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Datong, the second largest city of Shanxi, is situated in the far north of the province. Known as the � - ity of the Coal , Datong has been the largest coal industrial base of China. The city covers an area of 14,176 square kilometers (5473 square miles) and embraces a population of approximately 3.11 million.

As one of the 24 famous historical and cultural cities in China, Datong has many marvelous ancient sites, remnants of the city's ever prosperous history. The Yungang Grottoes are a collection of shallow caves located west of the city. There are over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas within these grooves. Most of these icons are around 1000 years old. Within the city itself, there are a few surviving sites of historical interest such as the Nine Dragon Screen, the Huayan monastery and the Shanhua monastery. Further afield is the Hanging Temple built into a cliff face near Mount Heng.

Datong's History

With a history of over 2400 years, the town was founded as Pingcheng in 200 BC during the Han Dynasty. Located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia, it blossomed during the following period and became a stop-off point for camel caravans moving from China into Mongolia and beyond.

Datong became the capital of Northern Wei from 398 AD until 494 AD. At that time, it was the political, economic and military center of ancient North China, which attracted many people from various nations for trade or business. Most of the splendid historic and cultural relics in Datong are the integration of minorities' cultural and Han culture. Northern Wei was a state of fervent Buddhists, and made some notable cultural achievements. Among them, the finest was a magnificent series of cave temples known as Yungang Grottoes, which is one of the most impressive sights in North China. In 907, Datong was made the capital of the Mongol Liao dynasty that brought a second period of greatness to the city. The Liao dynasty built some fine statuary and temples. The notable architectures are the Huayan and Shanhua Monestry inside the city, and the oldest Yingxian wooden pagoda in China.

Datong's Transportation


Getting to Datong
By Air
Datong Airport is only 15 km away from the city center, in the north of Beijiazao Town in Datong County. It currenly has flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and other major cities. There are free airport shuttles between the city center and the airport. The shuttles start from Datong Hotel, stop at Intercontinental Hotel, and then at Civil Aviation Box Office (on Yingbin Road), and arrive at Datong Airport. The shuttles leave for the airport 2 hours before the departure time.

By Raiway StationTrain
Datong boasts a well developed system of railway transport, probably because of its vast major coal reserve, with access to most of the major cities in China. The railway station lies on the northern outskirts. Train tickets can be hard to get, especially for those to Xi'an.

By Bus
Most travellers will have little use to take a bus from the city, because of the cobweb of railway lines that dispatch frequent trains all over Shanxi. The intra-provincial bus that is most obviously used by visitors is that to the sacred Buddhist mountain, Wutaishan. Buses from both the city's stations leave at around 07:00 for this mountain and take 7hrs (RMB30-40). Buses also leave to/from Taiyuan and take 5hrs (RMB50), the public bus leaving from the new station at 07:30, although regular private buses leave from outside the train station all day. Buses eastwards to Hengshan Mountain leave in the morning and take 2hrs (RMB20).

Getting Around in Datong
By Bus By Taxi By Bicycle  

By Bus
Datong does not have many public buses like other big cities. But buses can almost reach all the city areas, plus even some distant suburban areas. The fare is very cheap ranging from 0.5 yuan to 3 yuan. The operating hours of the public buses are relatively short. But there are usually other private minibuses picking up the slack. The fare for minibus is very much the same as those for public buses.

By Taxis
Datong has many types of the taxis. The fare is 5 RMB for the first three kilometers, and either 1.2 RMB or 1.4 RMB (depending on the type of taxi) for each additional km.

By Bicycle
Most of the local hotels have bicycles for rent. Generally it costs RMB10 to 30 a day with a deposit of RMB200 to 300.

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