This morning, you will be transferred to Beijing airport to catch the domestic flight to Datong, the ancient capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty. Upon arrival in DATONG, you will be welcomed by our Asia Senses travel guide and driver before following them for a short sightseeing in this interesting city.
Check out the Hanging Monastery located outside Datong and over 1,500 years old -- it is one of China's most famous sights. The building has elements of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Wooden beams placed in holes chiseled in the cliff face hold up this massive structure, measuring over 50m (164 ft) tall.
Listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001, Yungang Grottoes, located 40km from the airport, and formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes, are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes with 53 caves containing over 51,000 stone carvings of Buddha and Buddhist dating from the 5th and 6th centuries. The biggest statue is 17 meters high and the smallest one is only 2 centimeters high. Besides Longmen, Maijishan and Mogao, the Yungang Grottoes are one of the most famous ancient Buddhist sculptural sites in China.
After that, return to Datong downtown to explore Huayan Temple, the largest and most perfectly preserved temple of the Liao (916-1125) and Jin (1115-1234) dynasties in China. This temple is divided into two parts, the upper temple and the lower temple. The upper temple is still an active monastery with one of the largest main halls in China. The lower temple is the oldest structure in Datong and one of the most incredible remaining examples of Liao dynasty sculpture and design.
Then head to Heyang Street to visit Nine-Dragon Wall which was built at the start of the Ming Dynasty (1368). Screen wall is Han Chinese traditional architecture wall in a mansion for blocking the line of sight, not only to protect privacy, but also to showing auspicious blessing.
After the visit, you will be transferred to the hotel for check in and relax. Overnight in Datong.
After breakfast, you will be taken to Datong Railway Station to catch the train of K961 (09:34 – 15:25) to the ancient city of PINGYAO, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century.
Pingyao is the birthplace of the Jin merchants (merchants of Shanxi Province) and the earliest bank, serving as the financial center of Shanxi province in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties. When you walk on its alleys and thoroughfares, you can easily imagine what life was like in those times long gone by.
NOTE: We will use electric car (or on foot) for our visits inside Pingyao ancient city. Private car will be used for all outside visits.
Start our sightseeing tour with a visit to ancient city wall where you can have a panorama view of the layout of this town. The city wall has a perimeter of 6.4 kilometers and is over 12 meters high and 3.5 meters wide.
Continue with a walk around this charming ancient city to observe the city’s everyday life and explore ancient building which are renovated into small restaurants, boutiques, and charming hotels. We sometimes turn to small alleyways to escape the crowds and navigate the city.
Overnight in Pingyao.
Following the leisurely breakfast, drive south about 60km to visit the house of Wang's Family, which was once one of the richest families in Shanxi Province. You will be amazed by the architecture of the huge courtyard house from 300 years ago.
On the return trip to Pingyao, make a stop at Zhangbi Village to visit the ancient tunnels and the old village itself popularly known as Zhangbi Underground Castle. With three sides facing gullies, one leaning on the mountains, the village was once a military fortified village with easily guided and difficultly attacked.
During today’s tour, we also take a visit to the iconic Datong cave houses, a traditional form of housing that’s been in use for nearly two thousand years in Shanxi. Despite not having running water or electricity, these houses are cool in summer and warm in winter.
End our sightseeing tour today with a visit to the Buddhist Shuanglin Temple, which is located about 6 kilometers (4 miles) to the Pingyao Ancient City, and listed in the World Heritage List. It houses more than 2,000 colorful sculptures reflecting the exquisite skills of the artisans of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is an important protection unit of cultural relics of China, and was one of the units of Pingyao included in World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1997.
In the evening, you are free to explore this charming city. Overnight in Pingyao
Wake up in the early morning to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Pingyao ancient city. After the healthy breakfast, we head out to discover Rishenchang Exchange Shop which was established in 1823 during the early Qing Dynasty. It was the forerunner for organizing China's early finance system, handling remittance, money exchange, deposit, loan and other financial business.
After that, take a visit to yamen (the county government office of the imperial Chinese government), an ideal place for a culture discovery to check out what an ancient Chinese local government looks like. Based on the same function of judgment, the yamen is a little similar to today’s court where administrators practiced law, resolved conflicts, and housed prisoners.
Then head to Taiyuan, the capital of the Shanxi province. En route, make a stop to visit the 10th century Jinci Temple which was constructed in memory of Tang Shuyu (the first ruler of Jin during Zhou Dynasty) and his mother. In this temple, there are more than 10 ancient architectures such as the Figures of the Maidservants, Yuzaofeiliang (a rare form of cross-shaped bridge architecture in ancient China), the Never Aging and Saint Mother Hall which is dedicated to Shuyu’s mother.
After the day’s explorations, you will be transferred to Taiyuan Railway Station in TAIYUAN to catch the train to Beijing for your next journey. End of our service.
NOTE: The second class train tickets are used during this journey. The price for domestic flight is separately quoted.