Explore China’s most stunning UNESCO Heritage Sites wit this special tour to Datong and Pinyao. Datong is home to the Xuankong Hanging Monasteries, the Wooden Pagoda, and the UNESCO-protected Yungang Grottoes, three of China’s most breathtaking historical sites. Pingyao, is China’s most well-preserved ancient walled city and former financial capital during the 19th and 20th century, along with ancient family courtyards of rich merchants, and the ancient Zhangbi Fortress.
Take a soft sleeper overnight train to Datong, and start your adventure with an early morning visit to UNESCO World Heritage Site Yungang Buddhist Grottoes, built more than 1,500 years ago, and explore the 53 rock caves that house more than 51,000 Buddha Statues. Yungang is a treasure of Buddhist art, and the largest collection of statues in China. The long stretch of caves is a masterpiece comparable to the ancient Egyptian pyramids, taking 40,000 workmen four decades (453-493 AD) complete.
After lunch you’ll head to the magnificent Hanging Monasteries (Xuankong Si), a temple structure precariously mounted on a cliff face. This temple combines influences from China’s three major religions, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, as you’ll see in the Hall of the Three Saints (Sansheng Dian) where their founders sit side-by-side.
From there, we’ll head to Taiyuan. After a good night’s sleep, you’ll visit the ancient village called Zhangbi, a strategic military point for the Tang Dynasty in 600 AD. There you’ll see the Zhangbi Ancient City Walls and explore the underground tunnels of this secret treasure. You’ll spend the rest of the day exploring the city, more than 1,500 years old, finding pieces of history and catching glimpses of local villager’s lives.
Later you’ll drive back to the best-preserved courtyard house complex – the Wang Family Courtyard (Wangjia Dayuan) – which was constructed between 1762 and 1811 by a rich Shanxi merchant family. This massive private palace, built along the slope of a mountain for good Feng Shui, has had no major restorations and doesn’t have any tacky tourist exhibits.
The following day you’ll visit Pingyao, the most well preserved city from ancient China, which was built during the 15th century. Pingyao was once a major financial center for China during the 19th and 20th centuries, and you’ll find remnants of its former glory in the 4,000 remaining houses, its old banks, government courtyards and pawnshops.
No trip would be complete without some amazing local food, so you’ll spend the afternoon doing a leisurely bike ride along the back lanes of ancient Pingyao, where you’ll explore hidden places, meet local people, sample lots of snack, and check out the Shuanglin Temple, which has more than 2,000 painted sculptures.
UNESCO Wonders of Old China – Pingyao and Datong
|Explore China’s most stunning UNESCO Heritage Sites wit this special tour to Datong and Pinyao. Datong is home to the Xuankong Hanging Monasteries, the Wooden Pagoda, and the UNESCO-protected Yungang Grottoes, three of China’s most breathtaking historical sites. Pingyao, is China’s most well-preserved ancient walled city and former financial capital during the 19th and 20th century, along with ancient family courtyards of rich merchants, and the ancient Zhangbi Fortress.|
|Itinerary and Sights||Datong Ancient City, Xuankong Hanging Monasteries, the Wooden Pagoda, UNESCO-protected Yungang Grottoes, Pingyao, Ancient Chinese City, Chinese Courtyards, Zhanbi Fortress, Yellow River, Shuanglin Temple|
|Includes||Train tickets and transportation, accommodation, all entrance fees, and a knowledgeable, English-speaking tour guide.|
|Remember to bring||Comfortable shoes, your camera, sun screen (in summer), and cash for meals, drinks, private activities, and a tip to your tour guide and driver.|
|Pricing||RMB 3,500 per person (minimum of 2 persons), RMB 3,200 pp (3 persons), RMB 2,800 pp (4 persons), RMB 2,400 pp (5 persons or more)|
|Availability||March-October. Other dates can be arranged depending on local weather conditions.|