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Nature, History and Culture: Taiyuan’s Best Scenic Areas

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Whether you're touring or living in Taiyuan, visiting a few of the area's best scenic sites should definitely be on your to-do list. Shanxi Province is home to several well known 5A level tourist attractions and world heritage sites, such as Wutai Mountain and the Yungang grottoes, as well as a few of which you may not have heard of, such as  Pingyao Ancient City and the Huangcheng Xiangfu Natural Culture Tourist District. Find out more about each of these great scenic areas below!

Nature, History and Culture: Taiyuan’s Best Scenic Areas
Huangcheng Xiangfu Natural Culture Tourist District. Photo: hcxf.cn

1) Wutai Mountain Scenic Area View In Map
Wutai Mountain Scenic Area (五台山风景名胜区) is located in eastern Shanxi, approximately 230 km away from Sichuan's Emei Mountain (峨嵋山), Anhui's Jiuhua Mountain (九华山), and Zhejiang's Putuo Mountain (普陀山). Together, these four mountains are known as China's "four Famous Buddhist Mountains" (中国佛教四大名山), and were named a world heritage site by the United Nations in 2009. Wutai Mountain is located in Taihuai town (台怀镇). Tourists flock to this spot not only for the incredible mountain views but also for the famous temples located throughout the area. One such temple that shouldn't be missed is Tayuan Temple (塔院寺), which is known for its signature Wutai Mountain architecture—a large white tower 75.3 m high and 83.3 m in circumference. If you're more interested in traversing the depths of the mountain for yourself, head to Dongtai Peak (东台顶), also known by locals as Wanghai Peak (望海峰). Not only will you be able to see local nuns and monks at worship, you will enjoy the cool summer temperatures and auspicious weather.

Add:  Taihuai Village, Wutai County, Xinzhou City
地址:忻州市五台县台怀镇
Opening hours: 24 hours, Temples close at 18:00
Tel: 350 654 3133
Price: 140 RMB (off season, Nov 1-Mar 31), 168 RMB (peak season, Apr 1-Oct 31). Vehicles can be rented for 50 RMB/Person, and admission to various temples and scenic overlooks cost up to 10 RMB each.
Website: http://www.wutaishan.com.cn/
Getting there: From Taiyuan East Transit Station (太原东客站) take the bus to Wutai Mountain (五台山), which runs once per hour starting at 05:30 and cost 67 RMB per person.

2) Yungang Grottoes View In Map
Located 370 km away from Taiyuan, the Yungang Grottoes (云冈石窟) is the largest of its kind in China. The grottoes are in a network of 45 caves and 252 smaller cavernous areas. There are more than 50,000 statues and tons of ancient Buddhist artwork spread throughout the area that are sure to appeal to any aspiring historians or anthropologists in your group. Most tourists have time to see about 20 of the caves during their visit, with the five caves of Tan Yao (昙曜五窟) being the most popular attraction. If you are headed to this area, it's recommended that you hire an English speaking tour guide, as stone after stone has a tendency of becoming a bit boring after awhile without an explanation. 

Add: At the southern base of Wuzhou Mountain, 16 km west of Datong
地址:大同市以西16公里处的武周山南麓
Price: 150 RMB (entrance); 150 RMB (tour guide)
Opening hours: 08:10-17:30
Tel: 352 302 9625
Getting there: From Taiyuan railway station take bus No. 4 to Xinkaili (新开里), then transfer to bus No. 3 to get to the Yungang Grottoes (云冈石窟景区). Or from Xinnan Station (新南长途客运站) take bus No. 28 to Xinkaili and then transfer to bus No. 3. Or from Datong Airport (大同机场) take the shuttle bus to Datong Hotel (大同宾馆), transfer to bus No. 17 to Xinkaili, and then transfer to bus No. 3.

3) Pingyao Ancient City View In Map
Pingyao Ancient City (平遥古城) is home to over 2,700 years of history and culture, and is considered one of China's best-kept ancient cities. It is also China's only city with a completely intact city wall (also a world heritage site). The city wall is 6,163 m in length, 12 m high and 2.25 m across, and acts as a sort of divider between "ancient Pinyao" inside the wall and the more modernized city outside. While visiting, be sure to check out noteworthy sites inside the wall, such as Rishengchang Draft Bank (日升昌票号), Pingyao County Administrative Museum (平遥县衙博物馆), Pingyao Culture Temple (平遥文庙), Pingyao City Wall (平遥城墙) and Zhenguo Temple (镇国寺).

Add: Near Pingyao County Dajie, Jinzhong City
地址:晋中市平遥县北大街附近
Price, travel inside the wall is technically free, however to view any of the above-mentioned attractions, you'll need to purchase a 2-day pass for 150 RMB.
Opening hours: 24 hours, individual attractions have different closing hours in the evenings.
Getting there: From Taiyuan, take the bus from Jiannan Station (建南汽车站), which is available every 20 minutes. The trip takes two hours and cost approximately 30 RMB.

4) Huangcheng Xiangfu Natural Culture Tourist District View In Map
Also known as Wuting Mountain Village (午亭山村), Huangcheng Xiangfu Natural Culture Tourist District (皇城相府生态文化旅游区) is a village that contains a unique set of Ming and Qing style castles, as well as old residential districts. The tourism district itself is separated into "inner city" and "outer city" areas, which feature 16 courtyards and 640 rooms. The inner city was built in the late Ming Dynasty (1632) and the outer city was built in the early Qing Dynasty (1703). The beautifully carved and carefully laid out ancient city will bring you back to a different time far removed from modern China. 

Add: Huangcheng Village, Beiliu Town, Yangcheng County, Jincheng City
地址:晋城市阳城县北留镇皇城村
Tel: 356 485 8206
Opening hours: 08:00-18:30, 08:00-17:30 (winter)
Website: http://www.hcxf.cn/
Getting there: From Taiyuan, take the bus to the Jincheng Transit Center (晋城客运中心), which should take about 4 hours and cost 110 RMB. At the Juncheng Transit Center, transfer to the bus to Huangcheng Xiangfu (皇城相府), which should take about 90 minutes and cost 10 RMB.

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Keywords: Taiyuan best tourist attractions Taiyuan best scenic areas

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