Henan Province, 689km (413 miles) SW of Beijing, 998km (599 miles) NW of Shanghai

Zhengzhou, a sprawling industrial city of six million and a major railway stop on the Beijing-Guangzhou rail lines, was once a Shang dynasty (1700-1100 B.C.) capital, though few traces of its 3,000-year history remain. Many travelers simply overnight here en route to Kaifeng and Luoyang, but a few lesser known but intriguing sights are in the surrounding area. Zhengzhou's proximity to the Yellow River (30km/18 miles to the north) also makes it a convenient base from which to explore the river.