Sonja’s Winter Tour in Ancient City Pingyao, China

Pingyao ancient town is only 1.2 hour’s away from Taiyuan by train; we take a local rickshaw to our hotel around 6pm. The weather is colder and driver said there’ snow around tomorrow which makes

We were surprised to see the well-preserved old town, with narrow lanes flanking with Chinese shops in old style, stone-plated road without any modern architecture. At that time I understand why some people say Pingyao is famous for its antiquity.

When I looked out of the window, it was snowing in large flakes and we were so excited to explore the tiny ancient town in winter day.

The ancient city wall of Pingyao enjoys the longest history compared with others around the country and remains almost intact. The walls are around 12 meters high and 4 meters wide on top. It is said that the whole city is in form of an huge Tortoise which is considered a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture.

pingyao ancient city wall
snow-covered high wall

pingyao snow scenery
Looking down the city view from the high city wall; all covered with white snow and we saw the flat roof.

After the old walls, we decide to buy sightseeing through ticket which is valid within 3 days to some spots in the old city. Not all the spots sold tickets, but you can easily found one through local maps.

Located on the trade route between Beijing and Xi’an, Pingyao was developed into a merchant center. Our first stop was the Rishengchang Draft Bank – the earliest bank in China and beginning of Chinese finance business in the modern era.
ancient bank in Pingyao
an old drafts displayed in counter

On the Ming-Qing Street, there are some locals are cleaning the heavy snow. The three-storey Market Tower is the center of the whole city, with many magnificent buildings and grand shops at each sides of the street, reminding us of the ancient busy traffic and commercial situation.

Souvenirs, handicrafts and local foods could be found on Ming Qing street, and the famed local specialities in Pingyao are Tuiguang Lacquer ware (Polished Lacquer ware), Pingyao Beef Jerky, Handmade clothes/tiger-head shoes and Paper-cutting.
local food
Local food – cat’s ear, made of flour

The main spots inside the ancient city of Pingyao are Rishengchang Draft Bank, Ming-Qing Street, Ancient City wall, official courtyards; while there are other amazing sites outside the town, like Shuanglin Temple, Qiao’s Family Courtyard, Wang’s Family Courtyard & Mianshan Mountain; without direct bus/train to the above-said sites, visitors can rent a bus or join group tours at your hotels. But in snow or icy days, you won’t find proper transport to the spots outside pingyao, since all the main roads are closed.
official courtyard
Pingyao official courtyard

Pingyao Transport
People in Pingyao live a simple and leisure life. Visitors can try to rend a bike with maps in hand and wonder through the whole city in 1-2 days; stop at everywhere you want and enjoy the local dishes. The snowy and icy condition destroyed our biking plan, by walking around on foot still nice.

It takes 1.1 hours’s train and 2 hours’ bus from Taiyuan city to Pingyao; and there’s overnight train from Pingyao to Xi’an which is much convenient for our further tours.

Stay at Pingyao
We chose hotels located inside the Pingyao ancient city, with unique characteristic of ancient Architecture of Shanxi with good facilities. Nice experience and all enjoy the atmosphere of ancient times.
local guest house
This is the local guest house we chose to stay. Here’s the entrance. There are some wooden chairs and tables in unique design, which is good place to enjoy beer and chat at summer night.

hall of the guest house
The main hall of the guest house, also served as resaurant and tea house.  It is a typical room in central China.

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