Datong is an eight hour away by train from Beijing, the second largest city in Shanxi Province, situated in the far north, near the border with Inner Mongolia. In a valley at Yungang, some 10 miles west of Datong and easily reached by taxi or public bus, more than 50 recesses have been dug into the hills and filled with Buddhist statues of various sizes and shapes, 51,000 altogether. From the 56-foot Seated Buddha to tiny figures just a few centimeters tall, every wall and archway is crammed with carvings, including serial-type representations of scenes from Buddhist mythology and the lives of famous monks.
Datong is one of the 24 famous historical and cultural cities in China due to its ever prosperous history. 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. The scenery of Datong differs markedly from the delicate and pretty cities south of Yangtze River.
Top Attractions in Datong
Grottoes and Caverns/Caves:
Among the unsung wonders of China's history-soaked heritage are the 1,500-year-old Buddhist grottoes of Datong. Yungang Grottoes, Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and Luoyang Grottoes are called "China's three major grottoes", which haveboasting very high artistic value.
Ancient Country and Pass:
The ancient city of Pingyao is an outstanding example of Chinese Han Nationality cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties, displaying all the features of those periods. Pingya, in particular reveals a picture of unexpected cultural, social, economic and religious development in Chinese history.
Traditional Family House:
In Pingyao Ancient City are many traditional residences and commercial courtyards, 3797 of which are protected and more than 400 of which are intact. These traditional residences are the carriers of history culture, which are valuable for studying its history, folk customs, architecture, and art, and still serve as homes of local people. They become the architectural cultural heritage, which are protected and utilized today.
Pagoda and Temple:
Up to now, the city wall, streets, houses, shops, pagodas and temples have been almost kept intact. The layout and the flavor of the city have little changed. The valuables of the inner and outer city are under special protection and preserved intact.
The most beautiful landscapenatural site in Datong is Hengshan, one of the five holy mountains of Taoism. At the foot of Hengshan Mountain, there is the almost unbelievable Hanging Midair Temple, which lies against cliffs and stays high up in the air, and is acclaimed as the peak of perfection.
Datong has several other tourist attractions - such as the 600-year-old Nine-Dragon Screen made of glazed tiles, the Huayan Monastery with the largest wooden shrine hall in China, and the Shanhua Monastery, intact since 713.