Ancient City of Pingyao

Ancient City of Pingyao, Pingyao County: Address, Phone Number, Ancient City of Pingyao Reviews: 4.5/5

Ancient City of Pingyao
4.5
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4.5
1,370 reviews
Excellent
730
Very good
490
Average
120
Poor
23
Terrible
7

MattwalesNorthWales
Chengdu, China2,052 contributions
Business
Spent two days here with my colleagues. This amazingly well preserved Qing city is a visual spectacle. From the city walls you can see the order behind the apparent chaos as walking through it is easy to lose yourself. Dozens of museums, hundreds of historic buildings and years of history unfold before your eyes. At night red lanterns illuminate everything with a gentle glow. Stay in a boutique courtyard hotel, enjoy the local food, sample the locally produced drinking vinegar, shop till you drop and finish the day off at a bar. This place has it all. Couldn't recommend more highly.
Written May 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Trisha J
Whangarei, New Zealand44 contributions
We were recommended Pingyao by our agent as a pre Beijing stay as we wanted something more historic and this was perfect. We flew into Taiyoan airport then taxi to Pingyao and took the fast train back to beijing. I would prefer to train both ways. It was amazing and lots to see and do and very interesting history as it was where the banks were originally formed
Written January 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

KodoDrummer
Yekaterinburg, Russia64,095 contributions
This ancient town was established in the 14th century. It is a well-preserved ancient city, with over 4,000 ancient buildings and 2,000 sculptures from the Ming and Qing dynasties. I rank it as being in the top 10% of well-preserved ancient cities of China. The city area approximates 225 hectares.
Written August 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

KodoDrummer
Yekaterinburg, Russia64,095 contributions
Friends
I love sightseeing in the ancient towns of China. The architecture is very nice, and the lives of some locals are not too different than that of their ancestors of centuries ago. Albeit, the goods sold by many vendors changes with the times and demand. The Han people have lived here since the 14th–century.
Written March 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

KodoDrummer
Yekaterinburg, Russia64,095 contributions
Spectacular and charming ancient Chinese architecture. We enjoyed walking the streets of the Ancient City of Pingyao. Impressive.
Written October 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jim G
Beaver Creek, CO71 contributions
Business
If you are looking for the sights and sense of old China, the Terra Cotta Warriors and Great Wall will provide epic slices of the past – but will not give you a deep sense of China’s mammoth history. And you will also miss engaging with the less affluent side of the present – which makes up the vast majority of China. Beijing and Shanghai with their wealth and dynamism are not necessarily the norm. To experience the China of yesterday and today you might want to venture off the beaten paths and into areas of the provinces that are less known but offer truly amazing explorations. One place to start would be Pingyao in Shanxi Province.

Pingyao is a fairly short flight from Beijing into the nearby provincial capital of Taiyuan – an historic city of nearly 5 million that you may never have heard of. From there, it’s 30 minutes on a bullet train.

I suggest staying in one of the hotels in or adjacent to Pingyao Ancient City – one of only two old cities left in China after the Cultural Revolution (the other is Lijiang in Yunnan Province). You might want to check out my TripAdvisor review of Yun Jincheng Mansion Hotel.

Pingyao Ancient City is one of three UNESCO heritage sites in Pingyao, which is considered the outstanding example of Chinese Han nationality cities during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Pingyao Ancient City is completely surrounded by a giant wall originally built nearly 3000 years ago and rebuilt several times since. It’s completely intact and imposing. You can walk around most of the city on the wall looking down on life in the ancient city which is a web of narrow streets, alleys, and low-profile, old brick courtyard structures, many of significant historic architecture. The tourist sections, as you’d expect, are full of shops and restaurants, but most of the city – which is sizable – is home to local residents. There are significant restrictions on motorized vehicles and some streets are open only to pedestrians. Hence, this is a peaceful, walkable walled city.

Pingyao Ancient City contains historic sites such as the earliest remaining Confucius Temple in China and RiShengChang Draft Bank – the city was home to some of China’s earliest draft banks. One full day will cover most of what you want to see. For snacking and dining, try the Pingyao beef in a wide array of concoctions. It’s lean and tasty.

A few kilometers north and south of Pingyao Ancient City are Shuanglin Temple and Zhenguo Temple, the other two UNESCO sites. Each of these historic Buddhist sites is world famous and worthy of several hours. They contain a unique and breathtaking array of painted sculptures, frescoes and ancient architecture housed in their natural temple settings (not museum-like).

A short hop by train from Pingyao is Datong, also in Shanxi Province. There, the best of ancient china is represented in the Buddhist Caves and Hanging Temple.

Keep the seasons in mind. Pingyao Ancient City is crowded in the summer. You may want to try the fall or spring. Beware of the colder months. Shanxi Province is coal country and a lot of heating is done with coal. I was there in December. No crowds, but the air was challenging – and it was chilly. Weekdays are probably best. Pingyao gets a lot of weekenders.
Written January 7, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

George401
Beijing, China29 contributions
Solo
After two months teaching English in Beijing, I fancied escaping it as, all told, once you take away the iconic tourist attractions it's a pretty hectic and polluted, drab and functional city.

I woke up on Christmas Eve, and thought "I need to get away somewhere for New Year" , and after about 15 minutes of browsing settled on Pingyao. Some instant and successful negotiating with the office got me days off either side of New Year's Day. Game on!

My plans kept changing, as all tickets back on New Year's Day were sold out. I intended on travelling back on the afternoon of January 2nd, but by the time I got around to booking they had all gone. So, bullet train from Beijing West to Pingyao Gucheng on NYE in the afternoon, and overnight sleeper on 2nd into 3rd for me!

I am writing review before my last day, as the place has utterly enchanted me. If you are into history, perfectly preserved buildings, peace and quiet, and a total contrast from modern Chinese life, look no further. At this time of year anyway, as I imagine the place could be overrun in the summer.

On arriving at Gucheng, the terminal for the bullet train (an experience in itself), my hotel had organised a cab to take me the 8km to my guesthouse, tucked just behind the city wall. A reasonable 40 yuan, but buses do go from directly outside the station. I will review the rather splendid guesthouse separately.

Initial impressions of modern Pingyao were not positive, but eventually we arrived inside the ancient city gates, and I cheered up. It was dark and I couldn't see much, but there was definitely plenty of wall apparent. I was lucky enough to be shown into a New Year's Eve party with free food and drink. A lovely touch indeed.

Heartened by this, I went for a walk about 10pm. It was bitterly cold, but I got to the main drag, decided bars were a bit too busy for me and that I would explore properly on New Year's Day. I had seen enough to make me think I would enjoy it, while not looking at anything closely so as for it to be more of a surprise in the morning.

And, so it was. I was slightly disappointed that the majority of the wall was shut for maintenance, and to some degree baulked at 125 RMB for all the attractions given that, but this was but a fleeting thought. It was fantastic walking along the short stretch I did, taking in excellent views of the ancient city. Even better, hardly anyone was there, and I got lovely shots of ancient and deserted streets.

The ticket gets you into all manner of attractions, some more accessible in terms of information than others, and they are all listed on the site. I very much enjoyed the Confucian temple. Overall, I was intrigued by the range of architectural styles on display and enjoyed pottering around old banks, post offices and the like. In the end, on my second day, I went for a walk around most of the city wall on the outside, hit the escort museum and a couple of other places. Massively enjoyed it too.

I ate some wonderful food too, which put a huge smile on my face. Relatives compared it to Carcassonne. I think that an entirely erroneous description. Carcassonne is bogus, Disney, totally fictional. Here, you can stroll through perfectly preserved real history, and discover some of the Old China which is fast vanishing.

It's the overall atmosphere I love, the cumulative effect rather than any individual building. The lack of cars, the peace and quiet, the ability to stop, hear silence and relax that will stay with me. I feel refreshed, more creative, and glad to have spent New Year somewhere with so much character and charm.

My only caveat would be that the summer would likely see me writing an entirely different review. I will post about City Wall courtyard and the smallest but most marvellous restaurant separately. Both of these greatly impacted on my viewpoint, as the level of quality, service and friendliness were exemplary.

If you can, visit soon and off peak. I can't see why anybody should be disappointed
Written January 3, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

i_love_earplugs
25 contributions
Solo
I was very disappointed by Pingyaio and I agree with the critical reviewers. Although the ancient city is indeed very pretty, I found my stay within the city walls very annoying. All the main streets are full of souvenir shops, vendors and you will also hear an occasional "massage" invitation which makes you feel like you are in some touristy area in Thailand. I could not "feel" the ancient china because of the touristic fake feel this place has. The lonely Planet does not tell you anything about it, which is a shame. After one day, I felt like I was locked in a tourist trap. I was lucky to get a speed train to Xi'An. I highly recommend to make a plan to arrive in the morning and leave at night OR next morning. The restaurants all have the same menu with the "local specialties". Looks more than a franchise than a real restaurant. I guess there is some company providing all the ingredients like Mc Donalds. When I wanted to try the "Pingyao Beef" for 35 rmb (!) the guy refused and said I should rather try another meal for 48 rmb. No thanks. I advise to go outside the city walls and meet some real local people and restaurants. Pingyao feels like a themepark and I was happy to leave.
Written April 22, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

RTWjer
Baltimore, MD32 contributions
Couples
This place feels like a step back in time. Have you ever watched a movie which starts in present day and then flashes back 30 years to what the city looked like in older times? Pingyao is that flashback city except that it is littered with tourists and souvenir stands. There are courtyards and museums to visit, but my wife and I decided not to visit these after touring the Wang compound just outside of town a day earlier. After a while, 1 courtyard looks like another, and unless Chinese history means something to you, all of the info in any of those museums will likely go in one ear and out the other. It costs 120 yuan for a 3 day pass to all of the courtyards, museums, and city wall. Worth the cost if you have an interest in that type of architecture and history. Can be used as a stopover between Beijing and Xi'an if you have a moderate amount of time to spend in China. The most smog I have seen in any Chinese city to date. One day is more than enough time to see the Old city and another half day to see Wang compound and surrounding areas could also be added.
Written October 3, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jeff_SZ3235MF
Pingyao County, China4 contributions
Solo
I was told by other travelers to stay for 3 nigihts because of package tickets (also recommende by the lonly planet). I regreted, I have been staying for 2 nights now and I have seen everything more than twice. this is a nice town, but really one night is more than enough. I can see that almost all houses have turned into hostels/guesthouse. and all shops are selling the same touristy stuff. this is not the place to hang around after dinner time. go to your next city
Written May 7, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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