Kaifeng (开封; Kāifēng) is on the southern bank of the Yellow River in northern Henan Province.
The city was the capital of China during several dynasties, and was visited by Marco Polo. As capital of the Northern Song dynasty from 1013 to 1127, Kaifeng was the largest and most prosperous city in China and the world, known variously as Bianjing (汴京) or Eastern Capital (东京) . Conquered by the Jin Dynasty and then the Mongols, destroyed and abandoned during the Ming dynasty, Kaifeng was finally rebuilt in the Qing dynasty as a smaller prefecture-level city, which it remains today.
During the Song Dynasty, countless foreigners came over the Silk Road and settled in Kaifeng, especially Arabians and Persians, who afterwards formed a new ethnic group in China, named Hui (回族). Kaifeng is also known for a group of Jews who settled in the Bible Hutong (教经胡同; Jiaojing Hutong) around the year 800; the original Jews have assimilated, but some modern descendants have have begun to rediscover their history.
The nearest airport is in Zhengzhou Xinzheng Airport (FTAT Code:CGO), an hour away and a ¥160 taxi ride. An alternative way from the airport to Kaifeng is to take a shuttle bus from just outside the arrival gate to Civil Aviation Hotel (民航大酒店）in Jinshui Road (¥15), then walk east for around 20 minutes to the mini bus station Deyi Bus Station (德亿汽车站） from where you can take a bus to near Kaifeng Railway Staion (¥7).
It also have Shuttle bus for Zhengzhou Xinzheng Airport direct to Kaifeng now,but you need to check the timetable.
Kaifeng is on the Shanghai-Xi'an line. Hard seat tickets may be difficult to obtain but next day (or even same day) hard-sleeper tickets (from Shanghai, 6.5 hours, ¥222; from Xi'an, 7 hours, ¥140) are readily available outside peak periods. The train from Zhengzhou is around 45 minutes and costs ¥11-19.
Kaifeng is on the high speed rail network. There are regular services to Zhengzhou (35 minutes, RMB 19, 5 daily), Shanghai Hongqiao (6 hours, RMB 230, 3 daily) and Hangzhou (7 hours 30 minutes, RMB 229, 1 daily), with stops along the way including Nanjing and Suzhou.
There are buses to Kaifeng from other places in Henan, including from Zhengzhou Long-Distrance Bus Station and Luoyang Long Distance Bus Station.
Taxis are 5 yuan for the first 3km and 1 yuan for each additional kilometer.
Local buses go everywhere within the city and cost &yuan;1. Bus 20 is a sightseeing bus going to all the major sights.
There is a bus stop at the corner of the carpark in front of the train station. From here bus no 9 and bus no 1 will take you into town - fare 1 yuan.
One very good way to get around Kaifeng and see the sites is to take what the locals call "bengbeng"; essentially a tuktuk or motorised rickshaw. 6 kuai will take you from the train station to Henan University's old campus, essentially the length of the city. Short trips should be two or three kuai.
Landmarks and buildings
- Daxiangguo Temple (大相国寺; Dàxiāngguósì; lit. Temple of the Chief Minister), Ziyou Road (Bus 9 or 20). This temple was first built AD555 during the Qi Dynasty with new buildings added in 1661 and 1766. The entire complex has 64 temples but the three main halls are of the greatest interest. The large rectangular Tathagata Hall (Daxiongbaodian) is where monks perform daily chanting rituals in front of three huge Buddhas. In the middle is an impressive bronze Sakyamuni, left is Amitabha and right is the Medicine Buddha, each with a silk hood surrounding their head. At the back of the three Buddhas is a Goddess of Mercy standing on a dragon's head and flanked by a various golden figures. Rising behind them to the roof are a multitude of heavenly figures supported on clouds. Along the side are sculptures of some peculiar looking Arhats; look for the one with an abnormally long arm reaching almost to the roof. The octagonal Arhat Hall (Louhandian) is beautifully constructed with upturned eaves and painted roof beams. The hall houses a breathtakingly beautiful four-sided golden Avalokitesavara said to be carved from a single tree over 50 years. She has six main arms, one set holding aloft a Buddha and 1000 other arms radiating outward with an eye in each palm. The rear Tripitaka Hall has two floors, the upper holding sutras and the lower a white Burmese jade Buddha in the Burmese style and a glass replica of the Emerald Buddha in Thailand’s Grand Palace. Unfortunately, all halls have a No Photo policy which is rarely adhered to even by local tourists, and rarely enforced by the attending monks. ¥45. edit
- The Site of Kaifeng Synagogue (21 South Jiaojing Hutong 南教经胡同21号), ☎ +86 13781152704 ([email protected]), . Esther Guo Yan is a descendant of Kaifeng Jews, who moved from to Kaifeng via India in the Northern Song Dynasty around 1,000 years ago. She was formerly a Chinese teacher who now works full time at the Kaifeng Jewish History Memorial Center, to preserve and restore Jewish culture in the city. Listen to her stories on how her ancestors came to China, the current presence of Jews in Kaifeng, her sense of Jewish identity and her plans to restore the ancient synagogue buried under the ground. Just give her a call on her mobile - she is very passionate about her cause and eager to share her stories. All contributions go towards her cause 50 RMB. edit
- Baogong Memorial Temple, (At the bank of Baogong Lake, buses 1 and 20). 8AM-5:30PM. Temple built to honor Lord Bao. ¥30. edit
- Yanqing Taoist Temple, Western end of Dazhifang Street. A small temple containing a two-story pagoda with a beautiful blue glazed tile balcony and painted carvings on the front gate. 30 RMB ¥15. edit
- Shudian Jie (Bookstore Street). Running north from Gulou Square this busy street is lined with a mix of old wooden and newer concrete buildings in various styles. Originally called Big Store Street in the Ming Dynasty it was renamed Bookstore Street in the Qing Dynasty when it became the center for shops selling books, paper and pens. Carved doors, shuttered windows and painted roof beams peek out from between oversized billboards but there is still plenty of facade remaining visible to give a feeling of the old street. edit
- Dragon Pavilion, Northern end of Zhongshan Road. The area around Dragon Pavilion was the site if the Ming dynasty palace of Prince Zhou. At the southern end of the street leading to Dragon Pavilion stands a reconstructed Wu gate. The remainder of the street is lined with many old buildings. In the late Ming period the palace was destroyed by floods, leaving only the foundations buried 5m under modern Kaifeng, however the city walls were later built along the same axis. A long bridge divides Yangjia Lake leading to the pavilion itself. Much the same views of the pavilion and lake can be seen by walking around the right side of the lake (without buying a ticket) as from inside the park. ¥80. edit
- Iron Pagoda, Next to North Gate on Jiefeng Road. Built in 1049 the 13 story, 55.88 meters high octagonal pagoda is said to be the most famous pagoda in China. It got its name in Yuan Dynasty due the brown glazed tile covering its exterior giving the appearance of iron. It is still in good condition and can be climbed using the internal stairs for ¥40 (not for the claustrophobic, there are 8 windows on the way to the top that provide good views. There is a deadend at the top). There is a Buddhist temple located near the pagoda and a small lake. ¥40, ¥15 concession. edit
- Henan University Old Campus, Next to the Iron Pagoda. Henan University itself has around for just over 100 years, but the campus area has been a center for learning and studying since the Song Dynasty scholars studied for their imperial exams. At the center of the old campus is the grand hall, or Da Li Tang. The inside is only open to the public on certain holidays or student performances, but the exterior is beautiful and elaborately decorated. Several of the nearby buildings are similarly decorated in traditional styles, though they have been touched up for color several times recently. Outside the west and east gates, vendors flock to sell cheap snacks to students on their way to class - you can easily fill yourself up here for less than 10 rmb. There is a small museum on campus about the history of the school, but you may need to find a student to show it to you. If you come by taxi or need to ask for directions, make sure you go to old campus (老河大 lao he da). In the past decade a new campus was built on the other side of the city which is not as interesting to walk around. Free concession. edit
- The city wall. Surrounding the city is the old city walls punctuated at various points with gates. Of most interest are the North gate and Little South gate on either end of Jiefeng Road that resemble the arched gates in Xi'an. The other gates are merely gaps in the wall. edit
- Kaifengfujian Street (Kaifeng Tourist Theme Park). Set on the edge of Baogong Lake, this new construction is a recreation of old Kaifeng according to Song Dynasty building standards set forth in Li Jie's treatise, Yingzao Fashi. The Kaifeng fu is a sort of living history museum filled with a multitude of typical ancient government buildings. English language signage is hit-or-miss, but it's not too hard to figure things out. You can easily spend a couple of hours here exploring the 'old' buildings and just wandering about. Be sure to take the stairs to the top of the big pagoda for an eighth-floor view of the old city, including a bird's-eye view into regular courtyard homes. Look for the traditional roof tops held up by wooden poles and woven grass mats under the clay tile. ¥50. edit
- Tianboyang Mansion. A beautiful old mansion that once belonged to a rich merchant family. 40 RMB. edit
- Po Pagoda (Buota), (Buses 1/15/20/30). Built in 974 A.D. during the Northern Song Dinasty, it has an hexagonal structure. The walls of the pagoda were inlaid all over with more than 7000 sculptured bricks of 18 different patterns such as Buddha, arhats, players etc. 10 yuan. edit
- Shan-Shan-Gan Guild, (Buses 1/13/18/31). With a history of over 300 years, it was built with the raised fund from the visiting rich merchants from Shanxi, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces as a gathering place of the fellow provincials in Kaifeng. The hall is famous for its exquisite wood carving. There are several expositions on the history of the city including a reconstruction showing Kaifeng during the Song dinasty. 20 yuan. edit
Parks and nature
- Banjiang Park, Next to Xinkai Gate. Just outside the city walls at XinKai Gate, a large statue of a heroic looking Mao fronts this unremarkable park. Inside are various gardens, statues and a rusting ferris wheel. ¥10. edit
- Millennium City Park (清明上河园; Qīngmíngshànghéyuán), 5 Longting West Road, Longting District (龙亭区龙亭西路5号; Lóngtíngqū Lóngtíngxīlù) (Bus 1, 15, 20), ☎ +86 378 5663819, . 9AM-10PM. Theme park based on a Song Dynasty painting called Going Upriver for Qingming Festival. It tries to recreate Song Dynasty daily life, shops and workshops as depicted in the painting (the original painting can be seen the Forbidden City in Beijing). Come at 3:30pm to see a reenactment of the battle for Kaifeng between the Song and Jin dynasties, complete with cannons, flames, ships, and kung fu. In the afternoon, there are also smaller performances throughout the park, including a Chinese engagement ceremony, cockfighting, and dancing on stilts. There also is an evening light and sound show for 199 RMB. ¥120. edit
- Cooking Museum, (On the West Gate). edit
- Kaifeng Museum (开封博物馆; Kāifēng Bówùguǎn), 26 Yingbin Road (迎宾路26号; Yíngbīnlù) (Next to Baogong Lake, bus 1, 4 or 9), ☎ +86 378 3933624 ([email protected]), . Tu-Su 8:30AM-11:30AM, 2PM-5PM. Exhibits on Kaifeng's history in first half of 1900s as well as Kaifeng's period as capital of Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). ¥10. edit
- Walk inside the wall. Take a walk along the inside of the wall between Xinkai Gate and Song Gate to see houses made from bricks scavenged from the wall. edit
- Chrysanthemum Festival. Each autumn. edit
- Yellow River, (Besides taxis, there is a city bus which leaves from near the Northern entrance to Iron Pagoda park (Bus 6)). edit
- Embroidery — dates back to the Northern Song Dynasty
- New Year Posters — originally made in nearby Zhuxianzhen and dates back to the Tang Dynasty, shows rural scenes with persons from famous legends.
- Watermelon — the local watermelons are considered especially tasty
- Strawberries — big and juicy in mid-march, try them stacked on a long skewer and dipped in hard candy
- Spiced Bean Curd — the local tradition for spiced bean curd dates back at least 2000 years
- Peanut Cake — has been made here for more than 1000 years
Markets and shopping streets
- Shidun Street Market. Great varity of products for sale including clothes, cosmetics and kitchenware. edit
- Daxiangguo Temple Market, Ziyou Road (Just outside Daxiangguo Temple). The largest market in town, offering clothes, electronics and much other. edit
- Song Street. Tourist shops selling souvenirs. edit
- Sihou Street. The main shopping street in town. edit
- Renmin Department Store, 23 Madao street. State owned department store offering clothes and much other. edit
- Kaifeng City Antiques Store, Zhongshan Street. edit
You will find a lot of snack stands around, which include Sandao (made of flour, bee honey, sugar and stuff), peanut cake, sesame cake etc. There are also many other cheap options.
- Night Market, Gulou Square (Gulou Guangchang) (In the center of the city). Wonderful selection of tasty and unusual street foods. edit
- Laodong Road Night Market (劳动路夜市), Corner of Laodong Lu (劳动路) and Bianjing Lu (汴京路) (Cab or Bus 13 to Laodong Lu). 6pm-12pm. Vast street food market which sells local and Muslim specialties, including hand-made noodles (烩面), mutton, clay pot stew (砂锅), almond tea (杏仁茶), and many more. 10-30. edit
- Simen (四门儿). This is one of the many Muslim restaurants in the city. The mutton soup is just perfectly boiled, try it for breakfast during the winter. edit
- Diyilou Restaurant. A famous place to get the Kaifeng specialty, baozi, in best quality. These baozi contains soup, so be careful when eating them. edit
- Nanyangshi (南羊市), (Opposite No. 7 Middle School). Serves hula soup, which is the main choice of breakfast for the locals (other similar food stands are almost everywhere). They only serve in the morning time should it be sunny. edit
- No. 3 Chemical Factory (化三). This food might make you guys feel weird, but it is highly recommended. This is a donkey meat soup shop. Buy it, sit there, close your eyes if you really doubt its taste, and eat! Do not worry, the bosses of the soup shop and the chemical factory do not know each other. edit
- Youyixin Restaurant, 23 Drum Tower street, ☎ +86 378 2552888. Serves traditional local food. edit
Taiwan style milk tea stands in Bookstore Street (Shudian Jie).
- Hangtian Night Club. Karaoke, disco and billards. edit
- Zuitaibei, Drum Tower Square, ☎ +86 378 5251619. Soft music and dance. edit
- New Century Grand Hotel Kaifeng (开封开元名都大酒店), NO.1 Zhengkai Road, Economy Development Zone,Kaifeng China, . New Century Grand Hotel Kaifeng is five-star hotel belongs to New Century Group; The hotel islocated at the former site of the famous royal garden JinMing Lake of North Song dynasty, holds 54000 square meters edit
- Kaifeng International Youth Hostel, 30 Ying Bin Road (head towards the eastern part of Bao Gong Lake), ☎ +8618236557151, . checkout: noon. Kaifeng's first YHA hostel (run by a friendly Australian ex-pat) which brings with it all the usual things - Cheap rooms that are sparkling clean and quiet (dorm with western toilet/shower - ¥40-45, Standard spacious ensuite rooms (3 star standard) with flatscreen TV - ¥95-125), Free fast internet incl. WiFi and popular social network access, young local English speaking staff, western kitchen (great pizzas!), bar including espresso, wine & spirits, DVD's/BBC documentaries on a 36 inch LCD in the bar, Train booking service, Travel info, Bike Hire, Self Laundry service etc etc etc. Located 3km (¥5 taxi) from the main bus/train station next to Bao Gong Lake. Easy walk to the central sites, and simple bus/bike rides to the sights further out ¥40-125, discount for YHA membership. edit
- Kaifeng Huaihuang International Youth Hostel, 51 Bianjing Lu (汴京路51号) (Taxi or Bus 13 to corner of Laodong Lu and Bianjing Lu), . checkout: noon. Another YHA hostel located on the Eastern side of the city, just outside the city walls. Close to the Laodong Lu Night Market. Clean and quiet with all the standard YHA fare. ¥40-125, discount for YHA membership. edit
- Jin Xue Hotel. A few doors south of the PSB on ZhongShan Lu. This old hotel is no-frills, no english speaking staff. Standard ¥150-180. edit
- Dajintai Binguan, Gulou Jie. Once a budget favourite, its recent price hikes in 12 months by 100% from those listed in the latest edition of a popular guidebook, have elevated this to a terribly overpriced midrange option. Located in the large gray-brick building with tatty red lanterns hanging along the front. Friendly non-English speaking staff and relatively comfortable if gloomy and rundown rooms make it ok if only for its central location, but the price disqualifies it from being a rational choice, given the new budget options in town since early 2011 (see above). Rooms often stink of cigarette smoke. The attached ‘business centre’ provides photocopying (¥1 per page) and email (¥5 p/hour) Double bed ¥260-300. edit
- New Century Grand Hotel Kaifeng (开封开元名都大酒店), 开发区大梁路人民检察院对面, ☎ +86 378 3399999 (fax: +86 378 3398888). Five star hotel with rooms with free internet. Listed rates for doubles ¥1,280-2,280, inluding breakfast. edit
Small town with mainly Karaoke Bar and restaurant to hang out. You can get a taxi ride to the "Huang He" (Yellow River) which is quite near from Kaifeng.
By train or bus, the bus station is across the street from the train Station.
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