Kaifeng Travel Guide
Kaifeng, located in the east-central region of Henan province, China, holds a significant place in history as one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. Throughout its illustrious past, it has served as the capital on eight different occasions. With a remarkable history spanning over 4,100 years, the city boasts a rich cultural heritage encompassing various facets such as palaces, chrysanthemums, opera, calligraphy, and more. During the Northern Song dynasty, Kaifeng held the distinction of being the largest metropolis in the world.
Additionally, it holds a special connection to the renowned painting “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival,” which originated from this vibrant city. Interestingly, Kaifeng is also recognized for its Jewish community, which traces its roots back to the 10th century. The city’s captivating blend of historical significance, cultural treasures, and diverse influences makes it a truly unique and captivating destination.
Chinese: 开封 kāi fēng
Location: Eastern Henan Province
Population (urban area): 4,694,000
Why Visit Kaifeng
- Rich Historical Heritage:Kaifeng has a history spanning over 2,700 years, and it served as the capital of multiple dynasties. The city’s historical sites, including Millennium City Park, Iron Pagoda, and Dragon Pavilion, allow you to immerse yourself in the grandeur of ancient China.
- Cultural Immersion: Kaifeng is renowned for its vibrant local culture and traditions. By visiting the Kaifeng Night Market, Kaifeng House Cultural Museum, and Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden, you can experience the city’s cultural heritage firsthand and gain insights into its customs and rituals.
- Architectural Marvels: The city boasts impressive architectural wonders, such as the well-preserved city walls, ancient gates, and intricately designed temples. These structures showcase the architectural prowess and artistic craftsmanship of bygone eras.
- Culinary Delights: Kaifeng is a paradise for food enthusiasts. Indulge in Kaifeng-Style Braised Chicken, savor Bianjing Dishes, and treat yourself to the delectable Osmanthus Rice Cake. Exploring the local culinary scene is a delightful way to discover the city’s flavors and gastronomic traditions.
Immerse Yourself in Kaifeng’s Culture
Kaifeng Night Market
A visit to Kaifeng would be incomplete without experiencing the bustling Kaifeng Night Market. Indulge in a sensory feast as you explore the vibrant market filled with food stalls, handicrafts, and traditional performances. Sample local delicacies such as lamb skewers, sesame cakes, and sugar-coated haws, while enjoying the lively atmosphere and mingling with locals.
Kaifeng House Cultural Museum
To delve deeper into Kaifeng’s rich cultural heritage, visit the Kaifeng House Cultural Museum. This museum showcases the traditional architecture, furnishings, and customs of a typical Kaifeng residence. Learn about the city’s history, traditional rituals, and daily life of its residents. It provides a fascinating insight into the local culture.
Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden
Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden is a picturesque park that recreates scenes from the famous painting “Along the River During the Qingming Festival.” Stroll through the garden and marvel at the meticulously designed landscapes, ancient buildings, and intricate sculptures. It is a serene and enchanting place to relax and appreciate the beauty of Kaifeng.
Indulge in Kaifeng’s Culinary Delights
Kaifeng-Style Braised Chicken
Kaifeng-Style Braised Chicken is a renowned local dish that shouldn’t be missed. The chicken is marinated in a flavorful blend of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and spices, then slowly braised to perfection. The result is tender, succulent meat infused with aromatic flavors. Pair it with steamed rice or noodles for a satisfying meal.
Bianjing Dishes represent the traditional cuisine of Kaifeng. These dishes are known for their delicate flavors, meticulous preparation, and artistic presentation. From braised pork to stir-fried vegetables, each dish showcases the culinary expertise of the local chefs. Explore local restaurants and savor the authentic flavors of Kaifeng.
Osmanthus Rice Cake
For dessert lovers, Osmanthus Rice Cake is a delightful treat unique to Kaifeng. Made from glutinous rice flour and sweet osmanthus flowers, these soft and fragrant cakes have a subtle sweetness that lingers on the palate. Enjoy them with a cup of hot tea for a perfect ending to your culinary journey in Kaifeng.
History of Kaifeng
Kaifeng, one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China, has a rich and varied history. Originally named after the Qin dynasty’s conquest in the second century BC, it later became the capital of the Wei state and was known as Daliang. Over the centuries, Kaifeng transformed into a major commercial city and reached its peak during the Song dynasty (960-1126). It served as the eastern capital, thriving with prosperity and culture. Notably, Kaifeng had a cosmopolitan character, hosting a Jewish community dating back to the 10th century. Despite facing challenges and decline in later years, Kaifeng remains a testament to its historical legacy, attracting visitors to explore its ancient sites and experience its cultural heritage.
Today, Kaifeng stands as a captivating destination, reflecting its significant role as a capital city and its diverse cultural influences. From its origins as Daliang to its prosperous days as the capital of the Song dynasty, Kaifeng offers a glimpse into China’s past. Its historical sites, combined with the remnants of its Jewish community, add an extra layer of fascination to this ancient city. Embark on a journey to Kaifeng and immerse yourself in its remarkable history, discovering the tales and treasures that have shaped this enduring destination.
Best Time to Visit Kaifeng
The best time to visit Kaifeng is during the spring (April to May) and autumn (September to November) seasons when the weather is pleasant and mild. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are cold. Plan your visit accordingly and check for any local festivals or events happening during your stay.
Transportation within Kaifeng
How to Get to Kaifeng
Getting to Kaifeng offers various transportation options depending on your starting point. Since Kaifeng lacks its own airport, the most convenient way is to fly to Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport first and then continue your journey to Kaifeng by bus or a fast intercity train, which takes approximately one hour.
Additionally, buses and trains are available from other cities within Henan province, such as Luoyang, Xuchang, Zhoukou, and Shangqiu. If you prefer to drive, it takes around 1.5 hours from Zhengzhou, 2.5 hours from the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, and 2.5 hours from the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang to reach Kaifeng.
Once in Kaifeng, you can easily navigate the city by utilizing public buses, taxis, or even renting a bike.
When it comes to navigating Kaifeng, you have several convenient options at your disposal. Public buses offer extensive coverage throughout the city, with fares ranging from 1 to 2 yuan per ride, providing an affordable and accessible means of transportation. Alternatively, taxis are readily available and reasonably priced, with a starting fare of 6 yuan for the initial 2 kilometers and an additional 1.5 yuan per kilometer thereafter.
For a more leisurely and independent exploration of the city, consider renting a bike from select hotels or bike rental shops. This allows you to discover Kaifeng at your own pace, with daily rental fees typically ranging from 10 to 20 yuan. Additionally, if you prefer a guided experience, joining a tour is an excellent option. These tours often include transportation and entrance fees to the various attractions, providing a hassle-free way to explore the city while benefiting from expert guidance.