored Yongzhao Tomb.

Heading north of the Zhengzhou area is the small village of Guoliangcun amid the stunning Taihang Mountains. It has one of the nicest settings of any inhabited region of China with superb hiking and climbing options. The hairy road through the mountains is reason enough for a visit.

Getting There & Away

Zhengzhou is the capital and transport hub of Henan. It has direct expressways and rail lines from Beijing and Shanghai and also comes with an airport - Xinzheng International Airport. Flight time from Beijing is around 1 hour, 15 minutes, while train time is 11 hours.

Onward Travel