From Yunnan we took a plane to Taoyuan, and then a half an hour fast train to the outstanding “Pingyao Ancient City”. The train station is in the new part of town, which is not interesting at all. Take a taxi to get to the old town, it only takes 20 minutes. Pingyao dates back to the 14th century and is 225 hectares big. Old city walls surround it. Within these crumbling walls, you will see fairy tale watch towers, fancy and decadent mansions, commercial streets and loads of atmosphere.
Locals Versus Tourists
A perfect example of a Han Central Chinese city, Pingyao was an important financial centre during the 19th and early 20th century and now it’s undergoing a major face lift. It’s pretty interesting to see rundown residential neighborhoods coexist with fully restored hotels, mansions and temples. It makes you wonder how to guarantee that locals fully benefit from tourism. We don’t want them to move out of their lovely city to make room for tourists!
Where to Stay in Pingyao
Stay at our City Wall Old House – Ji Residence, one of the most beautiful hotels we ever been too. The house is 280 years old, and was restored following old techniques and original materials. Rooms overlook a couple of patios. From the terrace you can see the most of the city. If that isn’t enough to convince you, service is superb: a charming family runs the house. We felt relaxed and pampered. To Eitan’s delight, the patios are full of plants and are the perfect place to enjoy a book and great brewed coffee. They serve delish food too.
Points of Interest
The hotel is a short distance from the main tourist area. Packed with restaurants and shops it can only be accessed on foot. Our fancy hotel gave us bikes for free. So we biked the full length of the ancient walls and about the residential areas. Then we parked our bikes and walked inside the pedestrian streets. At the entrance, get the heritage ticket. You will be able to visit 30 attractions including the most important historical houses, the City Walls and the Temple of the City God. After biking and walking all day long, you will need a massage. We went to a parlour on the pedestrian street where I got my first ever Chinese massage. Too tough, so not again!
On the Road to Beijing
We left the ancient city of Pingyao by a speed train to Beijing. Take the first class wagon. For a couple of extra euros you get very comfy seats. The ride is pure pleasure. You will see dozens of numerous canyon formations, little towns and huge towers. We wanted to stop and check out so many great places. China is for sure one of the most spectacular countries in the world. Rush to Pingyao Ancient City, this beautiful and completely authentic historic city is 3 hours from Beijing so everyone will want to go soon. And if you have an idea on how to manage tourism while respecting its resident’s rights, share it with us. We all need to think!
Happy Frog Travels organizes personalized trips to China including Pingyao. Contact us HERE.