North China

We treat two adjacent areas together as the Northern Central Region of China. One is the historical heartland of the country, along the Yellow River where the Chinese Empire first developed; the other is the more wild and arid territory of Inner Mongolia to the North and West. The two are not as distinct as that makes them sound, though; Inner Mongolia now has substantial cities, and several of the other provinces have desert areas.


Regions of north China
Henan Province (Birthplace of the nation and ancient home to more than 200 emperors from more than 20 dynasties)
Shanxi Province (Yellow River, mountains, ancient cities and tourist areas)
Shandong Province
Hebei Province
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region


Other destinations

The itineraries Along the Yellow River and Along the Grand Canal cover some routes through the region.


Northern China is widely considered to be the region where Chinese civilization first began, especially the areas along the Yellow River. It has been home to many different empires stretching back several millennia. Northern China has been witness to many invasions from different empires including most notably by the Mongolian Hordes of Genghis Khan and the Manchu Tribes of the Northeast. Northern China has always been an agricultural and industrial-based economy with many manufacturing and energy plants being built here.

Many locals take pride in the fact that they are living in or are from the alleged cradle of Chinese civilization. They speak a variety of different dialects and have their own local sayings and expressions. The rich culture and history make Northern China one of the most traditional parts of China.

Henan and Hebei Provinces are considered to be the "most Chinese" of all the provinces in China, as they have been less influenced by Western culture. This is equivalent to the Wild West in America and the Ocker in Australia. Many people here have historically had lower incomes compared than the rest of China due to the large farming economy however this is slowly changing with Northern China being rapidly developed.

However Beijing and Tianjin are exceptions to this information.


As anywhere in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca; nearly everyone can speak it. The Mandarin spoken in this region, especially around Beijing, is the standard dialect. Inner Mongolia naturally has many speakers of Mongolian, but many of them speak Mandarin as well. Russian was fairly common as a second language in the Northeast during the Soviet Era and even before that. As elsewhere in China, English is not widespread but some people speak it quite well.

There is another dialect in the Shanxi region called Jin Chinese (Jinyu 晋语). It is usually considered a dialect of Mandarin, but some linguists consider it a separate branch of Chinese. It is spoken in almost all of Shanxi Province and parts of Hebei and Henan Provinces. It is different than Mandarin in a few fundamental ways, including its archaic sounds, different way of pronunciation, and a different grammar structure. However, most people in these areas speak Mandarin in addition to their local dialect.

Get in

Planes and High Speed Rail are forms of transport most commonly used by Chinese and foreigners alike to access Northern China. High Speed Rail is a cheaper and more effective form of transport to access these regions with many trains stopping at these areas. For travelers who want to see more of China, the slower K and T Trains would be recommended.

Get around

As elsewhere in China, there is an extensive rail network. Rail is the main means of inter-city travel for the Chinese themselves, and many visitors travel that way as well. The system now includes fast bullet trains on most major routes; unless your budget is very tight, these are the best way to go fast, clean and comfortable.

All the major cities have airports with good domestic connections; some have international connections as well. See the individual city articles for details.

There is also an extensive highway network, much of it very good. Busses go almost anywhere, somewhat cheaper than the trains. See the China article for more. Driving yourself is also possible, but often problematic; see Driving in China.


Museums and exhibitions


Go next

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