The 20 best places to visit in Hebei Province

 

Built in 1996 in Xinle City, just north from the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, is the Hebei Academy Of Fine Arts, a regular university within a spectacular architectural building. Having made headlines because of its comparison to Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series, the academy has since explained that it prefers to be known as Cinderella's Castle, and is designed in a Gothic style modeled on the castles of Medieval Europe.

20. The Hebei Academy Of Fine Arts

 

Completed in 605 AD, south east from the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, is the Anji Bridge, also known as the Zhaozhou Brigde, literally translated as 'Safe Crossing Bridge'. Written about in the journals of Marco Polo, it is the oldest open spandrel arch bridge of stone construction in the world, and has survived at least eight wars, ten major floods and numerous earthquakes over its 1,400 years in existence.

19. Anji Bridge

 

Built around the year 2000, located to the east of Beijing city is the Tianzi Hotel, its edifice depicting three enormous Chinese gods from the Ming Dynasty. Recognised as the biggest 'Human Image Building' in the world, China's looming ban on weird architecture means this will be one of the last unusual pieces of architecture in the country.

18. Tianzi Hotel

In the north east of the province, west from the city of Chengde is the Twice Tower Mountain, sometimes known as the Double Tower Mountain. Accessible via a cable car or a 30 minute hike, the huge monolithic mountains are topped by two tiny temples, making them strikingly similar to the Katskhi Pillar in Georgia or Meteora in Greece.

17. Twice Tower Mountain

 

Completed in 1755 AD in the city of Chengde is the Puning Temple, also known as the Temple Of Universal Peace, and sometimes referred to by its nickname, the 'Big Buddha Temple'. Built during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor during the Qing Dynasty, the complex was modeled after the Samye Monastery, the sacred Lamaist site in Tibet. One of the 'Eight Outer Temples' of Chengde, it houses within it the world's tallest wooden sculpture of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, a 22.2 metre (72.8 ft) statue weighing approximately 110 tons.

16. Puning Temple

Very slightly north from the city of Chengde is the Qingchuifeng National Forest Park, a protected natural area encompassing forests, mountains and amazing rock formations. Home to attractions such as the Meteorite, the Qing Dynasty Baoshan Temple and Ma Xiang Tomb, the absolute highlight of the forest park is a rock formation known as 'Sledgehammer Peak'. Accessible via a hiking trail that takes visitors almost right to the base of the rock, this vertical cylinder of rock appears to almost defy gravity.

15. Qingchuifeng National Forest Park

 

Completed in 1780 AD in the city of Chengde is the Xumi Fushou Temple, literally the 'Temple Of Happiness And Longevity Of The Sumeru Mountain', built to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Qianlong Emperor. One of the 'Eight Outer Temples' of Chengde, this well preserved Buddhist temple is a complex of beautifully detailed pagodas, pavilions and temples constructed in a Tibetan and Chinese style.

14. Xumi Fushou Temple

 

North west from the city of Baoding, between the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, and Beijing city is Mount Langya, literally translated as 'Wolf Tooth Mountain'. The newest addition to this amazing mountain came in 2016 with the completion of a glass bridge leading to a circular glass observation deck that rests 450 metres (1,476 ft) above a rocky gorge. Requiring visitors to take a 3 hour hike or cable car ride with an additional 40 minute hike, the observation deck offers 360 degree views of the incredible mountainous national forest conservation area.

13. Mount Langya

 

South west from the city of Chengde, straddling the border with Beijing Municipality is the Wuling Mountain National Nature Reserve, named after the majestic Wuling Mountain within the Qingliangjie Scenic Area in the Yanshan Range. Made up of large forests, undulating hills, waterfalls such as the Longtan Falls and amazing rocky peaks, one of the parks highlights is the difficult 19 kilometre (11.8 mile) hike to the summit of Mount Wuling.

12. Wuling Mountain National Nature Reserve

 

Directly west from the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, is the Hongyagu Scenic Area, famous for the Hongyagu Glass Bridge. Opened in 2017, the bridge stretches 488 metres (1,601 ft) between two steep cliffs, measures 2 metres wide and hangs 218 metres (715 ft) above the valley floor. Said to be the longest glass bridge in the world, it offers visitors incredible views over the surrounding mountains as it sways from side to side.

11. Hongyagu Scenic Area

South west from the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, close to the border with Shanxi Province at the far eastern tip of the Taihang Mountain Range is Mount Cangyan, meaning 'Green Cliff Mountain', a scenic area famous for its combination of natural mountain scenery mixed with historical man made structures. Buildings of note include the Bridge Tower Hall and the complex of the Fortune Celebration Temple. It was first erected during the Sui Dynasty and is said to have been the place where Princess Nan Yang, the daughter of the Sui Emperor Yang, practiced Buddhism. The various structures of the Fortune Celebration Temple; the Tablets House, the Hall Of The Heavenly Kings, the Hall Of The Giant Buddha, the Bridge Tower Hall and the Buddhist Canon Depository are well integrated into the natural rock.

10. Mount Cangyan

 

Within the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, is the county of Zhengding, an important religious center for over 1,000 years, starting from the Sui Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. The founding location of several major schools of Chan Buddhism, unfortunately many former religious building complexes have been severely damaged throughout its long history. Still retaining a large number of historical landmarks and treasures, the most notable of these are the four famous pagodas; Chengling Pagoda, Lingxiao Pagoda, Xumi Pagoda and Hua Pagoda. Dating from the 6th to 8th centuries each one is built in a different architectural style. Another major landmark is the Longxing Temple, first built in 586 AD it has been referred to as the First Temple South of Beijing. Today operating as a museum, the Longxing Monastery remains a well preserved 11th century reconstruction.

9. Zhengding

 

North west from Beijing city in Jimingyi Township is the Ancient City of Jimingyi, meaning 'Crowing Rooster', taking its name from the nearby mountain of the same name. The location of an ancient post station dating back to the Yuan Dynasty throughout the 13th and 14th centuries, it was a major transit post station on the route from Beijing to Datong, Shanxi Province, up until 1913. Still retaining its original layout, the square shaped town is surrounded by a 2 kilometre long wall accessible via two gates. Considered the largest, best preserved and most distinctive ancient post house along the north post road in ancient China, it has been listed as a key historical and cultural site under state protection.

8. Jimingyi

 

Dating from 1737 AD onward, south west from Beijing city are the Western Qing Tombs, a necropolis that incorporates four royal mausoleums where seventy eight royal members are buried. These include four emperors of the Qing Dynasty and their empresses, imperial concubines, princes and princesses, as well as royal servants. The four main tombs in the complex are the Tailing or 'Tomb Of Peaceful', Changling or 'Tomb Of Remarkable', Muling or 'Tomb Of Knowledgeable' and Chongling, or 'Tomb Of Sublime'. Though not as well known as the Ming Dynasty Tombs, the importance of the complex has designated it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Western Qing Tombs

In the far south west of the province, stretching for some 400 kilometres (248 miles) through Hebei, Shanxi and Henan Provinces are the Taihang Mountains, encompassing a landscape of rocky vegetated peaks, ancient temples, forests and huge isolated mountains. One of the newest and most famous additions to the range is the East Taihang Glasswalk, a glass bottomed tourist footpath that runs approximately 266 metres (873 ft) around a sheer mountain cliff, suspended 1,180 metres (3,871 ft) above the ground below. As if not frightening enough, the glass skywalk shot to fame when videos of it cracking beneath visitors feet appeared on the internet. Fortunately for those visitors, the cracking glass was a prank created using infrared sensors and LED screens built into the floor.

6. East Taihang Glasswalk

 

South west from Beijing city, covering an area of some 520 square kilometres (201 square miles) is Yesanpo National Park, literally translated as 'Wild Three Slope'. Encompassing an area where the Taihang Mountains meet the Yan Mountains, the protected area covers a terrain of incredible mountains, gorges, rivers, forests and lakes, making for some of the best natural terrain in Hebei Province.

5. Yesanpo National Park

 

Dating from the late 17th century onward, to the east of Beijing city are the Eastern Qing Tombs, the largest, most complete, and best preserved imperial mausoleum complex in China. Five emperors; Shunzhi, Kangxi, Qianlong, Xianfeng and Tongzhi, 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing Dynasty are buried here. Surrounded by Changrui Mountain, Jinxing Mountain, Huanghua Mountain and Yingfei Daoyang Mountain, the tomb complex stretches over an enormous area of 80 square kilometres (31 square miles). As part of the Imperial Tombs Of The Ming And Qing Dynasties, the entire complex has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Eastern Qing Tombs

 

Completed in 1771 AD in the city of Chengde is the Putuo Zongcheng Temple, a Qing Dynasty era Buddhist temple complex built during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. Modeled after the Potala Palace of Tibet, the residence of the Dalai Lama that was built a century earlier, the temple is a fusion of Chinese and Tibetan architecture with halls and pavilions adorned with copper and gold tiled roofs. One of the 'Eight Outer Temples' of Chengde, this huge complex represents one of the largest temples in China.

3. Putuo Zongcheng Temple

 

Directly north from the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, forming the northern end of the Taihang Mountain Chain is Baishi National Geological Park, named after the Baishishan or Baishi Mountain, a peak that reaches 2,096 metres (6,877 ft) above sea level. Declared a 5A level tourist attraction by the Chinese Tourism Association, the park is home to incredible granite peaks and unusual rock formations that can be traversed using glass walkways and hiking trails. Home to China's longest, widest, and highest glass skywalk, it stretches 95 meters (312 ft) over a ravine at an elevation of 1,900 meters (6,200 ft). There are a number of other attractions including a second skywalk with an elevation of 1,600 meters (5,200 ft), as well as a large number of amazing vista points. With parts of the Great Wall snaking around its foothills, it makes for one of the most unmissable places in Hebei.

2. Baishi National Geological Park

 

Dating from as far back as the 7th century BC, joined together, newly built and maintained right through to the end of the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century is the Great Wall Of China, regarded to be one of the most impressive feats of architecture in human history. With a total length of 21,196 kilometres (13,171 miles) the wall crosses the centuries, Dynasties and numerous provinces, making it the most famous symbol of China, one of the most notable man made structures on the planet, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World.

Surrounding Beijing, the capital of the Ming Dynasty, Hebei was the most important defense line guarding the state, and as such boasts long well preserved sections of the Great Wall. Spanning 20 dynasties of Chinese history and 1,388 kilometres (863 miles) of length, wall highlights within Hebei include Laolongtou or 'The Old Dragon's Head'. Part of the Shanhai Pass, also known as Shanhaiguan, it is where the Great Wall ends to the East and leads into the Bohai Sea.

1. The Great Wall Of China

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