INTRODUCING HENAN PROVINCE

The history of Henan Province is something of a rollercoaster ride. Home to four of the country’s ancient capitals, it’s seen more than its fair share of battles and defining moments. And this is what makes it so fascinating. Take in spectacular Buddhist temples. Hike up mountains. As you do, you’ll learn about the dynasties that have left a mark on this striking landscape.

Ancient dynasties and Buddhist temples: where China’s civilisation began

THINGS TO DO

HISTORY

Awe-inspiring and one of the region’s five UNESCO-listed sites, the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang are a must-see. These spectacular rock carvings are some of the earliest examples of Buddhist art. Kung fu enthusiasts will be inspired by performances at the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng. And for a glimpse of China’s more recent past, make a trip to Nanjie Cun, the only remaining Maoist village in the country.

NATURE

Yuntaishan Geopark, near Zhengzho, is another world: walk through narrow red-stone gorges and past impossibly green lakes and waterfalls. Climb to the top of a mountain in Guoliang and see the surreal Long Corridor in the Cliffs – a tunnel hacked away entirely by hand. There are also spectacular hiking routes in the Shaolin Scenic Area.

FOOD

As with China’s other regions, Henan has its own distinct flavours. If you’re feeling grand (and brave), try the 24-course Luoyang Water Banquet, which starts with a variety of soups. Other authentic dishes include noodles and bao (steamed buns). Or simply wander round a food night market and see what takes your fancy, from fried yoghurt to sweet potato fries dusted with sour plum powder.

Make a day trip from Kaifeng to Zhuxian Zhen to see first-hand how the ancient craft of woodblock printing is still alive and well.

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