Board an early morning flight to Datong, the second largest city in Shanxi Province, located in a basin at an elevation of 3,410 feet and bordering Inner Mongolia to the north and west and Hebei to the east. Upon arrival, explore the Yungang Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the four most famous grottoes in China. The caves contain Buddhist sculptures from the fifth and sixth centuries and the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues. The grottoes have great examples of different art forms, ranging from painting, music, carving and religious art. Continue to visit the city’s two awe-inspiring Buddhist temples, Huayansi and Shanhuasi, housing beautiful Buddhist statues and paintings from the twelfth century. Afterwards, take a close look at the Nine Dragon Screen, one of the three noted Nine Dragons Screens in China. The glazed tile screen was built in 1771 during the administration of Emperor Qianlong.
||Datong Grand Hotel||Lunch||
|Jing’s Residence||Breakfast, Lunch||
Travel overland south-west to Pingyao visiting the wooden Hanging Temple on the sacred Hengshan mountain en route. The Hanging Monastery, built precariously into the cliff side of the mountain and held up on stilts. The temple is notable not only for its location on a sheer precipice but also because it is the only existing temple with the combination of three Chinese traditional religions: Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. There is a ’3 Religions Hall’ with all of Buddha, Confucius and Laozi (founder of Daoism). Then, we will visit the Jinci temple complex, the most prominent temple complex in Shanxi, China. The best known structure at Jinci is the Hall of the Holy Mother, which was constructed from 1023 to 1032 during the Song dynasty.
||Jing’s Residence||Breakfast, Lunch||
After breakfast, visit the impressive Qiao’s Family Courtyard, an 18th century courtyard estate comprising over 300 rooms and an ancestral temple. Located north-west of Pingyao, the site is most famous for its appearance in the film ‘Raise the Red Lantern’. In the afternoon, explore the charming Pingyao Ancient Town, stroll through the Ming and Qing Street, visit the well preserved Ancient City Wall, and the Rishengchang Draft Bank which is known as the first Chinese-style private bank.
In the morning, visit the Wang Family Courtyard, a luxurious residence built during 1762-1811 by the descendants of the Wang Family, covering a total area of 1,615 square feet, with 54 courtyards and over 1,000 rooms. The architecture of the courtyard has a magnificent scale with five alleys, five forts, and five ancestral temples. Besides, the courtyard layout of the five ancient forts was respectively compared to designs of five lucky animals of “dragon, phoenix, tortoise, kylin and tiger”. The East Courtyard, informally named Gaojia Ya, a cluster of courtyards, each with its own kitchen yard and private school yard. In the middle sector are two main courtyards and Beiwei Yard. In front of the main yards is a long alleyway. To the northeast is a small side-yard while in the southwest there is a large side-yard. The West Courtyard is informally called Hongmen Bao. Hongmen Bao means Red Gate Castle, taking its name from the only red gate facing the main street. The castle is 345 feet wide and 590 feet long, presenting in the shape of a regular rectangle. The main street divides the whole courtyard into two main areas. Three alleys of west-east direction cross with the main street, thus presenting the Chinese character ‘Wang’. The Painting and Calligraphy Hall displays hundreds of excellent works while Treasure Hall contains collections of furnishings, old coins, porcelains, rare stones and jade carvings. In the afternoon, board an express train to your next destination which we recommend to Xian, the home of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world – the Terracotta Warriors.
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Travel first to Datong from Beijing for its famous Nine Dragon Screen and Hanging Temples. Overland transfer to the ancient Pingyao with a history dates back 4000 years and the city only got its name in 424 during the Northern Wei Dynasty.
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