This is part three of my adventures in Henan Province when I visited the ancient capital of Kaifeng. Click here to read about my day in Zhengzhou and click here to read about my day in Anyang. Stay tuned for more updates!
Kaifeng in Henan province is slightly east of Zhengzhou. It’s one of three ancient capitals in Henan, and eight ancient capitals in China. It was the capital of China in the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127 CE), making it significantly newer than the capital in Anyang.
To be honest, Kaifeng was my least favorite city I visited in Henan. It has a lot of interesting sites to visit, but each felt like it blended into one another. Also, each had its own entrance fee. Going to several added up, and I can’t quite remember all of them since they kind of blended into one another. My advice for visiting the city is to spend 1-2 days here, hitting up 2-3 sites and temples. Check out a park and bring a book to sit out and read. It’s a good city to relax in when you’re touring around the province.
I know I visited Bao Zheng’s Ancestral Hall. Bao Zheng was a famous judge and city prefect around 1000 CE. He was important because he was a model of good leadership – not corrupt and very fair in his dealings. In the gift shop, they sold several DVDs of historical dramas that were based on his life.
I also went to the Iron Tower Park, which hosts Kaifeng’s Iron Town. This is the symbol of the city. Although the park was a little run down, it was beautiful. I enjoyed reading there in the afternoon, and it was very quiet because it was so empty. You can pay extra to go up into the temple, which I passed on because I was a bit tired and needed a break.
The Kaifeng City Wall, like many city walls in ancient Chinese cities, no longer marks the edge of the city. Instead, it’s a cool structure over a road. I bought some chicken from a street vender who was holed up under the wall in the shade after I finished visiting the Iron Tower Park
I also visited an ancient Buddhist temple and a rebuilt palace, but I can’t remember their names (if I ever knew them) and can’t find them on Trip Advisor. Enjoy some pictures!
One of the things I liked best about Kaifeng was the city night market. Night markets are amazing, and if you’re in a city that has one you need to check it out. Because I was spending two nights in Kaifeng, I had hoped to visit the market twice. However, my train got in to Kaifeng late from Anyang and it was raining so I couldn’t go the first night. The second night, I had noodles grilled with garlic in an oyster shell, and some other delicious snacks.
The second night was a little weird because of the hostel owner. I’m not going to list this hostel on my blog because I don’t recommend staying with him. I found this hostel on Booking.com, which I highly recommend in general for finding a place to stay.
The reasons I don’t recommend this hostel are:
- He messaged me the day before I was supposed to arrive saying that the location of the hostel changed suddenly. I don’t think this was true, because the Swiss guy I made friends with who also was staying there had received the same message, but then talked to the hostel owner, who said that he’d been at the new place about a year.
- The hostel was the guy’s house, which isn’t unusual. However, it was down an alley so small you couldn’t drive to. Because of this, the hostel owner was convinced that nobody could find it (which was a fair thing to think because I would have gotten lost if I hadn’t taken a picture of the door and saved the location on my phone). The hostel owner was really uncomfortable about letting us out at night because he was worried we’d get lost. He wouldn’t let me go wander by myself the first night, and then later took me and the Swiss guy to the night market. This was all well and good, but I felt a lot of pressure not to hang out and wander by myself. During our wanderings, he took us away from the market to another pretty area, got us a bit lost, and then more lost trying to find another night market. I ended up eating good food and drinking beer, which is what I wanted to do. However, I’m a fairly independent person and wanted to hang out by myself.
So in conclusion, I liked my time in Kaifeng but it wasn’t my favorite city. There are other areas, like Anyang or Dengfeng (the next city on my trip), I’d rather spend more time in. I was disappointed by the hostel owner, but he wasn’t the other reason Kaifeng wasn’t my favorite place to visit.
Getting in and out of Kaifeng
Kaifeng has a number of train stations, with trains connecting to Zhengzhou, Beijing, Anyang, and other cities in Henan and northern China. I took a regular speed train from Anyang to Kaifeng, and a bus out of the city.
Getting around Kaifeng
Kaifeng does not have a subway, but it has a very developed bus system that is easy to navigate from Baidu maps. You can also use DiDi (China’s version of Uber) and there are plenty of Mobikes, Ofos, and Hello Bikes (all dockless bikes) around the city.