Global Mark : 11.30
Ratings by criteria :
Ratings by backpackers :
Comments : CITS (China
International Travel Service) is very active and aggressive here and you may have
to go through them for a number of service, being for sleeping in a train or in
What to do : Visit CITS office / Spend hours in the train station trying to buy a train ticket / Decompress by visiting the superb caves / Talk with the very friendly locals
What you may not like : Visit CITS office too many times / Not being able to buy a train ticket except via CITS for a commission (Y40 sleeper, Y10 hard seat) / The city itself : poor, polluted and dirty / Arriving too late for the bus to the Hanging Monastery or CITS Tour / The limited choice of accommodations
How long ? One day is enough if you visit only the caves or take the CITS Tour.
If you have to take a morning bus to Wutaishan, you will have little choice but to spend the night here. Otherwise, there is the night train to Beijing !
Traditionnally, the cheapest places had to be booked through CITS : it should cost basically 45Y for a dorm bed in 4 beds' rooms. Unfortunately, both the Railway Hotel and the Yungang Hotel get bad review from travelers as they are quite dirty. The Datong Hotel is much nicer but cost 80Y in a nice Trpl with bath.
For private rooms, check the rates at CITS. Prices start at 160Y for a dbl with bath. In this category, prefer the Hongqi Hotel to the Feitian Hotel.
There may be hope : a backpacker reported a new hotel, independant (?) from CITS. Apparently, it costs Y20 for a dorm and Y78 for a Dbl w. shower & TV. Turn left when you exit the station and continue for 100m until a white building. No English sign.
Tips : Mark
Doughty, UK (Nov 05)
CITS offers day tour (8:30 to 19), first to the caves and then to the Hanging Monastery, for Y100 per person excluding entrance fees (some travelers have managed to get the price down to 40Y but this was probably miraculous). There is little reason to go with them if you plan to visit the caves only.
- Yungang Caves : Y20
This is the only real reason to come to Datong and it is certainly worth the effort...
- Hengshan Mountain : Y20 for the mountain area + Y20 for the village at the top, Exp
- The Great Wall : free / Two sections of the wall are accessible by bus, respectively 25 and 30km away. The further one is the nicest thanks to the small villages around it. It is accessible by minibus heading toward Inner Mongolia for Y7. Before getting off the bus, ask the driver for direction as the wall is now rather invisible...
- Hanging Monastery : Y27, Exp
Quite a few people are disappointed by what they see, especially coming from the caves. "This is only another temple that is hanging" resumed a traveler but other are thrilled...
Going there is tricky as you first have to take a bus to Hunyuan, 5km away from the temple and then walk or take a taxi (Y20 return). Alternatively, you can take the 7:30 bus to Wutaishan and get off at the monastery.
From Hunyuan, the last bus back to Datong leave at around 16. Alternatively, you could spend the night in Hunyuan (cheaper than in Datong ?) and catch the bus from Datong to Wutaishan at around 9am the next morning (or take a private minibus for Y50 at around noon if the public bus is not running)
In theory, there is a public bus everyday leaving at 7:30 but in practice you may have to deal with private operators... In theory, foreigners are not allowed to leave Datong by bus without an expensive CITS permit but in practice, you can buy the ticket once in the bus... In theory, the beautiful trip takes 6 hours but in practice, it could take longer if some Chinese tourists start arguing about the Y50 entrance fee to Taihuai area (the bus will not leave the gate until everybody has been properly racketed)...
See also trip from Beijing to Datong...