Taiyuan (太原; Tàiyuán) is the capital of Shanxi Province and a common stopover between Wu Tai Shan and Pingyao.
Situated next to Fenhe River and surrounded by mountains. Taiyuan has a history of 2,400 years. Now, Taiyuan is important as home to heavy industry and mining. It has 3 notable sights that can be seen within half a day: the Shanxi Museum, the carvings at Chongshan Temple and The Twin Pagodas.
Taiyuan Airport (IATA: TYN) offers flights to Beijing, Guangzhou and Xian daily and commonly services Chinese tourists wanting to visit Wu Tai Shan and Pingyao.
Taiyuan Station is located at the eastern end of Yingze Dajie
Beijing - takes about 8-10 hours, or 3.5 hours by the new CRH bullet trains
Departures from Tai Yuan East (Dong Ke Zhan) bus station.
Wutaishan National Park (TaiHuai township) - takes about 4-5 hours (take travel sickness medication an hour before this trip if you are prone, consider suggesting parents give their children some as well as vomiting is common on this journey). Last bus departs around 15:00.
Bus number 1 -- runs the length of Yingze Dajie and one can take this from the intersection across the train station west towards the museum for 1RMB. Hop off at the Coal Museum, just after the bridge over the river (you will see the odd shaped large buildings on the right towards the north. The upside down pyramid is the Shanxi Museum). From the busstop head north a block and then west toward the river, then north again and you will arrive at the main entrance.
Bus number 611 runs between the bus station and train station. It's five stops either way and costs 1RMB.
Bus number 619 runs between the south bus station and east bus station.
Taxi -- cost 8RMB flagfall and expect around 15RMB from train station to Shanxi Museum. (aug 2011)
Jinci Temple (晋祠寺; Jìncísì), (25km southwest of central Taiyuan. Take bus 8 (from the railway station) or 804 for about 45 minutes). 7:30AM-6:30PM. Jinci Temple, an ancient ancestral temple, was founded about 1400 years ago and was expanded during the Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, resulting in a variety of architecutural styles. Today it comprises of over 100 halls, towers, pavilions, terraces, and bridges and includes some of the best Song Dynasty sculptures and buildings still extant in China as well as some lovely gardens and ancient trees. Well known structures at Jinci include the Hall of Offerings (献殿; Xiàndiàn), The Flying Bridge Across the Fish Pond (鱼沼飞梁; Yúzhǎo Fēiliáng), and the Hall of the Holy Mother (圣母殿; Shèngmǔdiàn), the most famous building at Jinci. Completed in 1032 and with carved wooden dragons coiled around the eight pillars that support its upward-curving double-eave roof, this impressive structure contains some of the finest Song Dynasty clay sculptures in China, each with a different facial expression.¥40.
Temple of the Twin Pagodas (双塔寺; Shuāngtǎsì; lit. Twin Pagoda Temple), Shuangta North Road, Yingze District (迎泽区双塔北路; Yíngzéqū Shuāngtǎběilù) (Bus 812, 820 or 873). 8AM-5PM. This temple is noted for its pair of 13-story octagonal pagodas, dating back some 400 years. These twin pagodas, which can easily be seen from much of Taiyuan, are often used as a symbol of Shanxi's largest city. The two towers, made of brick and stone, are 53 meters in height. Visitors can climb a spiral staircase to the top of the western pagoda to enjoy a panoramic view over the city.¥20.
Chongshan Temple (崇善寺; Chóngshànsì), Diliang Street, Yingze District (迎泽区狄梁公街; Yíngzéqū Díliánggōngjiē (Buses 2, 3, 843, 819, 818 will take you within walking distance of the temple). 8:30AM-5PM. Originally built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In 1381, the temple was extended. In the 19th century, most of the temple was destroyed. The temple is home to the Buddhist Association of Shanxi Province and includes the Bell Tower, the Dabei Hall, and the east and west wing rooms. The main hall has 3 magnificent statues, one of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, with 1000 hands and eyes.¥6.
Duofu Temple (多福寺; duōfúsì; lit. Blessing Temple), Juewei Mountain (崛围山; Juéwéishān) (20km from central Taiyuan). ¥5.
Longquan Temple (龙泉寺; Lóngquánsì; also known as Taishan Temple), (23km from the city). ¥10.
Old Mosque (清真古寺; Qīngzhēngǔsì), 20 Jiefang Road (解放路20号; Jiěfànglù) (Bus 1, 4 or 5), ☎ +86 351 2027142. 8AM-5PM. A mosque at this location was first built in the Tang Dynasty, but the present one is much younger.¥12.
Chunyang Palace (纯阳宫; Chúnyánggōng), 33 Jianshe North Road (建设北路33号; Jiànshèběilù) (Bus 3, 4 or 5 to Wuyi Square Stop), ☎ +86 351 8210666. Summer 8AM-6PM, Winter 9AM-5PM. Originally built in the 13th century and since extented significantly. Features garden and temple as well as a number of other buildings.¥5.
Shanxi Museum (山西省博物馆; Shānxīshěng Bówùguǎn), 13 Binhe West Road (滨河西路北段13号; Bīnxéxīlùběiduàn) (Bus 2 or 3 to Hongshi Street Stop), ☎ +86 351 8789014, . 8AM-5PM, last entry 4PM. The Shanxi Museum is located in a modern four-storey building situated at a prime location along the Fen River in central Taiyuan and features a very impressive collection of artifacts from this history-heavy province. Chinese civilization first began to develop in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces along the banks of the Yellow River, and this handsome provincial museum features some of the best of the historical artfacts from around the province. The museum has on display thousands of objects in a series of well laid out exhibition halls. Permanent exhibits include those devoted to relics from the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages, ancient Chinese porcelain, painting and caligraphy, jades, bronzes, Chinese currency, historical architecutre, Buddhist stone scultptures, and Shanxi merchants. Signage in Chinese and English. directions="Bus 1 then walk" Free.
China Coal Museum (中国煤炭博物馆; Zhōngguó Méitàn Bówùguǎn), 2 Yingze West Avenue (迎泽西大街2号; Yíngzéxīdàjiē) (Bus 1, 38, 601, 611, 618, 809, 813, 822, 855 or 859 to Yingze Bridge West Station), ☎ +86 351 4117829 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +86 351 6041802), . Tu-Su 8AM-noon, 2:30PM-6PM. Exhibits on China's coal industry. Note you will have to pay 60 yuan for a personal tour guide (who speaks English) in addition to the museum entrance fee. The personal tour guides do add to the experience though. ¥60.
Shanxi Science and Technology Museum (Shanxi Sheng Ke Xue Ji Shu Guan), 8 Yingze Xidajie (Bus 1, 38, 813, 855 or 859), ☎ +86 351 6198693, 6065742, 6063101.
Nature and parks
Children's park (儿童公园; Értóng Gōngyuán), Haizibian West Street (海子边西街; Hǎizibianxījiē) (In the centre of the city), ☎ +86 351 4066351. Dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Is home to library, exhibitions, planetarium and a number of older and newer buildings.
Taiyuan Zoo (太原动物园; Tàiyuán Dòngwùyuán), 176 Jianhe Road (Northwest corner of Taiyuan, take bus 25, 855 or 864), ☎ +86 351 3074953, . Summer 7:30AM-7PM, winter 7:30AM-6PM. ¥10.
Forest Park (森林公园; Sēnlín Gōngyuán), Binhe East Road (滨河东路; Bīnhédōnglù) (Northern part of city, main entrance and parking area from West Gate on Binhe East Road), ☎ +86 351 3551684. 7AM-8PM. Recently built artifical forest park landscaped with valleys and rivers. It is features various recreational facilities.¥5.
Jinci Park (晋祠公园; Jìncígōngyuán).
Tianlongshan Grottoes (天龙山石窟; Tiānlóngshān Shíkū), (40 km southwest of Taiyuan. Best reached by car. A bus runs from Wuyi Square in Taiyuan to Qingxu, which is the nearest major town to the grottoes.). 7:30AM-6:30PM. Tianlongshan Grottoes is a series of 25 caves carved into the mountainside of Tianlong Mountain and well known among Chinese art experts for the fine Buddhist statues and decorations which were sculpted within. The earliest of these caves were built during the Eastern Wei Dynasty (534-550), and additional caves were added in the Northern Qu, Sui, and Tang Dynasties. Grottoes 2 and 3 are the oldest in the complex, dating back nearly 1500 years. The largest and most impressive grotto is the ninth one, a multi-storied cave with several large Buddha statues and covered by an intricate three-story wooden pavilion, the Manshan Pavilion.¥25.
Longshan Grottoes (龙山石窟; Lóngshān Shíkū), (On Longshan Mountain, 20km southeast of central Taiyuan). 7:30AM-6:30PM. Built at the beginning of Yuan Dynasty. They comprise a Taoist temple and a number of statues.¥20.
Fenhe Scenic Area (汾河景区; Fénhéjǐngqū). Scenic area around Fen River. It includes four theme areas, six natural scenery areas and seven sightseeing spots.¥10.
Juewei Mountain Scenic Area (崛围山风景区; Juéwéishān Fēngjǐngqū), (24km northwest of central Taiyuan). The scenic area is home to a temple, a tower, pagodas and lots of trees. Locals flock here in autumn to see the red leaves and in spring to see the flowers. In clear weather there are great views of Taiyuan.
Shanxi Jin Opera Troupe Theater. Stages Beijing Opera performances.
Changfeng Theater (长风剧场; Chángfēng Jùchǎng), 123 Liuxiang South Road, ☎ +86 351 2028549. The oldest theater in Taiyuan large enough for an audience of 1,200. Stages Beijing Opera performances.
Hubin Conference Hall (湖滨会堂; Húbīn Huìtáng), 180 Yingze Dajie, ☎ +86 351 4720059, 4720064, 4720084. Stages performing arts and festivals large enough for an audience of 2,145.
Taiyuan Liyuan Culture Center (太原梨园文化中心; Tàiyuán Líyuán Wénhuàzhōngxīn), 148 Qianfeng North Road, ☎ +86 351 5630586. Comprises halls for opera, folk music, story telling and disco. Stages both modern and traditional performances.
Wheat Festival. September. Fine foods festival focusing on local dishes based on wheat.
Wine Festival. November. Festival focusing on Shanxi Province as a centre for local wine production.
International Folk Art Festival. September. Stages dance, song and theatre and exhibits art and sculpture.
One area to visit for shopping is Bell Tower Street where you will find Fenjiu Dasha, Dongfang Department Store, Jinge Clothing Store and lots of smaller stores. Another option is Liu Xiang where you will find Guidu Department store, Wanjia Dasha, other department stores and many fashion shops.
Local products and markets
Local products can be found around town, but especially in Liuxiang Shopping District. These products include paper cuttings, jade, dough sculptures and lacquer goods.
Friendship Store, Yingze Dajie.
Arts and Crafts Store, Yingze Dajie.
Taiyuan Clothing City, 148 Chaoyang Street, ☎ +86 351 4375681.
Taiyuan Fine Clothing City, 146 Chaoyang Street, ☎ +86 351 4373334.
Yudu Commercial City, B76 Chaoyang Street, ☎ +86 351 4375900.
Qinglong Computer City, 130 Nanneihuan Street, ☎ +86 351 8710161.
Qinxian Village Flower & Bird Market, Qinxian Village, Xiaodian District, ☎ +86 351 7064907.
Confucius Temple Street Antique Market. Lots of small antique shops.
South Palace Collectibles Market, Yingze Dajie. Lots of small shops selling all kind of local stuff.
Shanxi Antique City, 3 Datiejiang Xiang, Yingze District, ☎ +86 351 4179818, . Six story mall selling both real angtiques and copies.
Meet All Supermarket (美特好; Měitèhǎo), ☎ +86 4008129888, .
Fu West Street Branch (府西街店; Fǔxījiēdiàn), 79 Fu West Street, Xinghualing District (杏花岭区府西街79号; Xìnghuālǐngqū Fǔxījiē).
Maya Coffee Shop 玛雅咖啡, 迎泽区云路街棉花巷 (Right around the corner from the Dananmen bus stop.). I love this place, it's great for just hanging out or having quiet time. Great ambiance, usually pretty quiet, two floors, lots of English books, friendly staff, free wifi, plugs to charge your computers, windows, plants, etc. It's also really close to downtown so you can walk and window shop or eat or whatever.
Hanting Express (Taiyuan Shenglidong Branch) (汉庭快捷酒店 (太原胜利桥东店); Hàntíngkuàijié Jiǔdiàn (Tàiyuán Shènglìqiáodōngdiàn)), (杏花岭区北大街276号; ), ☎ +86 351 3231199 (fax: +86 351 3231133). Small rooms with free internet.Listed rates for doubles from ¥139, breakfast ¥15.
Vico Inn (Taiyuan Fuzhuang City Branch) (维客商务酒店 (太原服装城店); Wéikè Shāngwùjiǔdiàn (Tàiyuán Fúzhuāngchéngdiàn)), 115 Shungta North Road, Yingze District (迎泽区双塔北路115号; Yíngzéqū Shuāngtǎběilù). Rooms with sofas and free internet. Most of the rooms also have refrigerator and safe. Business center available.Listed rates for doubles from ¥188.
World Trade Hotel Jin Jiang, 69 Fuxi Street, Xinghualing District, ☎ 86-21-61226688 Ext. 7800 (email@example.com), . 5-star business hotel in the heart of downtown. It offers 398 rooms, a business center, function rooms, several restaurants, and fun facilities for a relaxing vacation.
Compared with other Northern China cities, such as Beijing, Tianjin, Jinan, Qingdao, Taiyuan's violent crime rates are higher. But it's generally safe in tourist attractions. Violent crimes happen more frequently in Garment City and Xinghualing District. However, the number of foreign victims are almost zero.
Thieves in Yingze Avenue are savage. They always move in group and do pickpocket (snatch sometimes) brazenly at the daytime. Local cops are regarded as inefficiency and corruption that are complained by some citizens.
Pingyao - Famous for its ancient walled city (generally considered the best in China), the typical route taken there is through Taiyuan
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