One of the downsides of traveling is that the more I see the more jaded I become. It takes a lot to impress me and make me think this place is worth visiting and even more for me to say this place is worth coming back.
The Yunggang Grottos falls in the former simply because in the 3-4 hours we spent there, we saw everything.
Entrance ticket is 120RMB($19.35USD), half price for those over 60, and free for those over 70. To get to the grottos, you have to pass all these newly built replicas. I don’t mind them as I think these are tastefully done.
After a 15 minute walk through the replicas you reach the grottos, which according to Wiki is an excellent example of Chinese stone carvings from the 5th and 6th centuries. Wiki also states there are 252 grottoes with more than 51,00 Buddha statues and statuettes. But the official map I bought at the ticket office says there are 45 grottos. I think Wiki is counting each “hole” as a grotto whereas the map I bought labels a group of “holes” as grotto #1, grotto #2, and so on.
Inside each and every one of the holes is lots of buddha statutes. Extremely impressive. Much more so in person than can be captured in pictures.
Some have the wooden frame of a temple built at the entrance.
Others you walk right in.
The only Buddha that is open to the elements.
Dinner that night was at Fenglin Ge, the highest rated restaurant in Datong, according to Dianping and Tripadvisor. However, it was the worst meal I had in China throughout my 26 day stay. Worst as in I ordered only their top recommended dishes recommended by the restaurant itself and Dianping. Fenglin Ge serves 晋(jin) style cuisine.
The picture below is our leftovers. Keep in mind this was after skipping lunch so G and I were very hungry and we still could not eat this heavily seasoned one dimensional dishes. I hate wasting food and I have wasted extremely little food in China, but this food is almost as bad as airplane food. Each dish only had one flavor profile spicy/sour/salty/sweet. And most of the dishes were cold or became cold very quickly because the heat was not turned on high enough inside the restaurant.
The only thing we finished was their renowned flower dumplings which is just meh compared to Shanghainese soup dumplings. It wasn’t just us, we noticed many tables with similar amounts of leftovers.
One reason Fenglin Ge gets rave reviews is for their decor. This is the restaurant’s exterior. Highly impressive.
Interior is nice as well but their seating is extremely uncomfortable as in I had trouble fitting my thighs in between the space that is between the table and chair. I was forced to sit back and lean forward to eat. Not relaxing at all.
Stay far far away from this place unless you have never tasted good Chinese food before. At best you will get mediocre food. I forget the price of this meal but it should be around $20-$25USD for G and I. Fenglin Ge is a complete tourist trap.