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Pingyao (平遥) was the financial centre of China during the Qing dynasty and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following the collapse of the dynasty, the financial centre transferred to Beijing leaving Pingyao in limbo. This had the advantage that the town never became a target for fighting warlords, and as such much of the town is untouched by more modern developments. Chinese people often refer to the town as being "stuck in history". The town is charming and radiates a feeling of nostalgia. Its surrounded by an authentic city wall and is a bit of a maze of small, cobble stone streets. Everywhere you look you’ll see red Chinese lanterns attached to the facades of the courtyard houses. The lanterns create a magical glow in the evenings.
The predominant activity for a tourist in Pingyao is to visit the many museums within the walls. Although tickets are required to gain, they are not available at the museum entrances and must be purchased at the gates entering the old town. A single ticket gains entry to most of the town's museums and is valid for around a week. The cost is around 120 Yuan. Try to visit the Buddhist Zhenguo Lotus Temple and the courtyard of the Qiao Family - This is where the famous movie, 'Raise the Red Lantern' was filmed.
Pingyao doesn't have an airport. The closest one is the Taiyuan Wusu Airport, about 100 kilometres to the northeast, which has regular connections to all major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu and Hong Kong.
Pingyao is easiest to reach by train, with overnight services operating from Xi'an and Beijing, taking around 0 or 11 hours in both cases. There are regular connections from Taiyuan as well. From there a taxi should be able to get you to the border of the old town. If sleeping within the walls of the old town, you will probably need to carry your luggage to the guesthouse.
Buses go frequently to Taiyuan (1,5 hour) and there are about 5 or 6 daily connections to Xi'an (6 hours).
Cars are pretty much banned from the centre of the old town and as such the best options are on foot.
The centre is old town is small enough to do this, but comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
If you wish you can rent a bike for the day for a small cost.
There are no ATMs inside Pingyao old town, so it is recommended that sufficient money is carried before entering it. However, there is an ATM of the Agricultural Bank of China just outside the southwestern gate.
There are no western or fast food options in the old town. However, there are plenty of restaurants serving predominantly noodle-based dishes.
There are only a few guesthouses within the town walls and pricing does tend to put them out of the range of the backpacker. It is however worth the expense to stay in a guesthouse that is around 500 years old and steeped in history.
|DeJuYuan Guesthouse||NO.43 West Street||Guesthouse||-|
|Pingyao Harmony Backpacker Guesthouse||No.165 Nan Da Jie Street||Hostel||85|
|Pingyao Yide Hotel||#16 Shaxiang Street, Pingyao, Shanxi Province, Chi||Hotel||86|
|Tian Yuan Kui Hotel||73 Ming Qing Street Shanxi||Hotel||85|
|Yamen Hostel||69 Yamen Street||Hostel||83|
|Zhengjia International Youth Hostel||No.68 Yamen Street, PingYao||Hostel||87|
|Pingyao Mini Guesthouse (Hongyuyuan)||167 South Street||Hostel||80|
|Tian Yi Hotel||No.9 Mijia Alley South Street||Hotel||-|
See also: International Telephone Calls
China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.
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