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Datong is a historical city located in northern Shanxi province as well as famous City of the Coal. For travel enthusiasts, it is a fascinating and attractive destination offering unique experience, especially cultural discovery - exploring world-famous cultural treasures, taking a pilgrimage to the holy Buddhist sites, being immersed in the antique flavor of the ancient city and so on. With the operation of high speed trains, some travelers choose to travel from Shanxi from north to south, making Datong a start of the amazing Shanxi trip. This ultimate Datong trip planning guide, involving when to visit, how to reach, what to see, where to stay, how to design itinerary, etc., will help you make full of your holiday and enjoy a high-quality Datong tour.
As one of China's Top 3 Grottoes together with Mogao Grottoes in Duanghang and Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Yungang Grottoes must be the premier site of Datong. It was firstly built in North Wei Dynasty (368 - 534) and known as the first royal style Buddhist art treasure carved by a nation. The excavation lasted for more than 60 years. There are 45 major caves and 209 secondary caves from which you can take a big feast of 1,100 niches and 5,100 statues. From the precious sculptures and carvings from the grottoes, you can probe into a deep insight into China's history and culture.
Hanging Temple is the representative attraction of Datong built into a precipitous cliff of Hengshan Mountain about 60 meters above the ground. Also built in late Northern Wei Dynasty (491 AD), it has survived for more than 1500 years by hanging in the air. In addition to its architectural charm and long history, Hanging Temple also features as the only existing temple with the combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism together. Stepping into the temple, you can appreciate the exquisite halls and cabinets, containing about 80 sculptures made of copper, iron, terracotta and stone. All of them have vivid features.
Located Huiyuan County of Datong city, Hengshan Mountain (恒山) is an important place where Taoism developed. People always referred Hengshan Mountain (Shanxi province) as Northern Hengshan Mountain to distinguish it from Southern Hengshan Mountain (Hunan province) - always called Southern Hengshan Mountain. Northern Hengshan Mountain is one of Five Sacred Mountains of China, together with Mt. Taishan in Shandong Province, Mt. Huashan in Shaanxi Province, Hengshan Mountain in Hunan Province and Mt. Songshan in Henan Province. Besides Hanging Temple, you are able to admire the different natural scenery in four seasons, soaring peaks, undulating curves of mountain ranges, sea of clouds on the summit, Confucius temple, vast wetland with wild swans, etc.
Apart from popular Yungang Grottoes, Hanging Temple and Hengshan Mountain, there are many other attractions in Datong city giving you a deep cultural suck. Huayan Monastery was originally built in Liao Dyantsty (907 - 1125) according to the famous Huyan Sutra. It now acts as an artistic complex of ancient Chinese architecture, sculptures, frescoes and inscription, etc. Shanhua Temple was first built in early 8th century of Tang Dynasty (713-741). It is a majestic building group with well-arranged layout and exquisite Buddhist frescos. Nine Dragon Screen in Datong is the largest and earliest one of the three greatest Nine Dragon Screen (along with Nine Dragon Screens in Forbidden City and Beihai Park) in China.
A classic Datong tour takes 2 days usually. On the first day, you are suggested to spend one day touring Hanging Temple which is about 70km away from Datong City. On your way back to Datong, you can take a short visit to Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, about 1 hour's drive from Hanging Temple. On the second day, you can visit Yungang Grottoes in the morning. After the sightseeing, you can visit the top attractions in the city area, like Huyan Temple, Shanhua Temple, Nine Dragon Screen, etc. before you leave.
If you have only one full day, it is available to have a day trip in Datong as well. We suggest you visit Yungang Grottoes first and then tour the attractions in the city area, or visit Hanging Temple and Yingxian Wooden Pagoda only. For some travelers want to travel Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Temple together, it is possible but you will be very tight schedule.
Datong suffers owns a continental monsoon climate with four distinct seasons - warm spring, cool summer, breezy autumn and cold winter usually. If you just want to travel Datong for its cultural wonders, it is available to visit all the year around, because its charm won't fade as weather changes. However, if you want to travel in the most moderate temperature, it is recommended visit Datong during April ~ October. In April ~ May and September ~ October, you are suggested to prepare thin sweaters, shirts, long skirts, light jeans, etc. It won't be too hot in summer (June ~ August), so you can wear thin shirts or skirts. No matter when you visit Datong, it will be helpful to bring an extra coat because there is a sharp temperature variation between day and night. Read more about Datong Weather and Dressing Tips.
▶ Learn more about: Datong Weather & Dressing Tips
Datong is located in northern Shanxi province, bordering with Suozhou (in Shanxi) to southwest, Xinzhou to south, Zhangjiakou (in Hebei) to east and Ulanqab (in Inner Mongolia) to north. Well-equipped with rails and flights, Datong can be reached conveniently from the major tourist destinations of China and most provincial capital cities.
Currently, Datong South Railway Station is the only railway stations running high speed trains. It can be reached by high speed G-trains from Beijing (about 2 hours), and high speed D-trains from Xian (about 6 hours), Hohhot (about 2.5 hours), Pingyao (about 3 hours), Taiyuan (2~2.5 hours), Xinzhou (1.5 ~ 2 hours), Linfen (about 4 hours), etc. Compared with normal trains, it is rather efficient and comfortable to have a high speed train journey.
Datong South Railway Station is located in Kaiyuan Street, Pingcheng District, about 8km away from Datong city center. Driving is the best way to travel from Datong South Railway Station to city center and other attractions.
Datong Yungang Airport operate about 15 airlines which connect Datong with 25 domestic cities of China. You can take a flight to Datong from Beijing (1 hour), Shanghai (2.5 hours), Chongqing (2.5 hours), Xian (2 hours), Guilin (about 3 hours), Chengdu (2.5 hours), Wuhan (2 hours), Nanjing (2.5 hours), Datong (3.5 hours), etc.
Datong Yungang Airport is located in Yunzhou District, 16km (about 40 minutes' drive) to Datong city center. There are airport bus running between the airport and the downtown area. You can also drive or call a taxi to travel from Datong Airport to nearby attractions.
In fact, the public transportation is not developed in Datong city and there is no metro available at present. You are able to take public bus or long-distance bus to travel from Datong city (or railway stations and airport) to the attractions, but you may need to transfer several times. In order to get rid of the hustle and bustle, it is strongly recommended to travel with China Discovery. Our local travel guide and driver will pick you up at the airport or train station with an air-conditioned and non-smoking vehicle, and then escort you to your hotel or every attraction listed in your itinerary. Feel free to Contact Us to book a Datong tour with private transfer.
Most travelers choose to accommodate in Datong downtown area which offers a great number of hotels with different classes from luxurious ones to budge ones. You can also enjoy convenient access to shopping malls, restaurants, business streets, etc. It is also easy to travel to other attractions in Datong city, like Shanxi Museum, Nine Dragon Screen, Huayan Temple, Shanhua Temple, etc. If you want to spend longer time visiting the top attractions - Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Temple, it is also available to accommodate nearby. However, the hotels are always simply equipped and in limited choices. So it is a better choice to drive back to Datong City for accommodation.
In addition to Datong, there are some other destinations worthy of your visit. Pingyao Ancient City, with a history of more than 2,700 years, retains its intact charm. There are various small attraction showing the traditional life of ancient people. In Xinzhou, you are able to undertake a pilgrimage to holy Wutai Mountain and appreciate its brilliant peaks. Want to see more natural scenery? Don't miss Hukou Waterfall - the second largest waterfall in China and the only yellow waterfall in the world. Moreover, you can also take a short trip to Taiyuan - Shanxi's capital and learn more about Shanxi's cultural splendor from Shanxi Museum and Jinci Temple.
It is recommended to spend 1 ~ 2 days visitng Pingyao Anicnet City, 2 ~ 3 days touring Wutai Mountain, 1 day touring Hukou Waterfall and 1 days touring Taiyuan.
Shanxi is an amazing place with impressive collection of rare old buildings and cultural relics. But to fully explore China's diversity, Shanxi is just a drop in the ocean. It is strongly recommended extend your Shanxi tour to other top destinations and surrounding cities. Taking advantage of high speed trains, it is a good idea to start a tour from Beijing which is convenient to reach in by international flights. If your time permits, you can spend 3 ~ 4 days visiting Beijing highlights, then travel Shanxi in about 6 days and explore Xian in 3 days. For more experience, you can visit Henan (Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Dengfeng) in 2 ~ 3 days.
In order to have a perfect tour to Datong, you can choose to travel with a professional travel agency like China Discovery. We master the most up-dated travel information and are specialized in offering travelers incredible Shanxi experience. Before your trip, our travel consultants will communicate with you one to one and make an itinerary according to your own travel length, interest and budget. As your itinerary is settled, we will book hotel, flight or trains for you. During your trip, our local travel guide will deal with all details for you and you just need to focus on sightseeing.
For more about private tour with China Discovery, you could contact us to tailor-make the best tour you want.
Top 3 Datong tours chosen by most customers to explore Datong in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Datong / Wutaishan / Taiyuan / Pingyao
Datong / Pingyao
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >