Located on the alluvial plains in the middle reaches of the Yellow River 70km east of Zhengzhou, KAIFENG is an ancient capital with a history stretching back over three thousand years. However, unlike other ancient capitals in the region, the city hasn’t grown into an industrial monster, with most of its sights in a pleasingly compact area within the town walls, which enclose a 5km-long rectangle. These tamped-earth ramparts have been heavily damaged and there’s no path along them, but they do present a useful landmark. The town is also crisscrossed by canals, part of a network that connected it to Hangzhou and Yangzhou in ancient times. While not especially attractive, Kaifeng’s low-key ambience and sprinkling of older temples and pagodas encourage a wander, and in all, this is a worthwhile place to spend a couple of days, especially if you’ve grown weary of the scale and pace of most Chinese cities.

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