Nestled in the heart of Hebei province, Baoding has served as a strategic stronghold and cultural center across dynasties. As the capital of successive kingdoms, Baoding accumulated rich history and traditions that persist to this day.
Baoding first rose to prominence as the capital of the Northern Wei dynasty in the 5th century AD. Grandiose Buddhist grottoes were carved into the cliffs of Lunggang, whose majestic Buddha statues and vibrant murals remain a awe-inspiring testament to this golden era. The Liao and Jin dynasties continued to develop Baoding as an imperial city between the 10th and 12th centuries. Magnificent temples like Huayan Si and Shanhua Si were constructed, exemplifying the artistic sophistication of the Khitan and Jurchen people.
When the Mongols invaded China in the 13th century, they chose Baoding as their southern capital. The city emerged as a significant commercial and administrative hub. Markets bustled with traders from eastern and western frontiers, bringing exotic goods and multicultural dynamism. As Ming dynasty troops retook the region in the 14th century, they made Baoding an important military base. Imposing city walls and bastions were erected, remnants of which still stand watch over the old town.
Baoding served for centuries as a gateway between the capital and outer frontiers. Strategically situated north of Beijing, the city absorbed diverse cultural influences from nomadic northerners and Han Chinese colonists. This unique blend spawned distinctive local opera, cuisine, and religious practices. An intangible heritage of folk arts and customs lives on in Baoding's storied lanes and temples.
Today Baoding retains its imperial grandeur and frontier spirit. Lunggang's ancient grottoes have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The world's largest and oldest waterfall printed calendar is produced annually in Baoding using traditional techniques. Visitors continue flocking to venerated Daoist mountains like Jingshan, said to be home to celestial immortals. Much like its variable landscape of mountains, forests, and plains, Baoding will always safeguard disappearing histories and welcome new possibilities.
Lantern Festival in the Ancient Capital of Datong, China
The Baiyun Guan Temple Fair is famous for its bustling crowds and long duration. Many old Beijing customs are on display, like touching the stone monkeys and crossing the Fengqiao Bridge to toss coins for good luck. You'll also find traditional snacks, handicrafts, and exhibits of folk culture paintings.
Location: Baiyun Guan Temple
Time: From Lunar New Year's Day to the 19th day of the first lunar month
With impressive incense offerings and crowds, Baiyun Guan's extended temple fair offers a deep immersion into Beijing's living folk culture. Marvel at traditional arts and try tasty snacks as you take part in centuries-old traditions. By engaging in these unique local customs, you'll gain a better appreciation of historic Beijing.
Datong Spring Festival Cultural Temple Fair
This temple fair features folk art performances, intangible cultural heritage exhibits, local specialty products, a spring festival culture book market, public welfare exhibitions on the "Chinese Dream," photography/calligraphy/painting exhibitions, jade/antiques/arts and crafts exhibitions, and art appraisals.
Location: Huayan Temple Square, Guandi Temple Square, and more in Datong
Time: February 7-14 (8th to 15th day of the lunar new year)
Celebrate the Lunar New Year at Datong's time-honored temple fair! Marvel at traditional folk arts from across China. Shop for regional handicrafts and sample delicious local flavors. Take in cultural exhibits and performances reflecting the spirit of the season. The Datong Spring Festival Temple Fair is a wonderful way to ring in the new year.
Datong International Cultural and Art Tourism Festival
This festival showcases traditional Chinese religious culture and the beautiful landscapes north of the Great Wall. Activities include: exhibitions of Shanxi attractions, cultural performances, city exchanges, tourism promotion, and investment in Datong tourism projects. Visitors can also enjoy calligraphy on the Wei Dynasty stone tablets, Yungang dancing and singing, and various cultural performances.
Time: Every August
Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of northern China at Datong's cultural festival. Tour the renowned grottoes and historic sites. Enjoy dazzling performances of regional music, dance, and opera. Sample delicious local snacks as you browse booths of ethnic handicrafts. With its blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, the Datong Tourism Festival offers an unforgettable experience.
In the setting sun, I mourn the legacy of the Northern Wei Dynasty
As the former capital of the Northern Wei dynasty, Datong is endowed with cultural riches and evocative historic remnants. To immerse yourself in Datong’s imperial past, visit its UNESCO World Heritage sites as the sun sinks below the horizon. At Yungang Grottoes, marvel at the long shadows cast over the magnificent Buddhist cave sculptures carved right into the sandstone cliffs. Or head to the gravity-defying Hanging Temple, clinging impossibly to a sheer precipice since the 5th century AD. This ancient architectural wonder was named one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Most Precarious Buildings in 2010. In the hushed twilight, with these stone monuments silhouetted against the fading glow, one can almost hear echoes of the Northern Wei dynasty. Datong invites quiet contemplation about the rise and fall of empires who left their mark here. Find a peaceful vantage point to watch the sunset, reflect on the passage of time, and experience Datong’s enduring historical wealth and multicultural influences that shaped northern China so long ago.
Walking around the back of Mount Hengshan to appreciate the original scenery
While the frontside of Mount Heng tempts visitors with temples, shrines, and stunning cliffs, adventure seekers are lured deeper into its misty peaks. Pass the pagodas and follow trails up into the backside’s undeveloped wilderness, off-limits to the public but irresistible to intrepid hikers. Without maps or signs, one can lose themselves for hours wandering through enchanting primordial forests untouched by tourism. Linger alongside hidden mountain springs flowing from ancient grottos. Climb higher to emerge above the cloudline, rewarded with boundless vistas of rolling ridges fading into the distance. As the path narrows, each step leads further from civilization into the heart of verdant seclusion. For those seeking to escape the crowds and glimpse the raw majesty of Mount Heng, its rugged backside offers a view of a magical Shangri-La that few from the front ever spy. While straying off-trail comes with risks, the view from the back is a tempting chance to experience the authentic spirit of the mountain. For natural wonders and scenic solitude, come prepared to lose yourself in the spirited call of Mount Heng’s untamed backcountry.
A land of mixed cuisine between the Central Plains and the Great Wall
Foodies listen up - Datong’s culinary scene reflects its geographical diversity, blending flavors from across northern China. Located on the edge of the Inner Mongolian grasslands, Datong cuisine masters the art of lamb. Tender chunks of meat star in steaming broths or sizzle on skewers for quick street eats. Of course, Datong is still in Shanxi so get ready for noodles, masterfully hand-pulled or shaved into delicate strands. Compliment your noodles with regional staples like millet, sorghum, buckwheat, and hearty wheat breads. The arid climate produces mouthwatering melons, fruits, and vegetables with concentrated sweetness. Datong’s position between the refined central plains and nomadic steppe infuses local dishes with both sophistication and rustic heartiness. Sample a taste of history by exploring time-honored recipes as you bite into juicy kebabs or slurp chewy noodles. Whether you seek homestyle Shanxi or Mongolian-inspired fare, Datong’s eclectic culinary scene will leave you eager to try it all.
Best Travel TimeFrom April to October, most people come to Datong to see ancient buildings, grottoes, and climb Mount Hengshan. They do not have high seasonal requirements. As long as they do not come in the extremely cold winter, it is good to choose a cool summer or a clear spring and autumn season. However, during the New Year, there will be lively lantern festivals in Datong, and at this time, the lights in Datong will be colored, creating a festive atmosphere. Image: Best travel time.
Hengshui enjoys convenient transportation and is known as the “Golden Crossroads”, with the poetic nicknames of “Northern Lake City” and “Peach City”. Though a young and vibrant city, Hengshui possesses profound cultural heritage comparable to ancient cities, with many key national and provincial cultural relics protection units. Its natural scenery is also appealing for leisure and vacation. In short, Hengshui is an ideal destination for relaxation and travel. Hengshui spans 115°10’-116°34’ E and 37°03’-38°23’ N, covering a total area of 8,815 km2. It borders Cangzhou and Dezhou in Shandong to the east, Shijiazhuang to the west, Xingtai to the south, and Baoding and Cangzhou to the north. The seat of the city government in Taocheng District sits 250 km north of Beijing and 119 km west of provincial capital Shijiazhuang.
Known as the "Golden Crossroads", dynamic Hengshui also boasts the nicknames "Northern Lake City" and "Peach City". Though young, it has profound cultural heritage and natural scenery perfect for travel and relaxation. Spanning 8,815 km2, Hengshui borders several major cities while located just 250 km from Beijing. With its ideal location, rich history and attractions, Hengshui is an appealing destination.