By Abigail Javellana
Let's explore the rich history of Zhengzhou, home to four ancient capitals in China, with a boat ride to the cradle of civilization the Yellow River. Witness the birthplace of ancient Shaolin Kung Fu, be amazed by the world cultural heritage site, the Longmen Grottoes, and enjoy hiking the picturesque Yuntaishan Geopark.
Here are my top 8 favorite places in Zhengzhou...
1. Longmen Grottoes
Luoyang was the Capital during the Northen Wei Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty.
Longmen Grottoes is located in Longmen Mountain and Xiangshan Mountain beside the banks of the Yihe River. It's one of the largest and most impressive works of art showing two mountains preserving 2,300 caves and 110,000 Buddha limestone carvings over a 1km long stretch.
The carvings date back from the end of the 5th century to the mid-8th century and are entirely devoted to Buddhist Religion.
Wu Zetian is the sole female emperor in Chinese history. The statue of Wu Zetian (Vairocana Buddha) is the largest scale carving ranging 17.4m high, with the most intricate overall design among all the Longmen Grottoes.
2. Dengfeng Shaolin Temple
When you speak about China, one of the things that comes to mind is Kung Fu! Journey with us to Zhengzhou--the birthplace of Shaolin Kung Fu--as we get to know the cradle of Zen Buddhism and the ancient Chinese martial arts.
Dengfeng Shaolin Temple was once hidden thousands of years ago (459 AD) inside the dense jungle of the Songshan mountain. The reconstructed World Cultural & Natural Heritage site is now a destination where people come to visit the temple and where young students and tourists alike come to train in martial arts.
The Shaolin Zen Music Ritual is one of the highlights you should also experience when visiting Dengfeng.
The world-class performance is set outdoors in a natural valley in Songshan. It has the biggest stage setup covering 5 square kilometers of space. It was visually stunning, incorporating the waterfalls, trees, mountains, and all the natural scenery as part of the stage production.
The show depicts multiple stories of how Zen Buddhism was brought to China, with live background music, a beautiful light setup, and amazing, hair-raising performances.
3. Yuntai Mountain
Yuntai Mountain, 70km northwest of Zhengzhou, is a popular domestic tourist getaway located in a UNESCO World Geological Park. It boasts an area of 250sq km, surrounded by marvelous mountains, serene valley, luscious forest, running waterfalls, clear pools, and plunging springs.
The National AAAAA Grade Tourist Attraction holds 11 scenic spots but it's the Hongshi (Red Stone) Valley you should visit.
Yuntai Mountain is a must! Reserve a half day for the tour to Red Stone Valley, then hike at Tanpu valley after lunch. For the last day, we hiked up to the Phoenix Mountain Glass Skywalk, had lunch, and rode a bus back to Zhengzhou.
The trail is pretty easy with a path of rocks and concrete blocks to help you navigate the area.
4. Yellow River
The Yellow River is the second-longest river (5,464 kilometers) in China and the fifth in the world and takes its name from the muddy yellow water coming from the sediments it carries.
It is famed for being the mother river of China and the cradle of Chinese civilization in their early history (2100–1046 BC).
Yan Huang Two Emperors Statues overlooking the Yellow River is a massive sight and well worth seeing.
The first emperor is the Yan Emperor that represents wisdom and mercy; the other one is the Huang Emperor known as one of the major gods in Chinese culture. The statues were made using the mountain as the body.
5. Drum Tower Night Market
The 1st night market in China with a history of over 1000 years. The Drum Tower Square is a popular dining market famous for it's special Kaifeng snacks and Henan dishes.
You can find exciting Kaifeng delicacies like the cicada, handmade noodles, dumplings, stinky tofu, Chinese barbecue and chicken blood soup.
6. Memorial Temple of Lord Bao
The Memorial Temple of Lord Bao was built in honor of Bao Zheng, a famous official during the Northern Song Dynasty, known for having an excellent personality and fair judgment.
Up to now, everyone in China knows the story of Lord Bao. The display of Lord Bao is made from bronze and copper.
The small temple is in Song-style architecture and filled with historical relics, books, calligraphy, and statues that reflect Bao Zheng's incorruptible moral character.
Most of the followers who pay tribute to the temple are those who have been through misfortune and are unable to seek justice.
7. Millenium City Park
Millenium City Park is the largest reproduced theme park that lets you experience the Song Dynasty culture. The whole theme park is one of the ten most renowned paintings of China by Zhang Zeduan brought to life.
The theme park is full of tea houses, Chinese paintings, artworks, and handcrafted items, with live drama and performances about the folks and culture during the Song Dynasty.
8. Luoyang Lijing City Gate
First Built in the Sui Dynasty, the Li Jing City gate was reconstructed in 2004 to look like the original structure.
Walking down the restored streets of Luoyang Lijing City Gate, you will find many calligraphy and art materials which come as no surprise as Luoyang is where the brush and paper making technology was invented.
Live an Awesome Life,
Abi of Team Our Awesome Planet
P.S. Explore historical Zhengzhou and Henan province with Tigerair's latest flights from Singapore-Zhengzhou. Our flight from the Philippines to Zhengzhou was made convenient with the Tiger Connect transfer service within Singapore Changi Airport's transit area without the need to clear on arrival.
Service is weekly and operates every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.