Datong, the second largest city in Shanxi Province, is situated in the far north, near the border with Inner Mongolia. Covering an area of 14,176 square kilometers (5473 square miles), Datong has four districts and seven counties under its prefecture. It is the second largest city in Shanxi Province with a population of 2.99 million. It was listed as one of the 24 historical and cultural cities in the first batch by the State Council in 1982.Known as the ‘City of the Coal’, Datong has developed into the second largest industrial city in Shanxi due to its advantage in energy. Its large reserves of coal make it a very important energy base for China. Since it is a key resource city, transportation connections with Datong are quite convenient, especially by road and by train. Series of railways and roads work as a huge net to connect Datong with many other cities.Datong is one of the 24 famous historical and cultural cities in China due to its ever prosperous history. This makes travelers have a few huge incentives to enjoy Datong travel. With a history of over 2400 years, Datong was the capital of Northern Wei (386~534) for 96 years, and the ‘support capital’ of Liao (916~1125) and Jin (1115~1234). It was the political, economic and military center of ancient North China, which attracted many people from various nations for trade or business. These prosperous days left Datong with a series of splendid historic and cultural relics like the Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery. Most of them are the integration of minorities’ cultural and Han culture.
In a valley at Yungang, some 16km west of Datong, there are more than 45 recesses dug into the hills and filled with Buddhist statues of various sizes and shapes, 51,000 altogether, later called Yungang Grottoes (Cloud Ridge Caves) listed UNESCO World Heritage in 2001. It is one of China’s four most famous “Buddhist Grottoes”. In general, this collection is not as impressive as that in the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang-but they are easier to get to, and you are not hurried through the caves as much.Hanging Monastery is located at the foot of Mt. Hengshan, 65 kilometers from downtown Datong City. With over 1500-year history, it was first built in 491 AD. The temple hangs on the west cliff of a hill with over 50 meters above the ground, hence Hanging Monastery. The biggest attraction of Hanging Temple is the fact that the temple includes Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. It is a wooden construction supported by a few wooden posts, leaning over the sheer cliffs above Golden Dragon Canyon. Its halls and pavilions are connected by verandas, bridges and boardwalks.Located in the Yingxian County 75 km south of Datong, Yingxian Wooden Pagoda was first built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty ((916AD-1125AD). It is the oldest and largest wooden Buddhist pagoda in existence in the world. It was built without using any nails. It is admired as one of the Three Wonders of Pagoda in the world, together with Eiffel Tower in France and Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.In the city center of Datong, there are many historic sites like Huayan Temple, Nine-dragon Wall and Shanhua Temple with over 1000-year history.Datong has two sections of the Great Wall. The outer wall served as a dividing line between agricultural and nomadic life in the past. The inner wall was the second line of defense. Situated between the inner and outer Great Wall, Datong has been a witness to ancient wars waged between tribes on both sides of the wall.It is a good choice to visit Datong, if you have only two or three days.Day 01 Beijing – Datong
This evening, you will self transfer to the railway station for your soft-sleeper train to Datong.
Day 02 Datong arrival
Arrive in Datong in the early morning. Meet by your guide at the railway station.
Today’s tour will bring you to visit the Wooden Pagoda. It is the oldest wooden structure extant today in China, and also the tallest among ancient wooden buildings of the world. And then drive about 1 hour to visit the Hanging Monastery, situated at the foot of the Hengshan Mountain, 75 kilometers southeast of Datong. First built in the late Northern Wei dynasty in the 6th century and renovated three or four times since, the serried buildings look as though they are supported by a dozen or so slim wooden posts no more substantial than chopsticks.Day 03 Datong
Proceed to visit the Yungang Grottos consisting of a series of 53 caves. They are completed during the Northern Wei Dynasty (460-494 AD) and in scripted in 2001 as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in China officially. Afterwards, you will visit the Nine Dragon Screen that probably is the largest of its kind in China. After the tour, you will transfer back to the railway satiation for your soft-sleeper train back to Beijing.For more info about Datong or any other China Tours, please feel free to consult with China Connection Tours.