Zhengzhou
The birthplace of Kung Fu and the native home of the Yellow Emperor, Zhengzhou stands as the tourist center of central China. With 8.6 million residents populating this emerging megacity, Zhengzhou is the present day capital of the Henan Province and one of the eight ancient capitals of China. Founded in its current incarnation by the Sui Dynasty during the 6th century AD, Zhengzhou functions as a pivotal commercial, political and spiritual hub for the Chinese. Historically, Zhengzhou's geographical position along the Yellow River proved advantageous to China's military campaigns and trade interests. Cyclically rising and falling through dynasties and administrations, Zhengzhou's current upswing establishes the city as a major player in today's China. Zhengzhou now enjoys unprecedented economic growth as one of China's most populous and well-connected metropolises."

Zhengzhou's impact is not limited to political and economic interests. The city also serves as a cultural and spiritual epicenter. Most prominently, Zhengzhou is home to the 1,500-year-old Shaolin Temple, quite likely the most well known Zen Buddhist monastery on the planet. Nestled just south of the serenely beautiful Songshan Mountain Range, the Shaolin Temple zealously practices the graceful, yet lethal, martial art of Kung Fu, made famous in the Western world by Bruce Lee and, in recent times, Jet Li. Seeped in a dual history of rich spiritual practice and strenuous martial preparations, the Shaolin Temple honors the traditions of Zen and Kung Fu. Since early times, monks divergently devoted themselves to either wuseng (martial arts) or wenseng (cultural practice). The Wuseng monks became renowned for their breathtakingly acrobatic Kung Fu demonstrations. Today martial arts adherents and interested observers make the pilgrimage to this Mecca of human combat, absorbing the amazing fighting techniques of the Shaolin masters as well as their wisdom and certitude."

The backdrop to the Shaolin Temple is the magnificent natural wonder of the Songshan Mountain Range, which is dramatically paired with the equally picturesque Yellow River. These amazing scenic experiences are accessible via several designated scenic areas. Among the more prominent are the Yellow River Scenic Area, the Huayuankou Scenic Area, the Songshan Scenic Area, the Huancui Valley, and the Huancuiyu Scenic Spot.

Culturally, Zhengzhou's treasured artifacts and monuments tell a rich and varied story of this city's past. Along with the Buddhist Shaolin Temple, Zhengzhou also shares a reverent connection to Confucianism as practiced at the Zhengzhou Confucius Temple. Meanwhile, Taoist practitioners are represented at the Zhongyue Temple. Other cultural sites and monuments include the Town God Temple, the Erqi Memorial Tower, the Imperial Mausoleum of the Northern Song Dynasty, the Native Place of Tu Fu, the Manor of the Millionaire Kang, and the incomparable Henan Museum. Located on 100,000 square meters, this museum houses 130,000 relics of artistic, cultural and natural history. Finally, for history and astronomy buffs, Zhengzhou is home to the first of the 13th century Yuan Dynasty observatories, the Gaowu Astronomical Observatory.

As for folk customs, Zhengzhou's everyday traditions can be observed at the Yanming Lake Crab Festival, the always delightful Zhongmou Watermelon Festival, and the 10-day-long Zhongyue Temple Fair.

Given Zhengzhou's longstanding prominence as one of China's most important cities, it comes as no surprise that numerous historical luminaries have called Zhengzhou home. The most legendary denizen of Zhengzhou is Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor and founder of Chinese culture. Additionally, Xu You, the reclusive monk who famously refused the imperial crown, also hailed from this city. Zhengzhou's other ancient historical figures include the philosophers Zichan and Han Fei, as well as the poets Du Fu and Bai Juyi. In more recent times, PRC writer Wei Wei and Olympic table tennis hero Deng Yaping also hail from Zhengzhou.

As a culinary destination, Zhengzhou's longstanding position as a cultural and commercial hub has resulted in a delightfully varied cuisine. From the sweet-sour quick-fried carp of the Yellow River to Caiji Steamed Dumplings and on to Zhengzhou Roast Duck and Geji Stewed Pancakes, Zhengzhou has no shortage of pleasures to satiate your appetite. In particular, Henan's Yucai cuisine boasts of an intricate system of over 60 cooking methods and literally thousands of dishes developed over generations. In addition, all visitors should find time to enjoy Zhengzhou's famous huimian noodles. These hand-pulled braised noodles legendarily fueled Li Shimin's accent to the Tang Dynasty throne.

Quite likely the most well-known Buddhist Monastery on the planet, the mere mention of the Shaolin Temple conjures images of ancient Kung Fu warriors soaring through forests and battling armies of ill-prepared enemy soldiers.

As the second largest river in China, the Yellow River flows for nearly 5,500 kilometers. Its prominent presence in China's central basin provides deep historical significance as the originating region of Chinese civilization.

Established in 1927, the current incarnation of the Henan Museum opened its doors in 1998. This grand reopening put over 130,000 relics and pieces on display for the innumerable aficionados of history, art and archeology that visit Zhengzhou on an annual basis.

Widely regarded as the first king of Ancient China and the founder of Chinese culture, Emperor Huangdi stands as a singular figure in the hearts and minds of the Chinese people. Abundant stories prevail on Huangdi's supernatural origins and his youthful wit and wisdom, thus defining his destiny at an early age.

During the Qing Dynasty, the rich and powerful Kang family amassed great wealth and power in the Kangdian town of Gongyi. As a testament to their affluence, the Kang family established a feudal castle to house their generations for over 400 years.