One of the four ancient capitals of China, the city of Luoyang in the central plain of China is known as the site of Longmen Grottoes, a world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. This interesting historic city also hosts an ancient shopping street, a major ancient temple area, two famous museums, and the oldest Buddhist temple in China, making Luoyang a popular destination for Chinese visitors and history enthusiasts worldwide.
An ancient city located in the western part of Henan province in central China, Luoyang is considered one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization. Surrounded by fertile agricultural areas of Luo and Yi Rivers, several ancient cities have existed in the vicinity of Luoyang. Established already in the 11th century BC by the name of Chengzhou, Luoyang became the capital of the Han dynasty in AD 25, and remained a center of the country for several centuries. As one of the four ancient capitals of China, Luoyang has seen nine different Chinese dynasties and almost 100 emperors ruling the city. Although Luoyang has suffered from invasions and political upheavals during its long history, the city still offers a great deal of ancient sites from various periods to be admired.
Sights and activities in Luoyang: from Longmen Grottoes to temples & tombs
The most famous of the various historical sites in Luoyang are the Longmen Grottoes located in a national park on the banks of the Yi River. Constructed between the 4th and 5th centuries, these grottoes carved in the mountainside and depicting more than 100.000 Buddhist statues are considered to be one of the great sculptural treasures of China. The main caves of the area are Guyang, Binyang, and Lianhua, all including stunning ancient pagodas and Buddha statues. The Longmen Grottoes are situated 12 km south of the present city of Luoyang and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular destination of sightseeing tours in Luoyang. Another important historical site near the grottoes is the series of temples called Guanlin built in honor of Guan Yu, a hero of the Three Kingdoms period of China.
Impressive historical treasures of Luoyang include also the White Horse Temple (Baima Si), the first Buddhist temple in China, established as early as AD 68 and located to the east of the modern city. You can also visit the historical Dengfeng Observatory, built in 1276, or the numerous ancient cave dwellings around Luoyang and Sanmenxia, some of which are still in housing use. The two interesting museums in Luoyang, the Ancient Han Tombs Museum located north of the city and the fascinating Luoyang Museum in the city both host a great deal of historical exhibitions and an impressive amount of ancient relics.
Shopping in Luoyang is an interesting experience in the long historical shopping street of Luoyang, as well as in the city’s large market.
If you are visiting Luoyang in April, be sure to see the colorful Luoyang Peony Festival, held annually in Wangcheng Gongyuan.
Luoyang travel information and practical tips
Situated on the fertile Loess plains of Central China, Luoyang enjoys a temperate continental climate with hot and rainy summers and cool and dry winters. July and August are the rainiest months in Henan province, while spring and autumn are drier and more enjoyable times to visit Luoyang.
How to get there. Traveling to Luoyang is possible by rail, road, and air. There is a local airport with domestic flights to Luoyang from a handful of Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Guangzhou and Dalian. However, train travel is the best way to travel to Luoyang from most major cities in China. Located along the major rail line, there are many direct trains to Luoyang from Beijing and Shanghai. Buses to Luoyang are available from the nearby cities and regions.
Local transportation in Luoyang is available in form of a plethora of tourist buses visiting the main sights in and around the city, as well as taxis. Car rental in Luoyang is also available. It is recommended to use a local driver. The city center of Luoyang can be easily explored by foot.
Visitor services. You can find a good number of hotels in Luoyang, but do not expect most staff to speak English. There is also a great selection of restaurants in Luoyang, serving a variety of Chinese cuisines and local dishes including the famous water banquet. Nightlife in Luoyang is, however, quite restricted. Luoyang is a quite safe city with very little violent crime. Visitors who do not speak Chinese may find it difficult to get around independently, though.