How to visit Datong in one day (Tips, Photos & Map)

Planning your Datong Tour? Datong is a magnificent city invested with much history, legend and intrigue. It has also has retained a rich collection of ancient relics and architecture. All this will keep you busy for a quite a few days.

If you, for various reasons, only have a full day or two half days for your trip to Datong, and still long for seeing, feeling and touching the highlights of the splendid past of Datong, you may raise the question on how to visit Datong in one day.

Well, I can say, based on my own experience, it is still possible to visit the highlights in Datong in just one day if you arrange your own city transport ( public buses are too time-consuming). So you need either to rental a private car with driver in Datong, or negotiate with a local cab driver for a day trip in Datong.

Now follow me to have a virtual one day tour of Datong. Let’s go!

Drive to Hanging Temple from my hotel Datong

Hanging Temple (悬空寺) is about 4 km south of Hunyuan County (浑源县), 70km southeast of Datong City. The taxi drive takes about one hour and 50 minutes to get to the Jinlong Valley of Hengshan Mountain where the Hanging Temple is located.

Get up early and start out at 7:00 am and meet your taxi driver as scheduled and go on with the trip to Hanging Temple, Yingxian Wooden Pagoda and Yungang Caves, then back to the city of Datong, a whole day loop trip.

Datong and Hanging Temple (悬空寺) Road Trip ( Google Map)

The way to the Hanging Temple is not a national-level road, but its road condition is fairly ok.

We are approaching Mt. Hengshan.

Hanging Monastery, located at the foot of the Mt. Hengshan, is the only existed temple hosting worship for the Taoists, Confucians and Buddhists. Built in 491, Hanging Monastery is an architectural wonder because it hangs on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge more than 50 meters above the ground.

Hanging on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge over 50 meters above the ground

Opposite to the Mt. Hengshan, the hanging monastery consisted of over 40 buildings, are evenly distributed and well-balanced in height. On the base of the natural hollows and outcrops along the contour of the cliff, many halls and pavilions were built ,which are connected each other by corridors, bridges, boardwalks.

Climb up to the Hanging Temple

The hanging Monastery has established its unique position among the various temples and monastery with its characteristics of “peril, workmanship and miracle”.

The hanging monastery consisted of over 40 building.

Drive from Hanging Temple to Yingxian Wooden Pagoda

After visiting the awe-inspiring Hanging Temple, continue your day trip to the next destination – Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, another UNECO World Heritage site.

The Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, also called Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple ( also the name recognized by Goole Map), is located in the northwest corner of Yingxian County, about 60 km to the west of Hanging Temple.

Hanging Temple (悬空寺)to Yingxian Wooden Pagoda Road Trip (Google)

Finished in the 2nd Year of the reign of Qingning in Liao Dynasty (year of 1056), the Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County is considered the first wooden pagoda of this kind in the world. It plays an important role in the history of ancient Chinese architecture.

The Wooden Pagoda behind the Fogong Temple

It is built on a four-meter-high groundwork with a total height of 67.31 meters, and a diameter of 30.27 meters at its bottom.

Ascending the YIngxian Wooden Pagoda

The wooden tower was completely made of wood without a single nail. On each story of the tower is displayed calligraphy. The tower offers valuable information for the research of calligraphic arts and the construction of the wooden tower.

A bird’s-eye view of the temple and the town from the Wooden Pagoda

The tower adopts the structure of secluded chambers in design, presenting a distinctive national characteristic inherited from the Han and Tang Dynasties while leveraging the traditional architectural techniques to the fullest extent.

Drive from Yingxian Wooden Pagoda to Yungang Grottoes

After grabbing a simple lunch at a local restaurant in the downtown of Yingxian County, you go on with the day trip to the next most important sight in Datong – the mind-boggling Yungang Grottoes.

Drive from Yingxan Wooden Pagoda to Yungang Grottoes

Basically it takes one and half an hour’s drive from Yingxian Wooden Pagoda to Yungang Caves, using the National Expressway No.55.

The three main sites in China that are famous for their stone sculpture are Gansu Province Dunhuang, Luoyang Longmen and Datong Yungang. Among these, the Yungang grottoes are considered the first among equals, for their tremendous size, their ancient history and their relatively complete state of preservation and in 2001 the site was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

Totally 252 caves and 51,000 status in the Yungang Grottoes

With their 252 caves and 51,000 status, the Yungang cave art represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asian with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices. The power and endurance of Buddhist belief in China are vividly illustrated by the Yungang grottoes.

The sitting statue of Sakyamuni,13.7 meters high

The caves can be divided into 3 phases: cave 20 is one of the five earliest caves of monk Tan Yao, house of the sitting statue of Sakyamuni, which is 13.7 meters high, with a full and round face, majestic smile, slim up and a high nose, ears that extend almost to the shoulders, radiant eyes, and broad shoulders. It is the representative of the Buddha sculptures of the Yungang Grottoes.

Drive back to Datong and the Nine-Dragon Wall

After viewing the jaw-dropping Buddhist caves and ancient architecture, you drive back to the downtown of Datong for the last destination of your day trip in Datong – See the Nine-Dragon Wall.

Yungang Grottoes Back to the downtown of Datong

The Nine-Dragon Wall is just out there with no entrance fee, so you still need well plan your trip since the sight is closed at 6:00pm.

My lens is not big enough to catch the whole wall.

Datong nine-dragon wall is the biggest and oldest of its kinds in China. Built in 1392 during the reign of Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty, the Nine-Dragon Wall in Datong was built as a screen wall to go in front of the mansion of the 13rd son of the first Emperor of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang with 45.5 meters long, 8 meters high and 2.02 meters wide.

A close-up view of one of the dragons

The wall was constructed of glazed tiles and still remains intact today and was engraved with nine dragons. The dragons were painted in different colors and fly swiftly upward.

The clearance among the dragons was filled with stones and float grasses. The bottom of the wall carved 41 groups of pictures of two dragons playing with the pearl. The waist of the wall was compounded with 75 pieces of relieves made up of coloured glaze brick, collecting lifelike cattle, horse, sheep, dog, deer, rabbit and so on .

Tip:  Hassle-free Datong and Shanxi Guided Tours

If you don’t want to do a self-guided tour and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours,  here are some options for organized tours to Datong and Shanxi Province:

Datong Tour
Datong Great Wall Tour
Datong Car Rental with Driver
Beijing Datong Tour
Xian Datong Tour

Pingyao Tour
Taiyuan Tour
Shanxi Tour

Further Readings

Best Time to Visit Datong
Top 10 Attractions in Datong
How to visit Datong in one Day
Where to stay in Datong
How to Get to Datong from Beijing
Datong Xian High Speed Train
Tourist Traps & Scams in Datong
Datong Taxi

Datong Yungang Grottoes
Hanging Monastery in Datong
Yingxian Wooden Tower
Datong Ancient City Wall
Nine-dragon Wall in Datong
Datong Huayan Temple
Shanhua Temple in Datong
Datong Drum Tower
Mt. Hengshan in Datong
Mount Wutai (Tips, Photos & Map)

Datong Great Wall
Datong Great Wall at Shoukoubu Fortress
Datong Great Wall at Zhenbianbu Fortress
Datong Great Wall at Zhenchuankou
Datong Great Wall at Deshengbu Fortress

Any questions, just drop a line.

2 thoughts on “How to visit Datong in one day (Tips, Photos & Map)

  1. Like to visit Datong and Xian in 2 days from Beijing and back to Beijing.
    Would prefer Flying rather than sitting in a bus/car for 8 hrs.

    Would like to do it June 13-15, 2016 for 2 people. We are Vegetarians.

  2. Hi Sriram B,

    Thanks for your inquiry! Your request has been sent to our service center. One of our staff members will contact you for the details. Much appreciated for your patience!

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