The city of Datong itself is currently under massive renovation and improvement. Mr. Selfish and I had our driver look for an ATM to withdraw some yuan, and we had great difficulty finding one. Most of the large banks in China had already set up locations but the ATMs inside were not yet functional. As I’ve stated previously, Datong is slowly but surely setting itself up to be a big tourist destination.
First, the other primary attraction is the Yīngxiàn Wooden Pagoda, which is about a two-hour drive from the Hanging Monastery. Built in 1056, it is the oldest and tallest wooden structure in China. However, due to its age, you can’t climb the pagoda but can only visit the ground floor. The pagoda has a Buddhist temple behind it with some interesting looking statues. Mr. Selfish and I only spent about half an hour at the Yīngxiàn Wooden Pagoda, so I don’t think it was worth the two-hour drive or the 60 yuan per person admission.
Otherwise, Mr. Selfish and I visited some of the sights within the city of Datong. We went to the Nine Dragon Screen, which is the oldest glazed screen in China. The screen is over 600 years old and depicts nine dragons. We were the only ones who had paid the admission to see the screen, which was only 10 yuan. It was interesting but there wasn’t much to it.
Mr. Selfish and I also visited the Huáyán Monastery, which is a large collection of Buddhist temples of the Huayan sect. The monastery was recently rebuilt, and I didn’t think the steep admission of 80 yuan per person was worth it.
Finally, we went to the Shanhua Monastery, which was built in 713 during the Tang Dynasty. Admission here was 50 yuan per person, which was more reasonable but it was a much smaller attraction.
Overall, I still recommend visiting Datong if you plan on coming to China. However, the best sights are the Hanging Monastery and the Yungang Grottoes. I wouldn’t recommend seeing these other sights unless you have a lot of free time.