Shanxi Travel Guide

Shanxi Travel Guide


Shanxi's name literally means "the west of the mountain ". Shanxi Province got its name due to its location to the west of Taihang Mountain.Shanxi is situated in the northern part of China.  It neighbored on Hebei, Henan, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia & Autonomous Region. It is located to the east of the Yellow River, and is also known as Hedong.The area belonged to Shanxi ProvinceJin State in Spring and Autumn Period, so it is abbreviated in Jin.

Shanxi Facts:

English Name: Shanxi

Chinese Name:山西

Location:In the north part of China,West of Taihang Mountain

Area:156,000 square kilometers

Population:32 million

Capital City: Taiyuan

Nationalities: Han,Mongolia,Hui


Geogaraphy of Shanxi

Shanxi Province occupies an area of 156,000 square kilometers (about 60,000 square miles) and has a population of over 32 million, including its minority ethnic population. Its capital is Taiyuan City.

Shanxi is located on a plateau, which is in turn made up of higher ground to the east (Taihang Mountains) and the west (Lüliang Mountains), and a series of valleys in the center through which the Fen River runs. The highest peak is Mount Wutai (Wutai Shan) in northeastern Shanxi at an altitude of 3058 m. The Great Wall of China forms most of the northern border of Shanxi with Inner Mongolia.

The Huang He (Yellow River) forms the western border of Shanxi with Shaanxi. The Fen and Qin rivers, tributaries of the Huang He, run north-to-south through the province, and drain much of its area. The north of the province is drained by tributaries of the Hai River, such as Sanggan and Hutuo rivers. The largest natural lake in Shanxi is Xiechi Lake, a salt lake near Yuncheng in southwestern Shanxi.


History of Shanxi

Shanxi was the territory of state of Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC - 403 BC), which underwent a three-way split into the states of Han, Zhao and Wei in 403 BC, the traditional date taken as the start of the Warring States Period (403 BC - 221 BC). By 221 BC all of these states had fallen to the state of Qin, which established the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC).

For centuries Shanxi was the center of trade and banking, and the term "Shanxi Merchant" was once synonymous with wealth; the well-preserved city of Pingyao, in Shanxi, also shows many signs of its former dominance as a center of trade and banking. Due to Shanxi's geographic location in the Great China and its natural environment, Shanxi was the richest province in Zhongyuan or Center China. In the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was the centre of Chinese banking industry, a county in contemporary time famous for its UNESCO ancient city walls and ancient China's Wall Street for its financial importance in history. In modern times, the mining of coal is important in Shanxi's economy, but has also been the subject of severe criticism due to its deplorable conditions. Since 2004 the province has been plagued with labour safety issues, including a slave labour scandal involving children, causing significant civil unrest and national embarrassment.


What to see in Shanxi ?

Shanxi is endowed with an abundance of cultural sites from its long history. Most of the ancient structures were built before the Liao and Song Dynasties. So it is the reason why the place is often called the 'Chinese Ancient Architecture Museum'. The more obvious of these include: the Buddhist wonder of the Yungang Grottoes in Datong City, the Ancient City of Pingyao which was listed as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997, the oldest and tallest ancient wooden pagoda in China, the Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian County and the remote Shuanglin Temple and Jinci Temple, which are well worth the long journeys for the visitors.

Of course, there are a number of natural magnificent and beautiful places that can also be seen in Shanxi. The most famous of them include Wutai Mountain with the longest and most prestigious history in the four most well-known Buddhist holy lands of China, the whistling rage of the Yellow River's Kettle Spout waterfalls (Hukou Waterfalls) and one of the Five Sacred Mountains in China - Mt. Hengshan.


When to visit Shanxi?

Shanxi has a continental monsoon climate, and is rather arid. Average January temperatures are below 0 °C, while average July temperatures are around 21 - 26 °C. Winters are long, dry, and cold, while summer is warm and humid. Spring is extremely dry and prone to dust storms. Shanxi is one of the sunniest parts of China; early summer heat waves are common. Annual precipitation averages around 350–700 mm, with 60% of it concentrated between June and August. 

Being at a high altitude, Shanxi Province has a cold and dry climate and has an annual rainfall of between 400-600 millimeters. The province is also frequently plagued by sandstorms, especially in the spring, so it is often useful to bring along both sunglasses and a hat when visiting. Generally speaking, the province's climate is the best between May and October.


How to get there ?

The transport infrastructure in Shanxi Province is developed. There are airline, national highways and railways connected the province with other cities of China.The province has compalted seven double-track electric railways extending to coastal ports such as Qinghuandao, Qingdao, Yantai and Lianyungang. There are airports in Taiyuan, Datong, Changzhi, etc which connects Shanxi with more than 28 cities. The International routes linking Shanxi include Hongkong, Singapore, Russia and Japan. ith Taiyuan as a hub, the highway in Shanxi Province form a road network linking all the counties in the province and the cities in other provinces. 


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