|relaxing stroll in Datong|
Datong (大同), located 250 kilometers west of Beijing, is popular for being “the city of coal”. This city in Shanxi Province plays a big role on providing one of the country’s largest sources of energy. It also has relevant historical citations dating back when it used to be the capital of Northern Wei starting the year 386 AD. It also houses one of the four holy mountains of Taoism in China, Mt. Hengshan. For me, the main reasons of my visiting here is the famous relics such as the Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery.
|a unique mosque in Datong! I would have gone inside but it seems that they were closed for the day|
After five hours, we have soon arrived at Xinnan Passenger Transport Station, I took a cab going to Datong Youth Hostel, checked in and took a couple minutes of rest. It was already too late to try and go to Yungang Grottoes so I set it for the next day by taking a cab service that the hostel offers. I got out and explored more of the city, the hostel’s location is at a busy shopping street which was a good place to people watch. It’s also a stone throw away from Huayan Monastery (华严寺 – hua yan si), which I did not visit due to its steep entrance fee of 80 CNY.
|a performance stage near the monastery|
I took a walk to see more of the neighborhood. Most of the city is going on under major constructions and most of the sights are new. I believe Datong City Wall (城墙 – chéng qiáng), have been around since 14th century. The government is exerting a great deal of effort on rebuilding it and other related historical structures to boost tourism. I was also able to see lots of traditional homes being torn down to pave way for this restoration. Somehow, it didn’t feel anything authentic to me.
|one of the main gates of Datong City Wall|
|a tower in the middle of intersection that is under going repairs|
I arrived at one of the sights of Datong, the Nine-Dragon Screen (九龙壁 – jiǔ lóng bì). and was asked for a 5 CNY entrance fee. The bright glazed wall was built during the Ming dynasty and it depicts nine colorful flying dragons that is also said to be the largest glazed screen in the country. The wall looks impressive, but that was it. One could spend less than five minutes appreciating the area, but seeing a structure that has lived on for 600 years was still a satisfying experience and a good one for my first day in the country.
|the famous Nine-Dragon Screen of Datong|
|the pond was very dry when I was there|
|probably the only relaxing view in Datong and the only best place to have a quiet reflection time|
I later on explored the Huayan street that has impressive buildings, they also look quite new and freshly painted but I didn’t mind. I was there on a weekend so I was in time to catch some Saturday happenings they got there during the evening. There was a good band playing and the buildings were lit up. This area looks amazing during nighttime.
|new houses with traditional designs|
|a very lovely restaurant, its architecture is same to what I saw at Pingyao|
|I'm not really very knowledgeable with Chinese architecture but these buildings remind me of Japan|
|the stray dogs of China! they all look so cute and fluffy! though I was a bit afraid to go near due to the fear of being bitten and getting rabies abroad!|
|busy shopping street of Datong, similar to what you can see at Qianmen Street of Beijing|
|night performance on a weekend night! really good band!|
|the look of the buildings during nighttime <3|
|it's so lively! lots of people were gathering around this square|
|the restaurant I saw earlier, lovelier during night!|
I took a rest quite early that night as next day, we’ll be starting our tour by 8 AM. I was pretty excited to see two of the most boasted sights of Datong!
Accommodation (Datong Youth Hostel Review) :
I stayed at the only backpackers-type available accommodation in the city, Datong Youth Hostel (大同青年旅社). Located at Huayan Street, it was pretty accessible to city sights such as the Huayan Monastery and Nine-Dragon Screen temple. The dormitory price was ok, no complains about the bed but my only criticism was that the bathroom smelled which seems to be a common problem on all hostels in China, (though it might differ which room you stay because there was no bad smell at all on the second room that I transferred to), and their staff, though helpful, could be quite awkward sometimes due to only Basic speaking ability of the English language. Wi-Fi was good but the location of the hostel was pretty weird, it being located on the third floor of a building underneath a children’s clothing store didn’t make sense to me. The tours they offer is not necessarily a tour but just a taxi service (a same service I also availed at my hostel in Pingyao), which would be cheaper as you wouldn’t be required to have a tour guide. Anyway, I would recommend the place but I hope they make some improvements :)
仿古街（步行街）中段路西 (大同, 037006)
Fang gu jie (bu xing jie) Zhongduan lu xi (Datong, 037006)
Fang gu street, Zhongduan West Road, Datong, 037006
How to go to Datong from Beijing:
You may opt to take the train that will take six hours of travel...
Or do what I did and take the bus
Head off to Liuliqiao station and bus a ticket for 133 ¥ one way, it will take you to Xinnan station of Datong and travel time is more or less five hours.
|the very lively atmosphere of Datong on weekends|
More of China here