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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.