Cultural Sites in Kaifeng – One of the 6 Chinese Ancient Capitals (开封古迹)

Apart from Luoyang, Kaifeng is another famous ancient capital in Henan. Widely known as the cradle of Chinese civilisation, Kaifeng was once the capital city of 8 Chinese dynasties. Contrary to its current underdeveloped state, it was once named the world’s most developed city during the 11th century!

I will now show you 4 of the cultural sites that have given me a better appreciation of the heritage and rich culture that one-fifth of the world’s population takes pride in.




#1 The 966 Years Old Iron Pagoda 有着近千年历史的开封铁塔

An architectural miracle – the Iron Pagoda is now 966 years old, having survived 38 earthquakes and 9 floods since 1049. It is amongst the oldest pagodas in China.

The pagoda is so-named not because it is made of iron (bricks, instead), but because its color resembles that of iron. This octagonal-base structure stands at a current height of 57 meters, 13 stories in total. Richly adorned by more than 50 different kinds of glazed brick and 1,600 elaborate carvings, featuring buddhas, monks and animals, real and legendary alike.

A major restoration project was done to the Iron Pagoda in 1957, under the instruction of Chairman Mao. It was also amongst the first batch of national heritage sites to be protected by the Chinese national council.




It costs an extra 30 RMB to climb up the tower. Unfortunately, there was some repair work undergoing so I missed my chance.



On the octagonal corners are 100-odd bells that swing and sing along with the wind. Here you can also have an overview of the intricate carvings on the glazed bricks.



Reading from right to left, it means “World’s Number One Pagoda”

www.Travelgraphy.com_DSC_6971A small temple for prayers.



It must be an excursion day for the kids in school. Hooray!

Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 09:00 – 20:00
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 50
  • 210 Bei Men Da Jie, Kaifeng, Henan, China
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 20 mins from city centre, costs about RMB 30
    • By Bus: Bus number 1, 2, or 20
  • Tel: +86 378 282 6629
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 1.5 hours


  • 开放时间:09:00 – 20:00
  • 门票:人民币50元
  • 地址:北大门街210号,开封市,河南省
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约20分钟,打车费用约人民币30元
    • 公交车:从开封火车站或公交总站搭乘1号、2号或20号公车可以直达
  • 电话:+86 378 282 6629
  • 建议游玩时间:1.5小时

#2 Da Xiang Guo Temple 大相国寺

If you think the Iron Pagoda is miraculously ancient, let me show you something even older – the 1400-year old Da Xiang Guo Temple.




Once a Royal Temple during the Song Dynasty, the temple was destroyed in a flood of the Yellow River and later by a fire, in the late Ming Dynasty. Several reconstructions took place during the Qing Dynasty that rescued it.



Similar to the  White Horse Temple, the main halls are flanked by complementary buildings such as a Bell Tower and a twin-liked Drum Tower.




“Many people pray to be kept out of unexpected problems. Some people pray to be able to confront and overcome them” – Toba Beta


Admittedly, one of the (bad) habits of photographers is that our eyes practise prejudice. They are biased towards uncrowded sceneries. So, let me make it known – the Da Xiang Guo Temple is rather crowded during the weekday morning when I set my feet in, though not as frustratingly crowded as the White Horse Temple in Luoyang. Nevertheless, be prepared and get ready to thrust your way through the senior citizens.


Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:30
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 45
  • Zi You Road, Kaifeng, Henan, China
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 5 mins from city centre, costs < RMB 10
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 1 hour


  • 开放时间:08:00 – 18:30
  • 门票:人民币45元
  • 地址:开封市自由路西段
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约5分钟,打车费用少于人民币10元
  • 建议游玩时间:1小时

#3 The Dragon Pavilion 漫步龙亭

Once a palace in the Northern Song Dynasty, subsequently an imperial examination hall, and then a place for worships, the Dragon Pavilion is now a public park enjoyed by everyone (if you have paid the RMB 80 entrance fee, that is).

从北宋时期的皇宫,到顺治时期的科举场所,至后来的神祠,今天的龙亭成了开放给公众游赏的龙亭公园 (当然,前提是得先付80元的门票)。


Sharing the same peony festival mood as its sister city Luoyang, Kaifeng is attracting her visitors with the same, here at Dragon Pavilion.





This place is an inspiration for the Chinese blockbuster movie, “Curse of the Golden Flower”.


Inside the Dragon Pavilion – a glimpse of the imperial grandeur.



As part of the flower exhibition, the park is also trying to depict the typical architectural layout during the Southern Song dynasty (yes, the television was already invented by then, if you were wondering the same question as I had).





A stroll in the park at sunset, admiring the blossoming pretty faces in shades of yellow, red, magenta, cyan…. I’m in love.

I’m inexorably in love with all things pretty.


Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 19:00
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 80
  • Zhong Shan Road North Section, Kaifeng, Henan, China
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 10 mins from city centre, costs about RMB 10
    • By Bus: Bus number 1, 2, or 20
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 2 hours


  • 开放时间:08:00 – 19:00
  • 门票:人民币80元
  • 地址:开封市中山路北端
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约10分钟,打车费用约人民币10元
    • 公交车:搭乘1号、15号或20号公车可以直达
  • 建议游玩时间:2小时

#4 Watch an Outdoor Chinese Opera  大宋御河上听京剧与宋词歌舞

Lucky as I am, I chanced upon an opera performance right by my hotel doorstep! A multitude of fanciful decorations and performance stage set up by the Yu River, it’s a 0.6 billion dollar tourism effort by the city government to preserve Kaifeng’s title as China’s famous Water City.




Travel Tips and Information:

  • Opening hours: 09:30 – 22:00
  • Entrance Fee: Free
  • Close to the city museum
  • How to get there:
    • By taxi: 10 mins from city centre, costs about RMB 10
    • By Bus: Bus number 1, 15, 20 or 30 and get down at the Kaifeng Museum. Walk for about 500m.
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 2 hours


  • 开放时间:09:30 – 22:00
  • 门票:免费
  • 地址:在开封博物馆附近
  • 怎么去:
    • 计程车:里市中心大约10分钟,打车费用约人民币10元
    • 公交车:搭乘1号、15号、20号或30号公车在开封博物馆下车,步行500米左右
  • 建议游玩时间:2小时

Read more about my journey in Henan, the cradle of Chinese civilisation: 

  1. Peony Festival in Luoyang (洛阳牡丹花会)
  2. A Visit to Emperor Wu Zetian’s Palace (一代女帝,武则天)
  3. The First Buddhist Temple in China (中国第一佛教古刹)
  4. #1 Attraction in Henan – The Longmen Grottoes(龙门石窟)

There are other places in Henan that you can find out about here:


4 thoughts

  1. Pingback: Luoyang and Kaifeng Old Streets (洛阳与开封老街) | Travelgraphy

  2. Pingback: Tasty Treats (and Insects) at the Kaifeng Night Market | Travelgraphy

  3. Pingback: What is Luoyang Water Banquet? 什么是洛阳水席? | Travelgraphy

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