Pingyao, reputed as the center of Shanxi Merchant Culture in the Mid-Ming Dynasty, is a not-to-miss place for any history-seekers. This 5-day Xi’an and Pingyao tour departing from Xi’an, including Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Ancient City Wall, Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Pingyao Ancient City, and Qiao Family Courtyard, will take you to explore the splendid civilization and appreciate the Ming-and-Qing-styled architecture. Of course, you will not miss the authentic cuisine!
2. Experience bike riding on the top of the Xi’an City Wall to see the city from a unique angle.
3. Explore the Xi’an local food culture by sampling a variety of delicious snacks in the bustling Muslim Quarter.
4. Stroll through the Pingyao Ancient City and explore the thriving trade in the past.
5. Visit the Qiao Family Courtyard, the name card of Shanxi, where you can learn about the cultural characteristics of Shanxi merchants and the social and economic life of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
6. Meet many delicate wall paintings and colored statues in Shuanglin Temple.
- Day 1: Xian Arrival (No meal)
Upon your arrival at Xian airport / train station, the local driver will pick you up from the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and transfer to downtown hotel for check-in. Free and easy on your arrangement for rest of the day.
Accommodation: Overnight in Xian
- Day 2: Xian Highlight Day Tour (B,L)Terracotta Warriors and Horses, Ancient City Wall, Bell and Drum Tower Square, Muslim Quarter
Your Xian exploration begins with world’s heritage Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Known as “the Eighth Wonders of the World”, it was found by four local farmers while drilling a well in 1974. Now it has turned into one of the most important attractions in China and the No.1 attractive site in Xi’an. The museum includes Pit 1(the largest pit), Pit 2, Pit 3, and the exhibition hall of the chariots and horses. You will stay in the museum for 2-3 hours. Listening to the explanation from the expert tour guide, you will learn the hidden story of those live-sized sculptures and history of their owner: First Emperor of Qin who is also the first emperor of China.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then head back to Xian downtown area for another historical highlight-Ancient City Wall. It is the most complete preserved and the largest city wall in China, which was built for the military defense in the ancient time. Since it is cycling the city, visitors can ride a bike around the city wall ( optional).
Later, move on to the Bell and Drum Tower Square, which locates in the very center of the city and is considered as the symbol of this old capital. Walking forward, you will come to Muslim Quarter where you will find many special local products and authentic local snacks. You can enjoy preserved meat, casserole, various noodles, and purchase some Terracotta Warriors imitation as souvenirs.
Accommodation: Overnight in Xian
- Day 3: Xian-Pingyao by High-speed Train(B,L)Shaanxi History Museum, Big Wild Goose Pagoda
As one of the most famous historical cities, Xian has lots of interesting places to go! Today you will explore the must-see sights in Xian downtown area.
Firstly, come to the Shaanxi History Museum( closed on every Monday),which is one of the biggest and most famous museums in China. The museum houses the cultural heritage unearthed in Shaanxi Province. Although it’s a provincial Museum, the collection of relics here is at national level from both quantity and quality as Xian had been Capitals for more than 13 dynasties in ancient China. Following the tour guide, walk and stop at those priceless exhibits to learn the hidden history and splendid civilization of China.
After that, move on to Big Wild Goose Pagoda. On the way to the attraction spot, your guide will introduce the history and culture of this ancient city for you to catch a glimpse of reason why so many well-known relics were discovered on this land. Big Wild Goose Pagoda was originally built to hold Buddhist sutra and figurines of the Buddha that Xuanzang brought back from India in Tang Dyansty, 652 A.D. Now there is a big square divided into North Square and South Square, surrounding the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The design of the buildings and statues is in Tang style, showing people the ever glory of that great time. It’s busier in the evening when many activities with Tang elements held by local amateur.
After lunch, you will head to train station to catch the 3.5-hour high-speed train to Pingyao. When you arrive at Pingyao Gucheng Train Station, there will be the local driver waiting for you at the exit gate by holding a welcome board with your name and transfer to local hotel.
Accommodation: Overnight in Pingyao
- Day 4: Pingyao Tour (B,L)Pingyao Ancient Town
Today 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
- Day 5: Pingyao Tour & Pingyao Departure (B,L)Qiao Family Courtyard, Shuanglin Temple
In the morning, you will visit Qiao Family Courtyard which could be said as a name card of travel to Shanxi Province, boasting its unparallel value of viewing, scientific and historical research. It’s a typical folk-art museum with strong characteristics of Shanxi merchants’ culture, reflecting the social and economic life in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Different from the tiny and elegant ancient town embraced by streams in southern China, Qiao Family impresses visitors strikingly with its square layout, tall and thick walls, grey bricks and red lanterns as well as classic overhanging eaves, suddenly bringing you back to ancient northern China when you stepping into the yard.
Later, move on to Shuanglin Temple. This temple could be said as a “surprise” among the attractions in Pingyao because it is a lesser-known site but have been collecting incredible artworks in its lengthy past. It’s a Buddhist temple where you will meet many delicate wall paintings, colored statues and beautiful buildings of Tang, Song and Ming Dynasties.
At the end of the tour, you will be dropped off at the train station for departure.