After early pickup from your central Beijing hotel, settle inside your private vehicle. Then, gaze out at the city’s bustling streets as you set off on your journey to the Yungang Grottoes near Datong.
Travel west into northern China’s countryside, and during the roughly 4.5-hour journey, relax in the air-conditioned comfort of your car or minivan, and absorb the interesting views of the towns, villages, farms and fields.
On arrival in Datong, stop for an early lunch of local specialities such as sliced noodles — bowls of savory, flattened noodles sliced with a knife and mixed with other ingredients.
Duly refreshed, travel to your main destination for the day: the Yungang Grottoes. One of China’s three best-known historical Buddhist sculptural sites, this UNESCO-listed treasure dates from the 5th and 6th centuries, and consists of 252 cliffside grottoes and niches, all filled with more than 51,000 statues and depictions of Buddha.
Head inside the complex (own expense), and enjoy about four hours to look around the grottoes that stretch along a 0.6-mile (1-kilometre) section of cliffs, seeing everything from miniature statuettes to rock-face sculptures.
Stop to marvel at the largest, 55-foot (7-meter) Buddha in the fifth cave, and view some of the smaller caverns and niches to admire everything from colorful wall murals to figurines and other ornamental depictions of Buddha.
Having explored this incredible site, hop back into your vehicle and relax on your ride back to Beijing, where an early-evening drop-off at your central hotel brings your tour to a close.