The population in Datong is 2,82 million, where of Datong City has 1,1 milion inhabitants. Datong is divided into seven counties (县), 154 towns (镇) and 2283 villages (自然村) (李彬 2001).
Datong is an important industry and mining town, especially having large coal resources. Unfourtenately this also means that the air quality in Datong is rather poor, and the city has got the nickname "Coal City". Datong is also an important transportation hub, especially for the railway. The main industries in Datong are, after mining, power, train, maschinary and building materials (中国地图册 2002).
Datong has an incland climate and its yearly average temperature is 6,4˚C. During summer times the temeperature can be as hot as 37,7˚C, but is averaging only between 19 and 22 ˚C, while in the winter it can get as gold as - 29,9˚C, with a winter average temerature of - 13,8 ˚C. The temperature differences are large between winters and summers, but they can also vary substantially between day and evening temperatures. Datong gets rain about 135-140 days/year. The four seasons are very clear in Datong. (李彬 2001, 徐世信 1997).
Muta Si , wooden pagoda
The Muta Si or Wooden Pagoda stands in town Yinxian, in the area of the nearly destroyed temple of Fogong.
The Muta Si of 67.3 M high is the highest and oldest pagoda of China and one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world.
The building has six floors, but within three more. The pagoda is built more than 900 years ago by the Liao-dynasty. It's amazing the way the pagoda is built, 24 pillars, bearing each 120 ton, keeping the building up. Not any nail is used!
The walls are painted with images of guardians, generous donors and pupils.
When we visited the pagoda there were very heavy rains. So it was not easy taking pictures and despite of coats and umbrellas we were soaking wet.
"Datong city life"
When we first arrived in Datong, we had just taken the overnight train from Beijing and it was about 6AM. As soon as you get off the train, there will be a few people saying they are travel agents. But, if you don't speak Mandarin, then we suggest go to the CITS office or they will be a CITS agent walking around. They don't necessarily have the best deals on hotels, but they do make it easy for tourists.
We booked our tour throught CITS since our Mandarin was no good (bo how). However, if you speak the language, you might be able to save a few dollars and haggle a driver to the caves.
The caves were awesome! And totally worth the 6 hour ride from Beijing and 30 minute minivan ride from Datong. Look at as many as you can, but definitely save time to go to the slightly hidden ones to the right where you can actually get close up and personal.
One thing we learned after getting our pictures developed was that you should get some pictures with people in them for comparison. You can't really tell how gigantic they are in the picture unless there is something to compare it to.
"The Hanging Monastery 500 AD"
This place is amazing! Go as early as you can to avoid the masses. Try the local food in the restaurant at the bottom. Potato starch is a local staple and a must try before you leave!
One of the downfalls of going with a tour group is that you are going to arrive at the exact same time as a few other tour groups.