Pingyao Travel Guide
Located in central Shanxi Province, China, Pingyao is a small city that dates back to the 14th century. The city has remarkably preserved its Ming and Qing urban planning and architecture, making it one of the Four Best Preserved Ancient Cities in China and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once a thriving financial center, Pingyao’s South Street was considered China’s Wall Street, with numerous banks and merchants operating there.
The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, including the Rishengchang Draft Bank, the first modern bank in China, the Shuanglin Temple, a treasure trove of painted clay sculptures, and the Wang’s Courtyard, a grand complex of traditional residences. Today, Pingyao is a popular tourist destination that provides visitors with a glimpse into China’s ancient history and culture.
Chinese: 平遥 píng yáo
Location: Central Shanxi
Population (urban area): 448,000
Why Visit Pingyao?
- Visiting Pingyao is a chance to experience the authentic layout and style of a traditional Han Chinese city that has a history spanning over 2,700 years and is remarkably well-preserved from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
- Exploring Pingyao’s economic and financial history is a must-see, with highlights including the Rishengchang Draft Bank, the first modern bank in China, and the South Street, also known as China’s Wall Street, where many banks and merchants operated.
- To appreciate Pingyao’s artistic and cultural heritage, be sure to visit the Shuanglin Temple, which is a treasure trove of painted clay sculptures, and the Wang’s Courtyard, an impressive complex of traditional residences.
- Sample the local cuisine of Shanxi Province, which includes delectable dishes like Pingyao beef, noodles, vinegar, and a variety of snacks famous for their distinct flavors.
Top Attractions in Pingyao
Top Things to Do in Pingyao
- Explore the Ancient City Wall:Take a stroll along the 6-kilometer long, 12-meter high City Wall of Pingyao, which is the best-preserved city wall in China.
- Visit the Rishengchang Draft Bank:Learn about China’s economic and financial history by visiting the Rishengchang Draft Bank, the first modern bank in China, which played a significant role in the development of the country’s banking system.
- Admire the Traditional Architecture:Explore the traditional Chinese architecture of Pingyao by visiting the Wang’s Courtyard, Zhangbi Ancient Castle, and the Ming and Qing Dynasties Street.
- Discover the Shuanglin Temple:Visit the Shuanglin Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and admire the collection of more than 2,000 painted clay sculptures that date back to the Northern Song Dynasty.
- Sample the Local Cuisine:Try the local cuisine of Shanxi Province, such as Pingyao beef, noodles, vinegar, and various snacks that are famous for their flavor and variety.
Read more about Top Things to Do in Pingyao
Pingyao weather & Best Time to Visit
Pingyao experiences a temperate continental monsoon climate with distinct seasonal changes and significant temperature fluctuations between day and night. The average annual temperature is approximately 10.6°C (51.1°F), with July being the hottest month (24.5°C) and January being the coldest month (-5°C). The annual rainfall is around 415.9 mm, typically concentrated from July to September.
The best time to visit Pingyao is during the pleasant weather of September to November and March to May, which also offers the added advantage of fewer tourists. Winter is also an option for visitors to experience the snow-covered ancient city and celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year.
Tips for Traveling in Pingyao
- Located in the loess plateau area, Pingyao is known for its big winds and sandstorms, especially during the spring season. Visitors are advised to bring appropriate headwear such as hats and scarves to protect themselves from the elements.
- The air in Pingyao tends to be relatively dry, so it is important to pay attention to skincare and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water while in the area.
- The best time to visit Pingyao is during the autumn season, particularly in September, when the weather is pleasant and mild. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the Pingyao International Photography Festival, which takes place annually in late September or early October.
How to Get to Pingyao
Pingyao, a small ancient city located in central Shanxi Province, China, can be conveniently reached by train, bus, car, or plane. The most popular and convenient method of transportation to Pingyao is by train, as there are two railway stations in the city: Pingyao Railway Station for normal trains and Pingyao Gucheng Station for high-speed trains. Visitors can take a train from Beijing, Xian, Datong, Taiyuan, and other cities to reach Pingyao easily.
If you prefer to fly to Pingyao, you can take a flight to Taiyuan Wusu Airport, which is approximately 100 km away from Pingyao. From there, you can transfer to Pingyao by bus, car, or train.
Long-distance buses are available from nearby cities such as Taiyuan and Datong to Pingyao Bus Station. Alternatively, visitors can opt to drive themselves along the expressways to reach Pingyao.
Pingyao, a small ancient city, is best explored on foot, by bike, or by electric car. Walking along the ancient streets and alleys, visiting historical and cultural sites, and absorbing the local atmosphere are great ways to experience the city. Visitors can also rent a bike from hotels or shops to cycle around the ancient city wall or to nearby attractions, such as the Shuanglin Temple and Zhenguo Temple.
For those who want to save time and energy, electric cars are available within the ancient city, stopping at major scenic spots for a fare of about 10 yuan per person. While taxis and buses are an option for getting around Pingyao, they are not permitted to enter the ancient city area.