Sitting 13km west of Dengfeng on the road to Luoyang, Shaolin Temple is a place of legends. This is the temple where the sixth-century founder of Buddhism’s Chan (Zen) sect, Bodhidarma, consolidated his teachings in China, and also where – surprisingly, given Buddhism’s peaceful doctrines – Chinese kung fu is said to have originated. Today, it’s a tourist black spot, packed with noisy groups and commercial enterprises, and a complete non-starter if you’re seeking any form of spiritual enlightenment – though as an entertaining look into modern China’s kung fu cult, it’s a lot of fun. In autumn, the place is particularly busy, filling up with martial-arts enthusiasts from all over the world who come to attend the international Wushu Festival in nearby Zhengzhou.

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