General Information of Datong

Interesting in Datong

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Area: Datong is located in northern Shanxi Province, bordered by Inner Mongolia to the north and Hebei Province to the east. Covering an area of 14,113 square kilometers, Datong has four districts and seven counties. It is the second largest city in Shanxi Province.


Population: 3.18 million


Features of Datong City


Datong has developed into the second largest industrial city in Shanxi Province due to its coal mining history and is well known as the 'City of Coal'. Its large reserves of coal make it a very important energy base in China.

Datong is one of the 24 famous historical and cultural cities in China because of its ever prosperous history. With a history of over 2400 years, Datong was the capital of Northern Wei Dynasty (386~534) for 96 years, and the 'support capital' of Liao (916~1125) and Jin (1115~1234) dynasties.

The scenery of Datong differs greatly from the pretty and delicate cities in southern China. What you can find here is continuous peaks rising one upon another, majestic old temples standing for thousands of years and the vast sky and light cloud over your head.


Culture of Datong City


Datong has number of historic and cultural ruins, including the Paleolithic ruins of Qinciyao, the Neolithic ruins excavated in Gaoshanzhen, the ruin of Baideng ancient battlefield of the Han Dynasty, and the ruins of Xujiayao.


There are also many historic relics in Datong. Yongguling is the tomb of Empress Wenming, one of empresses of Wenchengdi (the third emperor of the Northern Wei Dynasty). A great number of relics excavated from the tomb, including stone sculptures, bronze, iron, and jade wares, as well as silk costumes, exhibit the exquisite craftsmanship during that period.

Yungang Buddhist Caves in Datong represent the peak of Buddhist cave art. The Nine Dragon Screen is the largest in China. The Shanhua Temple, the Huayan Monastery, and the Hanging Monastery are all very famous for their distinctive structures. The Wooden Pagoda at Yingxian County is the oldest wooden building in China.


Attractions of Datong


1. The Yungang Grottoes: Datong Yungang Grottoes are divided into three zones: east, west and central and they are numbered from east to west. Grotto one and two are located in the east zone. Statues and sculptures inside these caves are severely damaged by exposure to the natural elements, but thankfully sculptures of Buddhist stories in the lower part of the eastern wall of Grotto one are still preserved in the east zone.Most of the grottoes are in the western zone, each with its own character.


In December 2001, the 25th meeting of UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Helsinki, Finland, counted Yungang Grottoes as a World Cultural Heritage site.


2. Wooden Pagoda: Standing 65.86 meters high, the Wooden Pagoda in Datong is not only the tallest but also the oldest wooden pagoda in China today. In the 1950s, this pagoda became a cultural heritage and received a first-class protection.


The Wooden Pagoda was made entirely of wooden parts joined by innumerable mortises and tenons in a complicated structure of brackets, without using any nails. It measures 67.31 meters in height similar to the height of a 20-storied building and 30.27 meters in diameter at the base.

3. Hanging Temple: Hanging Temple is located on the west cliff of Jinlong Gorge at the foot of Hengshan Mountain, 5 kilometers (3 miles) south from Hun Yuan County and 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Datong downtown.


Hanging Temple is the only existing temple in China where you can see the Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism in one place. Hanging Temple got its name as it is situated on the west cliff of Jinlong Gorge more than 50 meters above the ground. The Hanging Temple is an excellent example for the Chinese architecture tradition and style featuring the characteristics such as wonder, hanging and elegance. For its construction design and location choosing, it is indeed an architectural wonder.

4. Nine-Dragon Screen: The screen in Datong is made up of yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white and other colored glaze. The picture depicts the blue sky, the rising sun and moon in the east and west of the screen respectively. The picture also shows flowing water and cloud. The life-like glass glazed animals are inlaid in different postures and arranged in two layers on the border of the pedestal.


5. North Mt. Heng: North Mt. Heng is called the North Yue among the Five Great Mountains. It is located in Hun Yuan County of Shanxi Province, 62 kilometers (38 miles) from Datong City. Mt. Heng has two main peaks; Cuiping Peak and Tianfeng Ling.

As you climb Mt. Heng, you can see wonderful views like green pines and luxuriant cypresses, rare flowers and grasses, strange rocks and quiet caves, Buddhist and Taoist temples, towers and pavilions and of course the Hanging temple. The mountain’s eighteen landscapes create picturesque scenery providing a peaceful atmosphere to the visitor.


Datong Food


Local staple in Datong is mainly noodles and other food made of flour. In addition to the commonly seen Shanxi Noodles, various local snacks may give you a different experience of taste.


1. Yangza Soup: Yangza Soup is quite a popular snack in Shanxi for its strong flavor. 'Yangza' is the entrails of a sheep. The clean dressed entrails are stewed and cut into slices, then again stewed with shallot, chilli, salt and other flavorings. That is the Yangza Soup.

2. Ya Jiu Qiezi: 'Qiezi' is eggplant; 'ya' means 'press'; 'jiu' is leek. The Ya Jiu Qiezi is a kind of pickle. With quite a refreshing taste, it is not bad a dish for spring and summer.


3. Zha Yougao (Fried Yellow Rice Pie): Zha Yougao is a kind of important dim sum in Shanxi. It is a must for local people during the New Year days or other important festivals. The crisp outside and soft sweet inside may give you an impressive taste.


Shopping in Datong


1. Egg Carving: As its name implies, egg carving means carving on the thin and fragile egg. Things on Chinese art like Chinese Calligraphy, Facial Painting and Chinese Painting are carved on the egg shells. With well design on the composition and delicate result of carving, the Datong egg carving boasts pretty high artistic value.

2. Yungang Silk Doll: A silk doll is a kind of traditional Chinese handicraft with a history of over one thousand years. Most figures of the dolls come from the traditional Chinese stories. With fine silks made skin and clothes, the doll boasts quite comfortable feel. And each one has vivid expression.


3. Artistic Porcelain: Using a unique method of production, porcelain figurines can be fashioned into many shapes such as animals and figures from traditional Chinese stories.

Daxi Street and Xiaonan Street are two commercial areas in Datong City where most shoppers will delight in finding most of the department stores and shops selling clothing and jewelry.


Datong Travel Guide


1. By City-bus: There are 36 bus routes in Datong City which form a large network making all the parts of the city easy to reach. City-buses in Datong have two types of charging standards. One is self-service with a fare of CNY 1. The other charges according to the distance you propose to take. The minimum fare is CNY 1 for the first 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) and CNY 0.5 for each additional 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).


2. By Taxi: Over 6000 taxies now run in the streets of Datong City. The minimum fare is CNY 6 for the first 3 kilometers (1.9 miles). According to type of car, a different fare is charged for each additional kilometer:


China Travel in Datong

Datong weather enjoys a continental monsoon climate. Influenced by monsoon it experiences four distinct seasons and featured with sharp temperature difference between day and night. The annual average temperature of weather in Datong is 5.5 °C and the annual rainfall averages 400mm.


The characteristics of Datong weather is that winter of Datong is long, cold and dry; summer is short, hot and rainy; spring and autumn in Datong is cool, but with big difference in temperature.


As we all know, Timing is everything. Therefore, a travel plan always needs to take the appropriate time into account. The best time to visit Datong is from April to October. Since April, Datong weather continues to warm up, and the temperature keeps on rising.


The weather is generally dry and sunny. When comes to summer weather in Datong during June to September, Datong climate is comfortable and cool for travelling. Travelling around in the best time to visit Datong will be pleasant and brilliant.

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