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Zhengzhou, China

Zhengzhou (郑州) is a city on the south bank of Yellow River (Huang He) in China. It is the capital of Henan Province.
[edit] Understand

The name Zhengzhou comes from a city in the Sui Dyansty, but its actual location was in modern day Chenggao. During the Tang Dyansty, the name switched here. The area remained an unimportant backwater until it was selected for development by the Chinese Government after 1949. Strategically located in the center of the country, Zhengzhou is now a major transportation hub and rapidly growing city.
[edit] Get in

Zhengzhou is a transport hub; you can get here from nearly every major metropolitian area in China on many forms on transport. There are several arrivals each day from Beijing (about 11 hours), Guangzhou (about 18 hours), Xi'an (about 10 hours) and Shanghai (about 14 hours). Trains arrive from other places less often.

The airport is about 30 km outside of town. A public bus runs from the airport to a centrally located hotel. It costs Y25.
[edit] Get around

The city's focal point is February 7 Square (二七区). This large public square comes alive at night, when an entire market fills the space with vendors and locals hanging out. From the square, several main streets man fan out to different areas of the city.

Since Zhengzhou was handpicked to serve as a transportation hub -- and does not have a very history as a large city -- the urban planning is more noticeable here than in other places of China. This means there is plenty of green space, tree-lined streets and logical arrangment to the city.

Zhengzhou is relatively spread out, but most sites are accessible by public bus, which costs Y1 per ride. Taxi flag fall is Y7, with each kilometer after the second Y1. As of June 2006, the cabs were also adding a fuel surcharge of Y1 to all trips.
[edit] See

* The February 7 Memorial Tower is a museum inside a rather garish double pagoda that looms over February 7 Square. Inside there are exhibits explaining the city's development.
* Worth a visit is the Henan Provincial Museum in the northwest part of the city. Learn about ancient civilizations in the area (most of which were not based in Zhengzhou, but nearby cities such as Kaifeng and Luoyang), and even see a dinosaur bone or two in the area. While you're out there, pop into the Henan Museum of Science & Technology that's a fascinating insight into Chinese children's education. Play on crumbling science exhibits, gawk at the garish space tributes and meet local families, all for Y5.
* You can see remants of a Shang Dyansty Wall in the east side of town. Be warned: these mounds aren't terribly impressive.
* Zhengzhou Zoo
* City parks

[edit] Do
[edit] Buy

Large department stores and international brands tend to be concentrated around February 7 Square. There's a Friendship Store on Wenhua Lu specializing in trendy foreign imports at rip-off prices (best to wait for Beijing or Shanghai). As for local goods, head toward the north of the city. Save kung-fu souvenir buying until Shaolin.
[edit] Eat

If Zhengzhou doesn't have the best food in China, it doesn't have the worst, either. The night market in Feburary 7 Square is a good place for a snack and scenery. There's the usual assortment of dumpling shops and noodle joints on every street and back alley. The city's big enough to have a scattering of cosmopolitian restaurants, so look for Korean and Japanese options about. There's a good number of Sichuan restaurants, which make sense considering the proximity to the Province of Spice. Noodles, especially the Mutton noodle(Simplified Chinese:羊肉烩面 Pinyin:yangrouhuimian) and Beef noodle(Simplified Chinese:牛肉拉面 Pinyin:Niuroulamian) are must-eat in Zhengzhou.
[edit] Drink

There are bars around the city, but there isn't an obvious focal zone to point tourists in. It's best to wander around some of the main streets such as Wenhua Lu or Erqi Lu looking for places. Another area to try is near Zhengzhou University, where there's a good student crowd. The University is about 1.5 kilometers from February 7 Square.

Laowai, find "Target Pub". Southernmost block of Jing Liu Lu, north and east of the train station.
[edit] Sleep

Zhengzhou isn't a major backpacker stop, so there are few cheap lodgings in the city. That said, there are some hotels that offer real value for money if you are more than two people.

* Your best bet is the relatively new Hotel Home chain. There are over half a dozen locations around town. The most centrally located one is right off of Wenhua Street (文化路) about a kilometer from Erqi Square. The rooms here are super-clean with hardwood floors and a fresh coat of paint that invoke a SoHo loft more than a Chinese hotel. (Don't worry, you'll still get calls in the middle of the night for "Massage?" just to ensure that you're still in China.) Ask for a discount of about 30% of the rack rate. Doubles go for around Y120 and include breakfast.

* Guangzhou Hotel caters toward business travelers, but still is very reasonable. Doubles start at around Y200 with a discount. Just ask at the front desk.

* Erqi Hotel has a great location, right in the main square. This might be a little loud at night, and you have to pay for the space. Full service rooms are about Y250, but there are budget ones available with shared bathroom for Y150. This can be hard to get, however.

[edit] Get out

Henan awaits:

* Go to the Shaolin Temple. One of China's most famous attractions, the temple is about two hours from Zhengzhou. It's an easy day trip. Bus leave opposite the train station every 20-30 minutes all morning. Be warned: many of the bus tickets are actually tours, that may spend most of the day at auxilary sites or eating lunch instead of the Shaolin complex. These tours do not include entrance fees. Try to make sure you're going on a direct bus, or hire a van, if you want to see it on your own.

* Kaifeng is a laid-back about 90 minutes to the east of Zhengzhou. Enjoy ancient temples and an escape from Chinese skyscrapers. Kaifeng was the capital of several dyansties before it slid into irrelavence the last 200 years.

* Another great city nearby by is Luoyang, home to the Longmen Grottoes. The city itself is worth a look, with an interesting old section and easy walking downtown. It's about three hours by bus, which leave Zhengzhou every hour or so. An express -- the "elephant bus" or kuai che -- costs Y40.

permalink written by  garisti on May 1, 2008 from Zhengzhou, China
from the travel blog: Viaje por Asia
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