Yungang Grottoes head
Home China City Tours Pingyao Tours Beijing Pingyao Tours 8 Days Beijing to Shanxi History & Culture Discovery Tour

Tour Overview

This itinerary will take you on an amazing journey through the history and culture of China, from the ancient capital of Beijing to the well-preserved old town of Pingyao. Explore the highlights of Beijing, including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, before immersing yourself in the spiritual ambiance of the Temple of Heaven and the Mutianyu Great Wall. Transition to Datong for ancient marvels like the Yungang Grottoes and Nine Dragon Screen Wall, then continue to Wutaishan, and marvel at the Hanging Temple and Yingxian Wooden Pagoda. Dive into Buddhist culture on Mount Wutai before reaching the well-preserved ancient city of Pingyao, where historical gems like the city wall, Rishengchang Former Bank, and the Temple of City God await exploration.

Highlights of this tour:

1. Discover Beijing’s rich history with visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and charming Hutongs, offering a glimpse into the city’s cultural tapestry.
2. Ascend the Mutianyu Great Wall for breathtaking views, with the flexibility to hike or take a cable car, providing a unique perspective on China’s historical grandeur.
3. Uncover Datong’s ancient treasures, including the Yungang Grottoes and Nine Dragon Screen Wall, offering insights into China’s artistic and spiritual heritage.
4. Immerse in Mount Wutai’s rich Buddhist culture with visits to key temples on the mountain, offering a spiritual journey in scenic surroundings.
5. Immerse yourself in Pingyao’s ancient city, exploring its gems like the city wall, Rishengchang Former Bank, and the Temple of City God, offering a window into China’s past and architectural splendors.
6. Explore the gravity-defying Hanging Temple in Datong, a remarkable architectural feat that clings to the cliffs of Mount Hengshan.

Day-by-day Itinerary

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  1. Upon your arrival at the airport or train station, you will be picked up and escorted to your hotel for check-in. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore the city at your own pace.

    Your guide will be glad to recommended some evening ideas.

    Accommodation: Beijing

  2. Begin your day with breakfast before heading to Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square and the site of many significant events in China’s modern history. You can witness the flag-raising ceremony, see the monuments and buildings that surround the square, and learn about the political and cultural significance of the square.

    Tiananmen Square Beijing
    Tiananmen Square

    Next, visit the Forbidden City, the imperial palace that housed 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Admire the grand architecture and delve into the rich culture and history of China’s feudal society.

    Beijing Forbidden City
    Forbidden City

    Following lunch, immerse yourself in the charm of Beijing's Hutongs, traditional alleyways and courtyard houses that showcase the city's old lifestyle. Opt for a rickshaw ride or a leisurely walk through the narrow lanes, visit a local family, and explore iconic landmarks such as the Drum Tower and Bell Tower.

    After the hutong exploration, visit Summer Palace, China's largest and most well-preserved royal garden. Enjoy the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the park, including Kunming Lake, Longevity Hill, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, and the Marble Boat. Return to your hotel after the visit.

    Accommodation: Beijing

  3. Continue your exploration of Beijing today. After breakfast, begin your day at the Temple of Heaven, a 1420 masterpiece by the Ming Dynasty's Yongle Emperor. Spend about 2 hours delving into its rich history and cosmological design. Witness local activities like tai chi in the surrounding park.

    Beijing Temple of Heaven
    Temple of Heaven

    Head to the Mutianyu Great Wall, 65 kilometers north of Beijing, renowned for its 5,400-meter length and 23 watchtowers, including unique structures like the Zhengguan Terrace and Big Corner Tower. Opt for a flexible exploration, hiking or taking a cable car for stunning views. Allow 3 hours for the Great Wall adventure, followed by lunch.

    Mutianyu Great Wall hiking
    Mutianyu Great Wall Hiking

    After your Great Wall experience, return to your hotel in Beijing.

    Accommodation: Beijing

  4. Start your day early as you head to the railway station for a high-speed train journey to Datong, lasting approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. Upon your arrival, your local guide will be there to greet you and transfer you directly to the Yungang Grottoes. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its ancient Buddhist cave temples and statues, boasting over 50 caves and 50,000 Buddhist statues. Plan to spend a minimum of 2-3 hours exploring this historical site.

    Shanxi Yungang Grottoes Carvings
    Marvel at the intricate carvings at Yungang Grottoes

    Following your visit to the grottoes, explore the Nine Dragon Screen Wall, one of China's largest and oldest glazed-tile screens. Take in the intricate details and delve into its fascinating history. Continue your day with a visit to Huayan Temple, a well-preserved site from the Liao and Jin dynasties (907–1234) in China. Originally built in 1038 as the Liao dynasty's imperial ancestral temple, it underwent reconstruction during the Jin dynasty. Divided into the upper and lower temple, the former houses the grand Mahavira Hall with Ming dynasty Buddhas, while the latter contains the Buddhist Texts Library with over 18,000 ancient volumes. Appreciate the temple's intricate architecture and historical significance.

    Shanxi Datong Huayan Temple
    Huayan Temple

    After your explorations, return to your hotel in downtown Datong. The rest of the day is free for you to relax or explore the city.

    Accommodation: Datong downtown

  5. Today, you’ll explore two captivating ancient sites in Datong before heading to Mount Wutai.

    Begin with the Hanging Temple, a remarkable structure built into a cliff over 1,500 years ago—a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Spend about 2 hours exploring its halls, plank roads, and intricate carvings.

    Hanging Temple
    Hanging Temple

    Next, visit the Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, China's oldest and tallest wooden pagoda, built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty. Admire its unique nine-story structure supported by a wooden frame without nails. Spend about 1 hour exploring the pagoda and its surroundings.

    Afterward, drive to Mount Wutai, a spiritual haven and cultural destination. Check into your hotel in Mount Wutai, and the rest of the day is free for you to explore or relax.

    Accommodation: Mount Wutai

    Shanxi Yingxian Wooden Pagoda
    Yingxian Wooden Pagoda

  6. Following breakfast, embark on a journey to explore Mount Wutai, a revered Buddhist site known for its five flat peaks symbolizing the wisdom of the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Visit key temples on the mountain, each with unique features and history:

    Mount Wutai Shanxi
    Wutai Mountain

    Tayuan Temple: Recognized for its 50-meter high white dagoba adorned with 36 bronze bells, built in 1582 and said to house relics of the Buddha.

    Shuxiang Temple: Renowned for over 500 painted clay sculptures depicting scenes from Buddhist scriptures, dating back to the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

    Xiantong Temple: The largest and oldest temple on Mount Wutai, dating back to the Eastern Han dynasty, showcasing a rich collection of cultural relics, including bronze statues and stone carvings.

    Pusa Ding Temple: Located on the highest peak, regarded as Mañjuśrī's residence, with a magnificent hall enshrining a golden statue of Mañjuśrī and thousands of small statues of the bodhisattva.

    Indulge in a vegetarian lunch at a temple restaurant, savoring the serene lifestyle of monks and pilgrims. In the afternoon, journey to Pingyao, a well-preserved ancient city with a history of over 2,700 years.

    Check in at your hotel in Pingyao, where you have free time to explore the city at your own pace.

    Accommodation: in Pingyao

  7. Embark on a full-day exploration of Pingyao Ancient City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site preserving Ming and Qing Dynasty architectural styles and urban planning. Begin with a visit to Pingyao Ancient City Wall, one of China's oldest and best-preserved city walls. Discover the history, culture, and symbolic meaning of its tortoise-shaped layout while enjoying a panoramic view of the old town from the wall's top.

    Shanxi Pingyao Ancient Town
    Pingyao Ancient Town

    Next, explore Rishengchang Former Bank, the first and largest draft bank in China, showcasing original buildings and exhibits of ancient coins, bills, and banking documents. Uncover the secrets of underground tunnels used for security and communication.

    Stroll along Ming and Qing Street, Pingyao's central axis, discovering various shops, restaurants, and museums showcasing traditional crafts and culture. Admire the exquisite carvings and decorations of ancient buildings.

    Pingyao Ancient Town Ming Qing Street
    Pingyao Ming Qing Street

    Visit the Taoist Temple of City God, dedicated to the city gods of Pingyao, and explore its magnificent halls, statues, and paintings, gaining insights into local folk beliefs.

    After that, take a visit to Shuanglin Temple, a Buddhist temple renowned for its collection of over 2,000 painted sculptures from the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, showcasing remarkable artistic value and craftsmanship.

    Accommodation: in Pingyao Ancient City

    Statues in Shuanglin Temple
    Statues in Shuanglin Temple

  8. After breakfast, drive to Zhangbi Ancient Castle, a multifunctional castle integrating military, residential, productive, and religious functions. Explore its ancient streets, buildings, and mysterious underground tunnels with a total length of 5 kilometers. Learn about the astrology and feng shui principles applied in the castle's design and construction.

    Zhangbi Ancient Castle
    Zhangbi Ancient Castle

    Continue to Wang’s Family Compound, the largest and most splendid of the Shanxi courtyard houses. Explore the compound's lanes, fortresses, and streets, appreciating architecture, carvings, and furnishings from different periods. Gain insights into the life and culture of the wealthy Wang family who built the compound over 300 years.

    Pingyao Wang Family Compound
    Wang's Family Compound

    After the visit, your guide and driver will escort you to Pingyao Ancient City Railway Station for departure, bidding farewell to Pingyao and carrying unforgettable memories of this ancient town.

Tour Price Per Person

The price varies depending on the activity, number of people, travel date, and selected hotel. Please contact us for a specific price.

Price Includes

  • Private land transportation in air-conditioned vehicle with licensed driver;
  • Excellent English-speaking tour guide service as mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Main entrance tickets as listed in the itinerary;
  • Accommodation, meals, and activities as listed in the itinerary;
  • High-speed train from Beijing to Datong (second class);
  • One bottle of water per person per day;
  • China Travel Insurance;
  • Government taxes.

Price Excludes

  • Any optional activities inside the attractions;
  • Single Room Supplement;
  • China visa;
  • Gratuities are highly appreciated if you think we did a great job;
  • Flights or trains to Beijing and off Pingyao.
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