Luo Yang LongMen Grottoes,洛陽龍門石窟。
Luo Yang, situated in central China Henan province. A city located in the confluence are of Luo River and Yellow river in Central China.
From Xi An to Luo Yang is 4hr 30mins -6 hr by train.
From Xi An North to Luo Yang Longmen is 1 hr 30 mins to 2 hr by SPEED TRAIN.
I will share the differences of taking these 2 different trains from Xi An at the end of the post.
We took the fastest route from Xi An North straight to LuoYang Longmen instead of Luo Yang. Because visiting Longmen Grottoes was the main point for us to go Luo Yang. There is no speed train can reach LuoYang also. So you will have to plan your trip either to Longmen Grottoes first or to explore LuoYang city first.
The speed train to LuoYang Longmen will stop at a few stations including Hua Shan North. You will have to take note which station you are alighting. Because Luoyang Longmen is not the final destination for the train. You will not want to end up in Tian Jing!
Our first speed train experience in China!
It is really clean and comfortable. There are crew pushing carts selling snacks and drinks like the trains in Japan and Taiwan.
We finally arrived Luoyang Longmen after 1 hr 40 mins!!!
We took a private car to Longmen Grottoes from Luoyang Speed train station.
We wanted to wait for the public bus to Longmen Grottoes. This driver knew that we are going to the Longmen Grottoes and started to target us, offering price to bring us there. At first, we refused because we were worried that it is a fraud.
When there were more visitors coming to wait for the public bus, we told him if you able to find another passengers then we might consider to take it since we have extra people to share the cost.
He charged us RMB 10 per person. The driver is a nice guy. He told us the tricks to save time and money when in Longmen Grottoes and places to visit in Luoyang and how to take the buses from station to station.
Because we are trained to beware of strangers that is our natural behaviour huh!
So here are the Top 5 places you must visit in Luo Yang!
1. Longmen Grottoes
Panorama of FengXian Temple with The Big Vairocana of Longmen Buddha Grottoes
Sorry for the photos which look very 'magical' here. I didn't know I accidentally adjust to the effect shot. HAHA!
From the tourist center to main get of Longmen Grottoes is 800m (15 mins) walk.
There is no shelter AT ALL throughout this 800m walk! We were so burned especially my partner became red lobster after the 4 hours visit here. So you must really prepare your sun screen, hats and sunglasses!
Longmen Grottoes has been conferred the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Longmen Grottoes was first carved when Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei moved the capital to Luoyang, and was further built in the Eastern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Qi, Sui, Tang, Five Dynasty, and Song Dynasty for more than 400 years. 1 km long North to South having 2,345 carves and niches, more than 100,000 statues and over 2,800 inscriptions, it has made a significant contribution to the innovation and development of Chinese grotto art.
Along the side of The Yi River.
Longmen Grottoes is separated into two sides but everyone can only visit in ONE WAY direction. So you will visit the Caves of the West Hill first then cross the Manshui Bridge to Caves of East Hill, XiangShan Temple and China famous poet, Bai Juyi's Tomb.
It looks scary right!!!
I have Trypophobia (fear of holes or small dots). When we were doing our research for the trip, my partner showed me this place. I straightaway said NO!!!
I also don't know why I ended up here and to be honest, it was so amazing to look at all the grottoes! But I still cannot take it by looking it from far.
The giant Buddha statue in Longmen Grottoes, Vairocana.
Panorama view of Caves of East Hill from Feng Xian Temple (from Caves of West Hill).
The Yi River
Another challenge under the big hot sun, staircases! We purposely climbed up to find a grotto of Guan Yin. But we were so disappointed because the grotto is very old and can't even see a single figure.
But the view worth the sweats and muscle aches.
Jiang Song Apartment was built as a summer residence for Chiang Khai Shek (Jiang Jieshi) and Song Meiling.
Great view of FengXiang Temple from XiangShan Temple.
Famous poet, Bai Juyi used to lived here in his later years.
The famous poet in Tang Dynasty, Bai Ju Yi.
Bai Ju Yi's tomb is quite a big section. But you can choose to visit the place he used to live and his tomb. The rest of the places are like garden and ponds you can skip if you have limited time.
And also the poem corridor at the last section of Bai Juyi's tomb.
The view of Longmen Grottoes and The Yi River from the Longmen Bridge.
The entrance ticket is also a postcard! How cool is that!
We spent 4 hours in Longmen Grottoes. We've covered
Caves of West Hill
The Three Binyangdong Caves
The Middle Cave
Wanfo Cave (Ten Thousand Buddhist Cave)- The smallest grottoes
FengXiang Temple, the giant buddha, The Big Vairocana
Caves of East Hill
Jiang Song Apartment
Bai Juyi's Tomb
We followed what the driver told us to take the only public bus station at Longmen Grottoes to LuoYang old street. We saved a lot go money by following his way! I will tell you how at the end of the post!
To get to Luoyang Old Street, 洛陽老街, you will have to take bus no. 53 and alight at 22. Xi Guan,西關.
It is only 30 mins from Longmen Grottoes and the bus fare is only RMB 1!!!
How to get to Longmont Grottoes
From Xi An to Luo Yang is 4hr 30mins - 6 hr by train.
From Xi An North to Luo Yang Longmen is 1 hr 30 mins to 2 hr by SPEED TRAIN.
What are the differences?
From Xi An city is easy to get to Xi An Railway station. However, it takes a very long time to reach Luo Yang and you will need to take extra time and money to go Luo Yang Longmen Grottoes. Unless you are planning to stay a night in Luo Yang, if not, there is really no time for you to take this route.
You will need at least extra 40 mins to take MRT to Xi An North and buy tickets to LuoYang Longmen. It save a lot of time especially you are going to Longmen Grottoes. However, the ticket fare for the train cost more than double. So it really depends on your plans and budgets.
Advise: I will advise you to check the weather before going to Luoyang and also the train schedule to make back up plan.
Here is the link for Xi An to Luoyang train schedule. (Train and Speed train)
From Luoyang Longmen Station
Take bus 67 or bus 71
or cab, take less than 15 mins cost RMB20-30
or if you trust the driver for car pooling, you can try to bargain with the driver. It should cost less than RMB 10.
TIPS shared by the driver:
To avoid spending on the transport (baggy service) after you finish visiting the Longmen Grottoes. Intead of following the signboard to the grottoes exit which will lead you to a group of people calling you to take their their baggy service to exit the Longmen Grottoes right beside Bai Juyi's tomb. (The baggy will send you back to the tourist center.) You can actually save the money! The driver told us to walk back to the ticket office/ tourist center via Longmen Bridge. Don't worry, it looks like a long walk, but we only took 4 mins to reach the other side of the bridge and you can enjoy the amazing view of The Yi river and the Longmen Grottoes again! However, you will have to walk 1km or 1.2km back to the tourist center and it is only few minutes away from the small public bus station.
If I remembered correctly, baggy service is RMB35 per person.
Second attraction in LuoYang, Luoyang old streets, 洛陽老街
After we alighted from the bus, we followed our instinct, walked to the direction and we saw an ancient wall! That is the entrance to the Luoyang Old Streets, Lijingmen.
The ancient Luoyang map.
The local dish you must try in Luoyang!, Bu Fan Tang, 不翻湯。
Although it does not suit my liking. But I have it a try! Since that is the local dish you can only get in Luo Yang.
The locals starting to push their food carts out for night market.
Their local snacks are similar to Malaysia and Singapore traditional snacks, peanut and sesame brittles (and many flavours) and dragon's beard candy.
My 老頑童 tempted by the Chinese swords. HAHA
We used about 1hr to 1 hr 20 mins to finish the Luoyang Old Street.
3. Lijingmen, 麗景門
How to get to Lijingmen and Luoyang Old Street.
From Longmen Grottoes : Bus 53 to Xi Guan,西關
From Luoyang Train Staion: Bus 48, 56, 41,61,10 to Xi Guan 西關
Bus fare: RMB 1.
Entrance ticket to Lijingmen: RMB 35
Opening hours: 0800-2100
We spent about 30-45 mins in Lijingmen.
4. Tian and Ming Temple,天堂明堂
while on the bus on the way to Luoyang old street...
Photo from http://www.cnto.org/luoyangs-tian-and-ming-temples-open-after-extensive-renovations/
Tian Temple, also called the "Holy Temple of Heaven", was established in the year 689 in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was used by Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor, as a royal place for Buddhist rites.
Information from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2015-04/13/content_20423548.htm
How to get to Tian and Ming temple.
It is 1km away from Lijingmen and 1.5km away from Luoyang Old Street.
Opening hour: 0830-2130
Entrance fee: RMB 120
5. White Horse Temple, Bai Ma Si, 白馬寺
Photo from http://www.visitourchina.com/luoyang/attraction/the-baima-temple.html
How to get to Bai Ma Si, White Horse Temple
Take bus no. K56, K58, 87 or 91, and get off at Baimasi Station.
Opening hour: 0730-1730
Entrance Fee: RMB 50
We didn't have enough time to cover the other two attractions (Tian Tang and Ming Tang and Bai Ma Si) because we had to take public bus back to Luoyang Longmen Train station (which took us an hour from Xi Guan) and took the second last train back to Xi An. You will definitely need 2D 1N to comfortably enjoy Luoyang. But overall it was an eye fulfilling trip in Luo Yang!
Photos are taken by Panasonic GF9 and iPhone 7 Plus.