Zhengzhou is a vibrant metropolis filled with cultural and historical treasures. The capital of the Henan province was one of the eight ancient cities of China, and it's the gateway to some of the region's most beautiful countryside.
Visit the pyramid-shaped Henan Museum and learn more about the city and its surrounds. The iconic museum of art and history is home to over 130,000 fascinating cultural relics.
The central peak of the Five Great Mountains of China, Mount Song is just a short drive from the city. Go for spectacular views, kung fu demonstrations at the Shaolin Buddhist temple, and the amazing Pagoda Forest.
Yuntai Mountain is a must-see on any vacation in Zhengzhou. It's a UNESCO Geological Park crammed with waterfalls, mountain springs, deep gorges like the Red Stone Valley, and dramatic peaks.
Take a hovercraft tour on the famous Yellow River. You'll enjoy a unique view of the countryside and the massive rock carvings of former emperors Yandi and Huangdi that tower over the river.
Try regional specialties like the Water Banquet, a feast of 19 cold and hot soups that originated in nearby Luoyang or Carp on Noodles, a dish that was created by a Kaifeng chef in the 1930s.
A fascinating attraction for ancient history fans, Zhengzhou contains the ruins of the ancient Shang capital. The Shang dominated the Yellow River valley around 4,000 years ago, so we're dealing with some seriously old structures and, given their antiquity, there's plenty to see. Head to the eastern part of modern Zhengzhou to see the Shang walls in all of their glory, and what remains of probably the largest city in the world during its heyday. Then muse on the passing of time. There's no better place to do so.
Definitely the number one museum in Zhengzhou, the Henan Provincial Museum is famed for its distinctive pyramid structure, and is home to a vast collection of relics and artifacts, ranging from the Shang (and earlier) to the Chinese Revolution, much of which unfolded in the Henan region. If you're into handcrafted Chinese pots, golden flutes, and intricate Warring States period jewelry, the collections are exquisite. As of late 2017 most of the museum was in the middle of a brief refit, but was scheduled to reopen in 2018. Even so, the building and the open halls are worth exploring.
Translated into English as the "City of God" temple, this is Zhengzhou's undisputed religious highlight. From the moment you set eyes on the Mountain Gate, this Daoist complex never ceases to delight, with its appropriately named "Happy Building", impressive main temple building, and galleries showing folk art by the people of Henan. It's also very much a living temple, hosting raucous popular festivals and markets on a regular basis, so you might get a lot more than a standard tour.
The heart of Zhengzhou, Erqi Square is the place to head for shopping and recreation. Getting there is easy. You can't miss the Erqi Memorial Tower, which commemorates a labor strike during the Chinese Revolution. When you get downtown, you'll be in the thick of Zhengzhou's commercial hub. Head down Renmin Road towards the Grand Shanghai City Mall, and you'll pass by plenty of electronics stores (after all, you're in the world's iPhone manufacturing capital). But there are plenty of noodle bars and dumpling kitchens around as well.
Located around 40 miles southwest of Zhengzhou, Mount Song is out of the way, but definitely worth making the effort to visit. In the Daoist faith, Song is seen as one of the "five sacred peaks" in Daoism, but it's also home to some famous Zen Buddhists: the Kung Fu fighting Shaolin order of monks. You can visit their HQ to see them in action, but don't dally too long. The Zhongyue Temple is just as interesting, maybe more so, with its 1,300 year-old astronomical observatory, while the Songyang Academy and Songyuesi Pagoda are also must-sees.
Choose the first week in September if you'd like to catch the Zhengzhou International Shaolin Wushu Festival. Alternatively, plan a spring vacation and see the China Rose Flower Fair in May.
Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO) is 18 miles from the city. Take one of the half-hourly shuttle buses to the city for 20¥ or a taxi for 120-140¥.
The city is the main hub for rail travel in China and more than 400 trains arrive each day. Fast trains from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other major cities terminate at Zhengzhou Railway Station in heart of town.
It's easy to reach Zhengzhou by road since the city is a highway transport hub. However, you must hold a Chinese license or have a Chinese driver.
Buses are a cheap alternative to rail travel and the main bus station is just across from the railway station.
Stay at the Hilton Zhengzhou, the Ramada Plaza Zhengzhou, or JW Marriott Hotel Zhengzhou if you're planning a special vacation, or try mid-range hotels like Aloft Zhengzhou Shangjie and Yudu Palace Hotel Zhengzhou.
Er'Qi - Er'Qi means February 7 and the Er'Qi Memorial Tower in the square of the same name commemorates a strike that took place on that date. You'll find the railway station and bus station in this central district.
Downtown - the greater downtown area encompasses Er'Qi and is the city's commercial center. Notable attractions include the Shang Dynasty Ruins.
Northern District - this neighborhood to the north of Er'Qi and Downtown is home to the Henan Museum.
The city's subway system runs from east to west and it's a convenient way to get around. Zhengzhou also has an extensive bus service. Routes 610 and 611 between the city and the airport are useful and there are several dedicated tourist buses.
Taxis are readily available. Expect to pay ¥70 from Downtown to the Yellow River Scenic Area and ¥300 to the Shaolin Temple.
Rent a car and local driver for ¥200-300 per day and see more of this exciting region.
Shop for clothing, electronics, and accessories at Dennis Department Store or Jinboda Mall in the Er'Qi Business District or visit Er'Qi Square at night when the massive street market is open. Local specialties include Miyu Jade from Xinmi City, honeysuckle products, and Chinese Parasol Lacquerware.
Pick up essentials from supermarket chains like Carrefour and Walmart. A dozen eggs cost ¥10 while UHT milk costs ¥18 per quart.
Try tasty local hotpot dishes at Banu Hotpot, Haidilao Hotpot, or Zhengzhou Kitchen, or visit Cibo Coffee for both Chinese and Western food. Lunch in a simple cafe will cost ¥45, while a three-course dinner for two with wine in a smart restaurant will cost ¥195.