Dengfeng and the Shaolin Monastery

This is part four of my adventures in Henan Province when I visited Dengfeng and the Shaolin Temple. Click here to read about my day in Zhengzhou, click here to read about Anyang, and click here to read about Kaifeng.

I’ll start by saying that Dengfeng is awesome. If you have the opportunity to visit the city, you should take it. Dengfeng is probably the smallest of the cities I visited (even smaller than Anyang), but it’s not a place you go for city sites.

Friday afternoon:

I arrived in Dengfeng from Kaifeng in the early afternoon on a bus. My bus ride took about 2-3 hours, and I was thoroughly amused because our bus stopped on the highway so that people could buy watermelons from a roadside cart. For the rest of our trip, we had watermelons in empty seats and in the aisle of the bus.

After checking in to the Dengfeng Climb International Youth Hostel* (which I highly recommend), I wandered around the Songyang Scenic area just north of the hostel, including the Song Yang Academy of Classical Learning and up to a temple. You can take vans around the area or walk up a good-sized hill. I opted for the van up since it was super hot and walked down.

academy of classical learning

academy of classical learning

Note: the Hostel location on Google is wrong. I recommend using maps.me to find the hostel.

You can easily spend a full day wandering around this Scenic area, and another day wandering around the Scenic area further east, if you are so inclined.

Saturday: Shaolin Temple

Dengfeng is famous because it’s the home to the Shaolin Temple, where Kungfu style fighting was developed. Before I went, I read a ton of reviews online about how to visit. Realistically though, follow the map and the signs and you won’t miss anything.

 

I would recommend devoting one day to visit the Shaolin Temple and the mountain area around the temple. Public transportation goes up to the temple, but I would take a Didi to get there early. Your ticket includes a 30-minute demonstration of Kungfu. The show was cool, but focused heavily on acrobatics more than fighting. Probably the coolest part of the show was a guy who threw a nail through glass to pop a balloon.

kung fu show

One of the reasons to get there early in the morning is that you can watch students practicing their skills. Visit my YouTube Channel or check out these links to see some cool things. I apologize for the quality of some of the cell phone videos.

  1. a big group on the steps
    1. Video
    2. Video
    3. Video
  2. a group on a stage
  3. a group in a square
    1. Video
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    3. Video

Visit the temple, but know that it gets crowded – another reason to go early. There’s a big Buddha on a hill that you can walk up to, but I didn’t because the stairs were steep and there weren’t any handrails.

The best part of the temple was the Pagoda Forest, which is also an ancient cemetery for monks.

 

Beyond the Pagoda Forest, there are two cable cars, one on the right side of the road and one on the left side. I ended up taking the one on the left side of the road. I’m not sure where the other one took people up to, but all views through the area are beautiful.

From the top of the cable car, you can walk down the mountain – there were some up parts, but over all it was down. I went about 1/3 of the way. The path itself was really easy – it was all paved with handrails, so I was definitely comfortable with the technical difficulty.

I decided not to walk

Pagoda forest
Pagoda forest
Pagoda forest
Pagoda forest
Pagoda forest

down for two reasons. First, I didn’t bring enough water. I drank probably three liters of water that day and sweat it all out. I wasn’t confident that I could buy more water beyond a certain point. I could have made it, but it would have been uncomfortable. Second, I wanted to go have another look at the temple and maybe watch some more skill demonstrations.

That night, when I got back to the hostel, I talked with some of the people who worked / volunteered there. Some children hung around too, and I showed them pictures of my family and cats.

One woman had just graduated from college and wanted me to hang out with her and a friend. We wandered around a city park, where there were rides and games, and some booths set up for children to play. It was fun hanging out with them, but I was exhausted so I went to bed early.

Sunday morning

Sunday morning, I got breakfast at a stall nearby and wandered through a park, listening to a podcast about the ancient Chinese dynasties before taking a bus to Luoyang, where I was going to spend the next ten days working at a summer camp for Chinese students learning English.

Before I left, I met some French guys who were staying in Dengfeng for a couple days. The hostel workers asked me to share my itinerary with them for the previous day.

Visit my photo gallery to see more pictures of Dengfeng

Getting in and around Dengfeng

Dengfeng does not have a train, so you’ll need to take a bus. Most tourists come in through Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, for a day trip. You can do this, but it would be a long day. I caught a bus from Kaifeng to Dengfeng, and another bus from Dengfeng to Luoyang (where I would spend the next 10 days working at a summer camp for Chinese students learning English). Talk to your hotel / hostel about when and where to catch the bus. Both of my buses were based out of the station to the south east of the city, not the one in the middle of the city. My hostel had a great map that I used to find the tourist areas and bus stations in town.

* Disclosure: these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a reservation.

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