Hiking in Datong Overview
Datong is known for its interesting historical spots. There are thousands of ancients sites and relics, and 13 National Protection Units of Cultural Relics. So, a good way to see the scenery and various sites is to walk to them and around them.
Two Suggested Hiking Routes
Route 1: Shanhua Temple to Huayan Temple to Nine-Dragon Screen to Yungang Grottoes
In Datong, you can visit the scenic spots like Shanhua Temple, Yanhua Temple and the Nine- Dragon Temple in 2 hours to gain a general understanding of them. Yungang Grottoes are about 19 kilometers (11.8 miles) from the downtown area of Datong. You can take a bus at the Xin Kaili (新开里) Bus Station on the west side of the city, or you can rent a car or take a taxi which will cost you about 50 CNY (7.7 USD). Yungang Caves close at 6:00 p.m. If you arrive about 5:00 p.m. when the dusk is descending with the sunshine reflecting around you, you feel different while walking among the old grand caves. There are 53 caves of various sizes..
Route 2: Mount Heng to Hanging Monastery
If you are planning to visit the Hanging Monastery and Mount Heng, you’d better go to appreciate Yingxian’s Wooden Tower as well. They are quite close geographically. When going to Yingxian, you can take a bus near the train station to Hunyuan County. Tickets for the bus might cost about 15 CNY (2.3 USD) per person. If you are with a group, you can also rent a car or take a taxi for about 120 CNY (18 USD). This is more comfortable and convenient, and it takes about 3 hours to get there. You don’t need to buy tickets for seeing the Wooden Tower. You can just look at it from the outside. From the Wooden Tower of Yingxian, you can get to the Hanging Temple in half an hour. The temple is located at the foot of Mount Heng. You can climb the mountain on foot, but there may be horses available to ride up. Riding horses is cheaper and more interesting than taking the cable car. At Hunyuan Bus Station, there are buses to Datong and Wutai Mountain.
Historical Heritages on the Routes
Shanhua Temple was built in the Tang Dynasty. The front is the monastery gate. In the middle, there is the Hall of Three Saints 三圣殿. In the rear, there is the Large Hall of Sakyamuni 大雄宝殿.
The Big Hall of Sakyamuni of Huayan Temple is one of the biggest Buddhist sites of the Liao Dynasty and Jin Dynasty of about 1,000 years ago. There are delicate sculptures of the Liao Dynasty, the mural paintings of the Qing Dyansty era (1616—1911), and the Statues of the Five Sitting Buddhas.
The Nine Dragon Screen is a wall in front of the main palace and temples. The screen is 45.5 meters (50 yards) long, 8 meters (8.7 yards) tall, and 2.02 meters thick.
In the 52 or so Yugang Caves, there are thousands of stone Buddhist statues and frescoes. It is 1 kilometer or 0.6 miles long. In front of the twentieth cave, there is the bronze outdoor Buddha 释迦牟尼. It is 14 meters (46 feet) tall.
Mount Heng is 62 km or 38.5 miles away from Datong. It is well known for the strangely shaped rocks, the caves, and the cliffy precipice.
The Hanging Temple may be the best scenic spot of the area. It has a history of at least 1,400 years. There are 40 pavilions supported by the beams inserted into the caves of the cliff. The pavilions are linked by wooden stairs and bridges. The wooden bridges look as if a rainbow is hanging between the places on the mountain.