Friday, December 15

Travel Destinations: Hebei Province, China

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Travel Destinations: Hebei Province, China

Hebei has often been unfairly compared with Beijing – a lesser version of the Chinese capital – there are similarities with the cuisine, the language and opera, but this is where it ends. Hebei is a remarkable place to visit, but for different reasons than that of Beijing.

Hebei is a province with a long history – it was here in the 1920s that the bones of Homo erectus were found – originally they were thought to be dragon bones. Dating back thousands and thousands of years ago, this led to the theory that human beings originated in Asia – a theory that was quickly refuted.

Hebei may not be the birthplace to the human race, but it is home to some of the most amazing places, historic cultural attractions, delicious dishes and friendly people.

SHIJIAZHUANG:

Unjustly overshadowed by Beijing and Tianjin, this remarkable city is a delight to visit. The provincial capital, it has some excellent places to explore as well as being a good place to make your base for exploring the southern regions of the province.

Start your journey here with a visit to the Hebei Provincial museum. It has some interesting displays of artefacts, starting from the Neolithic to objects in more recent years. The bronzes are simply spectacular here. The Revolutionary Martyrs Mausoleum is another interesting place to visit, set in a lovely park.

ZHENGDING:

Zhengding can boast some of the most amazing sites in Hebei – you can see the outlines of four sleepy traditional villages from the top of the South Gate, something you won’t see in China these days. Dafo Temple is the highlight of any trip here, a beautiful temple dating from 586 CE. The design, the architecture, the statues and the interior design is simply breathtaking. Come here and see the Buddha Altar, the statue of the goddess Guanyin, visit the Pavilion of Great Mercy, Tianning Temple and the Tang dynasty Lofty Pagoda.

YUJIACUN:

This is a quaint little village hidden away in lush rolling hills near with the Hebei-Shanxi border. Come here for the beautiful Yu Ancestral Hall and the Qingliang Pavilion.

CHENGDE:

Originally known as Jehol to Europeans, Chengde is a wonderful place to spend a few days. This was the place that the Manchu Emperors would come to escape from Beijing’s scorching summers and get back to their nomadic roots through the sport of hunting.

Bishu Shanzhuang is the palace where the Qing Dynasty emperors used as their summer resort – it is a sprawling estate, a highly beautiful place to visit. There are many buildings you can explore here as well – the Pine Crane Palace, the Misty Rain tower, the Wenjin Pavilion, these are all just examples of the many historic places to be found here.

The Eight Outer Temples (originally 12) are another highlight of any visit to this city, as well as Puning Temple, Putuzongcheng Temple and several other temples.

SHANGHAIGUAN:

A hauntingly beautiful walled town, this was the place that led into northeast China. It is also the place where the Great Wall of China meets the sea, so here, the first stop is to explore what remains of the Great Wall, the First Pass Under Heaven and the Great Wall Museum before you do anything else.

Other attractions here include Jiao Shan, Qixian Monastery, Old Dragon Head (the conclusion of the Great Wall), and Menjiangnu Temple.

Hebei Province is one of those places that you don’t expect to fall in love with – if she was a woman then she would be the girl next door. This only lends to her many charms.

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