Yellow River Attractions

The Yellow River is China's second longest river (ranking after the Yangtze River), originating from Tibetan Plateau, and feeding into the Bohai Sea  in North China. Known as "the Cradle of Chinese Civilization", there are numerous attractions along the river, including the Silk Road and  Hukou Waterfall.

Why see the Yellow River?

The Yellow River in Sichuan Proince

To say you’ve really seen China you ought to see at least some of the Yellow River, a potent icon of Chinese geography and history. This page will introduce to you some of the best places to go along its length.

The Yellow River (黄河 Huang He) is known as “the Cradle of Chinese Civilization” as China’s origins in the Xia Dynasty are found on its banks, and the “River of Tears” as its flooding has taken so many Chinese lives. Dominating dry North China, it has a different character to the Yangtze, offering a whole different range of attractions.

Top Attractions of the Yellow River

The Yellow River’s top attractions include forest parks, deserts, grasslands, Hukou Waterfall (the classic Yellow River attraction), the Loess Plateau, and ancient cities. See below for details.

Yellow River Tourist Cities

The following are the major tourist cities on the Yellow River from source to sea. They are all good places to go and see the Yellow River. Click on the links for attractions in these cities: Lanzhou, Zhongwei, Yinchuan, Baotou, Yan’an, Luoyang, Zhengzhou, and Kaifeng.

Upper Reaches Attractions – Mountains, Valleys, and Grasslands

Qinghai – the Source

The Yellow River (along with the Yangtze and the Mekong) begins in Yushu Tibetan Prefecture of Qinghai Province. This is inhospitable, high-altitude, mountain country, but the Qinghai-Tibet Railway runs through it. You can see the land of the upper reaches of China’s greatest rivers and much more on a Xi’an-Lhasa Shangri-La Express Tour.

Gansu – Upper Bridging Point

The Zhongshan  Iron BridgeThe Zhongshan Iron Bridge in Lanzhou

Lanzhou is the first major city on the Yellow River and has long had the only bridge over the Huang He in the region, making it a key stop on the Silk Road. Lanzhou has many attractions centered around the Yellow River, like Zhongshan Iron Bridge, Waterwheel Garden, and Five Springs Mountain.

Ningxia – Forest, Desert, and Grassland

Zhongwei in west Ningxia offers Shapotou, one of the most beautiful deserts in China, with the Yellow River flowing through, and Tonghu Grassland, an “Eden Within the Desert”.

Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, located where the Yellow River dominates in the north of Ningxia. Suyukou National Forest Park is a beautiful scenic area to enjoy, only 25km from Yinchuan.

Inner Mongolia – Pristine Grasslands

At Baotou, in Inner Mongolia, see the Tomb of Ghengis Khan and the Singing Sands of Ordos. Experience Mongolian nomadic pastoral life on the Ordos Grasslands.

Middle Reaches Attractions – The Loess Plateau

Shaanxi/Shanxi – Land of Yellow Soil and Chinese Origins.

Hukou Waterfall (‘Teapot Mouth’ Waterfall), 400km (250 miles) from Xi’an, is the most spectacular waterfall on the Yellow River, where the Huang He’s yellow waters are funneled and poured like tea from a giant teapot.

Hukou Waterfall is near Yan’an, the historic Communist headquarters at the end of the Long March, where Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and others lived in loess dugouts, and plotted the defeat of the Japanese and the Communist rise to power. Yan’an also has the Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor, China’s legendary ancestor.

Pingyao Ancient Town in Shanxi Province is the closest tourist destination to Hukou Waterfall, with lots of ancient architecture and Mian Mountain, birthplace of Qingming Festival.

Luoyang – Ancient Capital and Buddhist Holy Land

Luoyang is one of the eight ancient capitals in China. Retrace its history by visiting Luoyang Old Town District. The Longmen Grottoes are some of the most famous Buddhist grottoes in China. See the cave dwellings that people have dug out of the loess cliffs to make their homes in.

Lower Reaches Attractions – The Northern Plain

Zhengzhou – Ancient Capital and Kung Fu Birthplace


Zhengzhou is one of the eight ancient capitals of China. See the Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Shaolin Kung fu, Mount Songshan for culture and nature scenery; and Henan National Museum, one of the best museums in China. Zhengzhou Yellow River Scenic Area is a typical large Chinese recreational park 30km NW of Zhengzhou, offering temples, historic statues, hills to ramble up, and views of the Yellow River.

Kaifeng – Ancient Capital with Jewish Quarter

Kaifeng, another of China’s eight ancient capitals, has many architectural attractions, including Iron Pagoda, Pita Pagoda, Shanxi Shaanxi Gansu Guild Hall, and Kaifeng Jewish Quarter are the most famous, and most of the city's historical relics are kept in Kaifeng Museum.

  • Come and see the Yellow River with China Highlights and make your China experience complete. See tours for the destinations above by following the links, or tailor-make a tour with the Yellow River and your other favorite China highlights.

More about the Yellow River

Hi, I'm Ruru Zhou
I updated this article on April 14, 2014
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