Henan, Yu for short, is a province located in the Northern Central Region of China. It shares its borders with six other provinces, Shandong to the northeast, Hebei to the north, Shanxi to the northwest, Shaanxi to the west, Hubei to the south, and Anhui to the east. The eastern portion is flat and part of the North China Plain, one of the most densely populated areas on Earth. Indeed Henan is the most populous province in China, with almost 100 million people. The mountainous west and southwest is more remote with vast expanses of forest.
The Yellow River (mother river of the Chinese nation) runs through Henan. The provnce's name is from he (river) and nan (south).
- North Henan — the core of ancient China around the Yellow River.
- South Henan — less travelled and with fewer historical sites than the northern part of the province.
- Zhengzhou — provincial capital, economic and cultural center of Henan.
- Anyang — economic and cultural center during the Shang dynasty. One of the seven ancient capitals of China.
- Hebi — a northern city between Anyang and Xinxiang
- Kaifeng — former capital during the Northern Song dynasty. One of the seven ancient capitals of China.
- Luoyang — site of the Longmen grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the seven ancient capitals of China.
- Nanyang — southern city
- Yuzhou — another ancient capital, home to the Jun Royal Kiln Museum
- Jigongshan National Park
- Linlüshan National Park
- Longmen National Park — home to Longmen Grottoes which is considered one of the three great grottoes in China.
- Qingtianhe National Park
- Shennongshan National Park
- Shirenshan National Park
- Songshan National Park — home to Shaolin Temple which is a famous kung fu center
- Wangwushan—Yuntaishan National Park
Henan is the birthplace of the Chinese nation, the cradle of China's 5000-year-long civilization and the place of origin of many Chinese family names as well.
From the Xia Dynasty (about 21st century B.C to 17th century B.C), the first dynasty in China, to the Northern Song Dynasty (around 12th century A.D), more than 200 emperors from over 20 dynasties set up their capitals in (or moved their capitals to) Henan, making it the ancient political, economic and cultural center of China.
Henan's famous historical and cultural cities include Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Luoyang, Anyang, Nanyang, Shangqiu, Sanmenxia, Pingdingshan, Xinxiang and others. Traveling Henan means enjoying the beautiful landscape and the historic relics and ruins. It also means seeking the Chinese roots and rediscovering the soul of the Chinese nation.
Landmarks and buildings
- City wall of Kaifeng — surrounding the old city of Kaifeng.
- Baima Temple — in Luoyang, the first official Buddhist temple in China.
- Daxiangguo Temple — in Kaifeng, dating back to AD555.
- Baogong Memorial Temple — in Kaifeng, temple at the lake side built to honor Lord Bao.
Parks and nature
- Red-flag Canal — in Anyang, man made canal built in the 1960s due to water supply shortage in the area.
- Wulongkou Scenic Area — area outside Jiyuan consisting of five scenic spots comprising more than 60 sights.
- Yellow River Scenic Area — near Zhengzhou, consisting of five scenic spots, Five Dragons Peak, Camel Mountain Range, Yueshan Temple, Stone Figures, and the Ancient City of Liubang and Xiangyu
Museums and exhibitions
- Henan Provincial Museum — in Zhengzhou, exhibitions on ancient civilizations.
- Kaifeng Museum — exhibits on Kaifeng ancient and newer history.
- Jun Royal Kiln Museum — in Yuzhou, history of Yuzhou and surrounds, exhibits on porcelain and its cultural significance.
- Qingming Festival — enjoy the Garden Landscape at Bian River during the festival.
Henan is home Yu cai (豫菜）, of the eight traditional cuisines of China.
Hu La Tang (胡辣汤). This local breakfast is a must try for those who are willing to adventure into proper Henan cuisine. Its a broth made of Black pepper, Anis, Ginger, Cinnamon, beef and bone soup. It comes with a product made of soy and you can dip in with other stuff like Mantou or youtiao.
Hui Mian (烩面). Noodles in hot bone soup, with cilantro and wood ear (Auricularia auricula-judae).
Daokou Shaoji （道口烧鸡) is the competitor of Beijing Duck. People here say that if Obama comes to China, Daokou Shaoji will be present on the table.
Xiao Su Rou (小酥肉）belongs to the Yu Cuisine, one the eight traditional cuisines of China. There are halal versions somewhere in Henan, using lamb meat, but in general it uses pork. The meat is first dipped in to flour and then fried. Afterwards, it can be done in different ways, either soup with lots of vegetables or just plain.
Liang Cai （凉菜）This variety is all over China, but don't miss this out while you are in Henan. It comes in dozens of varieties and its mainly cold, as the name puts. Liang Cai, meaning literally "Cold Vegetable". Recommended are: Liang Ban Dou Jiao （凉拌豆角）, Huang Gua Bian Dan （黄瓜变蛋）.
Kaifeng Xiao Long Bao （开封小笼包）Original steamed dumplings that originated in the old Song capital of Kaifeng. After the Jin destroyed this city, the capital relocated to Hangzhou in modern day Zhejiang Province thus taking along with them, this famed steamed dumplings. Nowadays, the Hangzhou Xiao long bao even has its own chain throughout China therefore its competitor in Kaifeng has lost its fame, but all locals will tell you, that Kaifeng Xiao long bao is a must try and it is the predecessor of all the Xiao long baos in China.
Hui Cai （烩菜）is found throughout northern Henan. It can be found in areas like Anyang, a prefecture that borders Hebei in the north. Its basically a stew of different varieties of vegetables although the standard would be cabbage, toufu, noodles made from sweet potato.