Datong Travel Information: the Yungang Grottoes, China
The city of Datong is located 350km west of Beijing in the Shanxi Province in northern China. In the recent past, Datong was an ordinary Chinese industrial city. Almost a third of Chinese coal production comes from the Datong area.
In recent years, the government has tried to make the city of Datong ready for tourism. Thus a huge, brand new city wall and an oversized Buddhist monastery was built and the old Huayan monastery from the 12th century was extensively renovated. You can reach Datong from Beijing either by bus in a little more than 4 hours or by train from the West Railway Station in 6 hours. Since 2017 Datong can also be reached with the high-speed train from Taiyuan, the capital of the province Shanxi, in less than 30 minutes.
The main reason for a journey to Datong is undoubtedly the Buddhist Yungang Grottoes, which are located about 16km west of Datong. The Yungang Grottoes near Datong were built in the 5th century when Datong served as the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). The easiest way to reach the Yungang Caves from the city center is by bus number 3 from Zhenghua Street, or by taxi.
In the 11th century Datong was once again declared the capital of the Mongolian Liao Dynasty and another 300 years later Datong became an important defensive outpost for the Ming Dynasty. It was during that time when a massive city wall was built. However, there is hardly anything left of the former city wall today, it had to give way to a new, modern city wall at the beginning of this century.