Located in Shanxi Province, 715km southwest of Being, Pingyao is one of the many ancient cities that is worth the experience. The ancient city holds a history that dates back more than 2500 years old. Its amazing contribution to history with its well-preserved city walls and as the financial center of China during the late Qing Dynasty, made it as one of the 52 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country.
How to get to the Ancient City of Pingyao
From Beijing or Xian:
Take a high-speed train from Beijing West Railway Station or Xian North Railway Station to Pingyao Ancient City Railway Station.
From Datong, it is 6-8 hours regular train ride. I purchased my train tickets online for convenience.
Heads – up: It’s best to purchase tickets while you are still outside China since emails and social media are restricted in the country. Some online ticketing merchants require the full details of your passport which I was hesitant to provide, however some merchants only require full name as it appears on the passport. To claim train tickets, you need to go the departure station. Some train stations have a special window for foreigners, attendants can communicate in English or have it delivered to your hotel with a fee.
Upon arrival at Pingyao train station, there are options of taxis, bicycles, and motorcycles available or if you choose to walk, its 30mins to 45mins walk to the entrance gate of the ancient city. I chose to walk with my heavy backpack to see more of the locality. Outside the ancient city walls are modern shopping malls, restaurants, and convenience stores.
The city has a more conservative ambiance compared to the sleepy streets of Datong and the heavy traffic in Beijing. It was a long walk from the train station to the entrance gate; however, I needed to walk for another 30 mins from the entrance to my hostel.
Where to stay:
Pingyao Dechang Folks Inn
No 25 Zhenwumiao Street Pingyao Ancient City,
I would like to recommend this place when you visit Pingyao. It is a small hotel with less than 15 rooms, clean, with free wifi and very friendly owners. You can also ask the owner for food. His mom prepares the best authentic Chinese meals.
The streets of Pingyao are more alluring during the evening as hanging Chinese lantern resembles red orbs hanging outside old houses and restaurants.
If you want to experience the ancient city fully, purchase the combo ticket good for 3 day but you can only visit an attraction once during its validity. If you are not planning to visit the museums and other attractions, you can wander around the ancient city for free.
Admission fee: CNY 130
March to November: 8:00 – 18:30
December to next February: 8:00 – 17:30
The ticket covers more than 10 ancient locations.
Ancient City Wall, Ancient Government Office, Temple of the City God, Ancient Ming-Qing Street, Temple of Confucius, China Rare Newspaper Museum, Pingyao Ancient Residence Museum, Ancient Security Guard Company Museum, Rishengchang Exchange Shop, Baichuantong Exchange Shop, Xietongqing Exchange Shop, Weishengchang Exchange Shop, Qingxu Taoist Temple, Military Arts House, Tianjixiang Museum, , Former Residence of Lei Lvtai, Museum of Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Ancient Security Guard Company
- Ancient City Walls – Pingyao is one of the four ancient cities in China that has a well-preserved city wall. It is called a Turtle City because the wall resembles a turtle when viewed from the top.
- Ancient Ming-Qing Street – The most crowded place inside the city walls. Here you will find plenty of traditional stores, souvenir shops, local sweet vendors and a lot of interesting stuff.
- Rishengchang Exchange Shop – Known as the ” Father of the Bank of China” which acted as the lifeblood of the country’s economy during the Qing Dynasty. Today, it is open to the public as a museum with a large collection of historical artifacts.
- Ancient Security Guard Company – During ancient China when transportation is slow and money is made of silver and gold, plenty of rich people hire guards for their valuable items. So this company offers variety of security services who are of course, skilled Kung Fu fighters. Awesome!
- Ancient Government Office – This is the home of law and order located in the center of Pingyao’s ancient city. The government office keeps history of over 600 years with 149 magistrates. Today, the well-preserved torture chambers, jails and uniforms are displayed for tourist to enjoy.
- Temple of the City God – One of the grandest location to visit while in Pingyao. A scared Taoist temple that covers 73,00 square meters which consist of 3 separate temples. People come to pray City God, God of Wealth and Kitchen God.
- Temple of Confucius – A best preserved Confucian temple. People visit to pay respect to the father of Confucianism.