Datong's current role as a leading coal-production center won't inspire you to visit this growing metropolis, but its proximity to the awe-inspiring Yungang Grottoes, a cluster of caves brimming with over 51,000 Buddhist sculptures, should.
Datong is a city surrounded by natural beauty, and visitors to this former seat of the Wei Dynasty have ample terrain to explore. You might start with Mt. Hengshan, one of China's five most sacred mountains, to view the 1,400-year-old, gravity-defying Hanging Monastery before going to hike in the shadow of the Great Wall on Yanmenguan pass -- one of the nine passes reputed to fall directly under heaven according to Chinese folklore.
In the city, new boutiques aspire to the modern, whilst old markets offer relics from the past. Browse the Zhongxing Market for wool carpets -- a historic Datong specialty -- or hit the more contemporary Daxi Street and Xiaonan Street shopping districts to haggle over brand-name articles. Take a break in one of Datong's many traditional teahouses, or try one of Datong's unique traditional snacks, such as Ya Jiu Qiezi (pickled eggplant) or Zha Yougao (fried yellow rice pie). If you run out of things to do, just ask the friendly concierge staff at the HaoHai International Hotel, they might know of a few lesser known points of interest for you to visit.
If there is one sight that you should not miss while coming through Datong, it is the Yungang Caves. This masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art was..
One of China's Five Sacred Mountains (Wu Yue), Heng Shan has been reverently scaled by emperors since Qin Shi Huang, the first ruler to unify China, set the precedent...