It’s fair to say that the essence of Shanxi culture and history lies in Pingyao, which is most known for Pingyao Ancient City - a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage property and an iconic ancient city in China. Except sightseeing the stationary original buildings inside the ancient walls, there are lots of other featured things you can do in and around Pingyao, including watching an in creditable Youjian Pingyao (Encore Pingyao) show, exploring previous wealthy family compound, viewing plentiful Buddhist artworks, tasting local food, etc. Want to highlight your Pingyao tour? Check the following Top 6 Things to Do in & near Pingyao to make your Pingyao cultural exploration diverse and complete, ranging from life of civilian & billionaires, folk craftsmanship, Buddhism, finance and commerce.
Ancient City Wall of Pingyao
Ancient Residences in Pingyao Ancient City
• Recommended Tourist Attraction: Pingyao Ancient City
Recognized as an outstanding example of well-preserved Chinese city during the period from Ming to Qing Dynasty and a famous China’s ancient “Wall Street”, Pingyao Ancient City has kept numerous authentic cultural spots showing the entire society in once prosperous times. It is the top must-see for all Pingyao tourists, where you can get close to real China inside the walled historical city.
During your day trip here, you can explore Rishengchang Former Bank to know how the bank were formed, operated and affected the economy of the country. Please visit one of the past escort agencies to learn more about this unique job similar to the current express delivery industry. Ancient Government Office and over 400 traditional dwellings are good place to study the Siheyuan, a typical courtyard-style house complex in Northern China. Plus, there are many sights, like temples, residences you can visit to know more living and working scenes about Pingyao people. It’s very interesting to stroll some old street and lanes at night, get involved in local life and be indulged in the old and charming atmosphere in this living and breathing throwback.
Pingyao Ancient City Wall
Pingyao Ancient City Wall in Spring
• Opening Hours: 08:00-18:00
Pingyao ancient city wall is a major scenic site in Pingyao ancient city. The city wall is 6,157 meters long and 10 meters high, with 72 battlements and 3000 crenels. The city wall has four gates. The width of the upper side of the wall is at least three meters. It is paved with bricks. People can walk freely on the upper side but biking is not allowed. Walking on the wall, you can see the whole ancient city of Pingyao. Pingyao ancient city wall, as a county-level city wall, has been well preserved. It's unmissable for tourists who come here to walk to the ancient city wall in person or take a panoramic ancient cityscape of Pingyao.
• Popular Pingyao Tour: 4 Days Ancient Pingyao & Xian Tour
Layered Roofs in Wang's Family Compound
Courtyard in Qiao's Family Compound
• Recommended Tourist Attraction: Wang’s Family Compound, Qiao's Family Compound
Pingyao was the banking capital playing a dominant influence in Chinese economy during Ming and Qing Dynasty. The rich local Shanxi merchants (Jin merchants) left many valuable architectural heritages, and Wang’s Family Compound and Qiao’s Family Compound are the two of the best quintessence of such type.
These ancient residential complexes are private estates of several generations, typical Siheyuan composition (Chinese quadrangles), awe-inspiring in size and design and built based on the surrounding terrain. Stepping into the circle fort walls, you can see many courtyards and over hundreds of houses with different functions, such as sleeping room, schools, kitchens, ancestor worship halls, embroidery buildings and gardens. The layout is symmetrical and each separate house is connected with each other by doors and passageways. These featured organizations are affected by Chinese feudal ideology, ritual and patriarchal clan systems. Forbidden City of Beijing is another famous representative in China.
Beyond the grand building group, you can clearly find massive beautiful and exquisite architectural decorations as well, like multi-layered gray roof tiles with dragon statues, lifelike stone, wood and brick carvings on beams, windows, furniture etc. With the help of a tour guide, you will learn how these compounds were constructed, why each area was designed and how unique and precious they are.
Splendid Sculptures in Shuanglin Temple
The Oldest Wood Architecture in Zhenguo Temple
• Recommended Tourist Attractions: Shuanglin Temple, Zhenguo Temple
With more than one thousand years of history, Shuanglin Temple and Zhenguo Temple are two other components of the UNSECO World Cultural Heritage of Ancient City of Pingyao. Though located quite close to Pingyao Ancient City, the two temples are less-known with just a few tourists. That perfectly offers a peaceful and leisure environment for you to appreciate the fascinating buildings and sculptures.
In the temple, you will firstly be impressed by the superb serenity and soul purification. Outside the main shrines, you can view ingenious wooden structures with some remaining murals, painted statues, plaques and ancient calligraphies. The most attracting part is the halls filled with hundreds of painted clay sculptures, most are Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, guardian saints, heroes in Chinese history or mythology, etc. Chinese culture fans are highly recommended visiting Shuanglin Temple - “An Oriental Art Gallery of Painted Sculpture”, witness painted sculptures in different side, color, gestures, art forms and dynasties. Four sculptures of Heavenly Kings in the first hall, the sitting Avalokitesvara and Wei Tuo beside in the second courtyard and Thousand-hand Bodhisattva are the best masterpieces among all artworks.
Meanwhile, in both temples, you can see plenty of murals, especially exhaustive serial Buddhist life story on walls. If you visit Zhenguo Temple, don’t miss the Wanfo Hall (The Ten-Thousand Buddha Hall), one of the oldest wooden buildings that has the one the very large brackets with flying eaves and roof. Whether you visit one of them or two both, you will get excellent opportunity to escape from crowded tourists, learn fantastic Chinese folk art covering architecture, painting, sculpture and Buddhism belief.
Encore Pingyao Night Show
Armed Escorts Performing on the Wall
• Ticket: CNY 238
• Show Times: 10:00-22:00
• Address: 154 Shuncheng Road, Pingyao County, Jinzhong City, Shanxi Province 山西省晋中市平遥县顺城路154号
Rich Shanxi merchant presents the business success of Shanxi people, and local Shanxi people have more classic and time-honored traditional virtues: respect elders, love minors, cherish family’s affection and neighborhood, be kind, enthusiastic and obliging and so on. To truly understand people of Pingyao and Shanxi, it’s essential to watch the amazing Encore Pingyao (Youjian Pingyao), an interactive situational performance of Encore series.
The 90-minute show tells a story of brave rescue of bloodline from abroad in late Qing Dynasty. Owner of a Pingyao Draft Bank spent all of his money and life with 232 armed escorts to protect a child of his staff from Tsarist Russia. The whole play consists of different episodes like “Choosing Wife”, “Armed Escorts Taking Bath” to extol kindheartedness and courage of Pingyao people. Unlike other Impression Series, Encore Pingyao is performed indoor with Pingyao Ancient City as background, and divides the theatre into a maze. Audience can walk between different stages and see past life scenes in street, square, courtyard, escort agency and ancient city. Incredible lightning, sounds, costumes, dance, music, decorations will take you travel through an old movie. Only passion and devotion create this spectacular show. Show is all in Chinese, so get a tour guide to explain the story for you.
Pingyao Chinese Dishes
Local Food in Pingyao
• Recommended Places to Eat: Ming and Qing Dynasties Street in Pingyao Ancient City, De Ju Yuan, Tian Yuan Kui Kezhan
Each city has its unique cuisines and flavors that is also an important part of local culture. Whether you are foodies or regular tourists, trying some local snacks and dishes can always enrich your Pingyao trip. Like most places in Shanxi, Pingyao is based on noodles in various forms. Vinegar is a popular condiment used in most dishes. The Pingyao Beef is the most notable dish commonly served in all restaurants of Pingyao. Other top-rated Pingyao local snacks include knife-cut noodles, oat noodles, Wantuo (steamed wheat or buckwheat flour, sliced and mixed with chilli sauce), fried eggplant, You Mian Kao Lao Lao (sort of pasta dish), etc. In the main streets inside Pingyao Ancient City, such the Ming and Qing Dynasties Street, there are many mid-ranged local restaurants, bars and guesthouses, so it’s easy to find and sample some quality and authentic local Pingyao food. Don’t worry; most eateries have easy-to-understand menu and friendly staff for English tourists.
Best time to visit Pingyao: March to mid-June, mid-September to November, and Chinese Spring Festival Time (Jan or Feb)
How to get to Pingyao: High-speed bullet trains to Pingyao Ancient City Railway Station; normal trains to Pingyao Railway Station; Long-distance Bus to Pingyao Bus Station; Flights to Taiyuan Airport and transfer from Taiyuan to Pingyao by private car/bus/train.
Where to stay in Pingyao: Mainly inside Pingyao Ancient City.
Pingyao is noted for the World Heritage Site - Pingyao Ancient City. It is well-preserved, keeping the architecture style of the Ming and Qing Dynasty (14th-20th centuries). Here, you can leisurely stroll and get to learn about the traditions of the northern Chinese, especially during the Chinese Spring Festival. Usually, 2 to 3 days are enough for you to explore the attractions in Pingyao, including scenic sites and ancient streets of Pingyao Ancient City, Qiao’s Family Compound, Shuanglin Temple, etc.
Also, Pingyao is well connected with many other cities in Shanxi province. You can spend more days having a Shanxi discovery tour: witnessing the stunning Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Temple in Datong, hiking on and the famous Buddhism mountain, Wutaishan, visiting the magnificent Hukou Waterfall, and getting to Jinsi Temple and Shanxi Museum in the capital of Shanxi province, Taiyuan.
If you would like to travel outside Shanxi, you can take a flight from Taiyuan to many other cites of China. It is also very convenient to take a high-speed train from Pingyao/Taiyuan to Xian and Luoyang with no more than 4 hours or head to Beijing by high-speed train.
Top 3 Pingyao tours chosen by most customers to explore Pingyao in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Datong / Wutaishan / Taiyuan / Pingyao
Datong / Pingyao
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