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Henan Travel Guide
Travel in Henan


Henan Province (hé nán shěng 河南省) lies entirely north of the 31st parallel north (north of the equator) and entirely west of the 116th meridian east (i.e. 116 degrees longitude east of the universal mean-time point, Greenwich, in the UK). To get a fix on where Henan Province is located relative to the internal geography of China, one can compare the location of the province within China to the location of a corresponding state within the 48 contiguous US states: if a map of the 48 contiguous US states were made to fit over China, then Henan Province would lie roughly where the US state of Iowa lies, or just northeast of an imaginary crosshair that divides China into quadrants along north-south and east-west lines, precisely where the same crosshair over the US would place the state of Iowa.


Location of HenanHenan, literally "to the south of the River" in Chinese, got its name by having most of her area to the south of the Yellow River.

In Chinese terms, Henan Province might be termed "Middle Earth"; in fact, it is alternately known as "Middle Zhou" (Middle Kingdom), "the Central Plain of China", and "the cradle of Han Chinese civilization", with the short form of "Yu (yù 豫)". In support of this claim, one might point out that three of the oldest human cultures in China, the Peiligang (7000-5000 BC) Culture (péi lǐ gǎng wén huà 裴李岗), the Yangshao (5000-3000 BC) Culture (yǎng sháo wén huà 仰韶文化) and the Longshan (3000-2000 BC) Culture (lóng shān wén huà 龙山文化) all have their roots in the province, and no less than three of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China — Anyang, Kaifeng, and Luoyang — all lie within Henan Province.

Administrative Divisions

Henan is also the most populous province in China, though not the most densely populated region in China, as that distinction is claimed by a political-administrative entity not belonging to a province, namely, Chongqing Municipality, which lies southwest of Henan Province, across the expanse of land where Shaanxi and Hubei Provinces meet, Shaanxi lying west and southwest of Henan and Hubei lying southwest and south of Henan.
Administrative Divisions of Henan
Henan is divided into seventeen prefecture-level divisions — all prefecture-level cities — and one directly administered county-level city.The prefecture-level cities are:

The seventeen prefecture-level divisions and one directly administered county-level city of Henan are subdivided into 159 county-level divisions (50 districts, twenty-one county-level cities, and 88 counties; Jiyuan is counted as a county-level city here). Those are in turn divided into 2440 township-level divisions (866 towns, 1234 townships, twelve ethnic townships, and 328 subdistricts).

History and Culture

Henan holds a very important position in the formation and development of Chinese culture and oriental culture. A large number of historical records and years of study on archaeology have shown that at least 8,000 years ago, Henan's ancestors were the first to create human civilization in China. During that period of more than 3,500 years from the Xia Dynasty (the first dynasty in China, in the 21st century BC) to the Jin Dynasty (in the AD 13th century), over 200 emperors of 20 dynasties founded capitals in Henan or moved their capitals here, leaving innumerable places of interest and historical spots, which today can still be visited. Under the State's protection are 96 establishments rated as "national treasures". The number of underground cultural relics in Henan province ranks the first in the country and the 1.3 million pieces of relics housed in the museums accounts for one eighth of the total of China. Among the eight ancient capitals of China, four of them were in Henan, namely Zhengzhou, Luoyang (124 kilometers to the west of Zhengzhou), Kaifeng and Anyang (about 200 kilometers to the north of Zhengzhou).

NanyangIn addition, there are several historical sites and cultural cities, such as Nanyang, Shangqiu and Xunxian County. Numerous scenic spots and historical sites are not only famous for their historic and cultural connotations but also for their tourism value, such as the hometown of the Yellow Emperor (a legendary ruler of China) in Xinzheng (a city close to Zhengzhou). The Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng (82 kilometers to the west of Zhengzhou), the Mausoleum of Song Emperors in Gongyi (70 kilometers to the west of Zhengzhou), Longmen Grottoes, Baima Temple in Luoyang and the hometown of Xuan Zang (a famous monk in Tang Dynasty, who brought books of Buddhism from India to China) in Yanshi (a city close to Luoyang) are all cultural spots of interest in Henan.

For those who love history there are the Imperial Street and the Bao Gong Temple in Kaifeng (the capital of Song Dynasty), the Yinxu Museum and Youlicheng (the origin of the famous classic work — Book of Changes) in Anyang, the chariot pit of the Tombs of the Kingdom of Guo (a kingdom in Zhou Dynasty, about 2800 years ago) and Hanggu Pass in Sanmenxia. Many famous people from ancient China are honored in Henan; such as Wuhou Temple built in memory of Zhuge Liang who is regarded as a wit master in China, Zhang Heng Tomb (a great scientist in Han Dynasty), and the Temple of Zhang Zhongjing (an ancient medical sage) in Nanyang. The Tomb of Suirenshi (the discoverer of how to use fire), Huamulan Temple (a well-known heroine who took the place of her father to join the army) in Shangqiu; as well as Taihao Mausoleum in Huaiyang.

At present, new scenic spots are emerging in Zhengzhou, Luoyang and Kaifeng. Henan Museum has a rich collection and is unique for its great architecture. A great deal of rare culture relics are on display there. The Longmen Grottoes are listed as one of the world's cultural heritages. As a vivid and authentic reproduction of the great painting, Qingming Shanghe Painting (qīng míng shàng hé tú 清明上河图) of the Song Dynasty, the Qingming Garden was duplicated strictly following the painting in Kaifeng. While visiting, tourists can enjoyHanggu Pass the scenes and the customs of the ancient city with a history of a thousand years.

Henan boasts not only abundant cultural heritage for tourism, but also unique natural scenery. The Yellow River stretches for over 700 kilometers in Henan. Traveling from the middle reach to the lower reach, we will feast our eyes on the blue ripples in Sanmenxia reservoir, the vast expanse of waving billows in the Yellow River sightseeing zone in Zhengzhou City, and the wonder of the "protruding river" whose river-bed is 14 meters above the ground of Kaifeng. The Xiaolangdi reservoir, 3 kilometers wide, 132 kilometers long, is the largest expanse of water to the north of the Yangtze River, dwarfing the surrounding mountains. Recently, such new sightseeing programs as "boating down the Yellow River" and "cruising along the Yellow River" have been developed, which are described by tourists as interesting and adventurous.

Geographic Features

Located on the Central Plains in the mid-east of China, Henan Province borders Anhui Province and Shandong Province to the east, Hebei Province and Shanxi Province to the north, Shaanxi Province to the west and Hubei Province to the south.

The Yellow River sees Taihang Mountains lying to its north, from north-east to south-west, as well as the east stretch of Qinling Mountain range lying to its south. As a channel connecting the east and the west, the Yellow River basin, through which the famous Silk Road extends westward along with the second Eurasia Continental railway system consisting of Longhai railway and Lanxin railway, connects with the Central Shaanxi Plain and reaches out directly into the Great Northwest of China, and then to west Asia. The south-to-north thoroughfares, represented by the famous Nanxiang Channel of the ancient times and the present-day Jingguang railway and the Jingshen highway, were built in the joining areas of the mountainous regions and plains.

From an administrative and communication view, Henan lies in the center of China. Starting from Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan, a circle with a radius of roughly 600-800 kilometers can be drawn, encompassing Beijing, Tianjin and the Tanggu region to the north, Wuhan in the south, the Central Shaanxi Plain to the west and Shanghai, Nanjing and Hangzhou to the east. Henan, with its advantageous location, wins herself an important role in the social and economic activities in China. Historically, Henan was a transportation hub, and many great historic events took place in this land. Hence the old saying, "Those who gained the central plains would obtain China".

Funiu MountainNowadays, with the network of railways and expressways which reach all over the country and with convenient air transportation, Henan's position as the transportation hub has been strengthened. Furthermore, the national key projects taking place in Henan such as the pipeline of transporting natural gas from west to east and the pipeline of diverting water from south to north are now under construction. Henan plays a major role in the national economic and social development.

The west part of Henan is higher than the east, geographically. In the west tower the Taihang Mountains (tài háng shān 太行山) and the Yuxi Mountains, the latter being the eastern extension of the Qinling range which fans out eastward. The Funiu Mountain (fú niú shān 伏牛山), 1000-2000 meters above sea level, is recognized as the roof of Henan. In the southern part of the province lie the Tongbai Mountains and the Dabie Mountains with an average height of less than 1000 meters. They serve as the watershed of the Huaihe River and the Yangtze River. Along the Yellow River between the Taihang Mountains and the Yuxi Mountains disperse hilly loess lands. In the center of Henan stands the towering Songshan Mountain. In the east part of the province stretches the vast Huanghuai Plain.

Danjiang RiverThe four major rivers, namely the Yellow River, the Huaihe River, the Haihe River and the Yangtze River, stretch over Henan. There are over 1500 rivers crisscrossing, 493 of which cover a drainage area of more than 100 square kilometers for each. The Yellow River flows across the middle of the province with a trunk stream of 711 kilometers long and a drainage area of 36,200 square kilometers, which accounts for approximately one fifth of the coverage of the whole province. The Huaihe River, which winds through the mid-southern part of Henan with numerous branches and abundant water yield, has a trunk stream of 340 kilometers long and a drainage area of about 88,300 square kilometers, which accounts for almost one half of the whole coverage of the province. The Weihe River and the Zhanghe River in the northern part flow into the Haihe River. The Danjiang River, the Tuanhe River and the Tangbai River in the southwest part flow into the Hanshui River. The gross water volume of the province is about 41.3 billion cubic meters, ranking it the 19th in China.

Climatic Features

With vast plains and moderate climate, Henan is an important national base for farm and livestock production. The arable land of the province totals 8,110,300 hectares, including a cultivated land of 7,262,800 hectares, accounting for 6.24% of that of the whole nation and ranks the fourth, only next to Heilongjiang, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia.

Chinese PeonyHenan is located in the transition belt from the subtropical zone to the temperate zone. It has a mild climate with an annual average temperature of 15.5℃-9.5℃ from south to north, a moderate annual rainfall of 1380.6-526.0 millimeters, and a frost-free period of 265-332 days. Therefore, Henan is suitable for the growth of various crops and it is one of the main national bases for all kinds of farm crops such as wheat, corn, cotton, tobacco leaf, legume, and sesame. The grain yield of the province amounts to one tenth of the national total. The oil crops yield and the beef output are both one seventh of the national total and the cotton yield is one sixth. Henan takes the lead in its yield of farm products including wheat, corn, cotton, tobacco leaf, legume, and sesame, as well as livestock products like meat, eggs and dairy. Henan also boasts a good number of famous, superior and special local products, such as Yuanyang rice; Kaifeng watermelon, Xixia kiwi fruits, Lingbao apples, Ningling pears and Xinyang chestnut; Zhongmu and Qixian garlic, Yongcheng green peppers; Luoyang peony (mǔ dān 牡丹), Yanling flowers. In addition, the well known Maojian tea and traditional Chinese herb medicines are also produced here.


Over the past two decades, the tourist industry of Henan has enjoyed a constant and rapid growth. In 2004, it received over 450,000 overseas visitors, with a revenue of US$160 million, which is a respective increase of 138.7% and 152% compared with those of last year. Moreover, Henan has received over 80 million domestic tourists on an accumulative basis, with a revenue of RMB 56 billion yuan, which is a respective increase of 58.6% and 63.8% compared with those of last year. The overall earnings have reached RMB 57 billion yuan, a rise of 65.2% compared with that of last year, accounting for 7.2% of the GDP of Henan province. So far, among China's leading tourist cities, 17 of them are in Henan including Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Kaifeng, Puyang, Jiyuan, and Dengfeng.

Zhengzhou Xinzheng AirportFrom the Airports in Zhengzhou, Luoyang and Nanyang, there are more than 800 flights shuttling among the major cities across the nation weekly, including Hong Kong, Macau and Tai Pei. Being one of the best airports in inland China, Zhengzhou Airport, with its 4E class flying area, has been approved as an international airport. Henan owns an advanced road transportation system, with a network of expressways linking the capital city of Zhengzhou with Luoyang, the ancient capital of nine dynasties, and Kaifeng of seven dynasties, It also links Anyang of four dynasties, and Xuchang, capital of Kingdom Wei (in the period of Three Kingdoms), thus forming a cross-shaped structure of expressways with Zhengzhou at the central point from which just a 50 to 100 minutes' drive is needed to each of the above-mentioned cities.

In recent years the provincial government has attached much importance and priority to the tourism development, regarding it as a new economic growth point and one of the pillar industries in Henan.

Main Attractions

The Longmen Grottoes

The Longmen Grottoes The Longmen Grottoes (lóng mén shí kū 龙门石窟) are located in the south of Luoyang City. They are between Mount Xiang and Mount Longmen and face Yi River. Longmen Grottoes, Yungang Caves and Mogao Caves are regarded as the three most famous treasure houses of stone inscriptions in China.

The grottoes were started around the year 493 when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534) moved the capital to Luoyang and were continuously built during the 400 years until the Northern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127). The scenery measures 1,000 metres (about 1,094 yards) from north to south where there are over 2,300 holes and niches, 2,800 steles, 40 dagobas, 1,300 caves and 100,000 statues. Most of them are the works of the Northern Wei Dynasty and the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Lots of historical materials concerning art, music, religion, calligraphy, medicine, costume and architecture are kept in Longmen Grottoes.    

Song Mountain

Song Mountain (sōng shān 嵩山) lies in Dengfeng city, in the heart of Henan Province and about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of its capital, Zhengzhou. Song Mountain, which is also known as Zhong Yue (middle mountain), is known as one of the Five Mountains of China. The others in this group are Tai mountain in Shandong Province, Hua Mountain in Shaanxi Province, Mount Heng in Shanxi Province and Mount Heng in Hunan Province.

Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple (shào lín sì 少林寺), in the region of Song Mountain, Dengfeng City, Henan Province, is reputed to be 'the Number One Temple under Heaven'. The temple is the cradle of the Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts such as Shaolin Cudgel. One can see wild flowers and pines on the mountain. With birds singing and a brook spattering, a beautiful scene full of life and vitality is revealed to the visitors.

Shaolin Temple embraces many exciting attractions, such as the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Mahavira Hall, the Pagoda Forest, the Dharma Cave and the Shaolin Temple Martial Art Training Center. Visitors may follow the virtual guide about the Shaolin Temple.

Dragon Pavilion Park

 Dragon Pavilion ParkAs the biggest scenic spot in Kaifeng, Dragon Pavilion Park (lóng tíng gōng yuán 龙亭公园) totals 83.13 hectares, half of which is water area. This park mainly contains two lakes-Lake of the Family Pan and Lake of the Family Yang. What is strange is that the former is muddy while the latter is lucid, just mirroring two officials of Northern Song Dynasty: Pan Renmei-a treacherous official and Yang Jiye-an honest official.

The Yellow River Scenic Area

The Yellow River Scenic Area (huáng hé fēng jǐng míng shèng qū 黄河风景名胜区) is situated northwest of Zhengzhou City, in Henan Province. The scenic area is surprisingly beautiful. As seen from a high point in this scenic area, the mighty Yellow River rushes by and demonstrates tremendous force with rolling and falling of the river's torrents. Sometimes in its thousands of miles, the river reaches wide endless plains where currents flow smoothly, and sometimes it meets precipitous mountains where it has to zigzag its way.

The Yellow River Scenic Area embraces five scenic spots, namely the Five Dragons Peak, the Camel Mountain Range, the Yueshan Temple, the Stone Figures of Yandi and Huangdi, and the Ancient City of Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. Among them, the Five Dragons Peak is the central area.

Mount Yuntaishan

The Yuntai Mountain (yún tái shān 云台山) Global Geopark of China is located north of Jiaozuo City, in the southern foothills of Taihangshan Mountains. With a total area of approximately 556 km2, the Geopark is characterized by its rifting tectonics, and spectacular landscapes formed by hydrodynamic processes, in combination with its natural ecologic and cultural relic scenery.

Yuntai MountainThe Geopark is divided into five parts: Yuntaishan, Shennongshan, Qinglongxia, Fenglinxia, and Qingtianhe scenic areas. Tourist attractions within the Geopark include the hanging springs and waterfalls of the Yuntaishan area, the gorges and mountain streams of the Qinglongxia area, the towering rock walls of the Fenglinxia area, the crystal clear waters of the Qingtianhe River, the Dragon Crest Ridge of the Shennongshan Mountain. All of these provide the spectacularly scenic views for tourists to enjoy during their visit to the Mount Yuntaishan Geopark.

Yin Ruin

Regarded as the most representative site of ancient Chinese civilization, the Yin Ruin (yīn xū 殷墟) site is praised by international experts and scholars as the world's "Second Egypt". It is on par with the Seven Wonders of the World. Yin Ruin site is similar to the palace-temple complex on the south side of the Huan river. Therefore it is not only an important component in the Yin Ruin site, but is also designated by the World Cultural Heritage as a "Core Zone". Thirteen large tombs (including one unfinished large tomb), and more than 2000 accompanying tombs and sacrificial pits were discovered here. Weighing over 875 kilograms, the Si Mu Wu square ding-cauldron, a national treasure, was excavated here as well. It is regarded by academics circles around the world as a dazzling pearl amongst the treasures of ancient Chinese culture. Precisely because of the site's important value, in 2006 both the palace-temple complex and the royal cemetery were entered into the list of World Cultural Heritage sites.


Chinese Yu Opera

Chinese Yu Opera (豫剧) from Henan Province is also known as Henen "Wooden Clapper" or Henan's High Keys. Henan Opera is famous for its strong and sharp voices and it is welcomed in regions along Yellow River in northern China and some parts of Xinjiang and Tibet.

The history of Yu Opera traces to late Ming Dynasty or early Qing Dynasty (in mid 17th century's China). Originally, the opera was sung only by human voices without any musical accompaniment. It was easy to sing so that it had been very popular in central China. The origin of the Chinese opera genre was either from Qinqiang Drama in Shaanxi Province, or from northern folk songs. However, many Chinese believe that Yu Opera was developed from local ancient singing arts, because during late Ming Dynasty, Henan folk songs had been very popular.

Chinese Yu Opera The "Wooden Clapper" became a fully matured form of Chinese opera and much performed during mid-eighteenth century. Opera troupes often performed at Ming Imperial Palace. Yu Opera developed different singing styles in Kaifeng, Luoyang and eastern Henan Province and so on. However, the popular Chinese opera genre was limited in rural areas.

After the success of the Democratic Revolution (xīn hài gé mìng 辛亥革命) in 1911, Henan Opera came to big cities. It had been well performed in local teahouses. Many opera troupes were set up at that time. In 1956, Henan Yu Opera Troupe established. Today, there are many small groups set up in neighboring provinces.

The musical accompaniment at first was consist of "one drum, two gongs, three string instruments, a clapper and a cymbal", sometimes people used a large cymbal and a big Chinese horn, to make the opera performance grand and magnificent. In recent decades, opera performers have introduced Chinese traditional instruments such as erhu, pipa and suona pipe, also Western violin, cello and some brass instruments.

Traditional repertoire in Henan Opera has about 1,000, many of them based on Chinese epic novels and historical events, some operas are about love, family and moral.

Jade Sculpture

Jade SculptureJade Sculpture (yù diāo 玉雕) art has more than a three-thousand-year history in Zhengzhou. Such jade articles from Xinmi, Zhengzhou, are regarded as the most famous in China. Additionally, the jade sculptures are sold throughout Southeastern Asia, Western Europe and Northern America, etc. These jade items are emerald green and translucent with a hard quality, features that are considered to be necessary for classical jade ware by experts.

Huanghe (Yellow River) Inkstone

Huanghe (Yellow River) Inkstone (huáng hé yàn 黄河砚) is made from a clay deposit from the Yellow River. Blended with herbs, this inkstone is one of the four famous inkstones that have been used by calligraphers and artists over the centuries. Huanghe inkstone in vermilion or an eel yellow is highly regarded and both of which were popular among emperors and the literati of ancient China.

New Year pictures of Zhuxian Town

Zhuxianzhen Nianhua (zhū xiān zhèn nián huà 朱仙镇年画), the New Year pictures of Zhuanxian Town, originated in the Tang Dynasty and flourished in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. It is said that the town of Zhuxianzhen in Kaifeng is the cradle of Chinese xylograph. The lines being bold and exaggerated in a romantic way, the structure integrated, Zhuxianzhen Nianhua is rich in the taste of Chinese village, unstrained with primitive simplicity and prominent local features. With themes on well-known people, stories and legends, Nianhua, the New Year pictures, are very popular among the Chinese, with a wide range of categories involving pictures of gods hung on doors, in kitchens, in guest rooms and so on.

Tang Tri-colored Glazed Pottery

Tang Tri-colored Glazed PotteryTang Tri-colored Glazed Pottery (táng sān cǎi 唐三彩) is a Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) gem. The pottery used primarily three colors, red, green and yellow, hence its name. Most of these potteries were discovered in Luoyang. Locals have been making replicas of the Tang Tri-colors for hundreds of years in different shapes such as horses, camels and people. These vivid replicas make elegant presents for friends and relatives.

Bian Embroidery

Bian Embroidery
(biàn xiù 汴绣) is famous for its excellent reproduction of ancient pictures. Going Upriver for Qingming Festival is the representative that combines elegance and exquisiteness.

Bian EmbroideryBian is the short name of Kaifeng city. Actually Bian Embroidery (Kaifeng Embroidery) has a long history of over 800 years. It can trace back as early as the Northern Song Dynasty in the 10th century AD. At that time, there was a special department in the imperial palace including hundreds of workers making embroidery for the emperor. In 1950s the Kaifeng Embroidery Factory made a big piece of work Qingming Riverside View and sent it to the central government. Now it is still kept in People's Hall in Beijing city. The representatives of Kaifeng Embroidery include Qingming Riverside View, Five oxes, people's portraits, famous paintings and so on. Nowadays people can also visit the workshop to see how the workers make the embroidery . Every piece of work there is made by hands, no machines are used there.


Nanyang Silk (sī chóu 丝绸) is well-known for its fresh and glossy, lightly bright and gently soft color and luster. The traditional silk is divided into family silk and Mountain Silk. Family Silk is made from silkworm. And Mountain Silk is made from tussah, so the Mountain Silk is also named Tussah Silk. The two kinds of silks have excellent, precise and dense texture and handsome design. They are as bright and beautiful as cloud brocade and have renowned at home and broad. They are one of the popular exported goods in Henan Province.


Attraction map of HenanAir

Many cities in Henan province have airports, such as Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Nanyang and so on. They provide flights to most of the big and medium-sized cities in China, such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and so on.


Henan province has well-developed railway transportation systems. The three railways, Beijing-Guangzhou railway, Beijing-Jiulong railway, Jiaozuo-Liuzhou railway, go through from the south to the north, and intersect in Zhengzhou, Shangqiu, Luoyang with Longhai Railway which goes from the east to the west. Besides, there are some lateral lines, such as Xinyan Railway (go from Xinyue to Yanzhou in Shandong province), go through Henan province.


The highway, from Beijing to Zhuhai, runs through Henan province lengthways. One of the sections from Anyang to Luohe has been functioned. There are also highways between some major cities, such as Kaifeng, Zhengzhou, Luoyang.


1. A city's colorful nightlife reflects its prosperity. From the various activities of Zhengzhou people, we can see how as the capital city of Henan Province, it is making rapid progress and its inhabitants are becoming more and more fashionable. Most people like office workers will return home between 10 pm and midnight, while many modern young men will continue to enjoy the nightlife until some time after 2:00 a.m.. These different habits from different groups of people help to make the nightlife of Zhengzhou rich and colorful.

2. There are many shopping venues in Luoyang. Shanghai Market Pedestrian Street in Jian Xi District is the place where fashionable clothes are sold. Wangcheng Park located on the middle Zhong Zhou Road is the best place to buy tourist souvenirs such as Tang Tri-colors, peony paintings and bronze wares. Nan Chang Road in Jian Xi District is the most beautiful avenue in Luoyang, offering a variety of things you may need.

3. Traveling along the old Silk Road can be a quite interesting and rewarding experience. Here is some information that the visitor should consider when planning a possible travel on the Silk Road. The Silk Road spans most of China, from modern cities in the central China to isolated villages and towns in the remote west. Accordingly accommodations along the route range from high standard luxurious hotels to simple guesthouse.