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Beijing Datong Pingyao Taiyuan Tour - 4 Days

Destination: Beijing Datong Pingyao Taiyuan
Duration: Four Day
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Transportation: Vehicle
Best Travel Time:All year
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This tour is ideal for travelers looking for a trip to some of China¡¯s most beautiful places on a budget or in a short period of time. Departing Beijing, travelers will get a glimpse of Chinese civilization during the medieval times or during the height of Buddhism at Datong and Pingyao¡¯s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Sure to impress even the most weathered explorer, Pingyao¡¯s medieval walled city and Datong¡¯s Yungang Grottoes provide new perspectives about Chinese history, society and civilization.

Full price of this tour (per person in US$):
Price Price Instruction
US$800/persons 800USD/Person

Day 1 - Beijing - Datong (B,L)

First thing, in the morning your guide will transport you to the airport for a flight (of about one hour) to Datong.

Option: If you want to make at the hotel first and do early check-in, please   contact us

Once you arrive in Datong, you will be in the ancient capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty. At the end of the Han Empire (206 BC- 220 AD) and towards the beginning of the third century AD, the region became the home of various small kingdoms. After some time, the Tuoba, a Turkish-speaking people from the north who were often considered by the Chinese as barbarians, unified the area, founded the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 AD) and installed their first capital in Datong. Later, the capital moved in 494 AD to Luoyang, just a few kilometers from the Mongolian border. Now, locals and tourists can admire the remains of this Dynasty in both cities.

Once there, your guide will transport you to the hotel to drop off your luggage. Then he or she will take you to the Yungang Grottoes that are about 15 kilometers outside of the city. Depending on the traffic, it takes about an hour or so to get there.

In the fifth century, the Wei converted to Buddhism and adapted to the traditional Chinese roots of the area. This later gave birth to the creation of the Yungang Grottoes, now considered a perfect example of Chinese Buddhist rock art of the period. Wooden temples used to shelter the grottoes' entrances and the monks inside. Former believers and monks sculpted stone into different Buddhist representations in 252 different grottoes. The famous monk Tanyao created some of the most well known.  Now, fifty-one thousand rock sculptures stand including thousands of Bodhisattva and Buddha statues. The grotto number 5 and its Buddha of 17 meters high is one of the country's most prized. Even though it is not the tallest Buddha statue in China, it is the most complete and esthetically pleasing statue of its kind in the whole country.

After visiting the Yungang Grottoes, you will return to Datong to explore the downtown district where you can see a vibrant, changing city and the Huayan Temple. ¡°Huayan¡± is the name of a branch of Buddhism. The temple itself later became a symbol of the Khitan, the founders of the Liao Dynasty (905-1125 AD). Like the Northern Wei, the Khitan came from a ¡°barbarian¡± background, converted to Buddhism and assimilated into the Chinese civilization. The Khitan liked to see the sun rise every morning so the Huayan Temple faces the east instead of the south like many other Chinese edifices.

Next you will visit the Nine-Dragon Wall, the largest wall of its kind. This wall itself is 45 meters long and a wonderful reference to the glazed tile work of the region. All through out Shanxi Province, you can see glazed tile in various traditional architecture. Here, the tile on the Nine-Dragon Wall helped protect the property from curious onlookers by distracting and impressing them with its vivid colors and design. On a superstitious level, the wall also prevented the intrusion of malevolent phantoms. The Chinese believed the phantoms walked in a straight line, so the wall prevented the phantoms from entering the property.

After visiting the Wall, you will return to the hotel for a well-earned rest.

Day 2 - Datong - Pingyao (B,L)

The day begins with a train ride to Pingyao for about seven hours (from 7:45 a.m. to 3:06 p.m.). And your hotel will provide you a breakfast box and you could bring it onto the train.

Welcome to the best-preserved medieval city in the country! If you are looking for cobblestone alleys between traditional Chinese houses lit in the evening by red lanterns surrounded by strong, well-preserved, exterior ramparts, then you are in the right spot, Pingyao. The city itself maintains a perfect image of a traditional China. Formerly, a prosperous merchant city under the Ming and the site of the first banking system of China, Pingyao has become well know. During the Qing Dynasty, the creation of banks with currency and bank drafts in Pingyao later led to a centralized banking system in the country.

At the train station, your guide will pick you up and welcome you to the city. Depending on the weather upon entering the city, you will get to explore by foot the ramparts that circle most of the city.  Once you've avoided the crowds, you will get a perfect view of the city's layout on top of the wall. Ten meters in the air and six kilometers long, the wall provides an exciting view of the city's everyday life and historical watchtowers. There are 72 towers! Even the military strategist and writer Sun Tzu wrote about the wall's wonderful defenses in his Art of War.

After exploring the wall, you will return to the hotel on foot. Some of the ancient Ming and Qing residences of the city now have been renovated into small restaurants, boutiques and charming hotels. Pingyao attracts a number of visitors every week and the larger roads can get very crowded. Alleyways provide a wonderful way to escape the crowds and walkways of more popular roads and to view some of the Chinese culture as you walk back to your hotel. It is in one of these historical buildings you will spend the night enjoying possibly a kang, an integrated home heating system with bricks heated from below.

Day 3 - Pingyao (B,L)

After breakfast, you will part for the other attractions of the region: the merchant residences and the cave houses.

Throughout history, some of the original merchants of the region amassed colossal fortunes over the years that allowed them to build huge mansions. This was certainly the case with Wang family Compound. His home, if you could call it that, was and still is a labyrinth of open squares, small gardens, temples and straight stairways. Located 50 kilometers from Pingyao, the site resembles the Qiao family compound used in Zhang Yimou's film Raise the Red Lantern. Because of the popularity of the film's site and the crowds that now converge on the location, we propose you enjoy your time at Wang's Residence without worries of crowds. Even though the Residence is less known, it is just as fascinating.

On the return trip to Pingyao, you will stop at Zhangbicun, a small village that distinguishes itself with its underground tunnels. The Sui (581-618 AD) constructed this amazing network of defensive tunnels to defend them from the Tang (618-907 AD) who later would take over the village. Like the intestines of some great and forgotten beast, the tunnels run about 30 meters underground and go for 1500 meters. You will need to stay close to your guide.

The town above on the other hand offers different sights with its maze of cobblestone alleys and its ancient houses from the Chinese Middle-Ages.

This outing will also serve the occasion to discover the cave houses. According to the Los Angeles Times (on March 18, 2012), 30 million people live in the loess plateau, where its yellow, porous soil makes cave dwelling an option. This style of residence has led to the expression ¡°a country of yellow earth.¡± This type of yellow, sandy soil is common in the Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces where the Chinese believe to have started their civilization. Even though the houses do not have running water or electricity, they provide a stable climate, refuge from the rigorous winters and relief from the hot summers.

You will end your day with a visit to the Buddhist Shuanglin Temple near Pingyao. Established during the Northern Wei Dynasty, the temple differs from others with its finely sculpted statues that still show their original colors.

Finally, you can enjoy your evening at your own pace in Pingyao and stroll down the alleyways lit by hundreds of Chinese red lanterns common in the north.

Day 4 - Pingyao -Taiyuan - Beijing (B,L)
In Pingyao the magic happens in the morning usually when visitors sleep peacefully. Odors and noise from the kitchens announce the breakfast coming (or not yet finished). Bicycles animate the city's streets with movement as the city stretches from its slumber. You may want to get up early to enjoy this morning scene.

Once ready, you will leave to discover Rishenchang, the dye company that in the 17th century became the first bank in China and later opened different branches throughout the country. A real ¡°success story,¡± the bank made Pingyao the financial center of China for years.

In turn you will visit a yamen, the administrative building of the imperial Chinese government. Here the administrators administered the law, resolved conflicts and housed the prison.

You will then head to Taiyuan (around 100km away, taking 1h30 to 2 hours) , the capital of the Shanxi region. You will visit the Jinci Temple, a complex built in the 10th century to honor the prince Shuyu who established the Jin rule (772-403 BC). The term ¡°Jinci¡± is composed of the word ¡°Jin,¡± and ¡°ci,¡± the ¡°ancients' temple.¡± This visit is an opportunity for you to learn a little bit more about the tradition of ancestor worship that still continues today

The Saint Mother Hall is another perfect example of this. Dedicated to Shuyu's mother, sculpted dragons twist around the wood pillars to give the hall a sense of royalty. Dragons were often used as a symbol of the Imperial Emperors' power.

On a side note, if you want to hear a popular story of the region, remember to ask your guide about whether ¡®the Emperor ever jokes'. You may be in for an interesting surprise.

Last but not least, you will return to the train station to go back to Beijing. The normal train leaves at 5:37 pm. and will arrive in Beijing at 9:20 p.m (on request). Once you are back in Beijing, you will receive transportation to your hotel or the airport depending on your schedule.



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