Hebei Province is one of China's 9 coastal Provinces. The Province is situated in the upper North-East of the country, above the mouth of the Yellow River at the Bohai Sea. Neighboring Provinces are in clockwise direction - Shanxi Province in the West (behind Wu Tai Shan mountains), in the North separated from the city of Beijing and Hebei Province lies the plateaux of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (AR), to the East and North Liaoning Province and to the South and East Shandong Province. Finally, Henan Province a well populated agricultural Province situated in the extreme South closes the list.
The Topography of Hebei Province can general be seen as follows - In the North and North-West a Ring of Mountains encloses Beijing City. As a result of this, most of the Northern parts of Hebei Province are Mountainous or at least hilly. As travelers will find, he further one moves northward out of Beijing, the more hills and soon mountains will limit the view of the horizon. When, for instance taking the train from Beijing to the former Imperial Retreat city of Chengde, one will see green farming landscapes, rolling hills , the Great Wall and eventually beyond the city of Chengde the first real granite mountain tops. On the other hand, when traveling by train in the north-western direction, heading towards Datong a
Introduction to Hebei Province (河北) of China
Wu Tai Shan
Xilao Tu Shan
Hebei Province (河北) of China
- Click Map to Enlarge to Full Detail -
proper, is notorious for its hot summers and frosty winters, which however bring relatively little snow as most of this falls in the mountainous ring separating the city and Hebei Province from the Mongolian Plans. In the East,in the coastal Regions - especially in the Qinhuangdao Prefecture, one will find attractive sandy beaches just south of the area where the Great Wall on China winds its way down the mountains to pass through the historic Shanhaiguan Fortress before terminating at the Old Dragon's Head point where hits the sea. In these regions the waters of the Bohai Bay of the Yellow Sea temper the extremes found further inland and in summers days can almost resemble those experienced much further south on the tropical island of Hainan. In winter however, the Bohai Sea usually does freeze over reflecting the realities of winters at this high a latitude. The greens and lush farming land of the North China plain extend throughout the south and further into neighboring Shandong Province.
Geographically, the territories of Hebei Province surround Beijing Municipality and Tianjin Municipality, both centrally administered City Provinces that are independent of Hebei Province and have their own city Governments. The city provinces of Beijing and Tianjin are the economic engines of the Hebei Province, a situation in which (due to the historic presence of the Grand Canal since the years of the Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD -
Map of the Gobi Desert & Yellow River Flow
Satellite Image Map of the Gobi Desert Region. Map overviews North-West Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and North and North-Eastern China giving a Full Overview of the Gobi Deserts and Yellow River Basin. Map includes country borders, name + location of Cities and Villages (clearly visible).
China Report - Map of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty
Satellite image of China and North-East Asia, with a super-imposed schematic Map of the location and Path of the Great Wall as constructed during the Reign of the Ming Dynasty. Included for reference are City names, geographical features of landscape, Names and locations of Passes on the Great Wall of China.
Highlights, Monuments and Scenic sites of Hebei Province
With China as a civilization having over 5000 years of history, it is said that every town
and village in the entire country has its own story and relics. The Province of Hebei, since
the 4Th Century home to several of the leading Dynasties and multiple wars has for
certain its fair share. The Province and Cities of Hebei are sown with historical sites,
Third in the list of Top-sites in Hebei Province are not the Monuments of Tianjin, former Capital of Hebei Province and the second largest City in Hebei, but a much lesser and smaller city. The absolute Top of Qing Dynasty architecture and landscaping can be found at the city of Chengde, just 4 hours travel by train or car from Beijing City. Chengde or Jehol, was the Home of the Imperial
The famed Great Wall of China leading away into the distance along mountain-ridges of Hebei Province near Beijing.
Schematic Map depicting the multiple layers of the Great Wall of circling Beijing and North and North-East China.
HEBEI MAP 2 :
A second topographical map of Hebei Province.
Click to go to Full Map.
ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS OF HEBEI PROVINCE:
As mentioned, the most important cities of this region in the north eastern Peoples Republic of China are Beijing and Tianjin, however various cities lie as satellites dispersed in a ring around the city of Beijing lending their names to the various City Prefectures of Hebei Province. These cities, previously surrounded by mostly rural landscapes and communities have recently modernized and grown enormously.
Jumping to the opposite side of Beijing, in the north east one finds the city of Chengde, even today a smaller city much limited by the mountainous valley that gave shelter to the Manchu Qing Dynasties' Fleeing the Heat Summer Mountain Villa which originally gave rise to its current day existence. Chengde is the center of Chengde Prefecture through which runs the now mostly ruined outer layer of the Great Wall of China (for details see: Great Wall of China Satellite Image Map). Another notable landmark of the Prefecture are the Eastern Qing Dynasty Tombs, which sit right underneath a section of the winding Great Wall in a truly remote and thus mostly quiet valley.
Much alike, the city of Tangshan (唐山) is but a destination for tourist, nationally mostly renowned for its Tangshan Holy Mountain (actually Dacheng Mountain) around which the current day city was originally built. Another reason anyone might be familiar with the name of this until fairly recently obscure rural industrial and mining city in eastern Hebei Province is because of the devastating earthquake, one of the deadliest recorded in human history, which wiped the city nearly off the map just weeks before the final passing of Mao Zedong in the fall of 1976.
Today rebuilt, the city remains but an outpost of the much larger mega-metropolis of Beijing, having gained the tourist landmark of the earthquake monument commemorating the well over 100 thousand who found their death, and offering fairly little else worth mentioning. Except for the magnificent Holy Mountain, the Prefecture of Tangshan offers little else than the remains of the Great Wall and other much more minor relics. Tangshan is however a polular destination for tourist who want to hike along the so called wild sections (ruined remains) of the Great Wall of China.
Jumping across the Tianjin City Province, the south east of Hebei Provinces counts the highest number of cities. Set nearest the coastline is the out of the way city of Cangzhou.
former defensive stronghold in neighboring Shanxi Province, one almost immediately encounters the mountains. In particular this railroad section passes through the Jundu Mountains, which for two millennia formed a natural barrier between the raging nomadic tribes of the northern (Mongolian) plains and the sedentary peoples of the Capital and the China beyond.The railroad journey to Datong and (formerly Mongolian) Hohhot further down the line ensures a spectacular journey, passing through narrow ravines, rolling through dark tunnels cutting through the jagged edges previously only seen by those guarding the Great Wall of China lying across the peaks, rivers and cravices of these particularly steep mountains.
To the West of Beijing, forming a natural border with adjacent northern parts of Shanxi Province lie the Heng Shan, which form a bridge between the northern Jundu Mountains and the more
Although but modest in size, especially when compared to the huge Autonomous Regions of the Peoples Republic, other notable features of Hebei Province are its remarkable differences in local climate and geography.Very generally speaking, dry and arid conditions are found in the West and increasingly the north, owing to the encroaching of the Gobi Desert and the loess-deposits of yellow dust blown in from the Gobi and the Yellow River Basin (in Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia and Gansu).
In turn, the city of Beijing (not a part of the Province)
1368 AD) Tianjin has since long served as the port city, logistics and supply center of the bigger and more important beating heart of the City of Beijing. Today connected via a high-speed railway line and both served by International Airports the two continue to serve as twin cities, one being far less without the other.
Further inland, along the main highway and historic pathway from Beijing down south one finds the cities of Baoding, a garrison city for the Capital, and further down the line the until recently entirely inconspicous Capital of the Province, the city of Shijiazhuang.
Capital of Hebei - Shijiazhuang City and Prefecture:
In the 1930's and 40's nothing more than a railway yard and dreary station along the railroad to the Capital of neighboring Shanxi Province, Shijiazhuang has only recently exploded to be a city of millions serving as a satellite of the city of Beijing. Although for long treasuring its own University and other high level facilities, the city is still developing its own modern face and along with it a true identity of itself. Suprisingly, the rural area's of the City Prefecture of Shijiazhuang offer a wild and interesting albeit limited number of landmarks of great historical and cultural value to travel to and inspect. Apart from the Yanmenguan Great Wall Pass, there is the Vairocana Monastery, the Fuqing Monastery Bridges, as well as the oldest surviving arched bridge in human history knows as the Zhaozhou Bridge.
Overview Map of Beijing, Tianjin, southern Hebei Province and -in white in the west part of this map- neighboring Shanxi Province. Clearly identified are the main cities, towns, roads and major landmarks and monuments of the various area's.
CLICK MAP IMAGE TO GO TO FULL VERSION !!
There are no cities in Hebei Province on the west side of Beijing as these regions are mostly mountainous and not connected through the main historic pathways in the region.
Lanfang Prefecture, Xingtai and Handan Prefectures:
The final cities found in Hebei Province are therefor the "cities" of Lanfang, Xingtai, and finally Handan forming the southernmost city and prefecture in Hebei Province.
In this collection, Lanfang however is not a real city but a more or less altificial administrative creation the very small territory of which is found some ways along the border between Beijing and Tianjin (City) Provinces with another entirely separate part situated due south east of Beijing. Its name and the entire area are usually disregarded as irrelevant to tourism.
Likewise neither Xingtai nor Handan are highlights on anyone's tourist itenerary and could thus be considered thoroughly off the beaten path of regular International Travel.
southernly Wutai Shan, the latter being highest mountains to be found in north China entire.
Where the Jundu Mountains are the home of the most renowned sections of the Great Wall of China, cutting right across Beijing City Province and northern Hebei, the Heng Shan has its own set of remarkable treasures. The two most famous historical landmarks of this border area of Shanxi Province and Hebei Province are the well known "Hanging Monastery" of Hunyuan County and the nearby oldest wooden pagoda in China entire, the Yingxian town"wooden pagoda".
Teetering off from there in the eastward direction towards the city of Beijing, these mountains form a natural border along which several gates of the inner defensive layers of the Great Wall of China can be found (See "Great Wall of China (o/t Ming Dynasty) overview Map" and other maps of
Overview Map of Beijing, Tianjin, southern Hebei Province and -in white in the west part of this map- neighboring Shanxi Province. Clearly visible, the mountains rise up from the green plain to form a natural border with the adjacent territories in north Shanxi Province. West of Beijing lie the Heng Shan whereas further south, north of Taiyuan, the Wutai Shan holy mountains are the highest mountains in found in northern China entire.
CLICK MAP IMAGE TO GO TO FULL VERSION !!
the Great Wall of China). The most well known of these Gates is the Yanmenguan Pass, a place where one can still view the Gate and ruins of the connected Great Wall of China.
On the opposite side, due East of Beijing the landscape is equally mountainous with the Great Wall of China extending beyond Beijing Province into Tangshan Prefecture. Although again mountainous in the extreme north, the mountains taper off into hills and an agricultural landscape. In these regions the mountains and hills reach as far south as the northern parts of neighboring Tianjin City Province, the city core of which lies well in the north China plain in a flat area which, centuries ago, used to the location of the mouth of the important Yellow River (Huang He).
To complete the geography of Hebei Province, in the South of the Province the situation is the complete opposite of the north. In these regions the North China Plain leads down south into the fertile central and coastal provinces. At furst glance the regions appear mostly flat.
These regions used to be of crucial economic importance to the city of Beijing due to the presence of its "feeding artery", the awe inspiring Grand Canal. Apart from the Canal, the Marco Polo Bridge (Lugou Qiao) and another ancient bridge situated in Hebei Province, the few historic relics of interest are again shaped by now mostly forgotten (and really obscure) remains of Fortresses defending the city of Beijing against roaming bands of (usually nomadic) invaders.
The main cities of Baoding - still a military strongpoint noted for its large army base(s) -, Handan and especially the Capital of Hebei Province Shijiazhuang, are not noted for their tourist charms, although there certainly are some gems of interest to be found in their surrounding rural regions.
Main Rivers and Waterways of Hebei Province :
Climate and Weather of Hebei Province :
Hebei Province counts quite a few major and minor rivers. The main rivers of Hebei Province are in alphabetical order the Dai River, the Dayun River (Dayun He), the Juma River (Juma He), the Luan River (Luan He), the Taiping (Heavenly Kingdom) River, etc.
By far the largest river is the Dayun He, which flows through from west to east through southern Hebei Province before emptying into the Bohai Bay of the Yellow Sea. Another waterway of major interest within Hebei Province is the historic Grand Canal, which flows from Tongzhou due east of Beijing, to cut through Tianjin City Province and the Cangzhou Prefecture of Hebei Province before entering into Shandong Province. Much of the Grand Canal, a first version of which was created during the Sui Dynasty (581 AD - 618 AD), is still in function today, having become part of the large regional and national grid of canals and rivers used for transportation as well as drainage.
Hebei Province is located in the North China, and it officially has what is known as a monsoon climate of medium latitudes. Roughly translated to the practical situation on the ground this means that Hebei Province, except for its now desertifying north west and the granite cliffs of the Jundu Mountains, occupies a zone of more tempered climate leading to a more abundant vegetation. Overall, Hebei Province is a lush green province.
There usually is a hot summer with the most rainfall in the months of July and August, followed by a prolonged comfortable period of after summer warmth, after which the cold of winter swiftly and often suddenly descends from the much colder Mongolian Plateaux so nearby.
As mentioned July and August see the most plentiful rain, a time during which the heat can be sweltering due to the high humidity. This is also usually a time of increased smog risks, with thunder and showers clearing the air intermittently.
As for the winters, these can be very chilly, due to incresaed winds. Snow, when it comes usually arrives in the first weeks of November (although in 2013 as late as December 1) which can lead to unexpected heavy downfall. Overal however, snowfall is spars in Hebei except for the outermost mountains and peaks where blizzards do occur frequently come wintertime.
That said, it may noted that climatic changes have also affected Hebei Provinces and as one result, in recent decades increased droughts have been prevalent throughout northern and north-western China including Hebei Province and the Capital.
Spring time arrives relatively late in Hebei Province and the Capital of Beijing, with chilly periods lasting well into the April month. When spring arrives, it is usually with a sudden twist, and temperatures usually rise rapidly to a comfortable level. As around the Province explodes a newly grown greenery and abundant flowers, the first tourist arrive back in the Capital and touring the Province.
The yearly average temperature in Hebei Province is about 14 °C (57 °F) with however considerable extremes. January is the coldest month with the average temperature is -1 °C (30 °F) and temperatures dipping as low as minus 10, sometimes briefly below.
In the summer season the hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 24 °C (75 °F) in that month.
CLIMATIC CHANGES IN HEBEI PROVINCE AND BEIJING:
All the above said, it may noted that climatic changes have also affected Hebei Province. In recent decades increased droughts have been prevalent througout northern and north-western China including Hebei Province and the Capital, leading to a by now Internationally reported on "Cloud Seeding Program" to induce more precipitation in the drought striken regions.
Another feature of the climatic changes are an increase in torrential downpours striking the city of Beijing and surrounding Hebei Province. In the latest case in July of 2012 entire residential area's were swamped when a heavy thunderstorms trigged an overnigh flash flood. Just to illustrate the severity of the problem, overnight some 56,933 people had to be evacuated - especially from the Fangshan District of Beijing City Province. In Hebei Province the Juma River flooded its banks. While the floodwaters killed 79 people overall in urban and rural area's in Beijing and Hebei the huge Beijing Capital International airport (in Shunyi District) suffered a huge pile-up of outbound traffic with crucial economic traffic diverted away to regional cities. The material damage was staggering and it seemed quite unexpected.
NOTORIOUS BEIJING AIR POLLUTION:
Last but not least, another important woe affecting both Hebei Province and Beijing, as well as much of the surrounding territories is the problem of air pollution (or "smog"). Internationally much publicized on, the whole area has been undergoing a phenomenon that has been frequently dubbed the "airpocalypse". In plain terms, one should understood that especially Beijing is
Above and Below: Satellite Images dated February 2010 during the so called Airpocalypse period. As can be seen Hebei Province, Beijing, Shandong Province, large parts of Shanxi Province (and territories far beyond) were enveloped in a giant cloud of gas clearly visible from outer space (Photos by AERONET).
considered to be one of the most air-polluted cities on the planet, recently only in competition with the on average equally toxic air in (New) Delhi, the Capital of the other population giant in Asia, India. Regionally, only the coal burning and mining towns in neighboring Shanxi Province have suffered even worse.
Although the air pollution had already been a noted problem in advance of the succesful Beijing Olympics held in the year 2008 and the air was notable more breathable during the games as a result of extreme measures taken by the Government, the most recent air crisis occurred in February of 2013, when air quality readings all over north China went off the charts far exceeding anything seen previously.
Currently, the inhabitants of the city of Beijing and the wider regions suffer from a situation in which there are notable clear days at which time everything seems have gone back to the pleasant times before. However, throughout the year, prolonged periods with dangerous levels of air pollution occur. It is thus often sad that Beijing city dwellers, natives and expats alike, live with their eye on the air pollution Index, which is continuously updated and posted on twitter (and other social media) by (at least) the United States Embassy in Beijing. Anyone traveling the wider regions is well advised to find their signal and keep an eye on it while touring Beijing, Hebei and Shanxi Provinces (there is no reading for any city in Shanxi Province).
While those tied to the city have resorted to insulating their homes and offices and installing air purifying machines (filters), tourist and travelers bound to hit the streets have been forced to resort to don themselves with surgical caps and lately even miniature gas masks (on sale throughout Beijing and in surrounding cities). In the summer of 2010, when polluting levels again hit ultra-unhealthy the "better" Beijing Hotels started making free gas masks available to their customers.
Although since the pollution seems to have somewhat improved, with more clear days occuring, generally speaking the air pollution is the most prominent problem on any travelers mind these days.
The general advice could be deduced from above, that being: Keep informed, make sure you have a VPN so you can read the Pollution Index Meters and be in supply of proper air filtering for your breathing.
With proper air purifying one may avoid the
internalization of the worst toxins through the lungs, however this still leaves a problem of stingy eyes after prolonged periods of exposure somewhere out in the not so fresh air.
Another, rather novel way to deal with the problem of air pollution in China is to stay away entirely, which is what a lot of travelers seem to have done since the brutal truth was underlined in the winter and summer of 2010. During the year 2010 and since, the number of international visitors to the Capital, especially tourists, has steadily decreased after the enormous peak and popularity generated in the year 2008.
Read more specifics on the climatic woes in Beijing, the air pollution problem and recent developments in: " Climate, Weather, Air Quality and other forms of pollution in Hebei Province".
(o/t Yellow Sea)
(covered in snow)
DrBen on AsiaReport.com expedition about to hit the streets and polluted air of Beijing in late November of 2010 when surgical masks proved to be not enough protection and gas masks became the latest thing. There is even gas mask fashion nowadays.
No information available.
Cities in Hebei Province :
Beijing City, the administratively autonomous center of Hebei Province, is the seat of the Central Government of China, a major business and administrative center with a booming Central Business District, a (light) manufacturing and central transportation hub with an international airport (Beijing Capital). Further Beijing is home to a major tourist industry.
Tianjin in turn, is a manifacturing hub in the heavy industries, a harbor city and international port.
Other cities of Hebei Province are Handan, Shijiazhuang, the current capital of Hebei, and BaoDing in the South of the Province below Beijing. Small XuanHua and ZhangjiaKou (Kalgan) lie in the dry lands to the west beyond expanding Beijing City and City Province. Miyun, a city with mosques, a gate on an inner layer of the great wall and the Miyun fresh water reservoir, lies north-west of Beijing, one of its latest landmarks an imitation European castle.
Find QinghuangDao, home of the eastern terminus of the Great Wall of China known as "Old Dragon's Head" in the East on the Coast of Hebei. Last but not least there are Tangshan Holy Mountain, the summer resort city of BeidaHe, near QinhuangDao, and the equally green city of Tangshan, due North-East of Tianjin City. BeidaHe is the resort City of choice the leadership and others wishing to escape the Summer Heat and enjoy the coastal breeze & waters.
The latest amenities at the luxury Fairmont Hotel include free gas masks for all.