This was our favorite place in China, where we spent 3 and a half weeks. We arrived on a tourist bus from Yangshuo that was taking people for a day, so we separated at PingAn.
The village is growing strongly and many of the wooden buildings are modern. However, the whole feeling of a village still remains. It is really nice to walk around and go to the scenic points. However, I was mislead by the trekking maps (I do not speak Chinese, so there may be better guides in Chinese but I could not find any proper trekking map anywhere).
We were told that the village of Dazai was easy to reach in 4 hours. However, when we asked Chinese people (pointing to the map) they sent us to the car park -as they believed we would like to go by car). Once we found another Chinese person better at sign language, we started the right path but then we got lost a few times as there are major logging operations with many different paths that are not signalized and leave to dead ends. At some point of the way you have to walk around a dam (with the water to your left if you are going from Ping An to Dazai), and at some point later you have to turn right to leave the asphalt and start an unpaved path. This was really not intuitive. Then most of the path to Zhongliu -a small village between Pingan and Dazai- is on stones, making it really really nice.
Zhongliu is a really attractive village (expect a long-haired lady asking you for money in exchange of a photo - but do not dismiss her if you want to get some water or food). There is no roads near the village, adding to the enchantment. But instead of the planned 2 hours to get to Zhongliu it took us 4 hours to get there. From there to Dazai, it is other 4 or 5 hours, assuming you doo not get lost. We couldn't do it in time, so we came back to Pingan.
I strongly recommend it though. Just make sure you get precise indications.
Other scenic points are accessible in much shorter times, like seven start with moon in about 10-20 minutes trekking from Pingan.
In the Hotel that we booked ahead we paid £40 per night for a room with stunning view. We thought it was well worth it, but then we found that people that came on the same day were paying half of that. Unless you go in high season you can avoid reservations and then bargain hard. Still, it was all well worth it.
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