Songshan National Park (嵩山国家公园) is in Henan Province.
Song Shan is one of the five sacred Daoist mountains. The national park is also home to something very Buddhist in nature - Shaolin Temple and the art of "kung fu". Several groups of ancient buildings within the park area are jointly on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Within the national park is the small town of Dengfeng, home to the area's accommodations and food establishments.
The park is about two hours from Zhengzhou. It's an easy day trip. Bus leave opposite the train station every 20-30 minutes all morning. Be warned: many of the bus tickets are actually tours, that may spend most of the day at auxiliary sites or eating lunch instead of the Shaolin complex. These tours do not include entrance fees. Try to make sure you're going on a direct bus, or hire a van, if you want to see it on your own.
From bus station take bus no 1 to the end and hop on bus 8. Costs 3 yuan instead of 30 with tourist bus.
- Gaocheng Guanxing Tai - earliest surviving observatory in China
- Shaolin Temple (少林寺; Shàolínsì) (take the City Bus until the last stop and then change for bus 8, ¥3). Until 6PM. Also known as Shaolin Monastery, this important Zen Buddhist temple is the birthplace of the famous Shaolin Kung Fu martial art. With the ticket you can also go to the Pagoda Forest and reach the summit of the mountain. Note that a one year pass for all the attractions in Dengfeng area costs ¥150. They will just ask an extra ¥30 at the Shaolin Temple. That said, Shaolin Temple is very commercialised, with its abbot often dubbed the "CEO monk" and known for his extravagant lifestyle, which has proven controversial among many traditional Buddhists. ¥100.
- Shaoshi Shan - area's tallest peak at 1512 meters above sea level
- Songyue Pagoda - oldest surviving brick pagoda in China
- Wuru Feng - location of the cave where Damo meditated
- Zhongyue Miao - largest Daoist temple complex in Henan Province
- Shaolin Monastery Wushu Institute at Tagou offers one-day classes with accommodation for individuals interested in the Shaolin style of kung fu.
- Hiking - there are many tracks on the mountains. Few of them are paved. Some lead to remote and quiet places. There's no real map to be found in town so take a compass, and be careful of the snakes.
- CK Martial Hearts, Wangzhigou, Dengfeng County, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. CK Martial Hearts offers multi-day kung fu study programs for both beginners and more advanced students, inside the Shaolin Temple, training with the actual monks who live and train there. These programs are only offered at certain times of the year, so be sure to check their website to see when the next program is.
- Shaolin Travelers Hostel, 308 Chong Gao Road; 崇高路308 (from Luoyang or ZhengZhou take a bus to Deng Feng (¥25), get off at the second bus station in DengFeng, take a ¥5 taxi ride to arrive at the place), ☏ . Check-in: any time, check-out: noon. English speaking staff. They offer a cool private lesson with a Shaolin master and a discount card for the local attractions. Dorms ¥20-60, ensuite ¥160.
- Songshan Binguan, Next to the Tagou school, near Shaolin Monastery, ☏ .
- Fengyuan Dajiudian, Zhongyue Dajie 18, Dengfeng, ☏ , fax: .
- Shaolin Guoli Dajiudian, 16 Shaolin Lu, Dengfeng, ☏ , fax: .
- Zhengzhou - buses every 20 minutes from 5:30AM. ¥27 (as of July 2012)