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Buddha Statues, Yungyang Caves, Datong, China

Pingyao and Datong

Easily reached by train from Beijing, Pingyao was China’s most important trading city during the late Ming and Qing dynasties and is now the countries best-preserved ancient walled town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The lanes within the old city walls are pedestrianised and full of characterful single-storey houses. Home to some 30,000 locals, life within them remains charmingly authentic.

The city walls stretch for over six kilometres and the city is home to what is thought to be Chinas first bank as well as a number of interesting museums and temples.

Hanging Monastery, Datong, China
Datong, China

Datong

Once an ancient imperial capital, nowadays the main reason to visit Datong is for the nearby Yungang caves. Stretching for around a kilometre the 252 caves are home to some of the country’s most exceptional Buddhist treasures. Dating as far back at AD 460 the beautifully carved Buddha’s and colourful frescoes draw influences from the melting pot of cultures and people who travelled the Silk Road during its heydey. The carved statues range in size and include one 17 metres seated effigy.

Nearby is the Hanging monastery which as its name suggests is built following the curve of the cliffside. Narrow walkways link the monastery buildings.

Experiences

Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Yungang Caves

Marvel at the 50,000 Buddhist statues found within the Yungang Caves, close to the city of Datong.

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Visit Pingyao Old Town

Explore the pedestrian-only lanes of Pingyao old town, lined with red lanterns and traditional courtyard houses.

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Traditional Accommodation

Stay at Jing’s Residence, a traditional courtyard hotel offering a quintessential Chinese experience.

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Visit the Hanging Monastery

Precariously perched on the cliff face, the hanging monastery in Datong is a temple, built some 75 metres above ground.

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Wang Family Compound

Visit a former Qing dynasty residence close to the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

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Pingyao City Walls on Foot

Walk the old city walls of Pingyao, dating back to the Ming dynasty.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Paul Craven

Paul is the Conde Nast Traveler chosen Specialist for Central Asia and the Silk Route.

Being from a family with Army connections I can from an early age remember travelling. From camping in Europe and then later being sent to boarding school when we lived in Germany at the age of eight, complete with shorts, long socks, a cap and my suitcase. In appearance not too dissimilar to the children evacuated to the countryside during the blitz. Later, my father’s postings took us to Nepal where we had to transit Delhi and Kathmandu where we were sometimes stranded for days and Hong Kong from where I travelled in 1983 through China for two months.

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Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list. I also seek adventure; exploring the deep blue or hiking a peak often winning favour. Although it’s my time horse herding in Mongolia that I regularly want to relive.

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Why Choose Steppes?

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