1) Taking advantage of the newly built Beijing-Datong bullet train, your trip to Datong and Pingyao becomes possible. The trains are comfortable and efficient. The highly developed Chinese high-speed rail system has significantly shortened the tour of the most famous historical sites around Beijing, which otherwise could have been completed only by plane, to just 48 hours.
2) Our guide in Datong and Pingyao are among the best tour guides who are fluent in English and knowledgeable about Shanxi history and culture. Very experienced in time management also to make sure you enjoy the most.
3) Have a taste of Shanxi-style cuisine during the 48 hours that you can’t experience in Beijing.
5:30 AM: Beijing hotel pickup.
6:40 am: Bullet train from Beijing North Station to Datong.
9:00 am: Arrive in Datong South Station. Pickup by your English-speaking guide and driver. Drive to the Hanging Temple. Start the tour here for one hour.
The Hanging Temple, also Hanging Monastery or Xuankong Temple is a temple built into a cliff. Along with the Yungang Grottoes, the Hanging Temple is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area. The temple was built more than 1,500 years ago. It 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. The structure is kept in place with oak crossbeams fitted into holes chiseled into the cliffs. The main supportive structure is hidden inside the bedrock. The monastery is located in the small canyon basin, and the body of the building hangs from the middle of the cliff under the prominent summit, protecting the temple from rain erosion and sunlight. Coupled with the repair of the dynasties, the color tattoo in the temple is relatively well preserved.
11:00 am: Gourmet Chinese northern style dishes and noodles. :)
12:00 pm - Drive to Yungang Grottoes.
12:45 pm: Tour Yungang Grottoes.
The grottoes are excellent examples of rock-cut architecture as one of the three most famous ancient sculptural sites of China. They were mainly constructed in the period between 460-525 AD during the Northern Wei Dynasty and are an outstanding example of Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. Altogether, the site is composed of 252 grottoes with more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. In 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered as a "masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art... [and] ...represent the successful fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from south and central Asia with Chinese cultural traditions, starting in the 5th century CE under Imperial auspices."
5:55 pm: Train to Pingyao.
9:00 pm: Arrive in Pngyao. Stay at Pingyao's historic hotel located in the ancient downtown.
8:00 am: Breakfast
After breakfast, we start with a visit to the Ancient City Wall of Pingyao City. The city of Pingyao is one of the four remaining well-preserved ancient cities in China. The city wall has a perimeter of 6.4 kilometers and is over 12 meters high and 3.5 meters wide. Then we’ll visit the Rishengchang Exchange Shop. It is the earliest bank in China, first opened in the 18th century. Rishengchang was the first money exchange shop in the history of China.
12:00 pm: Lunch, a taste of Pingyao's delicious "wild" style northern food.
1:00 pm: Move on to Mingqing Street. Ming and Qing Street also called Nanda Jie. It is one of the busy and exciting streets in which to experience ancient Chinese culture. It is 440 long, Ming and Qing Street used to be the commercial center of Pingyao ancient city. Move on to visit Armed Escort Company Museum. It offers eye-opening armed escorts in protecting commerce. Cash moving from one area needed the armed escort firm to thwart of thieving hands. Finally, visit County Government Office, an ancient city hall, and law court.
4:30 pm: You'll get on the train at 4:30 pm to return to Beijing. You may continue with your China travel to Xian for the Terracotta Warriors from Pingyao for an additional 2 hours of train ride. Pingyao sits right in the middle between Beijing and Xian. See the map below. Google Map can't show the train route as the train system discussed is farily new.
8:45 pm: A local driver in Beijing will transfer you to your hotel.