Datong

Datong Hanging Temple

Datong is located in Shanxi Province, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Beijing. About 212 hours by rail from Pingyao Ancient Town. And just 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of a part of the Great Wall.

Datong was the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), known initially as Pingcheng. Datong City is now one of China’s most famous historical and cultural towns and a popular tourist attraction. With numerous historical landmarks such as the Yungang Grottoes, Hanging Monastery, and Wooden Tower.

There is a lot of Buddhist architecture

Datong had been through several fierce conflicts in its early days, and its people yearned for calm. As a result, Buddhism gained popularity.
Buddhist temple construction began during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and flourished during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534).

Today, Datong boasts several well-preserved Buddhist monuments, with the Yungang Grottoes being the most renowned tourist destination.

An essential historical site in China.

Datong was founded as Pingcheng in 200 BC during the Han Dynasty.
Pingcheng was a halting site for camel caravans on the Silk Road’s northern branch from China to Mongolia in ancient China. Datong has a rich historical record as the capital city of the Northern Wei Dynasty. The provincial capital of the Liao Dynasty (907-1125) and the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). And an essential military bastion in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1367-1912).

Beijing’s “west garden.”

Around 5 hour’s drive from central Beijing, but thanks to the advancement of high-speed trains, you can now board a bullet train from Beijing in 100 minutes. Datong is an excellent weekend getaway from Beijing.

Datong Hanging Temple

Datong is more than simply a thriving industrial zone these days. It has a distinct mountainous topography and is home to some of China’s most valuable historical treasures:

The Yungang Grottoes are 5th and 6th century Chinese Buddhist art masterpieces.
The Hanging Monastery is a Buddhist temple erected on a cliff that is both an artistic and architectural wonder.
Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, constructed in 1056 AD, is China’s oldest and tallest wooden pagoda.
The Datong Nine-Dragon Screen Wall is China’s largest dragon screen wall.
Mount Heng is one of Taoism’s five holy mountains.
Shanhua Temple is China’s most complete and extensive temple complex, erected about 1,000 years ago during the Liao and Jin Dynasties.

Weather — Best Times to Go

Datong is in China’s temperate continental monsoon climate zone. Affected by the monsoon, its four seasons are distinct. The season doesn’t matter much if you’re going to Datong mainly for ancient buildings and grottoes.

Datong can be visited all year round, but April to October is typically the best time to go to Datong if you do not like cold (freezing) weather.

In spring (April to May), the temperature rises rapidly, with an average temperature range of 3–23°C (37–73°F). It is pretty dry in spring, but there are strong winds, so please remember to bring a hat and a scarf if you travel to Datong in spring.

The climate is mild in summer (June to August), and the average temperature range is a pleasantly warm 17–28°C (62–82°F). Though most of Datong’s rain comes in summer, it is still not much, making Datong a good place for summer vacations. Please remember to bring an umbrella or raincoat with you.

In autumn (September and October), average temperatures are similar to spring, with temperatures dropping suddenly. Rainfall drops off, and the sky is often blue and clear.

The average temperature range in winter (November to March) is -12–2°C (10–36°F). Winter is freezing and long in Datong, with about 10 days of very light snowfall.

Datong Huayan Temple

How to Get to:

By Plane
Datong Yungang Airport is the sole airport in Datong, located around 16 kilometers (10 miles) or 40 minutes by car from the city center.
Datong may be reached by plane from Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Xiamen, Yinchuan, Urumqi, and other major cities.

By Bullet Train
Datong South Railway Station is an important rail hub in Shanxi Province’s north, linking with Beijing 212 hours to the east, Taiyuan 212 hours, Pingyao 312 hours, Xi’an 612 hours, and Hohhot 3 hours to the north.

Yungang Grottoes

What to Eat:

Datong is a famous food city in China, mainly known for its various wheaten foods. Datong dishes represent northern Shanxi cuisine, with a salty taste and heavy oil use.

Sliced noodles, yellow cakes, oat noodles, Hunyuan bean jelly, braised rabbit head, instant-boiled mutton, and haggis are popular snacks or dishes in Datong that you should try.

Datong Noodles

Where to Stay:

Datong is an old city with several historical landmarks, such as the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Monastery, and the Yingxian Wooden Tower. You should spend at least one night in Datong to fully appreciate the city. 

We always recommend staying in the downtown area, inside or near Datong Local Wall, for easy access to city attractions, shopping, and food-seeking. For your convenience, below are some often chosen hotels. 

  • Garden Hotel Datong (4*): about 3 minutes walking from Datong Drum Tower and the center of Datong Old City
  • Datong Hotel (4*), Holiday Inn Datong City Center (4*), Great Palace Hotel Datong (5*): about 6 minutes driving from Yongtaimen Square and Datong City Wall (south)
  • Yungang International Hotel (5*), Yunzhong Courtyard (5*): 5 minutes walking from Huayan Temple
Datong Yunzhong Courtyard

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