Henan On a BudgetAmidst verdant mountainscapes and ancient pagoda temples, a rich heritage and profound history hangs an enchanting air of the landscape. The Henan Province is a central province to the nation. Often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou, the name of the province means "central plain land" or "midland." The Henan Province was the bud of the nation that grew into a beautiful blossom that became China today. Over 3,000 years ago, the Henan Province was where the Chinese people laid down their civilization and remained the central hub of China's economy, politics, and culture for over 1,000 years. Many of the ruins of varying dynasties have been maintained throughout the centuries, such as the Yin, Shaolin Temple, and four of the eight great ancient capitals of the nation, Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng, and Zhengzhou. The Henan Province remained important geographically throughout the centuries because of its proximity to the Yellow River. Even the literal name of the province, pronounced Huang He, means "south of the Yellow River." Some of the neighboring provinces include Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, and Hubei. With a population of 94 million, Henan is China's third most populated province. While considered one of the less developed provinces of China, the Henan Province is still a beautiful landscape with a historically significant background. If you are a lover of history, beauty, or culture, the "Chinese North Plain" is the place to be!
SightsBuilt in 495 AD, the Shaolin Temple has been a significant landmark of China throughout the centuries and still remains so today. The construction was sanctioned by Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty in honor of the Indian monk Batuo. Thirty-two years since its construction, another monk by the name of Bodhidharma arrived at the temple and preached of Chan doctrines. He was later honored as the first patriarch of the Chinese Chan, establishing the pristine honor of Shaolin becoming the origin of Chan Buddhism. It is also prominent for its history of the martial arts. A legend often associated with the temple is that after Bodhidharma found the monks weak and unhealthy, he taught them the basics of martial arts to strengthen their mental and physical health. This supposedly lead to the foundation of Shaolin kungfu. Throughout the dynasties, the Shaolin Temple was visited by important generals and emperors. Located along the Song Mountain, the Shaolin Temple achieved its greatest prominence during the Tang Dynasty, when 13 Shaolin monks saved Emperor Li Shimin. In gratitude for saving his life, Li showered the temple with gifts such as land and favors. During its prime, the temple housed more than 3,000 monks. Presently, the temple works a tourist destination, where many important Buddhist festivals occur. The hours run from about 8 AM to 5 PM, and the current ticket price is 100 RMB.
Food and DiningNamed one of the best restaurants in Zhengzhou, the Zax Barbeque specializes in American barbeque. Noted as a home away from home, the Zax Barbeque creates a friendly environment for inhabitants and tourists alike, with games and tournaments held every night. Sleekly designed in modern taste, Zax Barbeque wishes to attract hungry, young tourists for a satisfying meal and an ice cold beer. The restaurant also supplies its patrons with (mostly western) music, allowing you to jam while engaging in friendly competition. Some of the meals include smoked baby back ribs, fried chicken caesar salad, salted bacon baked potato, chicken wings, and so much more. If you are not a fan of Asian food and want a taste of home as you venture on your Chinese expedition, check it out.
TransportationFor shorter routes to and from Henan, it is recommended to book ahead. The best prices for buses and trains in China can be found on 12Go. They let you search across all bus, train, and airline routes throughout Asia.
If you are looking to explore the expanse of the Henan Province, methods of travel will vary widely depending on where you located. The majority of the province is filled with breathtaking countryside. Though a beautiful sight, this compromises the availability for both public and private transportation. Renting a car or traveling by taxi can only be done conveniently in urban areas, such as Luohe, Sanmenxia, Xuchang, or Hebi. Moreover, bus and train systems are quite advanced in Chinese cities of Henan as well; however, these said systems become more rudimentary as you get further into the country.
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