Don't you love it when you have little expectation for something and it turns out to be AMAZING? That's what happened to us when we visited the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, China.
To be fair, it wasn't so much that we had low expectations - more that we didn't really know anything about them. We had planned to stay in Luoyang so that we could visit the nearby Shaolin Temple, so after our research what else to do in the area kept popping up with the nearby Longmen Grottoes we figured we should make some time to visit. And I'm so glad we did!
The Longmen Grottoes are located on either side of the Yi River, and are essentially a series of 1,400 caves excavated in limestone rock-wall, housing tens of thousands of Buddha statues. With mind-blowing history tracing back to the Northern Wei Dynasty when Luoyang was one of China's four ancient capitals, it is believed that many of the grottoes were excavated as long ago as 493 AD. These kind of dates I still find it hard to wrap my head around - we're talking more than 1500 years old!
We braved the freezing weather for a day to explore this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site. I hope you enjoy the photos!
Do it yourself:
At the time of writing, the entrance fee is 120 yuan (approx NZ$25). Your ticket includes entry to the Longmen Grottoes on the west and east hills, Xiangshan Temple and the Bai Garden.
You can catch the 81, 53 or 60 bus there and will cost between 1 and 2 yuan. Make sure you have small money for the bus as you will not receive change! We paid 4 yuan for both of us to get there and back from our hostel in Luoyang Longmen (thats just 80 cents total!).
Allow at least 2 hours to look around, though we had plenty of time and spent almost 4 hours there. During warmer times of year, the Bai Garden would be lovely to spend some time exploring. We were frozen solid by then so whizzed around them quite quickly!
Have you ever visited somewhere that you hadn't heard of, and ended up totally loving it?