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► TOUR TO PINGYAO - CHINA'S MING DYNASTY WALLED CITY
One of the places that I’d usually recommend to someone who wants to visit somewhere a bit different on China tours is Pingyao.
Pingyao is an ancient walled city that retains it’s layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties. This is known as a “Ba Gua” pattern which comes from the Taoist religion. It also retains a complete city wall and is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world.
But far from becoming a museum piece, it is still a bustling little town with many people still living in it. On arrival by train you’d be forgiven for initially wondering why you’d bothered t take the 11 hour overnight journey from Beijing. This is because the train drops you off in the entirely forgettable and generic New City that has sprung up around the ancient city walls. Fear not though as a short taxi journey later and you’ll be arriving at one of the city gates.
Advice on places to stay in Pingyao which has some lovely traditional guesthouses
Make sure you get yourself a nice place to stay in Pingyao. No matter what, chances are that you may have some trouble with your hot water at certain times of day and, if you are the sort of person who is bothered by this, your mattress is going to be hard (as is the norm in China and something I grew quite accustomed to in my time living there.) However the nicer guesthouses are still very reasonably price and have beautiful courtyards that instantly transport you back to a different time of emperors.
Pingyao was the financial capital of China back in the late Qing Dynasty and much of what there is to see there revolves around the ancient banking houses that are scattered throughout the streets and alleyways. The first bank in China can be found here, a place that retained its status all the way through to the beginning of the 20th century.
All in all this is a great place to feel what China must have been like in times gone past and is a great place to hire a bike and cycle around or just relax and imagine the hustle and bustle of this once great banking centre.
Article posted by Phil Stanley: 18th October 2013
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