Kaifeng was referred as Daliang, Bianliang, Dongdu, Dongjing and Bianjing over the past 3,000 years the city has been around. Kaifeng is endowed with a prodigious history as it was the capital of seven dynasties in Chinese history.
Kaifeng is situated in the east part of Henan Province, with Shangqiu city to the east and Zhengzhou to the west. Kaifeng was listed as a national historical and cultural site in China in 1982. The city covers nearly 2,500 square miles (6444 square kilometers) and spans 6 districts where 5 million people live.
As a popular tourist city in China, Kaifeng has much to offer visitors, from the impressive Iron Pagoda and magnificent Xiangguo Monastery, to the sacred Dragon Pavilion and renowned Kaifeng Museum. These must-see Nanjing sites offer you a great chance to discover the essence of this ancient city.
Besides, Kaifeng is also a culinary capital with many delicious snacks offered, ranging from Kaifeng steamed small buns stuffed with fillings, Mayuxing bucket-shaped chicken, baked carp covered with baked thin noodles to chrysanthemum hot pot and so on. Kaifeng also has something for shopping enthusiasts. The Bian embroidery, New Year picture carved on wooden board in Zhuxian town and straw-weaved handiworks are definitely worth a look.
Visit Iron Pagoda
The Iron Pagoda, 13 stories and 56 meters high, is a must-see on your Kaifeng trip, which has been standing for 1,000-plus years after weathering earthquakes, floods and war.
Chrysanthemum is the city flower of Kaifeng and Kaifeng has been cultivating chrysanthemum for thousands of years. A famous saying goes that the chrysanthemum in Kaifeng is the best in the world. Every year since late autumn, all chrysanthemums are in full blossom, which decorate this ancient city perfectly. Every year, the Chrysanthemum Festival is held and visitors can appreciate chrysanthemum while exploring the ancient culture of Kaifeng further.
Watch a cockfight
The cockfights of Kaifeng are world-renowned. Cockfighting is a traditional folk activity since the Song Dynasty and many game cocks have won international and national prizes in the past.
Where to watch a cockfight competition: Iron Pagoda, Xiangguo Monastery Date: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 3rd and April 4th in lunar calendar
Wander in the night fair to taste snacks
No Kaifeng trip is complete without tasting the local dishes and trying the available street food. The Mayuxing bucket-shaped chicken, stuffed buns served with sauce, almond tea and fried cold jelly have much to offer for you.
Enjoy the Stuffed Buns in the First Restaurant On Earth in Kaifeng
The First Restaurant On Earth is a popular restaurant in Kaifeng, with stuffed buns as its specialty. The stuffed buns here are characterized by its delicate shape, thin paste, diverse fillings and special seasonings.
Taste tea while watching opera
People in Kaifeng like watching opera and there are many tea houses available in Kaifeng. During your Kaifeng trip, tasting tea while watching local opera in tea house would be an experience you would not soon forget.
Eat baked carp covered with fried noodles
This is a specialty of Kaifeng cuisine, which features sweet sour taste, chewy noodles, and fresh fish. This is another must-eat dish in Kaifeng, which is available in Drum Tower Night Fair, Xisi Night fair and other local restaurants.
In spring, Kaifeng has just recovered from the cold of winter and the climate of Kaifeng during this period is quite pleasant. In April, the Song Dynasty Culture and Art Festival is held by the Kaifeng municipal government.
In summer, the weather is rather hot, so Hanyuan Garden, Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden and Kaifeng Prefecture are recommended for visiting. Before your departure for Kaifeng, be sure to bring the sunscreen along.
In autumn, the weather is quite moderate, neither too hot nor too cold, making Fall the best time to visit Kaifeng. Every year, from late October to late November, the chrysanthemum festival is held in different places of Kaifeng, which would be well worth your time.
Kaifeng still has something to offer even in winter. Every year during the Chinese New Year, many temple fairs are held and all the streets are packed with food, which would be a great offer to gourmets. The snowy scenery of the Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden would be another reason that cannot be neglected to visit Kaifeng in winter.
Kaifeng culture is a representative of Henan culture as a whole, which is seen in the city of chrysanthemum, cockfights performance, Yu Opera and so on.
City of Chrysanthemum
Every year in October, chrysanthemum is ubiquitous in streets, alleyways and households. When walking around this ancient city, you can immerse yourself in the golden yellow chrysanthemum sea and appreciate the fragrance of chrysanthemum.
The profound chrysanthemum culture earns Kaifeng the reputation of chrysanthemum city and is the best place to appreciate chrysanthemum. Every year, the Chrysanthemum Festival is held between October 18 and November 28.
When mentioning cockfights, an ancient folk art in China, Kaifeng should not be neglected. The game cocks in central China, mostly derive from the ones in Kaifeng. The Cockfights of Kaifeng are world-renowned and many cockfight-lovers come to Kaifei for the competition.
The game cocks in Kaifeng have won many international and domestic prizes over the years.
Cockfight Competition Date: The second day of January and the first Sunday in January in lunar calendar Address: Dragon Pavilion, Iron Pagoda Park and Xiangguo Monastery
Yu opera, also referred as Henan bangzi or Henan high tune in ancient times, originated in Kaifeng and its surrounding counties, and is one the most influential genres of Chinese opera. Henan province is also referred to as Yu, hence the name of Yu opera. After the People’s Republic of China was founded, Yu opera began to draw on the merits of other genres, blending the novel element of modern opera and created its own style.
On May 20 2006, Yu opera was listed in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage in China. Besides Henan, Yu opera is also found in other part of China, like Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong, etc., which is the largest local opera in China.
Kaifeng is the city that the Jewish people settled in China many generations ago. During the Northern Song Dynasty, a group of Jews immigrated to flourishing Dongjing (ancient Kaifeng) across Tianzhu (India in ancient times) and lived together with the Han people in Kaifeng.
The Jewish began to practice the customs and traditions of the Han people and kept a harmonious relationship with them for 700-plus years. Due to historical, cultural and natural factors, these Jews were gradually integrated with the local ethnic groups in Kaifeng and promotedthe development of Kaifeng greatly.
The must-eat dishes found in Kaifeng vary from Kaifeng steamed small buns stuffed with filling (xiao long bao), Mayuxing bucket-shaped chicken (Mayuxing tong zi ji), baked carp covered with thin noodles (li yu bei mian), to chrysanthemum hot pot and Kaifeng four treasures series (Kaifeng tao si bao).
What to Eat in Kaifeng
Kaifeng Steamed Small Buns Stuffed with Fillings (Kaifeng xiao long bao)
Kaifeng steamed small buns stuffed with fillings, created by Huang Jishan, enjoys a long history, and is a famous dish in Kaifeng. The dish is available in the First Restaurant of Steamed Buns in Kaifeng. The steamed buns here are characterized by its thin paste, diverse fillings, chewy texture and savory flavor. The steamed buns are usually served with vinegar or soy sauce, both of which are available in bottles at the table in the restaurant.
Where to eat:Di Yi Lou Restaurant Location: At the crossing of Zhongshan Road and Sheng Fu Qian Street
Mayuxing Bucket-shaped Chicken (ma yu xing tong zi ji)
Bucket-shaped chicken is a famous dish in Kaifeng. The main ingredient in this dish is the locally raised hens stewed with thick soup. This dish is created by Mayuxin, hence the name. This dish is shaped like a bucket, light-yellow in color, crispy and tasty.
Where to eat: Mayuxing Duck and Chicken Restaurant Location: Snack Night Market, Gulou Street, Southern Square
Baked Carp Covered with Baked Thin Noodles (Li Yu Bei Mian)
Baked carp covered with baked thin noodles is a traditional dish in Kaifeng. The main ingredients in this dish are quick-fried sweet and sour fish and baked thin noodles. This dish features a jujube red color, tender fish, thin noodles, crisp taste and delicious flavor. This course is particular about the ingredients chosen, the seasonings applied and how the dish is prepared. The fish used in this dish is native to the Huang River.
Chrysanthemum Hot Pot (ju hua huo guo)
Chrysanthemum hot pot is a royal dish prevalent in the imperial palace since the late Qing Dynasty, which enjoys a long history in Kaifeng. Since the chrysanthemum is the city flower, Kaifeng has the unbeatable advantage of preparing Chrysanthemum hot pot in terms of materials at hand.
The main ingredients in this dish are fresh fish and chicken soup. Scatter the chrysanthemum slices into thick chicken soup and then put the meat pieces into the soup after the faint scent of chrysanthemum fully permeates the soup. The dish is served with special sauce.
Kaifeng Four Treasures Series (Kaifeng tao si bao)
Four Treasure Series is a traditional savory dish in Kaifeng, which is representative of Henan cuisine in general. This savory dish, chicken, duck, pigeon and quail are delicately set in this dish layer by layer, with duck on the outside, then chicken, then pigeon and quail.
When this dish is brought to the table, a complete duck is immersed in the thick soup. After the first layer of duck, then a complete chicken can be seen, then pigeon and quail. This dish draws out the flavor of these four types poultry and makes it multi-flavored. The four treasures series is a dish you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the world.
Where to Eat in Kaifeng
Xisi Night Fair
What to eat: Kaifeng local snacks, such as Toufu baked on an iron board, Fish Bean curd flat bread, Mutton stringed on a thin stick Location: Near Baogong Temple, about 800 meters far How to get there: Take the bus No. 16 and 20 and get off at Baogong Temple Station.
Drum Tower Night Fair
What to eat: local famous snacks of Kaifeng, such as steamed small buns stuffed with fillings, mayuxing bucket-shaped chicken, baked carp covered with baked thin noodles, chrysanthemum hot pot , kaifeng four treasures series Location: Drum Tower Southern Square, Gulou District, Kaifeng How to get there: Take the bus No. 4, 6, 8, 10, 13, 14, 20, 22 and 24 to get there.
Besides the many things to see, Kaifeng also has considerable things to offer shopping enthusiasts. Unique items that can be found in the city include Bian embroidery, new year picture carved on wooden board in Zhuxian town, and straw-weaved handicrafts.
What to Buy in Kaifeng
Bian embroidery, a Chinese national treasure, is famous for its fine workmanship, exquisite stitching, intricate patterns, gorgeous colors and graceful style. Bian embroidery is one of the most famous types of embroidery in China and has been known since the Song Dynasty.
There are many representative Bian Bian embroidery works presently preserved, among which the most famous are Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival embroidered by Zhang Zerui, Han Xizai Evening Banquet done by Gu Hongzhong, Life-like Poultries Sketch by Huangquan and Five Cows and the like. Each of these works is lifelike in images, rich in colors, and distinct in gradation.
Where to buy Bian Embroidery: Kaifeng Bian Embroidery Factory Location: 188 Mujiaqiao Street, Kaifeng City
New Year Picture Carved on Wooden Board in Zhuxian Town
The new year picture carved on wooden board of Zhuxian town, the ancestor of Chinese board-carved new year picture, is one of the Four Greatest New Year Pictures in China and enjoys a history of more than 800 years.
The new year picture in Zhuxian town originated during the Tang Dynasty, developed during the following Song Dynasty and prospered through the Ming Dynasty. The pictures carved in the new year pictures are varied, from images of the door-god, kitchen-god, god of wealth and others.
The themes of the new year pictures mainly have to do with people, stories and legends that are well known to public. The new year picture carved on wooden board in Zhuxian town is characterized by its smooth lines, enduring colors, distinct gradation, diverse patterns and strong local accents.
The straw-weaved handiworks of Kaifeng became widely known during the North Song Dynasty, and was ubiquitous in alleys, streets and yards of rural houses at that time. The craftsmanship of straw-weavings has been passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years.
In Kaifeng, the largest straw-weaving producer is the Kaifeng Straw Products Factory, which makes producing of this handiwork more professional, time-efficient and artistic. The patterns of straw-weaved products varies from baskets, handbags, hats, the twelve Chinese zodiac signs, to hanging panels, facial make-up and more.
The straw-weaved handicraft in Kaifeng is characterized by its novel design, exquisite workmanship, life-like images and strong three-dimension effect.
Where to Buy in Kaifeng
Kaifeng Shopping Streets
What to buy: calligraphy and painting, antiques, Bian Embroidery, New Year Pictures and Straw weavings
Location: North section of Zhongshan Road, Kaifeng
How to get there: Take the bus No.1 to get there
What to buy: clothes, shoes
What to buy: Tourist souvenirs
Kaifeng Department Stores
Shidun Street Market
What to buy: clothes, cosmetics and kitchenware
Daxiangguo Temple Market
Location: Ziyou Road (outside Daxiangguo Temple), Kaifeng
What to buy: clothes, electronics etc.
Renmin Department Store
Location: 23. Madao street, Kaifeng
What to buy: clothes etc.
Tongluo Wan Department Store
What to buy: Clothes, shoes, bags and cosmetics
Kaifeng City Antiques Store
What to buy: Daily essentials
Location: Zhongshan Street, Kaifeng
Millennium City Park
What to buy: Local specialties
Location: Longting West Road, Kaifeng
How to get there: Take the bus No. 15 and 20 to get there