Taiyuan

Chong Shan MonasteryTaiyuan is Shanxi’s capital located in North China with mountains surrounding it on three sides. While Taiyuan is now a major industrial base, in the past it has been invaded by the Japanesse, witnessed an economic crisis and was the location of the Taiyuan Massacre in 1900. Through these determents, Taiyuan has developed into an important area for heavy industry for China and is increasingly attracting tourists to its cultural and historical features.

Although finding it hard to shake off the memories of the sombre Boxer Rebellion’s actions of 1900 where 77 unarmed missionaries were executed, Taiyuan has concentrated on its economy and trade in recent years. Focusing on its growing industry, Taiyuan is now a major iron and steel manufacturer and home to Asia’s largest stainless steel plant while being a large coal mining hub. However this heavy industry focus has had its repercussions and is known to be one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Apart from the pollution, Taiyuan does have some interesting tourist attractions in the way of temples and parks. Begin with the Chongshan Monastery, a popular Buddhist temple known as the Temple for Appreciating Kindliness. As the home of the Buddhist Association of Shanxi, it is an important cultural relic of the province. The temple also houses historical sculptures which display excellent examples of printing, calligraphy and carving.

The next stop is surely Taiyuan’s most attractive temple, Jinci Temple. With ancient trees surrounding its entrance, the temple is a picturesque memory of an ancient leader. The Jinci Temple was built and devoted to Yu, a leader who strived for prosperity amongst the state right up to his death. This temple honours this man and his efforts to the state.

The Twin Pagoda Temple should be next on your itinerary, a set of two pagodas that feature magnificent architecture making them a renowned symbol of Taiyuan. These two brick and stone pagodas stand a towering 53m tall making it a temple well worth investigating. To experience the Twin Pagoda Temple in its best light, visit during spring when the surrounding flowers are in full bloom.

Straying from temples for the time being, there are two parks that stand out in Taiyuan. Longtan Park and Yinze Park provide a great escape for tourists looking to explore some of the nature aspects of Taiyuan. In with this variety is the Shanxi Taiyuan International Folk Arts Festival which is held each year in September which brings together performers from several countries who perform to audiences throughout the festival.

Back to historical Taiyuan, there is the Tianlong Shan Stone Caves to explore in the Tianlong Mountains just southwest of the city. There are a total of 24 caves throughout the cliff faces that are thought to date back to the Tang Dynasty.

The climate of Taiyuan goes from dry and dusty in spring, to the frequent heat waves of summer, rains in July and August then a lengthy cold and dry winter. Spring tends to have the best of both worlds and the best time for travel.

Getting into Taiyuan can be done through the Taiyuan Wusu Airport which is only 15km from the city centre. It should be noted that there are no shuttle busses that operate a service between the airport and the city, so you will have to make alternate arrangements, most opting for a taxi which is usually a 30minute journey in.

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