The Yungang Caves, carved in a sandstone cliff outside the city of Datong, feature 53 major caves with 51,000 niches, all filled with statues. Five massive stone Buddhas between 30 & 60 feet tall thought to resemble that first rulers of the Northern Wei dynasty are the centre pieces of this unique Buddhist cave structure.
Afterwards, we visit Pingyao, one of China's best preserved traditional towns. Almost the entirety of this 2,700 year-old walled city in northern China consists of traditional cobbled streets and classically-styled courtyard homes. When Pingyao became China's pre-eminent banking centre two hundred years ago, and as a result one of its most affluent and handsome towns, wealthy industrialists built imposing mansions in its suburbs. One such residence not to be missed is that of the Qiao Family, whose austerely beautiful home became the setting for Zhang Yimou's famous 1991 movie Raise the Red Lantern.
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Explore pingyao-datong through the eyes of a local
Over 40,000 sculptors were employed over a hundred years to build the 51,000 sculptures of the Yungang Caves, a marvel of Chinese Buddhist art. In Pingyao you will get an overview of a traditional Chinese town with its grid pattern of courtyard homes arrayed around the government building, the Confucian temple, and, of course – this being Pingyao – various private banks.
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Genuinely stylish boutique hotels are few and far between in China. Enjoy.Learn More
A benevolent local entrepreneur employed award-winning Venezuelan architect, Antonio Picardo, to combine two mansions into a chic 19 room boutique hotel in the center of town. Jing boasts a good restaurant, beautiful art and a professional staff.
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Fine Dining & Authentic Cuisine
Experience the finest in Chinese and Western cuisine
Whereas the water-rich south of China eats rice as its staple, the north enjoys wheat noodles more. Northern towns like Xi'an and Pingyao excel in their variety of noodles. Pingyao's home province of Shanxi is particularly famous for Kaolaolao, a steamed buckwheat noodle eaten with various condiments, and for Daoxiaomian or knife cut noodles, a delicious beef noodle soup. Pingyao Niurou, or Pingyao Beef, is a salted stewed beef dish unique to Pingyao.
- Population: 48,531 (2009)
- The seat of Pingyao county with supervision over 10 villages.
- 827-782 BCE – Pingyao is founded by Emperor Xuanwang during the West Zhou Dynasty as a walled city
- 211 BCE – Pingyao becomes a site of county jurisdiction
- 1370 – Walls are built around the city
- 1823 – The first bank in China opens in Pingyao called Rishengchang Piaohao
- 1914 – Rishengchang bank goes bankrupt in the aftermath of the Xinhai Revolution
- 1979 – Restorations on the city begin
- 1982 – Pingyao is declared a National Historical and Cultural City
- 1997 – Pingyao becomes a World Heritage Site
- 2004 – Part of the southern wall collapse (since reconstructed)
- Located in central Shanxi province on the east bank of the Fen River, about 715 km (444 mi) southwest of Beijing.
After your time spent exploring pingyao-datong you may want to consider these other recommended destinationsHelp Me Decide
A key city on the Silk Road, later to become an important religious center & the birthplace of Chinese figurative painting in the Mogao Caves.
Black granite mountains pierce the swirling mists overlooking a region renowned for its ancient architecture.
A colourful, eclectic & charming border town on the Tea and Horse Route, home to more than 10 ethnic minorities.
China’s capital for 11 centuries boasts the Terracotta Warriors and a Muslim quarter that dates to the time of the Silk Road.