In the morning, the Beijing local driver will pick you up from the downtown hotel and drive around 1 hour to Beijing West Train Station for your high-speed train to Pingyao. The train rides around 4 hours, you can take this chance to enjoy the scenery on the way.
When you arrive at Pingyao Gucheng Train Station, there will be the local English speaking tour guide and driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name. Filling your stomach at a local restaurant, you will officially start your visit in Pingyao Ancient City. Bearing the history over 2700 years, sharing the title “Four Best Preserved Ancient Chinese Cities” together with Langzhong in Sichuan Province, Lijiang in Yunnan City and Shexian of Anhui Province, this ancient city is one of the only two ancient cities succeeding in applying World Cultural Heritage in China. Pingyao started to be built in Western Zhou Dynasty (827BC-782BC) and extended in 1370 AD, Ming Dynasty. Until today, the basic layout and landscape of Ming and Qing Dynasty is still visible in Pingyao.
The city had ever governed China’s finance in Ming and Qing Dynasty with over 20 exchange shops (it’s like bank in ancient time) headquartered here, about the half of the whole country, gaining the title of “Ancient Chinese Wall Street”. Today, you can still find the basic look of its ever prosperity from the relics.
Like the most city walls, Pingyao City Wall was built in early Ming Dynasty on the purpose of defense against the foreign invasion and get patched 26 times in later generations. The Wall is extremely admirable with its strong character in the lengthy past when you stroll on the wall top and behold the mottled bricks over there. Stretching round the city 6,000 meters in length and up 12 meters in height, the ancient City Wall divided the small city into 2 distinct worlds inside and outside its embrace: the inside was prosperous in trade with the streets lined with shops and people coming and going.
Visit the relics of the famous Rishengchang Exchange Shop to trace the history of Chinese financial industry. Built in 1823 by the general manager Lei Lvtai with fund support from local rich merchant Li Dajin, Rishengchang had even dominated the economic artery of Qing Empire in 19th century.
Setting your feet on the Ming-Qing Street, the one of busiest commercial street in China, you shall have a better idea in mind about how advanced the development in China was in that time. Today, the relics of those ancient shops still are well preserved and visible, including exchange shops, banks, drugstore, butcher, pawnshop… Local snack shops, souvenir shops and things like that inherits the ever prosperity of the street and dominates the major crowds here.
Besides, joining in a Paper Cutting Class in the ancient city would be a big highlight today. Following the local expert and waving the scissors in hands, you will amazingly get a vivid “bird” or “fish”, through which the interesting Chinese culture could be caught a glimpse.
Accommodation: Overnight in Pingyao Ancient Town