Pingyao (平遥) is an ancient city that was named a World Heritage Site in 1997. The city was first built during the Zhou Dynasty (11th century - 256 B.C.), and was expanded during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Pingyao boasts as the only city in China without modern buildings, and is completely reserved as it was hundreds of years ago. There are only traditional Chinese structures, and narrow stone-plate streets with many colorful shops on both sides.
Pingyao is known as one of the four "most well-preserved ancient cities" (the other three are Langzhong of Sichuan province, Lijiang of Yunnan province, Xixian County of Anhui province). The city wall was first constructed in the early Ming Dynasty to protect the city from the aggressions from the north. In 1370 AD (3rd year of Hongwu period of Ming Dynasty), the wall was reinforced with an all-brick exterior. Later, the wall was repaired and extended more than 10 times during the Jingde, Zhengde, Jiajing, Longqing and Wanli period in Ming Dynasty. In 1703 (14th year of Kangxi period in Qing dynasty), four structured towers were added at the four corners of the wall when the emperor Kangxi made a visit. There are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements.
Pingyao's city wall has a perimeter of 6,163 meters, about 12 m high. The wall encircles an area of about 2.25 square kilometers, and separates the city into two worlds with different styles of structures. Inside the wall, the streets, pavement, structures, and about everything else retain the styles from Ming and Qing Dynasties. Outside the wall are the new the modern buildings.
Pingyao was known as Gutao (古陶) in ancient times. It was in the territory of the kingdom of Jin (晋国) during the Spring and Autumn Period, and was part of the kingdom of Zhao (赵国) in the Warring States Period. In the Qin Dynasty, Pingtao county (平陶县) was established in the area. During the Han Dynasty, it was known as Jinglin county (京陵县), and later as Zhongdu county (中都县). In 424 AD of Northern Wei Dynasty (北魏始光元年), Pingtao county was renamed to Pingyao, and the name has been kept the same since then.
In 1986, the Chinese government designated Pingyao as one of the historic and cultural cities in China. In 1997, the old city, along with he outlying Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple, was declared a World Cultural Heritage site.
 Best time to visit
Pingyao has a temperate continental monsoon semi-arid climate. The weather gets warmer quickly as the season changes to spring. Spring also sees large temperature difference between day and night with little rain and strong winds. Summer is hot with lots of rains. Temperature drops gradually in fall as does the rainfall. Sunny and clear days are typical in Pingyao during the fall. Winter is cold with strong northwest wind but little snow.
The average yearly temperature is 10.1 ℃. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of -5.5 ℃. July is the hottest month with average temperature of 24.0 ℃. The highest day temperature is generally between 1pm and 3pm, and the lowest temperature generally appear around sunrise.
You can visit Pingyao year around. But fall is the best season because of its cool and pleasant weather. The time around the Spring Festival is also a good time to visit because of all the rich traditional holiday activities.
 Getting in & Getting out
 By Air
Pingyao does not have an airport. The closest one to Pingyao is the Taiyuan airport, which is located in the southern suburbs of Taiyuan, about 18 kilometers away from the city center.
It takes about 2 hours to get to Pingyao from Taiyuan by long-distance bus. The bus ticket is 25 RMB.
 By Train
Pingyao railway station is at the north-west side of the city. The North-South running Tongpu Railway passes through Pingyao. From here, the railway goes north up to Taiyuan, Shijiazhuang and other places, and goes south to Linfen, Yuncheng, etc. Pingyao can be directly accessed by train from Beijing, Taiyuan, and Xi'an.
From Pingyao train station, you can take a rickshaw ride to the ancient city area. The journey takes about 5-10 minutes, and costs only about 2-3 yuan.
 By Bus
Pingyao Long-Distance Bus Station is right beside the railway station. Buses go to Taiyuan every 20 min from 6:40am to 6:30pm.
The bus station enquiry phone number is 0354-5624233, or 0354-5623197.
From Taiyuan, there are buses to Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Xi'an, Kaifeng, Luoyang through Dayun (Datong-Yuncheng) Highway.
 Getting Around
 By Public Bus
Pingyao has only public city bus line. The operating hours are from 7:00am to 8:30pm in spring and summer, and from 7:00am to 6:30pm in fall and winter. City buses go around Pingyao, and connect various attractions in the ancient small city.
 By Taxi & Rental Car
Pingyao city boasts more than 100 cabs, including such models as Minibus, Xiali, Santana.
Mini-van fares start at three yuan for the first 2 km, and then 1 yuan for each additional km. The regular car fares starts at six yuan for the first 3km, and then 1 yuan for each additional km. The cost for Santana taxi is 12 yuan for the first 3km, and then 2 yuan/km. The cost for night-time (9:00pm to 5:00am) taxi is 150% of the regular price.
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The main attraction in Pingyao is the Old City. This area is surrounded by a large wall. Admission to any of the 30 attactions inside the city, and the city wall, is a flat fee of ¥120. This ticket is good for two days, but the second day needs to be validated in the first afternoon. This can be done at the booth near Yamen Gate.
- Town Building/Bell Tower
- City Walls
- Rishengchang Financial House Museum
- Former Residence of Lei Lutai
- Shuanglin Si Temple - about 5km southwest of the city. This is a beautiful temple and a nice quite place compared to Pingyao. There a lots of scupltures in different condition. Entry fee included in Pingyao ticket, or ¥25.
 Mid Range
Pingyao's speciality is Pingyao Beef. It has an acquired, strong taste. Be careful in some of the more touristy restaurants: outrageous bills of Y100 or more are not uncommon for a meal that appeared to be quite cheap. Be sure to ask about the price of any chef's specialities, and take a look at the bill as you are ordering your food.
Most of the Ancient City, at least the areas near the major attractions and the West Gate, are lined with shops that cater toward tourists. Standard Chinese bric-a-brac is for sale, at relatively high prices. This includes antiques although an alert shopper should beware of the preponderance of forgeries. Bargain hard and keep an eye out for stalls that sell handmade crafts right in the places where they make them. The city makes excellent cloth shoes, which you will see the locals wear as they march up and down the dusty streets.
 Night Life & Entertainment
Pingyao is one of the hottest tourist spots in Shanxi Province.
Pingyao has many nightclubs, karaoke rooms, discos, bars, coffee shops and other kinds of entertainment. Visitors can sing, dance, and relax at various entertainment venues. In addition, Pingyao Grand Theater stages many different kinds of local traditional performances every day.
There are also other special shows at various attractions during the day time. Tourists can participate in many shows and enjoy the charm of this ancient city.
 Sports & Recreation
 Excursions & Day Trips
 Tips & Practical Info
- The temperature here is lower than other areas in the North China Plain because of the higher altitude of Shanxi Province, and the nearby mountain blocking the south-east ocean airstream. Pingyao has less rainfall, and large temperature difference between day and night. Spring season can also see sandstorm. Tourists are advised to wear sunglasses and hats, etc. to protect against the sandstorms.
- Take your own bottle water as the water in Pingyao tastes a bit salty.
- Haggle about everything including lodging, meals, shopping, and transportation. But don't bargain too hard.
- It's a good idea to walk around with a tour guide.