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Roof, Hanging Monastery, Datong, China

China – Walled Cities and Buddhist Cave Art

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

14 Days

Prices Start from

£5,250pp (ex. flights)

This fabulous holiday idea to China showcases some of the classic sites as well as less known gems such as the walled city of Pingyao and the Buddhist caves at Datong.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Hanging Monastery, Datong, China 1

The Hanging Monastery

Visit the hanging monastery precariously perched on the cliff face.

Full frame of terracotta warrior torsos. 2

Terracotta Warriors

Gain privileged access to the curators restoration room.

Curved section of Pingyao city walls with  tower. 3

Pingyao Walled City

Stay in a Qing Dynasty Mansion and explore the cobbled streets of the old town.

Red wall, red arched doors with bike against and stone carved lion in foreground. 4

Shanghai by Bike

Take a private cycling tour through the backstreets of Shanghai for a view into local life.

Why we like it

A fabulous holiday for lovers of history, this trip is crammed full of ancient cities and sacred sites. Places synonymous with China such as the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall are of course included but these are combined with other sites that may often be overlooked on a first-time visit. The trip concludes with a few nights in Shanghai where glass skyscrapers hide a charming world of alleys and gardens to finish your explorations of ancient China.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Beijing

  • Day 2 - 4

    Beijing

  • Day 5

    Beijing - Datong

  • Day 6

    Datong - Wutaishan

  • Day 7

    Wutaishan - Pingyao

  • Day 8

    Pingyao

  • Day 9

    Pingyao - Xian

  • Day 10

    Xian

  • Day 11

    Xian - Shanghai

  • Day 12 - 13

    Shanghai

  • Day 14

    Shanghai

Day 1

Beijing

Day 2 - 4

Beijing

Great Wall of China

Explore the sites in and around Beijing, from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall.

Day 5

Beijing - Datong

Hanging Monastery, Datong, China

Visit the hanging monastery precariously perched on the cliff face.

Day 6

Datong - Wutaishan

Day 7

Wutaishan - Pingyao

Day 8

Pingyao

Curved section of Pingyao city walls with  tower.

Stay in a Qing Dynasty Mansion and explore the cobbled streets of the old town.

Day 9

Pingyao - Xian

Day 10

Xian

Full frame of terracotta warrior torsos.

Gain privileged access to the curators restoration room.

Day 11

Xian - Shanghai

Day 12 - 13

Shanghai

Red wall, red arched doors with bike against and stone carved lion in foreground.

Take a private cycling tour through the backstreets of Shanghai for a view into local life.

Day 14

Shanghai

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Close up of line of terracotta warriors.
Terracotta Warriors, China

Access All Areas

Known for being the eastern terminus of the ancient Silk Route, Xian is as well known for the collection of terracotta warriors and horse figures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. A visit to this incredible burial site is without doubt a highlight of any visit to China. In addition you will also visit the less known miniature warriors which date from approximately 80 years later and although smaller in size are no less fascinating with even more variety. Your visit will include, by special arrangement, privileged access into the Curator’s Restoration Room.

Yungang Buddhist Caves, Datong, China
Yungang Buddhist Caves, China

Yungang Caves

Datong is home to the most spectacular collection of Buddhist stone carvings in China. Most of them date back to the Northern Wei period, when the capital of this small dynasty was located at Pingcheng, the present-day Datong. There are 55 caves, of which 21 may be visited, with a total of 51,000 bas reliefs and statues, ranging in size from a couple of centimetres to more than 16 metres. They exhibit Indian, Byzantine, Persian, and Greek artistic influences.

Over the centuries traders have removed the heads from thousands of the statuettes for sale to collectors. The most impressive caves are numbers five to thirteen and you enter cave five you are greeted by a 17 metre-high Buddha with his gold face in calm contemplation.

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Tower and Rampart of the City and Gloriette, Pingyao, China
Pingyao city walls

UNESCO Pingyao by Bike

During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial centre of China. It is now renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was built in 1400 and still retains its city layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Spend a day exploring the narrow streets and city walls by bike, stopping to visit the Ancient Government Court and First bank of China.

Hanging Monastery, Datong, China
The Hanging Monastery

The Hanging Monastery

Southeast, some 75 kilometres from Datong is the Hanging Monastery, built halfway up a sheer cliffs above the Jinlong Canyon. There has been a temple on this site since the Northern Wei however they were often destroyed by flooding and were rebuilt, each time getting higher and higher. The buildings are connected by corridors, boardwalks and bridges and contain statues of gods and Buddhas in stone, bronze and iron. Most notable is the Three Religions Hall where Buddha, Lao Tzu and Confucius sit side by side.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Jing’s Residence £££££

  • China
  • Boutique

A former mansion owned by a wealthy Qing dynasty silk merchant, this 19-room boutique hotel is a member of Relais & Chateaux. Set around four traditional style courtyards; bamboo floors, rice paper ceilings and ancient carved wooden windows come together to create an elegant and authentic finish. Tables and chairs sit outside each of the guest pavilions leading onto traditional brick-paved walkways interspersed with bamboo and water features, all of which are beautifully lit at night.

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Paul put together our trip very quickly, within a month of leaving! He did a great job and we loved the little add ons such as a cookery class and fan making. All of the guides, drivers and vehicles were amazing.

China

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
Price
From £5,250 Per person

When to travel

China in January

Around Beijing and the mountainous areas such as Tibet, winter can get very cold, with some snow. However, there are also many crisp days with clear skies across the country.

China in February

Chinese New Year takes place in late January or Early February, and is the biggest event in the calendar. Fireworks and lanterns light up the night sky, but be aware that public transport and accommodation may be hard to come by.

China in March

The start of spring see temperatures rise across the country and fruit trees start to blossom. Although not as widespread as Japan, the blossoms in rural China can still be stunning.

China in April

The spring blossoms are in full swing, and the countryside is lush. The north and mountainous areas may still be chilly, but generally, spring is a good time to visit most places.

China in May

A very good time to visit many places in China. Southern regions are getting very warm, but there is an increased chance of rain. The northern and mountainous regions are pleasantly warm but lack the humidity of the summer.

China in June

A very good time to visit many places in China. Southern regions are getting very warm, but there is an increased chance of rain. The northern and mountainous regions are pleasantly warm but lack the humidity of the summer.

China in July

The ideal time to get out into the mountains of Tibet and Yunnan province. The alpine landscape is verdant and enjoys long hours of sunshine. Temperatures can be sweltering, especially in the south.

China in August

The hot weather prevails throughout the country as it is the peak of summer. Many places, especially in the south are unpleasantly hot and humid to travel. The mountains are the perfect place to escape the heat.

China in September

Temperatures decline gradually, but it is less humid and wet than summer in many regions. The mountains are still a good place to hike in, especially as snow has receded as far as possible. This makes it an excellent time for journeying along the Silk Road.

China in October

The majority of October is perfect for travelling, with widespread mild temperatures and little rain. However, it is worth avoiding the first week of October, as it is a national holiday.

China in November

This is the time to take in the beautiful autumn colours, especially in the northern and central regions. Snow may begin to fall in the north, but the tourist hotspots are much less busy as locals don’t tend to travel at this time.

China in December

It is cold in most of China at this time, but it is a great time to visit Beijing and surrounding areas. There are many cold and crisp days, and the tourist hotspots will be much quieter. Western China is bitterly cold though and Southern China is milder but damp.

Holiday Inspiration

Our experts have created and curated these tailor-made holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something that is the spark for your unique adventure.

Why Choose Steppes?

These may be uncertain times but they are, without a doubt, still full of opportunity to discover the extraordinary safely. Through knowledge and expertise, we can connect you to those destinations embracing travellers with the added confidence of flexible booking and decades of insight.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?


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