Song Shan is one of the five sacred Daoist Mountains. The national park is also home to something very Buddhist in nature - Shaolin Temple and the art of Kung Fu. Within the National park is the small town of Dengfeng, home to the area's accommodations and food establishments.
The park is about two hours from Zhengzhou. It's an easy day trip. Bus leave opposite the train station every 20-30 minutes all morning. Be warned: many of the bus tickets are actually tours, that may spend most of the day at auxilary sites or eating lunch instead of the Shaolin complex. These tours do not include entrance fees. Try to make sure you're going on a direct bus, or hire a van, if you want to see it on your own.
From bus station take bus no 1 to the end and hop on bus 8. Costs 3 yuan instead of 30 with tourist bus.
Gaocheng Guanxing Tai - earliest surviving observatory in China
Shaolin Temple (少林寺; Shàolínsì), (take the City Bus until the last stop and then change for bus 8, ¥3). Until 6PM. Also known as Shaolin Monastery, this important Buddhist Temple is the birthplace of the famous Shaolin Kung Fu martial art and of the Zen school. With the ticket you can also go to the Pagoda Forest and reach the summit of the mountain. Note that a one year pass for all the attractions in Dengfeng area costs ¥150. They will just ask an extra ¥30 at the Shaolin Temple. ¥100.
Songyue Pagoda - oldest surviving brick pagoda in China
Wuru Feng - location of the cave where Damo meditated
Zhongyue Miao - largest Daoist temple complex in Henan Province
Shaolin Monastery Wushu Institute at Tagou offers one-day classes with accommodation for individuals interested in wushu, the Shaolin Monastery style of Kung Fu.
Hiking - there are many tracks on the mountains. Few of them are paved. Some lead to remote and quiet places. There's no real map to be found in town so take a compass, and be careful of the snakes.
Shaolin Travelers Hostel, 308 Chong Gao Road; 崇高路308 (from Luoyang or ZhengZhou take a bus to Deng Feng (¥25), get off at the second bus station in DengFeng, take a ¥5 taxi ride to arrive at the place), ☎ +8615981883801. checkin: any time; checkout: noon. English speaking staff. They offer a cool private lesson with a Shaolin master and a discount card for the local attractions.Dorms ¥20-60, ensuite ¥160.
Songshan Binguan, Next to the Tagou school, near Shaolin Monastery, ☎ +86 371 2749050.