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Home Travel in Hebei Handan: The Hometown of Idiom and Allusions
Handan: The Hometown of Idiom and Allusions
Travel in Hebei


Handan (hán dān 邯郸) is a medium-sized city located in the southern part of Hebei (hé běi 河北) Province in China. It is 163 kilometers away from Shijiazhuang (shí jiā zhuāng 石家庄), and it is in the communication center of Hebei, Henan (hé nán 河南), Shanxi (shān xī 山西) and Shandong (shān dōng 山东) provinces within 200 (124 miles) kilometers away from the capital cities of these four provinces and about 500 kilometers (311 miles) from Beijing and Tianjin. Handan lies at the east foot of Taihang Mountains (tài háng shān 太行山), and borders the North China Plain (huá běi píng yuán 华北平原) in the east.
Handan has a history of more than 2,500 years, and is considered one of China's historical and cultural cities. In the Warring States Period (zhàn guó shí qī 战国时期), it was the capital of the Zhao Kingdom (zhào guó 赵国). There are many archaeological sites and ancient places of interest. Many renowned historical figures were born and brought up here such as the First Emperor of China, Qinshihuang (qín shǐ huáng 秦始皇), Emperor Wuling (wǔ líng wáng 武灵王) of the Zhao Kingdom, Lian Po (lián pō 廉颇) and Lin Xiangru (lìn xiàng rú 蔺相如) who figure in the story "The General and the Premier Make Up (jiàng xiàng hé 将相和)".
Handan was also regarded as a commercial centre during the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties (xī hàn hé dōng hàn 西汉和东汉), but slowly it declined, perhaps because of the numerous battles ravaging northern China after the Han.
It is called an "Excellent Tourism City (yōu xiù lǚ yóu chéng shì 优秀旅游城市)", "National Garden City (guó jiā yuán lín chéng shì 国家园林城市)", "National Double-supported Model City (quán guó shuāng yōng mó fàn chéng shì 全国双拥模范城市)", "the Hometown of Idiom and Allusions (chéng yǔ diǎn gù zhī dū 成语典故之都)", "the City of Prose (sǎn wén zhī chéng 散文之城)" and “the Cradle of Tai Chi (tài jí zhī xiāng 太极之乡)". Handan is also approved by the State Council (guó wù yuàn 国务院) with local legislative power.


Cishan CultureCishan Culture (cí shān wén huà 磁山文化), an early Neolithic culture (xīn shí qì wén huà 新石器文化) in the Yellow River (huáng hé 黄河) of China, occupied from about 6500-5000 BC. The site is located on an alluvial terrace near the modern town of Cishan in Wu'an (wǔ ān 武安) County, Hebei Province, and has evidence of barley, rice, and millet farming as well as domesticated pigs, dogs, and chickens. Cishan represents one of the oldest sites in the world to have evidence for domesticated dogs and pigs. The millet was recovered from 80 hoards, some of which were two meters in height. The Cishan Cultural Remains Site, occupying a land area of near 140,000 square meters, has been listed as the nation key cultural relic preservation organ by the State Council. These cultural relics proved that, as early as in more than 7300 years ago, the ancients already resided in half burrow -like house, primarily has been settling down the life by the primitive.

The Handan DreamThe Handan Dream (hán dān mèng 邯郸梦), one of the literary masterpieces written by Chinese dramatist Tang Xianzu (tāng xiǎn zǔ 汤显祖) in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is adapted from Shen Jiji's (shěn jì jǐ 沈既济) romance story A Tale within the Pillow (zhěn zhōng jì 枕中记). And what’s more, the idiom Living in a fool's paradise (huáng liáng měi mèng 黄粱美梦) derived from this story. It was about a scholar who went to the capital for the civil exam and was enlightened by an Immortal. Lu Sheng (lú shēng 卢生), the protagonist, is a down-and-out scholar who meets with Lu Dongbin (lǚ dòng bīn 吕洞宾), an immortal on a mission to convert a man into the world of the ever living, at a small inn in the city of Handan. Upon hearing Lu Sheng's complaint about his wretched life, Lv Dongbin lends him a porcelain pillow to sleep on. In his dream, Lu Sheng experience 50 years of vicissitudes of life as a high official, only to wake up to the stark reality that the yellow millet the innkeeper has been cooking for him is not yet done. The drama captures the seamy side of officialdom in the feudal society.

Returning the jade intact to the state of ZhaoThere are over 500 Chinese idioms and allusionsare derived from Handan, including the following typical ones: Riding and shooting in Hu's garbs (hú fú qí shè 胡服骑射), Living in a fool's paradise, Returning the jade intact to the state of Zhao (wán bì guī zhào 完璧归赵), Carrying rod to ask for punishment (fù jīng qǐng zuì 负荆请罪), Imitating another without success and losing what used to be one's own ability (hán dān xué bù 邯郸学步), Volunteering one’s service (máo suì zì jiàn 毛遂自荐), Relieving the besieged by besieging the base of the besiegers (wéi wèi jiù zhào 围魏救赵), No one picks up and pockets anything lost on the road (lù bù shí yí 路不拾遗), Embracing a woman on his breast, one has no indecent feeling (zuò huái bù luàn 坐怀不乱), Worth a couple of towns together (jià zhí lián chéng 价值连城), When the snipe and the clam grapple, it is the fisherman who stands to benefit (yù bàng xiāng zhēng 鹬蚌相争, yú wēng dé lì 渔翁得利), Burning one's own way to retreat and being determined to fight to the end (pò fǔ chén zhōu 破釜沉舟), The proverbial Lord Ye who claimed to be fond of dragons was in fact mortally afraid of them (yè gōng hào lóng 叶公好龙).

Yang-style Tai Chi Tai Chi is definitely part of the life in Handan. Early morning walks are rewarded with high quality Yang-style Tai Chi (yáng shì tài jí 杨式太极) being performed all over the place. Each morning on one of Handan's main squares, large groups of Tai Chi practitioners gather to study with a variety of teachers, and the quality is really good. The original home of the Yang Family is actually just outside Handan near a walled village called Guangfu (guǎng fǔ 广府), which is an hour's bus ride from Handan. It has the potential to be quite a nice area. They are doing it up at the moment, and it will obviously be a tourist attraction in the future.

Scenic Spots

       Wuling Congtai Terrace

Wuling Congtai Terrace (wǔ líng cóng tái 武灵丛台), located in Congtai Park at the center of Handan, is said to have been built in the period of Emperor Wuling (who reigned between 325 BC and 299 BC). According to Han Shu (hàn shū 汉书 History of the Western Han Dynasty), “Close to one another, the terraces are not a single unit, thus getting the name Congtai”. Emperor Wuling built the terraces to watch military drills and enjoy singing and dancing. On the terraces there originally existed Overline Bridge (tiān qiáo 天桥), Snow Cave (xuě dòng 雪洞), Flower Garden (huā yuàn 花苑) and Dressing Attic (zhuāng gé 妆阁), which were wonderfully decorated and were known to the other states as well. The existing ancient terrace consists of three stacks, 26 meters high, 59 meters wide from east to west and 80 meters long from north to south. Wuling Hall (wǔ líng guǎn 武灵馆), the major building that faces the south, was built to commemorate the famous statesman and strategist, Emperor Wuling. Congtai Terrace has been famous and a lot of scholars and officials used to inscribe poems for it in history.

Take Bus No.1, NO.2, NO.3, NO.17, No.22, NO.25, NO.29, NO.33, NO.38 or NO.41 to get there.
Ticket: RMB 4
Tel: 0310-3017270

     Wahuang Palace

Well known as "Nainai Ding (nǎi nɑi dǐng 奶奶顶)", Wahuang Palace (wā huáng gōng 娲皇宫) is located in Tangwangjiao Mountain (táng wáng jiāo shān 唐王峧山) in northwestern Shexian (shè xiàn 涉县) County and about 68 miles to the west of Handan City. First built in Northern Qi (běi qí 北齐) Dynasty (550 - 577), it was constructed in remembrance of Nuwa (nǚ wā 女娲), a goddess in Chinese mythology. The main Wahuang Palace is situated on the right side of the mountain. It is four storey high and measures 75 feet tall.

Wahuang Palace The whole structure was built along the contour of the mountain. There are 135 houses, three grottoes and six cliff sutra inscriptions of the Northern Qi Dynasty and 75 inscribed stone tablets of successive dynasties. At present, it covers an area of 760,000 square meters, and includes the Chaoyuan Palace (cháo yuán gōng 朝元宫), the Tingcan Palace (tíng cān gōng 停骖宫), the Guangsheng Palace (guǎng shēng gōng 广生宫) and the Memorial Archway (bēi fāng 碑坊), etc.
The Wahuang Palace is built on the steep mountainside, the Wahuang Pavilion (wā huáng gé 娲皇阁), the Dressing Building (shū zhuāng lóu 梳妆楼), the Hexangular Pavilion (liù jiǎo tíng 六角亭), the Yingshuang Building (yíng shuǎng lóu 迎爽楼), the Bell-Drum Tower (zhōng gǔ lóu 钟鼓楼), the Wooden Memorial Archway (mù pái fāng 木牌坊), the Pond House (shuǐ chí fáng 水池房) and the Palace Gate Wahuang Palace (shān mén 山门) are arranged on a platform of the mountain. The eight iron chains secure Qingxu Pavilion (qīng xū gé 清虚阁), Zaohua Pavilion (zào huà gé 造化阁) and Butian Pavilion (bǔ tiān gé 补天阁) to the cliffs from the bottom to the top. The elegance of the construction demonstrates the ingenuity and high level of Chinese ancient architecture.
The Wahuang Palace is the earliest and largest ancient building used to enshrine Goddess Nuwa of ancient times, and it was constructed in the 6thcentury. In the initial period, the Wahuang Palace was small, consisting of only three stone rooms and some statues of Gods and Baddhas. It was continuously expanded and constructed during the following dynasties.

                                        (click to check the map)

Ticket: RMB 60
Opening hours: 8:00-17:00
Tel: 0310-3832651

        Xiangtangshan Grottoes

Xiangtangshan Grottoes (xiǎng táng shān shí kū 响堂山石窟) is situated on the Drum Mountain (gǔ shān 鼓山) in Fengfeng Mining Area (fēng fēng kuàng qū 峰峰矿区 49 kilometers southeast of Handan City). It is a cultural relic under state protection. The grottoes consist of two parts, the distance between which is 15 kilometers. The grottoes were first dug in the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577). In the Sui (suí 隋), Tang (táng 唐), Song (sòng 宋) and Ming Dynasties, the digging continued. The grottoes are made in the slope of the Drum Mountain and the caves are so deep that people’s voices can be echoed loudly and clearly, so they are named “Xiangtangshan Grottoes”.

Xiangtangshan GrottoesThe Northern Xiangtangshan Grottoes lies in the western side of the Northern Drum Mountain. On the top of the mountain, there exist 9 grottoes. The great Buddha Cave (dà fó dòng 大佛洞) in the north of the grottoes is the biggest one. This magnificent and valuable cave is 13.3 meters in depth, 13 meters in width and 11.4 meters in height. Inside the cave there stand pillars like towers. There are four sides on each pillar, three sides of which have Buddhist niches. The sitting Buddha in the front niche is 5 meters high, with seven fiery dragons at the back.
The Southern Xiangtangshan Grottoes lies in the south of the Drum Mountain. Entering the scenic spot, you can see temples and a brick tower, built in the Song Dynasty. On the mountain, there exist 7 grottoes, of which the Thousand-Buddha Cave (qiān fó dòng 千佛洞) is the most impressive. The skillful carving on the roof is most fascinating on the top of each grotto.

                                        (click to check the map)

Northern Xiangtangshan Grottoes: RMB 25, Southern Xiangtangshan Grottoes: RMB 15
Opening hours: 8:00-17:30
Tel: 0310-5013179

1. Please pay attention to climb mountain or walking in resort.
2. Please pay attention to avoid thief.
3. Take care of your child.
4. You had better use sun lotion and sun glasses to avoid sun burn.
5. Please bring enough memory card of your camera.

     Jingniang Lake

The Jingniang Lake (jīng niáng hú 京娘湖), 50 kilometers away from Handan, is a tranquil lake between high mountains in Wu’an. Feng Menglong (féng mèng lóng 冯梦龙), a famous writer, in the Ming Dynasty once wrote in his book "Aphorism (jǐng shì tōng yán 警世通言)" that Zhao Kuangyin (zhào kuāng yìn 赵匡胤) neither thought about his own interests nor feared the high-handed people and covered one thousand li (lǐ 里 500 meters) to see Jingniang off. So the lake is named the Jingniang Lake. The Y-shaped lake is divided into two parts, each of which is 3 kilometers long. Forested mountains and clear waters can be seen everywhere and it is known as "Three Gorges in the Taihang Mountains (tài háng sān xiá 太行三峡)".

Songzu Gorge Boating eastward, you can see on your right side a huge stone like a hawk holding its head high and on your left cliffs like a magic turtle stretching its head. Boating westward, you seem to enter a magnificent art gallery. The front part is Songzu Gorge (sòng zǔ xiá 宋祖峡), where Zhao Kuangyin once wrote a poem expressing his ideals and later had it engraved on a rock, when he became the first Emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty. The hind part is Jingniang Gorge (jīng niáng xiá 京娘峡). On a cliff there lies the site of the dressing table of Jingniang. Landing at the dock in the center of the lake, and then reaching the top of the hill, you can see many fantastic stones, and peculiar peaks in the sea of mist and clouds. The picturesque scenery created by nature in harmony with the human wisdom is unforgettable.

Follow G309 westward via Wu’an City to Shamei (shā měi 沙浼), proceed northwest along Pingshe Road (píng shè gōng lù 平涉公路) through Huoshui Town (huó shuǐ xiāng 活水乡), and you will reach there. Tour buses and minibuses will take you right to the Jingniang Lake every day in tourist season
Ticket: RMB 60
Tel: 0310-5975037