Datong Travel Guide
Datong, located in northern Shanxi province, China, is a city with a rich historical and cultural heritage. The Yungang Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hanging Temple, and the Nine Dragon Screen are some of the city’s main attractions.
The Yungang Grottoes, a series of 252 caves and over 50,000 Buddhist statues carved into the cliffs outside Datong are a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and culture. The Hanging Temple is an architectural marvel built into a cliff face over 1,500 years ago, and the Nine Dragon Screen is a beautiful example of traditional Chinese architecture.
Chinese: 大同 dà tóng
Location: Northern Shanxi
Population (urban area): 3,100,000
Why Visit Datong?
Visit Yungang Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 50,000 Buddhist statues and carvings dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries.
Marvel at the Hanging Temple, a unique architectural wonder supported by wooden beams inserted into a cliff face about 75 meters above the ground.
Admire Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, the oldest and tallest wooden pagoda in China, standing at 67 meters high and built without using any nails or metal.
Witness the Datong Nine-Dragon Screen Wall, the largest dragon screen wall in China, built in 1392 during the Ming dynasty, and depicting nine dragons playing with pearls among clouds and waves using glazed tiles of various colors.
Top Things to Do in Datong
- Visit the Yungang Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over 50,000 Buddhist statues and carvings.
- Marvel at the Hanging Temple, a unique architectural wonder built on a cliff face supported by wooden beams.
- Explore the Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, the oldest and tallest wooden pagoda in China, built in 1056 with nine stories and no nails or metal.
- Witness the Datong Nine-Dragon Screen Wall, the largest dragon screen wall in China depicting nine dragons playing with pearls.
- Walk along the Datong City Walls, a well-preserved ancient city wall that dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
- Immerse in ancient Chinese culture at Shanhua Temple, a Buddhist temple complex with a unique mix of architectural styles.
Learn more about Top Things to Do in Datong
Datong Weather – Best Time to Go
Datong experiences a continental monsoon climate with four distinct seasons and significant temperature differences between day and night. The average annual temperature is about 5.8°C (42.4°F), and the average annual rainfall is about 371.6 mm (14.6 inches).
The best time to visit Datong is from April to October when the weather is mild and comfortable, and the scenery is colorful and diverse, allowing visitors to explore cultural and historical attractions as well as natural wonders.
Datong Weather in Different Seasons:
- Spring is a warm and pleasant season, with temperature ranging from -6°C (21°F) in March to 23°C (73°F) in May, making it an ideal time to visit Datong to admire the blooming trees and flowers.
- Summer is relatively wet, and the temperature ranges from 13°C (55°F) to 28°C (82°F), making it a good time to explore Mount Heng and Hukou Waterfall.
- Autumn is a cool, dry, and sunny season, with foliage turning golden, making it another ideal time to visit Datong.
- Winter is very cold and dry, with frequent snowfall, and not recommended for visiting unless you enjoy cold weather.
How to Get to Datong
Datong boasts a well-developed transportation system, and visitors can reach the city via plane, train, or long-distance bus.
Datong Yungang Airport, located about 15 km (9 miles) from downtown Datong, offers flights to major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Xian, Chengdu, and Wuhan. Travelers can take a taxi or a free shuttle bus from the airport to the city center.
Datong has two railway stations: Datong Railway Station, mainly serving normal trains, and Datong South Railway Station, mainly serving high-speed trains. Visitors can take trains from nearby cities like Beijing, Zhangjiakou, Taiyuan, Pingyao, etc.
By long-distance bus
The city is also accessible by long-distance bus, with four bus stations serving other provinces or cities within Shanxi, such as Beijing, Tangshan, Shijiazhuang, Jinan, Luoyang, Baoding, Hohhot, Baotou, Taiyuan, and Shuozhou. Visitors can take buses or taxis from the bus stations to the city center.
Datong offers various modes of transportation to explore the city’s attractions.
Visitors can take public buses that run across the city, with some routes taking you to the main attractions such as the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Temple, the Nine-Dragon Screen Wall, and the Huayan Temple. Bus fares usually range from 1 yuan to 1.5 yuan per ride, and payment can either be made in cash or with a transportation card.
Taxis are also available and can be hailed on the street or booked via phone or app. The starting price for a taxi ride is 6 yuan for the first 3 km (1.9 miles), with a rate of 1.4 yuan per additional km (0.6 mile).
For those who want to enjoy the scenery and exercise, bicycles are a great option, with rental services available at some hotels, hostels, and bike shops in the city. Alternatively, shared bike services are also available, with rental fees usually ranging from 10 yuan to 20 yuan per day or 1 yuan to 2 yuan per hour.