Handan (邯郸; Hándān) is a city in Hebei, North China. Handan is one of the oldest cities in China, being continuously inhabited for over 4000 years. Handan has a reputation as an industrial city, and is far off the tourist trail. However, industry has created a lot of wealth, and is mainly located out-of-town. The city is clean with excellent parks, good transport connections, and has a lot of hidden gems to see.
Handan is also the gateway for Guangfu water city- an ancient walled town surrounded by a moat and famous for being the birthplace of Tai-Chi
There are two train stations, Handan Train Station (邯郸火车站 Hándān huǒchē zhàn) and Handan East Station (邯郸东站 Hándān dōng zhàn). Handan East Station is the newer of the two and also the main station for the high speed trains - on bus stop signs, it is referred to as 高铁站 (Gāotiě zhàn, or high-speed train station). Handan East Station is a bit far from the city center as well; to travel between the two train stations by bus, you can take bus 11 or 46 for 1RMB. Depending on traffic, the traveling time could take anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes.
- Jinjiluyu Martyrs Cemetery (晋冀鲁豫烈士陵园 Jìnjìlǔyù lièshì língyuán) - a cemetery of soldiers and heroes in odd-shaped mausoleums who died during the war against Japan. There are also a few Communist-era statues and a couple free museums about the soldiers as well, with some English captions. Opened in 1950, it has been visited by high-level officials such as Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. Despite being a cemetery, the atmosphere is closer to a park, with many people coming here to walk around, bring their children to play or kick around Chinese hacky sack. Hours: 6AM to 6PM.
- Congtai Park (丛台公园 Cóngtái gōngyuán) - a park which has won many accolades throughout Hebei province, the main sight is Congtai Terrace itself, originally constructed around 300BC for the king to enjoy performances and military drills. A Communist statue of the worker, peasant, and soldier built in 1972 is near one of the entrances. A collection of steles, the most impressive being a huge epitaph from the end of the Tang dynasty, is also part of the park.
- Dragon Lake Park (龙湖公园 Lónghú gōngyuán) - a park beautifully illuminated at night.
- Guangfu Ancient City (广府古城 Guǎngfǔ gǔchéng) - similar to the more-famous Pingyao, it's a walled city surrounded by a moat with a history of roughly 2,600 years. Located 20km from Handan in Yongnian county.
- Xiangtangshan Grottoes (响堂山石窟 Xiǎngtángshān shíkū) - the Xiangtangshan Grottoes are caves carved into the mountain as temples. They are the largest grottoes ever discovered in Hebei and also one of the largest religious grottoes in China. Digging of the grottoes began during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577) and continued through the Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties. There are 16 grottoes and about 4,000 statues on the north and south sides of the mountain. The distance between the north and south sides are about 15km. Hours: 8AM to 5:30PM. Admission: 40RMB. How to get there: Travelers can take a bus from Handan Railway Station to Fengfeng (峰峰) and get off there and transfer to another bus (that stops about a kilometer from the entrance) or take a taxi. Traveling time could take as long as 3 hours.
- Laoyeshan Stone Carvings (老爷山石窟 lǎoyéshān shíkū) - not far from the southern side of Xiangtangshan Grottoes, but not in a beautiful location either. A small gallery of statues from the Song dynasty. In contrast to grottoes, the statues are outside and not inside a cave.
- Shuiyusi Grottoes (水浴寺石窟 Shuǐyùsì shíkū) - also known as 'Little Xiangtangshan', it has four grottoes all together and dates to the Northern Qi Dynasty.
- Wahuang Palace (娲皇宫 Wāhuánggōng) - also well-known as Grandma Temple (奶奶顶 Nǎinɑidǐng), it was first built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 - 577), constructed in remembrance of Nuwa, a goddess in Chinese mythology. The temple is built along the contours of a mountain amid beautiful scenery. There are also two grottoes with Buddha statues inside and 13,000 Chinese characters engraved on part of the mountain. It's far from Handan city center itself, but only 10km from She County (涉县). Hours of operation: 8:30AM-5PM. Admission: 80RMB.
- Headquarters of the 129th Division of the Eighth Route Army (八路军一二九师司令部旧址 Bālùjūn yī'èrjiǔ shī sīlìng bù jiùzhǐ) - also located just a few kilometers from She County, this was the headquarters of the 129th Division from 1940-1945 during the War Against Japan. Worth noting is Deng Xiaoping, the chairman of China after Mao's death, was one of the leaders at this base. Worth a visit after returning from Wahuang Palace.
- Linwang Grottoes (林旺石窟 Línwàng shíkū) - Sui dynasty grottoes located 21 kilometers from She county's urban area. Of note is the entrance to the grottoes is carved similarly to a lama pagoda.
- Fahua Cave Grottoes (武安法华寺石窟 Wǔ'ān fǎ huá sì shíkū) - although not as impressive as the Xiangtangshan Grottoes, these grottoes constructed during the Song dynasty are notable for its Thousand Arms Buddha statue. There is also an inscription in a cave that dates it to 985AD. Located in Wu'an city.
- Thousand-Buddha Cave Grotto of Taoyuan Mountain (千佛洞石窟 Qiān fó dòng shíkū) - a small grotto dating from around 1108, with a depth of 60 meters in a limestone cave, there are no large statues of Buddha but rather 164 small ones instead. Located 24 kilometers from Wu'an city on the hillside of Taoyuan Mountain.
- Jingniang Lake (京娘湖 Jīngniánghú) - a lake where you can take a boat and go through scenic gorges. Located in Wu'an city (武安) roughly 60km from Handan.
Handan has the usual selection of Chinese malls, with a good mix of local and international brands. Being so far off the tourist trail, its a good place to get decently priced Chinese artifacts without being ripped off.
As with most other Chinese cities, good and relatively clean food can be found in the city's many malls. Western food consists mostly of KFC, McDonalds etc. Starbucks is also now available and filled with Handan's trendy youth.