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Yungang Grottoes

The information contained here are subject to change. Chinese History Digest is not responsible or liable if any changes should occur.

Opening Hours

April - October: 8.30am - 5.30pm
November - March: 8.30am - 5pm
Exhibition Hall: 9.30am - 4.30pm

Entrance Ticket Prices

April - October: 120 yuan
November - March: 100 yuan
Free for children under 1.2m

The Yungang Grottoes (a.k.a. Yungang Caves) are one of three major Buddhist caves complexes in China. The other two that are just as significant are Luoyang's Longmen Grottoes and Dunhuang's Mogao Caves. The Yungang Grottoes are located about 16km west of the city of Datong (Shanxi province). At this amazing cave complex that was built in the 5th and 6th century AD during the period of the Six dynasties, visitors will find 254 caves carved into the limestone cliffs at the northern side of Wuzhou Mountain. Out of this total number of caves, 45 are classified as major grottoes and the remaining 209 as secondary caves. In addition to the caves, there are also about 1100 niches at the site of the Yungang Grottoes. Both caves and niches together contain about 51,000 statues. Whereas the smallest of these statues is only 2cm tall, the biggest one measures 17 meters.

view of the entrance to the Yungang Grottoes near Datongview of the entrance to the Yungang Grottoes near DatongThe caves and grottoes at this UNESCO world heritage site that stretches for about 1km from east to west are dispersed in three distinct groups: an eastern, middle and western group. The eastern group of the Yungang Caves is mainly built in the style of pagodas and the caves at the western group are either small or mid-sized with niches. The caves at the center of the Yungang Caves complex contain Buddha statues and are made up of front and back chambers. The walls and ceilings of the middle caves are furthermore carved with sculptures.

Buddha statues at a cave niche of the Yungang Grottoes near DatongBuddha statues at a cave niche of the Yungang Grottoes near DatongThe five caves 16 - 20 at the eastern part of the Yungang Caves complex are the oldest. They were carved under the leadership of a monk named Tan Yao between AD 453 - 465 at a time when Buddhism had begun to spread along the Silk Route into China. The Northern Wei dynasty was one of the first to accept Buddhism as their state religion and Datong (then named Pingcheng) was their capital. All five of these early grottoes are very similar in their layout and design and each contains a Buddha statue with the features of one of the five emperors Taizu, Taizong, Shizu, Gaozong and Gaozu.

The group of middle caves includes the caves 1, 2, 12, 13, the unfinished cave 3 and the twin caves 5/6, 7/8 and 9/10. All these caves were built during a second construction phase from AD 471 onwards until the imperial court of the Northern Wei dynasty moved to their new capital of Luoyang in AD 494. Most of the middle caves are made up of a front and back room. The walls and ceilings of the middle caves are adorned with sculptures and a Buddhist statue stands in their center. Cave No. 6, the largest of all the caves at the Yungang Grottoes, is 20-meters tall and features a central pillar that is decorated with Buddhist statues and designs. The east, south and west wall of the cave also features Buddhist designs such as the story of Sakyamuni that is told on 33 embossed panels.

Since the imperial court no longer financed the construction of additional caves at the site of the Yungang Grottoes after its move to Luoyang, the rest of the caves had to be financed by private donors. The late caves and niches that were constructed at the western part of the complex between AD 494 and AD 525 are therefore either small or of medium size. The caves 4, 11, 14 and 15 are the most noteworthy among this final group of caves.

large Buddha sculpture inside one of the larger caves of the Yungang Caves near Datonglarge Buddha sculpture inside one of the larger caves of the Yungang Caves near Datong

How to get to the Yungang Grottoes near Datong?

Address: Yungang Grottoes (about 16km west of Datong), Nanjiao district, Datong, Shanxi province, China
Tel.Nr.: +86 352 320 6818
Air: Datong Yungang Airport (DAT)
Train: Datong Railway Station
Bus: Take bus line 4 from the Datong Railway Station to the Xin Kai Li Stop. From there, take bus line 3 directly to the Yungang Caves.

Recommended Hotel near Datong's Yungang Caves

The 5-star hotel that is introduced in detail below is located at Datong's city center. Other hotels that are closer to the Yungang Caves are of a lower standard. This part of China is not as developed for tourism as other parts of the country, so you can generally expect fewer accomodation choices and a lower quality thereof. The provided information was thoroughly researched from various hotel booking websites. Chinese History Digest is not responsible if any information regarding the provided services and amenities might have changed.

Weidu International Hotel

outside view of the Weidu International Hotel in DatongThe Weidu International Hotel is a 5-star business hotel in Datong. It is located in a very safe and modern area just opposite the municipal government building. The city center is a mere 0.2 miles away from this popular hotel. The Datong Yungang Airport can be reached within 30 minutes and the hotel can arrange airport transfer upon request (for an additional fee). The Datong Railway Station which is about 6.7km away from the hotel can also be reached by taxi within a short period of time. The main location-related advantage of the Weidu International Hotel is that it is very close to a shopping mall as well as to some of the city's tourist attractions. Included among those nearby attractions are the Buddhist Shanhua Temple and Huayan Monastery, the Confucian Temple, Datong's city walls and the Nine-Dragon Wall which are all within walking distance of the hotel.

The rooms of the Weidu International Hotel are heated and air-conditioned. Non-smoking rooms are available upon request and the hotel also has family rooms. Free Wi-Fi is provided in the public areas. Dry cleaning and luggage storage are available. Free buffet breakfast is included in the room rate. The hotel has a Chinese and a Western restaurant as well as a tea/coffee house on its premises. For exercise, guests have access to an indoor swimming pool and a fitness center. There is also a game room for playing table tennis and billiards. After a busy day, guests can relax at the hotel's sauna, steamroom, spa, have a massage or sing karaoke.

9.3 miles away

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