When you read an article about Datong (大同) in China's Shanxi Province, it tends to show either one of these two things as the leading photo: the UNESCO listed big Buddha at the Yungang Grottoes or the Hanging Monastery. We too are showing the Yungang Grottoes, but us being the rebels that we are we give you an outdoors view instead. Rest assured that the sights inside are even more spectacular.
The thing with China is that sometimes even attractions of enormous proportions like these two can fall of the tourist trail by and large. We would argue that Datong is a destination that deserves a place on your itinerary just as much as for instance Xi'an (of Terracotta Army fame) as these are some of China's most magnificent historical sights.
The Yungang Grottoes are a very well-preserved complex of 252 ancient temple grottoes featuring tens of thousands of Buddhist statues, foremost of which is the enormous Seated Buddha. The complex offers quite nice scenery, and you are likely to want to spend at least several hours here as the overall feedback appears to be that even if on paper it sounds like much of the same, in reality you will be fascinated enough to keep entering new caves.
The Hanging Monastery or Xuankong Temple is a bit further away from the city and is a wooden monastery built into a massive cliff (though supported by stilts). It consists of 40 halls of which about half a dozen are worth checking out. Inside you will find all kinds of statues, but this is one of those places where the views on the outside are what you should really come down for.
We don't want to say that the rest of Datong is uninteresting, as you will find quite a lively atmosphere on Red Flag Square in the evenings and the city has some other temples and sights worth checking out. To the north you find remnants of the Great Wall. [Review by travelindicator]
You can find the best hotel deals in Datong here.
- Datong is a city in China's region of Shanxi. It has a population of 3,318,057, is situated at an altitude of 3425ft and the best airport to fly into is DAT (Datong, Datong)
- The main spoken language here is Mandarin Chinese, and the average English skill is low
- Note Datong is not a good point of entry for trips to China as it is not well internationally connected. Instead try entering through for instance Shanghai or Beijing
- The currency used in China is the Chinese yuan renminbi (RMB) (CNY)
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More Datong travel resources
When reading up on China, your usual go to sources should be China Highlights and Travel China Guide as these rarely disappoint. Other links of interest include Tour-Beijing and some excellent travel blogs, like this one at Global Help Swap or Paul's Travel Pics.
Datong Attractions (Foursquare)
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