Shanxi Province's

PINGYAO

Global Mark : 13.31 (up)

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
5 2 2 5 1 2 3 2

3

11.11

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
4 100% 100% 100% 14 to 17 15.50

   
Description :
A charming old city, founded in the 14th century,  with beautiful merchants' houses well protected from the modern Chinese world by its massive wall. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

Comments : If you can not travel back in time, come here to experience China a century ago. This is where the masterpiece of Zhang Yimou "Raise the Red Lantern" was filmed... Due to the design of its 6km massive wall, it is also called Guicheng (Turtle City) : indeed it resisted a Japanese invasion, the Cultural Revolution and the current crazy urbanisation...

What to do : Enter the city via the South Gate as an inscription read "The good wind comes from the South" / Rent a bike / Cycle 6km to Shangling Monastery / Back in town, cycle at low pace in the preserved streets / Leave your bike to visit traditional houses or walk the pedestrians streets / Alternatively, negotiate with a pedicab for a tour of the sights (Y15, 2h30) / Visit the first bank in China, Risheng Chang Yinhang, established in 1824 / Have a drink with the Gu family whose cakes & alcohol business, by the Market Tower, is one of the most prosperous (the Empress Ci Xi found refuge there on the 12th August of 1900...)

What you may not like : The aggressive pedicab and other taxi drivers / Not having enough time to stay longer

How long ? Four hours are enough for the sights but you will probably wish to stay longer, for the atmosphere of the town and old mansions of the countryside...


Where to stay ?

  •  Zhongdu Luguan (562 6680), opposite the Train Station, on the left / Dorm 15(4), 20(3), 30(2) without bath / Dbl with bath 100 / Individual toilet & shower / HW 24 hrs / Bike on request ? // Go there for the clean rooms and to negotiate a discount on the dbl. / What you may not like : the size of the dbl, the noise from the street

  • Zhongdu Hotel (562 5318), opposite the Train Station, on the right / Basic Sgl or Dbl without bath 20 or 30 / Big Sgl with bath 90 / Dbl with bath 60, 80 or 100 according to size / Dirty individual toilet & shower / HW 24 hrs / Bike 4Y per day // Go there for the cheapest rooms without bath and the cheapest dbl with bath. / What you may not like : staying on the ground floor for the cheapest rooms, the basic and not so fresh rooms of the old wings

  • Ju Guang Ju Hotel (562 7001) / Very nice Dbl with bath & air cond 138 / HW 24 hrs // Go there if you are rich. / What you may not like : not being rich...

  • Gonglu (562 4006) / Dorm without bath 26(4), 28(3) / Dbl with bath & good air cond 66 / Chinese toilets / Common shower / HW 24 hrs / Bike 1Y for 2 hours // Go there for the nice dbl at a good price. / What you may not like : the not so good price for the other rooms

  • Tielu Maoyi Dalou (562 0604) / Dorm without bath 10(4), 15(3), 20(2) / Sgl with bath & living room 90 / Dbl with bath 70 / Dirty toilets & common shower / HW 21 to 24 // Go there for the cheapest bed in town, the size of the rooms. / What you may not like : the old building and not so fresh rooms, not having air cond

  • Two new places reported : Yun Jin Cheng Hotel (4558 0944), near the market tower, a traditional house with nicely furnished rooms (around Y200) / Tian Yuan Kui GH (4568 0069), Ming Qing St, a traditional house w. nice small rooms (around Y100) 

 
Zhongdu Luguan zhongdu luguan

Zhongdu Binguan

zhongdu binguan

Ju Guang Ju Hotel

juguangju binguan

Gonglu Hotel

gonglu luguan

Railway Trade Hotel

tielu maoyi dalou

 

Backpacker's Tips : Horia Grecu, New Zealand (August 07)
Worth spending 1 day + 1 night in the ancient town. Very touristy which may put you off but on the good side plenty of restaurants, traditional shops, Internet, English (Engrish) speaking guys - things you don't find in normal towns. Try to bargain a room down to 80 RMB in "old" guest houses. Pingyao was the main banking center in 19th century China. Things to see for a 120 RMB pass: 19th century dwellings and banks. A bit repetitive but ok for 1 day  


Backpacker's Tips : Feline, Australia (August 00)
Ping Yao is a must. There is a new Guesthouse on the main street of old town. The name is Paradise hotel. The setting is little less glamorous then Yunchincheng Folk Binguan, but is well made up for by cleanliness and hospitality.
The coolest businessman in town is Mr. Liu Zhi Cheng of People Liberation Army. He is a real gentleman and speaks good English.He was extremely hospitable to me and my wife and in return I had to speak English to his kids. If you need help, you can find him at154 ShunCheng Road
.


What to see/visit :

  • Shangliang Monastery : (5), Y12 / One of the nicest in China, thanks to its impressive and numerous clay figurines

  • Old Merchant houses : (5), various prices / You have the choice of the followings : Bai Chuan Tong (Y13), Ri Sheng Chang (Y10) and two on Cangxiang road at No 35 & 49 (Y3)

  • Nandajie, a traditional merchants' pedestrian street : (5) / For 20Y, you can visit the 5 sights of the street, including the City Tower. You can also buy the tickets separately (at an higher cost)

  • The city wall : (3), Y15, Exp


How to visit Pingyao ?

You can do it as a day trip from Taiyuan, waiting for your afternoon or evening train. See the charts below for train schedules back to Taiyuan. You also have regular buses up to 6pm for 7Y or 15Y (Iveco).

If you plan to go to Xi'an, you might consider buying your sleeper ticket in Taiyuan before moving to Pingyao as it is not possible to buy a sleeper there. Another option would be to upgrade your ticket in the train but this would be a more stressing  adventure...

Trains  << Click there for other trains

Train No 1592/1593 K126/127 7086 7084
Pingyao 0428 0642 1606 1922
Taiyuan 0601 0815 1830 2127


The trip back to Taiyuan :
Train No676 at 17:42 / SS / Y5 /  2 hrs

A very crowded train with plenty of people standing and smoking. After some discussion in the restaurant to negotiate a seat against a beer (impossible : you must eat !), an official took me in sympathy and invited me to seat in the hard sleeper section. Not a bad deal but no beer...  Note : this train was no longer listed in the new schedules. Check at the train station.