Pingyao Travel Guide
Pingyao is a Ming Dynasty city with the only complete city wall of that era left in China. Centuries ago it was the centre of Chinese banking and this wealth has left an abundance of Ming architecture from houses to temples giving the most complete example of what a Ming city would have looked like. Pingyao also holds an International Photography Festival every September which draws in entries from all over the world providing a stark contrast with the aura of history Pingyao creates.
Best Months to Visit Pingyao
Best Reason to Visit Pingyao
Pingyao has the only complete city walls left from the Ming Dynasty and is one of the best preserved towns of its age in the world.
It is a real gem, often looked over by those on tours in China as it doesn’t have a major attraction such as the Great Wall or Terra-Cotta Warriors but the old town itself is almost as great an attraction as either of them.
This was the centre of banking in China and many of the old courtyards that ran currency in China have been preserved as mini museums to that time.
Pingyao is conveniently located between Beijing and Xian and can be reached either directly by overnight train or by bullet train or flight into Taiyuan, the provincial capital and then an 80km transfer into the old town.
Top Sights in Pingyao
★ The town itself is the main attraction. Rather than a single building that people flock to, it’s more of a case of walking around the town and investigating the little courtyards that contained these early banks as well as the authorities that protected them.
★ One of them that shouldn’t be missed is “Rishengchang” the first bank in China and one that operated all the way up to the First World War.
★ The town becomes even more magical in the evenings when the whole place is lit up by lanterns and takes on a magical feel, transporting you back into the time of emperors.
★ The City Walls themselves are also a “must”. You can walk around them looking down on to the town and the fact that they are complete is what gives this place it’s UNESCO World Heritage site status.
Weather Averages for Pingyao
Top Pingyao Travel Tip from TSTC
Hire bikes. This not only gets you round the town much quicker but is a really nice way to explore. You can even venture out of the town, perhaps visiting the Shuanglin Temple that is a few kilometres out of town.
Try some Pingyao Beef Jerky. This is the local delicacy and along with the corned beef tasting Pingyao Beef are must tries – go on be a bit adventurous!
Usually one night’s stay is enough to see the best of Pingyao so it’s an easy add on to any China tours that already includes Beijing and Xian.
For avid photographer’s there’s a very worthwhile Photography festival that goes on every year in the Autumn. Prices are a bit higher at that time but it is visited by people from all over the world.
TSTC's Hand Picked Hotels in Pingyao
We love the Hongshanyi Hotel here. There aren’t big chains of hotels and everything is very much a guesthouse feel but the Hongshanyi is as luxury feeling as these courtyards get and the rooms are clean and comfortable. The building is actually a set of courtyards and is a kind of microcosm of Pingyao as a whole. It’s still great value for the quality of the place and gives you a slice of traditional life with a bit extra comfort.
At the more modest end of the spectrum or for the single traveller you might as well be right in the centre of it all at somewhere like the De Ju Yuan Guesthouse. It’s traditional styled and clean and has some really helpful staff, even if they do struggle a little with their English, they’ll do everything they can to help.
For something High end Jing’s Residence can’t be beat.
By Phil Stanley & Headseast – TCTC Destination Expert.