Most guidebooks will list two must-see sights in Datong – the Yungang Grottos and the Hanging Monastery.

We set off from our hostel this morning, first taking a local bus to the Datong Coach Station. From here, we took the bus to Hunyuan and intended to get local bus #8 to the monastery itself. However, this is where we reached our first set-back, this bus didn’t appear to be running and there was no-one around except a group of taxi drivers (who in hindsight were clearly in on the secret…). Anyway, we ended up in a ridiculously overpriced taxi (50 RMB!) for the 10 minute drive to the monastery – petrified the whole way that the car was going to fall to pieces it was making such dodgy noises…

Once we got there, then we realised why the bus wasn’t running and there was no-one around – the monastery was closed for “restoration”. All we could see was a huge mass of scaffolding, before having to pay the driver another 50 RMB for the journey back to Hunyuan.

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It obviously wasn’t a particularly great day, and to be honest I can’t really recommend the Hanging Monastery as a fantastic place to visit. I’m sure it is more spectacular without the scaffolding, but we could clearly see a lot of concrete supporting the temple, rather than it being the original structure hanging off the cliff – I guess the huge numbers of tourists were causing it to become unsafe.

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