Taiyuan Travel Guide
While it is more of an industrial city in the present day, Taiyuan has a lengthy history dating back 2,500 years. With interesting museums, beautiful temples, and lush parks within its bounds, you’ll find enough to do here for a stay of a couple nights.
Start your time in Taiyuan by exploring the Shanxi Museum. Home to cultural relics found in archaeological digs around Shanxi province, there are over 20,000 artifacts on display in this sizable institution.
Stretching back to the Neolithic era, you’ll find items from the dawn of civilization in China up through the Jin Dynasty through to recent times. Live demonstrations and shows are offered here as well; from the art of shadow puppetry to the creation of stone tools people would have used to get by in ancient times, you and your travel companions will be engaged for most of the duration of your visit.
While it is not well known by westerners travelling in China, any Taiyuan local knows that Jinsi Temple is a significant spiritual landmark in the area. While some of the structures on the property have seen better days, its architectural brilliance shines through despite the worn appearance of some of the gates, pagodas, and buildings.
Of note, some trees around the temples are estimated to be in excess of 3,000 years old, making this a truly auspicious place. English speaking guides are sometimes available, so ask for one to learn about the aeons of powerful political leaders who once worshipped at this temple.
If you haven’t had your fill of Buddhist or Taoist halls of worship during your visit to Taiyuan, make sure you make room in your itinerary for the Twin Pagoda Temple while you are still in town. As the name suggests, this Buddhist landmark is noteworthy for two pagodas of equal height – soaring to 53 metres each, it cannot be missed when you are in the southeastern part of Taiyuan.
Built on the order of Emperor Wanli in the Ming Dynasty, these brick towers are inlaid with the calligraphy of a number of ancient Chinese greats. Each of these towers, which boast 13 storeys each, have a staircase which permits visitors to climb to the top. The view is spectacular, so don’t forget your camera!
If you have time to kill while in Taiyuan, also include Shengmu Hall in your plans. It may look a bit unassuming, but its once great importance was sabotaged by an emperor during the Song Dynasty to prevent any more leaders from rising up to challenge his primacy.
By altering its Feng Shui, it is said its influence waned, causing it to fade in importance in the Taiyuan area. In order to get the full story, it is recommended you get a guide who knows the place and can speak English, as you likely won’t grasp its significance on your own.
Want to see what life was like during the Ming Dynasty? Spend a couple hours walking the restored streets of Yuci Ancient City. Filled with structures dating back to the 14th century, it is a remarkably well-preserved part of town, so much so, directors have used its streets for scenes in their films.
It is also important to realize this place can get crowded on weekends and holidays, so try to visit mid-week if possible.
Take a rest from exploring the busy streets of Taiyuan by dropping by Yingze Park. Opened in 1958, this gem in the heart of this Chinese city covers 63 hectares of land and contains a giant centrepiece lake and 10 gardens with over 400,000 plants.
This green space’s star attraction: the Cangjing Building, an 800-year-old structure which was moved off the grounds of a temple elsewhere in Shanxi Province. Combined with all the other features of this park, it will help you unwind after a long day spent exploring Taiyuan.
Fenhe Park is another protected area worth visiting, as its sheer size present numerous possibilities for exploration by those who love the outdoors. At six kilometres long and a half a kilometre wide, it guards the land around the watershed for the city of Taiyuan. With walkways along the canal and bridges over it which light up brilliantly at night, it is a popular gathering place for locals, especially during the evening.
Looking to unwind with a bit of retail therapy while in Taiyuan? Plan to spend some time shopping along Liu Lane South Road. Along its length, you’ll find boutiques, restaurants, and street food carts which will keep you entertained and satisfied throughout your stay here.
Closed to traffic, this pedestrian shopping street is a popular place for local youths to hang out, so even if you don’t plan on doing much buying, this place is still an excellent place to people watch.