Like most tourist attractions, you can book a tour guide to drive you to it. Or, you can try and work it out for yourself but that’s part of the fun isn’t it ?
Ok, not for some it isn’t but never mind. We are away for 1 year and therefore time is on our side. To begin with, our trek (journey to the grottoes) involved getting a taxi from our hotel to Datong train station.
This was after we went to the local bakers which sold some great and some not so great stuff. They did sell some lovely cookies and then a white thing – that was lunch for later on.
After getting to the train station, we went to the information point and were told to get the double decker bus to the grottoes, that was easy enough.
I’ve mentioned before that using the roads in China is nothing remotely similar to using the roads back home. As far as I could work out, our cheery bus driver really enjoyed using the horn and why not ? There’s no point in having a perfectly good working horn if you’re not going to use it.
The journey itself took about 50 minutes and was a bit out of the city centre.
When we arrived at the bus stop, there were the usual stalls set up which were selling umbreallas and ponchos (it was raining on this particular day) but being Scottish, I thought ‘why bother, it’s only a wee bit of rain – nothing i’m not used to’.
We wandered about for a bit and then got slightly lost. We knew roughly where the grottoes were but we didn’t know where the entrance was. We did find a woman in an office who pointed us in the right direction though.
The attraction itself houses ancient caves which have sculptures and art work dating as far back as the 5th century so that alone makes the place worth while going to see.
It was fairly quiet but I suspect that was something to do with the rain which was getting heavier by this point. When you went through the main entrance, the layout looked like a smaller scale and rebuilt version of the forbidden city which was nice but what about those caves ?
The caves were the reason that you go there. Before you get to the caves, there are some buildings with massive statues of Buddha and there’s some cushions for people who want to kneel down and pray.
The place itself is massive and after about a 20 odd minute walk, there was a sign which said ‘entrance’ and that was the start of the cave complex.
The caves themselves were amazing to see – the stuff in them was so old and well preserved that it makes the trip worthwhile. However, it seemed like there was a bit of a long build up to get to them to begin with.
Maybe the persistent rain didn’t help but I felt like it was too much to get to the main attraction.
There are 45 caves all in. Some of which you can go in, most of them, you can stand at the entrance and see inside them.
After a few though, they all seemed to be quite similar.
As you follow the cave complex, there was a museum which contained some artefacts that were found by archeologists in the early 90s.
The museum itself was under cover which was a welcome break from that wee bit of rain. And the entrance of the museum also provided some cover to eat the white thing from the bakers that I mentioned earlier on.
The museum took maybe 30 minutes or so to wander around and when you exit, there’s sign posts to take you back to the main exit.
Overall, the place was worth while seeing but I’m not sure going to Datong purely for them would be such a great idea. I’m glad that we went to see them but I think there will be better tourist attractions on the way.
Oh, the white thing from the bakers shop – it was a white looking pastry, with a bit of meat inside it. The meat looked like a cold mini burger but the pastry tasted like perfume. I’ve never ate pot pourri before but if I had, I’d imagine it would have tasted pretty similar.
Audrey described it as being like a Turkish delight, without the delight so if you’re in Datong, don’t eat white things.