Home : City Guide: Pingyao

Pingyao Introduction

Pingyao, the only county in China that is listed in the World Heritage Directory, having preserved the best examples of Chinese ancient architecture from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. It is a wonderful destination to recall the distinctive aroma of ancient China. If Lijiang is an unsophisticated lovely girl, then Pingyao is a beauty that has gone with the wind. This vivid saying precisely sums up the character of Pingyao.
When to Visit

Pingyao County is located in the middle of Shanxi Province, within the prefecture of Jinzhong City. It has a long history of over 2,700 years. Many of the ancient architectures, such as the city wall, temples, streets, shops and local houses remain in almost the same condition as their original appearance. The ancient City Tower is found at the city centre. The City Wall of Pingyao, which was originally built in the Zhou Dynasty (11th Century BC-221 BC) and later rebuilt in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, is the most complete city wall of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Temple of the City God nearby can be paid a short visit.Two other national cultural relics of the county - Shuanglin Temple and Zhenguo Temple, built in the Northern Dynasty (386-581), house many rare and valuable ancient Chinese colored sculptures.

The county saw its most prestigious time during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, while it was the commercial and financial centre of the whole of China. At that time merchants of Hui (Anhui Province) and Jin (Shanxi Province) were China's two most famous gangs, while the latter was the stronger, Pingyao was the birth place of most of the Jin merchants and the largest distributing center of merchandise in Jinzhong. With the foundation of the first national exchange shop in the county, Rishengchang, the financial industry of Pingyao experienced its boom. It then became the largest financial centre of China, with its Ancient Ming and Qing Streets  being reputed as the 'Wall Street of China'.

Within Pingyao there still remains as many as 3,797 traditional local houses, all in the imperial style of Si He Yuan (i.e. with traditional residential houses built around a courtyard) from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, It is from here that it became known as the 'Small Beijing'. Some of the residences of the former aristocratic families and wealthy merchants, such as Wang's Compound and Qiao's Compound, are perfect places to see this kind of architecture.

 What to Eat

The food in Pingyao mainly focuses on noodles, the various tastes of which are sure to impress you. The Pingyao beef, once the imperial tribute, should not be missed. There are many restaurants in the Ancient Ming and Qing Streets where you can try these unique foods.

 How to Get

Pingyao is only about 94 km. (58 miles) away from Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi, so it is quite accessible from here. Taiyuan Airport has opened airlines to over 50 cities within China. Pingyao is equipped with a railway station and coach station located next to each other, linking the county with Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang and other nearby cities and counties.

Within Pingyao, there is a bus route including all of the scenic spots in the county. Taxies, pedicabs, battery cars and motorbikes are also accessible.