Northern Central Region of China.
Northern China is widely considered to be the area that Chinese civilization began along the infamous Yellow River that encompasses Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Henan, Hebei and Shandong Provinces through this region. It has been home to many different Empires stretching back several millennias. Northern China has been witness to many invasions from different empires including most notably by the Mongolian Hordes of Genghis Khan and the Manchu Tribes of the Northeast. Northern China has always been an agricultural and industry based economy with many manufacturing and energy plants being built here.
Many locals take pride in the fact that they are living or are from the alleged cradle of Chinese Civilization. They speak a variety of different dialects and have their own local sayings and expressions. The rich culture and history make Northern China one of the most traditional parts of China.
Henan and Hebei Provinces are considered to be the "most Chinese" of all the provinces in China culturally and culinary wise that has been mostly untapped by western culture. This is equivalent to the Wild West in America and the Ocker term in Australia. Many people here have historically had lower incomes compared than the rest of China due to the large farming economy however this is slowly changing with Northern China being rapidly developed.
As anywhere in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca; nearly everyone can speak it. The Mandarin spoken in this region, especially around Beijing, is the standard dialect. Inner Mongolia naturally has many speakers of Mongolian, but many of them speak Mandarin as well. Russian was fairly common as a second language in the Northeast during the Soviet Era and even before that. As elsewhere in China, English is not widespread but some people speak it quite well.
There is another dialect in the Shanxi region called Jin Chinese Jinyu 晋语. It is usually grouped with Mandarin however has been also included as its own dialect group. It encompasses almost all of Shanxi Province and parts of Hebei and Henan Provinces. Its different than Mandarin in a few fundamental ways that it has archaic sounds, different way of pronunciation and a different grammar structure however most people in these areas speak Mandarin in addition to their local dialect.
Planes and High Speed Rail are forms of transport most commonly used by Chinese and Foreigners alike to access Northern China. High Speed Rail is a cheaper and more effective form of transport to access these regions with many trains stopping at these areas. For travelers who want to see more of China, the slower K and T Trains would be recommended.
As elsewhere in China, there is an extensive rail network. Rail is the main means of inter-city travel for the Chinese themselves, and many visitors travel that way as well. The system now includes fast bullet trains on most major routes; unless your budget is very tight, these are the best way to go — fast, clean and comfortable.
All the major cities have airports with good domestic connections; some have international connections as well. See the individual city articles for details.
There is also an extensive highway network, much of it very good. Buses go almost anywhere, somewhat cheaper than the trains. See the China article for more. Driving yourself is also possible, but often problematic; see Driving in China.
In the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, Northern Shanxi and Hebei Provinces, the Great Wall is still visible and stretches through these areas. In Southern Henan Province there are a few old Shaolin Monasteries. Also in Henan, Kaifeng offers many attractions especially the Iron Pagoda and the Dragon Pavillion.
Landmarks and buildings
Parks and nature
Museums and exhibitions
Northern China's staple is wheat so many flour based dishes are common in Northern China. Noodles are the most common staple food due to availability especially at markets in the streets, where the produce is fresh and cheap. Rice is also readily available and many locals enjoy eating both. Dumplings are by far enjoyed widely by many people, Foreigners and Chinese alike.
There is lots of different types of liquors around Northern China with imported and local liquors being commonplace. However, in Northern China one of the most popular beverages is Baijiu白酒 or known archaically as Sorghum Wine. It has a high alcoholic content between 40-60% percent
North China overall is pretty safe without many issues with security, even walking around at night by yourself is no issue at all however the only problem seems to be with thieves and scammers. Henan Province along with Shanxi and Hebei Provinces have an undeserved reputation for instances of scamming and thieving, most situations will cause no harm to the visitor and mostly will go on unnoticed. Make sure to put your valuables inside your suit jackets rather than on the outside so that thieves have no way of reaching into your pockets
Most parts of Northern China rarely see many foreign visitors except Beijing, Tianjin and Qingdao. So if people stare at you or shout out 老外 laowai "Foreigner" they are not harassing you, They are just curious about you and why you came to visit their area. Especially in parts of Henan, Hebei and Shanxi where seeing a Foreigner is similar to an event occurring. Don't be surprised if you are outside and people may stand around you and comment on your features.