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Personal Recommendations for Places to Visit in China
On a whirlwind trip to China before I had kids I visited many places throughout the eastern part of the countries. Other than the major cities of Shanghai and Beijing, my most memorable spots were Yungang Grottoes and the Hanging Monastery outside of Datong and the world-famous Shaolin Temple.
Visiting the Shaolin Temple
Magical. That about sums it up. I had no idea what to expect when we visited, but I wasn’t expecting much. I’m not much of a fan of kung fu and, other than the Karate Kid series, I don’t think I even watched popular martial arts movies.
But, the Shaolin Temple is magical. Some highlights for me included seeing people (at all ages) training. And by people, I mean as far as my eye can see (though the fog was thick, my eyes couldn’t see THAT far ahead of me, but we did drive past rows and rows and rows of people practicing.
I also loved the trees with holes from generations of people poking at them in training for one of their moves.
I enjoyed seeing the kids jumping around all over the place and the monks in line to do… something.
Here’s a link to a private day trip to the Shaolin Temple which is a kid-popular trip and, best of all, doesn’t include stops for shopping! (Don’t worry, though, you can still buy souvenirs on site.
Visiting Datong: The Yungang Grottoes and the Hanging Monastery
Datong was our first stop outside of Beijing. There isn’t much to the town itself, but the tourist destinations outside of Datong rank high in coolest things I’ve seen in my life.
The Yungang Grottoes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of over 200 caves with a ton of Buddhas in all shapes and sizes dating back to the 5th and 6th century. Some of them are likely as big as my finger, some of them are as tall as a 3-5 story building. They’re inside the cave and outside the cave. They’re all over the place. (A quick search told me there are 51,000 statues!)
The Hanging Monastery is one of those experiences you just can’t get anywhere. It dates back to the 5th century and is a building on the side of a cliff. You take some stairs and then walk along the monastery with all foot traffic only going one way (as it’s not wide enough to allow two-way traffic). It’s beautiful from the ground, the walk up, and once you get there.
(Here’s a private tour that takes you to both from Datong.)
More information about China
Joy Sun Bear’s China posts are a great way to learn more about the country.
Miss Panda’s Youtube channel is a great resource for kids wanting to learn more about the Chinese language. Below you will find the first mini-lesson, but there are many more available by clicking here.
Want to get hands-on China experience without a passport? Whole Wide World Toys offers a China Village Playset. Click on the image below or use this link to check it out on Amazon. (Affiliate link)
Looking for a book about somewhere else?
Do you have suggestions for China that you don’t see here? Let me know with the contact form.
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