The 10 Best Things to Do in Shanxi, China

December 20, 2017 Velvet Mowry

Shanxi (Chinese: 山西; pinyin:  Shānxī; postal: Shansi) is a province of China, located in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" (pinyin: Jìn), after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn period.

1. Yungang Grottoes

Wuzhou Mountain, Urban Area, Datong 37000, China
Excellent
70%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 852 reviews

Yungang Grottoes

There are over 50 caves with over 50,000 well-preserved Buddhist statues from the 5th century.

Reviewed By G L - Malaysia

The monk that saw in the valley what looked like the valley in India to start this. That up to 5,000 monks worked and toiled to create this holy place. Craving thousands of Buddha sculptures into the walls of the Mountains. Tunneling into and creating a Buddha built into the mountain and removing the waste from the tunnel. A must see..

2. Hukou Waterfall

Hukou Town, Ji County 042200, China
Excellent
61%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 194 reviews

Hukou Waterfall

The Hukou Waterfall is the second largest waterfall in China and the largest on the legendary Yellow River. As a result it is often claimed that this is "the only yellow waterfall in the world." It is right on the border between Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. The 300-meter wide Yellow River suddenly narrows and is forced violently through a 20-meter-wide gorge before falling turbently as a waterfall. As with the other applications I've submitted, I'd be happy to provide a major write up should you wish to give this a listing. On another note, I would suggest you consider reorganizing the categories of your listings for Shanxi. Listing them completely by counties doesn't really make sense. I'd be happy to make an alternative suggestion if you'd like. (Heather Pickerell, alias ShanxiFan)

Reviewed By GoranWembley

Possible to visit the falls on a day trip from Pingyao, be very early at Pingyao train station (the one close to the walled town). It's train from Pingyao to Linfen then a shared taxi to Hukou Falls. Taxis are waiting outside of Linfen train station and departing when full (3-4 passengers). It wasn't expensive as I had another couple to share the costs with. Taxis will wait for up to two hours at the falls before taking you back to Linfen train station.

3. Ancient City of Pingyao

In Pingyao County, Pingyao County 031100, China +86 354 569 0000
Excellent
52%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Ancient City of Pingyao

Reviewed By Haelen - Voorburg, The Netherlands

Having travelled all over China, no city beats Pingyao. Most of the old building in old city have been preserved and restored. You get a feeling of being back to the 19th century. You have to share however this experience with thousands, if not ten thousand Chinese tourists. I jogged the 6 km city wall which was a marvellous experience.

4. Wutai Shan (Five Terrace Mountain)

Within Wutai County, Wutai County 035500, China
Excellent
58%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 421 reviews

Wutai Shan (Five Terrace Mountain)

Consisting of five high plateaus, this area is one of China's four sacred Buddhist Mountains.

Reviewed By AndrewYew - Singapore, Singapore

So many good reviews have already been written about this place so I will just write something different. The temple here is the base for Manjusri Buddha (Wen Shu Pussa, in Chinese) so the buddhism here is a cross between Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism. As China is a communist country (which does believe in any religion) for sometime, much spirituality has been lost. Much of what you see here has been commercialized so do not expect to be enlightened. Instead of the pure philosophy of Buddhism, much of the practice here is to pray to the Gods for salvation and good fortune. Here, you will be certain to meet many Chinese tourists and many gift shops but nibbana will be hard to find.

5. Wang's Family Compound (Wang Jia Dayuan)

Jingsheng Town, Lingshi County 031308, China +86 354 772 2122
Excellent
58%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 148 reviews

Wang's Family Compound (Wang Jia Dayuan)

Reviewed By LoveandLive2Travel - Denver, Colorado

Wang’s compound is a great example of Qing architecture (and some residual Ming architecture) going over the top. The original compound, built by the father, is sprawling with amazing views and sculptural details that are beautiful to see. The two newer sections, built by two of the brothers who wanted to strike out a bit on their own, are even more stunning in their detail. Take your time to look at the intricately carved wood doors, window casings, stairways, etc. throughout their homes. Also look at the detailed stone carvings. It’s impossible to notice everything with just one visit, but you’ll see a great deal. A local guide will enhance your experience, teaching you more about the history of the family, the meaning of the many symbols in the carvings, and the reason the rooms have arched ceilings. Enjoy the view from the very top of the uppermost wall. There is a great deal of walking if you see the entire compound, including going up and down stairs, and walking up hills. It’s possible to still enjoy much of the artwork staying on one level, but not everything. There are vendors throughout, selling snacks, curios, and beverages.

6. Shanxi Museum

No.13 Binhe West Road, North Section, Taiyuan 030024, China +86 351 878 9014
Excellent
65%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 83 reviews

Shanxi Museum

The Shanxi Museum is a wonderful provincial museum managed by the government of Shanxi Province, home of some of the oldest history in China. The museum is located in Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi, in a modern four-storey building. It was wonderful collections of old history, Chinese money, architecture, Buddhist sculptures and much more. I'd be happy to write a full description if this listing is approved. I am not an official representative of this property but have clicked the box as you should seriously consider listing it.

Reviewed By Ashok-Seenu - Singapore

This review is going to be a bit of an outlier as the Shanxi Museum generally has great reviews on Tripadvisor.
The Museum has a lot of potential but we felt it fell well short of where it could be. The building is very impressive (though we thought it a touch ugly) and a lot of money has been spent on it, which doesn't really come through in the visitor experience.
On the positive side, the museum has a great collection and is in a good location. It seems to be a large and comprehensive accumulation of artifacts from the history of Shanxi. It is also free.
It does seem to be a wasted opportunity, though, as tighter curating could have made it much more engaging. The museum is neither a collection of incredible artifacts that would dazzle even the dilettante (think Louvre) nor is it a captivating historical or cultural narrative (like the National Museum of Singapore). While the collection is thematic, it is probably of more interest to the serious student than to a casual tourist interested in the history and culture of Shanxi, as it lacks a clear narrative thread and exhibits too many similar looking (to a novice) objects. We felt many of them could have been archived for serious students and researchers, leaving perhaps half the number exhibited in the museum, with a story tying them together. Perhaps there was too much money and space, leading to a lack of disciple in putting it together. Finally, at least on the day of our visit, the audioguide was only available in Chinese.
So overall we were underwhelmed, though the museum has its good points.

7. Mian Mountain

East of Fen River, Jiexiu 032000, China
Excellent
40%
Good
48%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 157 reviews

Mian Mountain

Reviewed By Harriet K

Made a day trip from Pingyao. Hostel organised a car for Y90 a person and the driver waited for us. No student discount for non Chinese students.
It felt like the kind of place that could have been unpleasantly busy in peak season, but was really nice in early November.
The park runs along one side of a mountain gorge with a bus running between the various attractions. There were lots of temples, but I didn't visit these.
At the end of the bus line you could walk (4 k) to a waterfall cave. This was a nice walk alongside the steam with lots of pretty Waterfalls. There were also a lot of statues, inexplicably including a collection of dinosaurs. There were rather a lot of picnic benches/bins/fences which slightly spoilt charm of the walk.

A real highlight was the climb up the waterfall with steps in the rocks and rope ladders. It was a lot of fun and amazing views.
We also took the zig zag path which was a stair case literally stuck on the side of a cliff. It was safe and easy climb, with amazing view, but not good if you don't have a head for heights!

8. Huangcheng Prime Minister's Mansion

Huangcheng Village, Beiliu Town, Yangcheng County 048102, China
Excellent
50%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 53 reviews

Huangcheng Prime Minister's Mansion

Reviewed By David C - Bexhill-on-Sea, United Kingdom

Finally, we got on our way again and after another hour’s drive, reached an ancient, preserved walled city called HuangCheng. We passed the city wall, but in fact didn’t go in one of the gates, but drove on to another area, to go inside a large complex of houses, previously owned by a Chancellor to the Emperor, which is a kind of Prime Minister. The family was called Cheng and they ruled in this area for about 8 generations and built up a large complex of houses, about 200 or so, inside a wall and entered by gates. I was told this village and ancient town drew in a large amount of money from tourism, at about 10 billion yuan a year and was one of the wealthiest villages in China. About 70% of the population were also related in some way to the Chancellor’s large family.
In the past,they had about 800 troops inside, to provide security for the family against attacks by local farmers. A large tower was built inside for defence, in about 2 months, where the whole group were housed during a 2 month siege, which they were able to survive, due to a well containing a good supply of water, plus a large stock of grain, rice etc.
The Chancellor enjoyed the trust of the Emeperor and population and the Emperor visited the house on 2 occasions and the rooms were nevr allowed to be occupied by anyone after those visits.
Just before we entered, I visited the toilet and was glad to a see avery clean ‘sit down’ one, until Ling called me from outside, that everyone was waiting for me. However, when I went to join the queue to enter the museum etc, other people then decided to go and visit the tpoliet anyway, so it was a while before we actually got inside.
There were some interesting carved statues and Chinese style pagoda buildings, about 400 years old with well preserved wooden furniture, including 4 poster type beds. Apparently, the Chancellor had a couple of wives and once they were married and had a child, the women were not allowed outside the complex of houses, similar to the Forbidden City, but smaller. But they had nice Gardens in which to enjoy shady areas, Fountains and were of course attended by servants.
It was quite hot by then and having to go up and down loads of steps , following the tour guide, I was beginning to sweat quite a bit. We did stop to listen to a lecture occasionally, by the guide, some of which Ling translated. In one part, we could hear some kind of Beijing Opera show going on, but by the time we got there it had stopped.
There was a sort of shopping area in one part of the complex, but we didn’t buy anything, mainly cheap plastic souvenirs, but I did buy a transparent rubber ball, which lights up at night, for 5 yuan, as a present for Pete’s young 4 year old nephew, if we ever get to go and visit them in Barnet, on arriving back in UK.
We’d spent about 2 hours in this place, which is my usual limit for any museum and were directed to a Daoist temple across the road, as part of our ticket allowance. There was a different guide there, who took us round a few buildings, while an old beggar, with no hands and only one leg sat behind him, asking for money, but no-one gave him any. We left the temple after a while, as they only wanted us to spend money on incense sticks to burn, which none of our party were interested in.
When we got outside, we were besieged by several women, touting for local restaurants. After some debate, we decided to go with a couple of them and it was quite a good place, across the road, where we were given a demonstration of how they made the noodles, which I managed to record on my camcorder. Incidentally, I’ve got loads of stuff on it, which will take me about a wek to process!
The food was quite delicious, the noodles were good and a choice of spicy egg and tomato sauce, or another beef broth kind, but I had a bit of both. This was reasonable price at about 10 yuan (£1) each. I guess they were also happy to have a group of 12 people giving them some business.

9. Mount Hengshan Scenic Spot

Within Hunyuan County, Hunyuan County 037400, China
Excellent
40%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
17%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 40 reviews

Mount Hengshan Scenic Spot

Reviewed By Meeyoru - York, United Kingdom

The scenery of Hengshan is not as amazing as Huashan. Mostly it's about the group of temples on the mountain. There is passenger Cableway available. The Cableway station is located at the foot of the mountain where the first parking area is. The second parking area is further into the mountain. The tricky thing is to decide if you want to take Cableway. Once you decide, you would have to stick with it. If you drive into the mountain and take Cableway back, your car would be in the second parking area and you are in the first. Same goes to the other way around. There are private cars offering shuttle between parking areas for a fee, but they don't have licence or anything official, purely private. Better bargain for the price beforehand.

10. Hengshan Hanging Temple (Xuankong si)

Hengshan, Datong, China
Excellent
70%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 655 reviews

Hengshan Hanging Temple (Xuankong si)

The monastery was built on the cliffs of Mt. Hengshan, one of the five most sacred Mountains in China. The caves and halls are connected by winding corridors and Bridges.

Reviewed By Geminican - San Jose

This is definitely an amazing architecture from ancient China. Because of its location, the best time to visit is first thing in the morning. Be there at the ticket office 10 minutes before the opening. Check the latest opening hours from its website.
Get the ticket, be first in line to go up because there is always a line and they impose a quota limit per day for tourists to protect the temple.
The sunlight shines directly to the temple around 8:30am-10am, which gives you good light for photo shooting. Other times, the temple will not be directly under the sunlight, and will be a dark.
Get it out of the way first so you can move onto your next activities at ease.

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