A Weekend in Datong
Just like in the postcards, the Yungang grottoes
I got on a train spontaneously to Datong in Shanxi province on Friday night to see the fabled hanging monastery and grottoes with amazing Buddha carvings. It’s possibly one of the dustiest cities I’ve been to and while the city had nothing much to offer, the old sites 2 hours from Datong are well worth a visit. I would say that one full day suffices, and would advise against anyone planning to spend the night. The cuisine was again oooodles of noodles, for the province specialises in noodles. A safe bet to get some decent noodles is 东方削面 which is a chain of noodle stalls in the city, I think the English name is Eastwheat.
Datong is 7 hours by train from Beijing and you should definitely book yourself on the CITS tour upon arrival. Their office is tucked in a little lane, so best to call in advance to make bookings. The guides speak excellent English and everything is hassle-free.
Also, I have never been a fan of lonely planet, I highly recommend the rough guides, their information (most importantly phone numbers) are all up-to-date.
Contact Mr Gao (高师傅）
＋86 1300 8088 454
or his colleague +86 1350 9723 056
Most people stop by Datong en route to Pingyao and I think that’s the best way to do it. If you have time, definitely a stop by Wutai Shan.