China Travel Guide
Beijing & the North - Hebei, Tianjin & Shanxi
With its northern borders adjoining Inner Mongolia and the western tip of erstwhile Manchuria, Hebei divides into a long southern plateau and a mountainous north, dotted with fragments of the Great Wall. Despite these barriers, the Manchu army flowed through the Shanhaiguan Pass in 1644 to impose 250 years of foreign rule on the Chinese. Hebei borders Shanxi to the west and envelops the wealthy conurbations of Beijing and Tianjin – Hebei’s former capital and a repository of foreign concession-era architecture.
Shanxi (West of the Mountains), its northern edge protected by the Great Wall, was once a buffer zone against the hostile Mongol and Turkic tribes. It is largely a mountainous plateau, heavily industrialized, with the Yellow River (Huang He) flowing the length of its western border. Leaving Beijing, most visitors first explore Chengde, with its imperial park and temple architecture, or the celebrated Buddhist carvings at Yungang, outside Datong. Other key sights include the magnificent Hanging Temple clinging to the cliff face, the peaceful hills around Wutai Shan, one of China’s four sacred Buddhist mountains and the charming Ming and Qing architecture in the ancient walled town of Pingyao.
Towns & Cities
Temples & Monasteries
Areas of Natural Beauty