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. Around 1,000 years ago, when it was the capital of the Song dynasty, Kaifeng was the most prosperous and busy city in China and the world.
Countless expats immigrated right here and lived their whole lives, especially Arabians and Persians, who afterwards formed a new ethnic group in China, named Hui (回族). Also Jews settled in Kaifeng in the Bible Hutong (教经胡同; Jiaojing Hutong), still visited by tourists from israel.
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).
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.
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 for the first 3km and ¥1 for each additional kilometer. Rides within the city will not exceed ¥10.
Local buses go everywhere within the city and cost ¥1. Bus 20 is a sightseeing bus going to all the major sights.
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 four-sided golden Avalokitesavara said to be carved from a single tree. 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. ¥30.
- Baogong Memorial Temple, (At the bank of Baogong Lake, buses 1 and 20). 8AM-5:30PM. Temple built to honor Lord Bao. ¥20.
- 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. It appeared to be closed for restoration at last visit. (02/09) ¥15.
- 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.
- 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. ¥35.
- Iron Pagoda, Next to North Gate on Jiefeng Road. Built in 1049 the 13 story 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. There is a Buddhist temple located near the pagoda. ¥20.
- 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.
- Kaifengfujian Street (Kaifeng Tourist Theme Park). Set on the edge of Baogong Lake this new construction is supposed to be a recreation of old Kaifeng and is of little interest unless you are into hourly parades of people dressed up like Song dynasty officials. ¥50.
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.
- 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. This park is based on a Song Dynasty painting called Going Upriver for Qingming Festival. It illustrates Song Dynasty daily life, shops and workshops. The origianl painting can be seen the Forbidden City in Beijing. Copies can be bought in the park. ¥80.
- Cooking Museum, (On the West Gate).
- 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.
- 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.
- Chrysanthemum Festival. Each autumn.
- Yellow River, (Besides taxis, there is a city bus which leaves from near the Northern entrance to Iron Pagoda park (Bus 6)).
- 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
- 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.
- Daxiangguo Temple Market, Ziyou Road (Just outside Daxiangguo Temple). The largest market in town, offering clothes, electronics and much other.
- Song Street. Tourist shops selling souvenirs.
- Sihou Street. The main shopping street in town.
- Renmin Department Store, 23 Madao street. State owned department store offering clothes and much other.
- Kaifeng City Antiques Store, Zhongshan Street.
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 foods.
- 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.
- Diyilou Restaurant. A famous place to get the Kaifeng specialty, baozi, in best quality. These baozi contains soup, so be careful when eating them.
- 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.
- 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.
- Youyixin Restaurant, 23 Drum Tower street, ☎ +86 378 2552888. Serves traditional local food.
Taiwan style milk tea stands in Bookstore Street (Shudian Jie).
- Hangtian Night Club. Karaoke, disco and billards.
- Zuitaibei, Drum Tower Square, ☎ +86 378 5251619. Soft music and dance.
- Kaifeng International Youth Hostel, 30 Ying Bin Road (head towards the eastern part of Bao Gong Lake), ☎ 0378-3153789, . checkout: noon. The only real budget option when it comes to Kaifeng and is a must to stay at compared to other options in town. Kaifengs only YHA (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 futher out ¥40-125, discount for YHA membership.
- 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.
- 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 ¥160-200.
- 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.
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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