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You will be met at your hotel in Beijing (booked independently to this trip and to be advised) and transferred to the train station for your overnight train to Datong. An ancient cultural city dating back more than 2,000 years, Datong is located in Northern Shanxi Province. The Datong region’s biggest attraction is the UNESCO-listed Yungang Caves. Built more than 1,500 years ago, the 53 caves are a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist art comprising a fine collection of carved-sandstone Buddhist figures. In all, some 51,000 statues were created, though today there aren’t quite as many.
The Turkic Toba people made Datong their capital in 398AD as they conquered the north. Becoming fervent Buddhists, they made some awesome achievements. Over the course of almost a century, more than 1000 grottoes were completed, containing a dizzying 51,000 statues, before the capital was moved south to Luoyang. These caves were the first and grandest of three major Buddhist grottoes. From the hewn caves themselves to the Buddhas of every shape and size, to the richly carved and embellished walls and archways depicting representations of scenes from Buddhists mythology and the lives of famous monks, the artistry is exquisite and unsurpassed in China. You'll have plenty of time to explore the Yungang caves, before the excursion continues to the Huayan and Shanghua temples and the Nine Dragon Wall.
Heng Shan's most impressive buliding is the ‘Hanging Temple’ (whose Chinese name literally translates as 'temple suspended in the void'). Some structures defy the rules of architecture and gravity and the ‘Hanging Temple’ is one of them. Constructed on an impossibly precipitous rockface, the temple literally hugs the cliff. Tall, narrow stairs and plank walkways connect the 6 halls of the temple, which comprise of natural caves and ledges fronted with wooden facades. Uniquely, here, shrines exist to all of China's main religions, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. Datong's gargantuan sites never cease to amaze.
Morning at leisure to explore Datong before tranferring you to the train station for your overnight train to Xi'an.
Transfer from the train station to your hotel. Later, we tour the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and take a guided tour on top of the 9 mile Xi’an City Wall (no need to go the entire way around) perimeter peeking down upon the lively city beneath us before heading down into the Muslim Quarter.
Today we discover the Terracotta Warrior archaeological site. 7,000 Warriors stand battle ready and have done so for the past 2,200 years. Try counting them! Later, we transfer you to the train station for your over night train to remote Dunhuang, a small and strategically important desert oasis town on the Silk Road, a stone’s throw from the end of the Great Wall.
Transfer from the train station today to your hotel. Day at leisure. Overnight Dunhuang - Dunhuang Guangyuan Hotel
Today, we visit Dunhuang’s most famous attraction, the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves. The colourful cave paintings which were the legacy of travelling pilgrim monks, merchants and nobles form the most fascinating repository of Buddhist art in China. Visit Yueya Quan (Crescent Moon Lake), a small spring-fed lake surrounded by gigantic sand dunes, that has been a vital source of water here for millennia. If feeling energetic, the giant dunes can be climbed if inclined! Overnight Dunhuang - Dunhuang Guangyuan Hotel
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Beijing. END OF SERVICES. Please note flight arrival time into Beijing today will be 23:20pm so we advise to book a night's accommodation in Beijing and fly out on the 2nd May. If you would like to do this please contact your travel agent for rates.
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