The colourful town of Pingyao is one of the best preserved historical cities in China and is on the Unesco World Heritage List. Narrow streets are flanked by beautiful old buildings and decorated facades. The city center is compact and easily walkable; as long as you stay between the ancient city walls, you’re good. Pingyao is the China you know from the travel books; cosy lanes full of red lanterns, mighty towers which mark the centre and temples that lie hidden among the old buildings. In the afternoon, the terraces are being made, barbecues installed and stalls full of souvenirs prepared, all along the edge of the streets. Then the villagers prepare for the influx of tourists who are looking for local food and trinkets in the evening. So the town is touristy, especially in the summer months as the Chinese themselves also celebrate holidays. Nevertheless, we find it a wonderful stop en route from Beijing to Xi’an. Away from the big cities and the smog and wandering through this cozy lovely town.
History of Pingyao
Pingyao was founded in the 14th century and grew into a bustling trading town at the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) and the later Qing Dynasty. It is a beautiful example of a traditional Han-city from this time. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Pingyao also became the centre of the Chinese banking system.
The city is surrounded by 10 meter high walls that have a total length of 6 kilometres. These date from 1370 and are very well preserved. Also the 72 lookout towers are impressive. You can climb the wall for a nice view of Pingyao.
How to reach Pingyao
Visit Pingyao if you take the train from Beijing to Xi’an, or vice versa. Along the way you’ll pass Pingyao, 715 kilometres from Beijing (4 hours and 15 minutes by fast train, about € 28, – per person) and 500 kilometres from Xi’an (3 hours by fast train, about € 25,- per person). There are also slower trains that take 2 to 3 times as long. You will pay about half of the above price.
Tickets to Pingyao Ancient Town
You are free to wander around in the old city of Pingyao. Want to see the temples and museums or climb the wall? Then you have to buy a ticket. Tickets cost 150, – Yuan (about € 20, -) for 3 days, thus you can view all 22 member attractions. These include the old government building, the Bank Draft and a number of museums and temples. Discounts apply for children, students and people over 60. Always carry an ID card with you when purchasing tickets. Because you can only buy tickets for three days, we advise you to consider buying tickets upon arrival, so you can use them properly.