Top Pingyao attractions and sightseeing

Nora Zheng
2027 Words/8 Minutes, By Nora Zheng, Updated February 16, 2023

In Pingyao, visit the well-preserved ancient city walls and architecture, and explore the many historical sites, including the Rishengchang Draft Bank Museum and the Qiao Family Compound, while immersing yourself in the local culture and traditional customs.

Top 1: Ancient City of Pingyao

Pingyao is an ancient city located in the Shanxi Province of China. It was founded during the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 771 BC) and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The city is known for its well-preserved ancient architecture, including the city walls, which date back to the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD). The streets and buildings within the walls showcase a unique blend of traditional Chinese and western styles, reflecting the city's rich history and cultural heritage. Pingyao is considered a valuable example of a traditional Han Chinese city and is an important tourist destination for those interested in Chinese history and culture. Travel guide of Ancient City of Pingyao >>

Getting There: The most convenient way to get to Pingyao is by high-speed train. The nearest major city is Taiyuan, which has frequent high-speed train connections to other major cities in China. From Taiyuan, it takes about an hour to reach Pingyao by train.

Accommodation: There are many accommodation options in Pingyao, ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels. If you want to experience the traditional architecture and culture of the city, it's recommended to stay in one of the traditional courtyard houses. Many of them have been converted into guesthouses and offer a unique and authentic experience.

Attractions: The main attractions in Pingyao are the ancient city walls, the Confucius Temple, and the Rishengchang Draft Bank. The city walls are the best-preserved ancient city walls in China and offer stunning views of the city. The Confucius Temple is a 1,000-year-old temple dedicated to the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius. The Rishengchang Draft Bank is the first bank in China and played an important role in the country's economic development.

Food: Pingyao is known for its local cuisine, which includes dishes such as Pingyao Beef, Shuijiu (a type of fermented glutinous rice), and fried beef buns. The best place to try local food is the night market, where you can find a variety of street food stalls.

Shopping: Pingyao is also known for its local handicrafts, including lacquerware, paper-cutting, and cloth shoes. There are many shops and stalls selling these items in the city, especially in the Old Street area.

Tips: It's recommended to spend at least two days in Pingyao to fully explore the city and its attractions. The best time to visit is in the spring or autumn, when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. Finally, be sure to bring comfortable shoes for walking on the ancient city walls and narrow streets.

No. 2: City Wall of Pingyao

The Pingyao Ancient City Wall is a well-preserved city wall located in the ancient city of Pingyao, Shanxi Province, China. It was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and has remained largely intact over the centuries. The wall is over 6,000 meters long and up to 12 meters high, with 72 watchtowers and 4 gates. The wall was an important defensive structure and symbol of the city's prosperity during its heyday as a financial center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, the Pingyao Ancient City Wall is a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors the opportunity to walk on top of the wall and get a bird's eye view of the ancient city. The wall also houses many shops, restaurants, and cultural exhibitions, making it a hub of cultural activity in Pingyao. Visitors can learn about the history and significance of the wall and the ancient city through guided tours and museum exhibits. The Pingyao Ancient City Wall is a must-visit for anyone interested in Chinese history and culture.

Getting There: The entrance is located on Nan Dajie (South Street), near the Rishengchang Exchange Shop.

Admission: The admission fee for the City Wall is 130 RMB per person (as of 2023), and it includes access to the wall and the Pingyao Ancient City Museum. You can purchase tickets at the entrance or online in advance.

Exploring the City Wall: The City Wall of Pingyao is over 6 kilometers long, and it has six gates, 72 watchtowers, and 3,000 crenels. You can access the wall from several locations, but the main entrance is the South Gate. The wall offers stunning views of the ancient city and the surrounding landscape. You can walk or cycle on the wall, and there are several resting areas with benches and pavilions. The entire walk around the wall takes about 2-3 hours.

Tips for Visiting:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen for protection against the sun.
  • Bring snacks and water, as there are limited food and drink options on the wall.
  • Visit in the morning or evening to avoid the midday heat.
  • Be respectful of the historical and cultural significance of the wall and do not touch or damage the structure.

Nearby Attractions: After visiting the City Wall, you can explore other attractions in Pingyao Ancient City, such as the Rishengchang Exchange Shop, the Ancient Ming and Qing Street, and the Temple of the City God.

Visiting the City Wall of Pingyao is a must-do activity for anyone traveling to Shanxi Province. With its rich history and stunning views, it's an unforgettable experience.

No. 3: Qiao Family Compound

The Qiao Family Compound is a traditional Chinese architectural complex located in the ancient city of Qiao's town in Shanxi province, China, that features a group of well-preserved courtyard and halls surrounded by walls and gates, showcasing the lifestyle and social status of a wealthy merchant family during the Ming and Qing dynasties, with intricate wooden carvings, painted sculptures, and ornate decorations that reflect the unique blend of Chinese and Western cultures and provide a glimpse into the history and cultural heritage of China.

Location and Getting There: The Qiao Family Compound is located in Qi County, which is about 25 km southwest of Taiyuan city.

Admission and Opening Hours: The admission fee is around 70 RMB per person (as of 2023), and the opening hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. It is recommended to arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds and to have more time to explore the compound.

History and Architecture: The Qiao Family Compound was built by the wealthy Qiao family during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is a large complex consisting of six courtyards, 20 small courtyards, and 313 rooms, with a total area of 8,724 square meters. The compound is a typical example of traditional Chinese residential architecture, with beautifully carved beams, painted rafters, and intricate brick and woodwork.

Highlights: The highlights of the Qiao Family Compound include the Grand Reception Hall, which was used for hosting important guests and events, the elegant Qingxu Hall, which was used for ancestor worship, and the Xueji Bridge, which is a well-known landmark of the compound.

Tips for Visiting: To make the most of your visit, it is recommended to hire a local guide who can provide more information about the history and architecture of the compound. You should also wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved, and bring sunscreen and a hat as there is not much shade on the premises. Finally, it is important to respect the cultural heritage of the site and not to touch or remove any artifacts or decorations.

No. 4: Zhangbi Ancient Castle

Zhangbi Ancient Castle, also known as Zhangbi Ancient Village, is a well-preserved ancient castle located in the north-central part of Shanxi Province. It is situated in the southeast of Jiaocheng County and covers an area of about 100,000 square meters.

The castle dates back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534 AD) and has a history of over 1,400 years. It was originally built as a military fortress to defend against invasions from nomadic tribes. Later on, it developed into a town with a thriving economy, and many residents built houses inside the castle walls.

The castle is known for its unique architectural style and intricate layout. The walls of the castle are made of rammed earth, and the gates are decorated with stone carvings. Inside the castle, there are many well-preserved buildings, including temples, ancestral halls, and private residences. The most famous building is the Zhangbi Underground Castle, a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers built under the castle that served as a shelter during times of war.

Zhangbi Ancient Castle is also known for its cultural heritage. It is home to many cultural relics, including ancient murals, stone inscriptions, and carvings. The castle also hosts a number of cultural activities throughout the year, such as traditional festivals and folk performances.

Today, Zhangbi Ancient Castle has become a popular tourist attraction, known for its unique architecture, rich history, and beautiful surroundings. Visitors can explore the castle and its underground tunnels, learn about the history and culture of the area, and enjoy the natural scenery of the surrounding countryside.

How to get there: From Pingyao, you can take a bus or taxi to Zhangbi Ancient Castle, which is located about 40 kilometers away.

Things to do:

Visit the Castle: The ancient castle is the main attraction of the area. The castle is a maze of tunnels and courtyards that were used for military purposes.

Explore the Underground City: The underground city is a unique feature of Zhangbi Ancient Castle. The tunnels and chambers were used to store food and weapons during times of war.

Walk through the Old Town: The old town of Zhangbi is also worth exploring. The town has many traditional buildings and narrow streets that give you a glimpse of ancient Chinese life.

Climb the City Walls: The city walls of Zhangbi Ancient Castle are well-preserved and offer a great view of the surrounding area.

Try the Local Cuisine: There are many local restaurants in Zhangbi that offer Shanxi-style cuisine, which is famous for its savory flavors and unique cooking techniques.


  • Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking on uneven terrain.
  • It's recommended to hire a local guide to show you around and explain the history of the castle.
  • The best time to visit is during the spring or autumn when the weather is mild.
  • Bring cash as there are no ATMs in the area.

Rishengchang Draft Bank: the first draft bank in China and a significant site for the study of Chinese financial history.

Shuanglin Temple: a Buddhist temple with an impressive collection of clay sculptures and murals.

Mingqing Street: a well-preserved ancient street with traditional courtyard, shops, and restaurants.

Chengxu Taoist Temple: a Taoist temple with an impressive collection of ancient architecture and cultural artifacts.

Qi Family Courtyard: a traditional Chinese courtyard house that showcases the lifestyle of wealthy merchants during the Qing Dynasty.

Temple of Confucius: a temple dedicated to the great philosopher and educator Confucius.

These are just a few of the many cultural and historical sites that make Pingyao a popular destination for overseas travelers.

Nora Zheng

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