Handan (邯郸; Hándān) is a city in Hebei, part of northern China. Handan has a reputation as an industrial city, and is far off the tourist trail. Most of the places of historical interest are located out-of-town.
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. Bus 605 from Handan train station arrives there.
- Hongji Bridge (弘济桥 Hóngjì qiáo) - located in Yongnian county about 4km from Guangfu. It was originally constructed during the Sui dynasty but its current form dates to 1589 when it was rebuilt.
- Mausoleums of the Zhao Kings (赵王陵 Zhàowánglíng) – these mausoleums date back to the Warring States Period roughly 2,300 years ago. There is not much to see aside from the burial mounds. There are three mausoleums located in Sanling Township (三陵乡) which are all 2-3km apart and roughly 20km from Handan city. There are two more in Yongnian county.
- Xiangtangshan Grottoes (响堂山石窟 Xiǎngtángshān shíkū) - located in Fengfeng Mining District, the Xiangtangshan Grottoes are caves carved into the mountain as temples. They are the largest grottoes in Hebei province and also one of the largest 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 and a taxi should only cost about 25RMB to go from one side to the other. Hours: 8AM to 5:30PM. Admission: 40RMB. Public transport: Travelers can take bus 604 in front of Handan Train Station - not Handan East Station - for 10RMB. The ride takes over two hours. Take note the northern section covers a large area, and just to walk to the grottoes from the parking lot could take an hour.
- Laoyeshan Stone Carvings (老爷山摩崖石刻 Lǎoyéshān móyá shíkè) - located in Fengfeng Mining District, they are within walking distance from the southern side of Xiangtangshan Grottoes. A small gallery of Buddhist statues from the Song dynasty.
- Shuiyusi Grottoes (水浴寺石窟 Shuǐyùsì shíkū) - located in Fengfeng Mining District at Sihoupo village (寺后坡村). It's also known as 'Little Xiangtangshan'. There are two grottoes that date back to the Northern Qi Dynasty, with niches and smaller carvings on the outside.
- Zhifang Jade Emperor Pavilion (纸坊玉皇阁 Zhǐfāng yùhuáng gé) – located in Fengfeng Mining District, this building was constructed between 1567-1572 and later rebuilt in 1842. It is within walking distance from the southern side of the Xiangtangshan Grottoes.
- Shandi Anti-Japanese Tunnels Site (山底抗日地道遗址 Shāndǐ kàngrì dìdào yízhǐ) - located in Fengfeng Mining District, these underground tunnels were dug by villagers during the War of Resistance Against Japan. There is well over a kilometer of tunnels to walk through - they can become maze-like and some areas off the main passages have no lights. Unlike the Ranzhuang tunnels in Baoding, there are no gates blocking visitors from going as far as they want. Be careful to remember how to get back to the entrance.
- 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.
- Linwang Grotto (林旺石窟 Línwàng shíkū) - Sui dynasty grotto located 21 kilometers from She county's urban area. Of note is the entrance to the grotto is carved similarly to a lama pagoda.
- Ancient Ash Tree (天下第一槐 Tiānxià dì yī huái) - located in She county, this humongous ash tree is estimated to be around 2,000 years old. It's on the same road that goes to Linwang Grotto. Admission: 10RMB.
- Zhaowang Temple Rock Carvings (赵王庙石刻 Zhào wáng miào shíkè) - located in Ci county, there are just a few small carvings of Buddha carved into the mountain, now housed in a temple built around it. Suggested only for people who are very interested in old rock carvings. Though technically in Ci county, it can be reached taking the same road that goes to Linwang Grotto.
- Quli Village Thousand Buddha Grotto (曲里村千佛洞石窟 Qūlicūn qiān fó dòng shíkū) - located 20km from She county, this grotto has hundreds of small carvings of Buddha inside along with a large one. The grotto's facade is beautiful as well. Possibly constructed during the Northern Song or Ming dynasties.
- Tanggou Grotto (堂沟石窟 Tánggōu shíkū) - located in She county about 3km from Mujing township in Mujing village (木井乡木井村), this grotto has stone carvings and a beautiful facade dating back to the Sui and Tang dynasties.
- Foyannao Stone Carvings (佛岩脑石佛 Fóyán nǎo shíkè) - also located in She county's Mujing village, these carvings supposedly date back to the Song dynasty. Rather than on a mountain, they are only carved on a large boulder.
- 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.
- Fahua Cave Grotto (法华洞石窟 Fǎ huá dòng shíkū) - located in Wu'an city in Qingyansi village of Shidong township (石洞乡青烟寺村), this small temple on a mountain has a grotto notable for its Thousand Arms Buddha relief, as well as other stone carvings made from the cave's walls. There is also an inscription in the cave that dates it to 985AD. Renovation was carried out in 2008.
- Thousand-Buddha Cave Grotto of Taoyuan Mountain (千佛洞石窟 Qiān fó dòng shíkū) - a small grotto dating from around 1108, there are no large statues of Buddha but rather 164 small carved statues on the cave's walls instead. The statues are near the entrance of the cave although the cave itself goes on for nearly 100 meters. Located 24 kilometers from Wu'an city on the hillside of Taoyuan Mountain.
- Office of the Jin-Ji-Lu-Yu Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and of the Military District (中共晋冀鲁豫中央局和军区旧址 Zhōnggòng jìn jì lǔ yù zhōngyāng jú hé jūnqū jiùzhǐ) – located roughly 23km from Wu’an, this was a center for the Red Army and Communists of the Hebei-Shandong-Henan border region during the War of Resistance Against Japan and later during the Civil War. A museum (little-to-no English) and buildings within the village, such as Deng Xiaoping's residence, are among the attractions.
- Jingniang Lake (京娘湖 Jīngniánghú) - located in Wu'an city, this is the most famous tourist attraction in Wu'an. People come here to go boating on the lake or hiking on the nearby mountain.
- Damingfu Old Town (大名府故城 Dàmíngfǔ gùchéng) – located in Daming County, this area used to be an ancient city going back as far as 360 AD. Supposedly there are some ruins from during the Song dynasty here.
As with other cities in Hebei, not all hotels in Handan accept foreigners. In some counties, it's not uncommon for only one or two hotels to allow foreigners to sleep there. Remember to always ask if they can give a cheaper price for a room if you're on a budget, as the rates listed in the lobby are usually just for show.
- Orange Hotel (橙果主题酒店 Chéngguǒ zhǔtí jiǔdiàn) - located 200 meters from Handan train station, this hotel accepts foreigners. Standard rooms start around 130RMB. Address: 和平路51号.
- Tianwaitian Hotel (天外天商务酒店 Tiānwàitiān shāngwù jiǔdiàn) - located in Wu'an, this hotel accepts foreigners and has clean rooms with wifi at a decent price. Breakfast included. Standard rooms start at 128RMB. Address: 桥西路中段百货大楼南侧.
- Fengfeng Hotel (峰峰宾馆 Fēngfēng bīnguǎn) - located in Fengfeng Mining District, this hotel accepts foreigners. It is a ten minute walk from the bus station. Rooms are clean and have wifi. Standard rooms start at 128RMB. Phone: 0310-5116666. Address: 滏阳路6号.
- Longshan Hotel (龙山宾馆 Lóngshān bīnguǎn) - located in She County, this is apparently the only hotel in the county's downtown area that accepts foreigners. Standard rooms start at 168RMB. Address: 龙山大街669号.