Yingxian Mùtǎ

Pagoda in Datong

Built in 1056, this riveting five-storey tower is the world’s tallest (67m) and China's oldest wooden pagoda. Constructed with red pine without a single nail, it's often referred to as simply Mùtǎ (The Wooden Pagoda). The clay Buddhist carvings it houses, including an 11m-high Sakyamuni on the 1st floor, are as old as the pagoda itself. Visitors can only climb to the first two levels, but there are photos of the higher floors to the side of the pagoda.

Mùtǎ is located in unlovely Yingxian (应县). Buses from Datong’s south bus station (¥32, two hours) run to its west bus station (西站; xīzhàn). From there, get public bus 1 (¥1) to Mùtǎ, 2km up the road. Hourly buses return to Datong until 6pm, or you can travel onto Taiyuan (¥90, 3½ hours, last bus 2.30pm).