Pingyao is a small city in central Shanxi Province, located about 100 kilometers south of Taiyuan, the provincial capital, and about 290 km or 5 hours’ driving south of Datong, where the famous Yungang Grottoes are. You can also easily reach Pingyao from Beijing, which is about 4 hours by bullet train to the northeast.
Originally built in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1045-256 BC), it has a rich history of over 2700 years. It is probably one of the best-preserved ancient cities in China. It still keeps its authentic layout and style intact: long ancient city walls, elegant residences, courtyards, vertical and horizontal streets, alleys, scattered banks, and escorts, all marked a prosperous county during Ming and Qing dynasties. Due to its good preservation, Pingyao City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on December 31, 1997.
If this destination is certainly less famous than Beijing or Xi’an, it is an original stopover between these two essential cities on travel circuits in China and is a high place of cultural pilgrimage for Chinese tourists.
Area: 1,253 km²
Average annual temperature: 10 degrees
Geography: Located on a basin surrounded by mountains
Population: 525,491 inhabitants. (2019)
Ethnic minorities: Mainly populated by Han
Economy: Agriculture, energy, and tourism
What to visit in Pingyao?
With its well-preserved ancient buildings, temples, and museums, the ancient city of Pingyao is a remarkable journey through Chinese history. In addition, the town retains many civil buildings of a pretty architecture typical of the 18th and 19th centuries with its entire streets lined with traditional wooden houses.
We suggest you plan 1 to 2 days for the discovery of this charming city who has several fascinating monuments, such as the Temple of Confucius from the Song dynasty, the Qing period market tower, and a Taoist temple adorned with a dragon wall of the Ming dynasty. Located 100km north of the city, Shuanglin Monastery is one of the oldest spiritual sites in Shanxi and will be a perfect attraction for a little break of spiritual relaxation.
How to Get to Pingyao Ancient City?
You can take a high-speed train to Pingyao Ancient City Railway Station from Beijing (4 hours) or Xi’an (2.5-3 hours).
There is no airport in Pingyao and the nearest airport for air travelers is the Taiyuan Wusu International Airport in the north. The airport is situated nearly 200 km from Pingyao Ancient City, which takes approximately 2 hours ride.
When Go To Pingyao?
May to October is the best time to visit Pingyao when the temperature is comfortable. If you don’t mind the cold, the winter has few crowds and lower prices. We do not suggest your visit during the Pingyao International Photography Festival (the end of September), and the National Day (1st to 7th October) when it has the crowds.
What to eat in Pingyao?
Pingyao belongs to the loess plateau area, so the locals plant wheat, so their main food is wheaten products like noodles and dumplings. Among these simple food or snacks there are many special ones:
Wantuozi: Wantuozi is one of the most popular traditional snacks made of wheat or buckwheat flour. With a fresh and smooth taste, Wantuozi is popular in Pingyao and can be easily found on the streets.
Yam: Pingyao has an abundance of Chinese yams which are rich in protein, starch, and many trace elements like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Chinese Yam in Honey is a common dish in Pingyao. The steamed Chinese yam block is fried with hot sugar and honey. It tastes sweet, smooth, and soft with a light fragrance of honey and the yam itself.
Beef: Beef became popular in the Ming Dynasty. It is an integral part of Shanxi food culture. What’s different from other areas is that the old ox is the best choice for Pingyao beef. The older the meat, the more delicious the taste.
Yellow wine: This is a low alcohol drink made from yellow sticky rice and wine yeast. If you want to taste it, we recommend a detour to an old shop in Pingyao. The Changshengyuan has been making yellow liquor and pancakes for more than three centuries.
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