Pingyao with its Confucius Temple of China
We bought our tickets online to Pingyao (平遙) and we went to the ticket office at the Xian north railway station to print them out with our passport. It is the same station than the one we came from Beijing.
It takes about 4 hours to arrive to the city with a high speed train from Xian to Pingyao. At the beginning, we were a little lost because we read on the internet that the train should arrive to the station near to the old walled city. Currently, there are 2 stations:
After asking people, we took the local bus 108, there are many parked in front of the station, the bus goes near the old city so we get off at the northwest corner of the wall. From here, we walked to the east door to enter to the city because our hotel Hongjintai Quadrangle Courtyard (3 north 4 alley, beihai west street) is located inside.
The place is not easy to find, even asking the local people, at the end, we went to the tourism ticket office situated at the corner of the west street crossing the north street. They showed us in a map where is the street so with confidence, we set off again to its search, luckily, we had the name and address in mandarin so when we were close and we couldn’t find it, we asked again to discover that it is hidden in a narrow alley.
The owner welcomed us but the room we booked, it is in another place, just the street behind. The room is OK with a wooden bed of thin mattress but the air conditioning doesn’t work properly and a small all in one bathroom.
Although we booked it for 2 nights, we decided to change the next morning but first, we enjoyed the night walk in the downtown of the ancient walled city. It has been able to preserve its heritage with its narrow streets and buildings dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties in a traditional Han style.
The hotel Ju Guang Ju (20 shuncheng road) is a good hotel, located outside the wall but nearby and just at 2 minutes from the railway station. A good thing for us since it was here that we took our train to Datong.
To visit the different 18 buildings inside the wall, we bought a ticket in the tourism office, it allows to discover them during 3 days but you are allowed to enter only once. It includes also the access of the wall. We spent 2 days to visit temples, houses and the wall. Knowing that Pingyao was the most important financial centre of China during the Qing dynasty, there are a lot of buildings related to banking.
On the back of the ticket, there is a small map showing the buildings that can be visited but it is not up to date because some buildings are closed and some are opened but not displaying on the map.
The most interestings are:
- the confucian temple. The main entrance is by the south gate but we entered by the north one. Just next to this entrance, there is a nice nine dragon wall, similar to the one of the Forbidden City at Beijing. The statue of Confucius is situated at the dacheng pavilion, near to the other entrance.
- the ancient government building. It is quite interesting to discover how was judged the people, where there were imprisoned and how the justice worked in the past. Since the tower is near to the entrance, we started by this one because there were few people.
- the cheng huang temple. We were welcomed by the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, a good way to take a picture of you with your sign. The temple is very nice with its glass made art works, specially on the roof.
- the hui wu lin museum. If you like blades and you want to know the history of the kung fu weapons, it is the place. There is a very nice black blade called kangxi royal dragon sword.
- the qingxu guan taoist temple. I was quite impressed by the 2 giant statues protecting the entrance. The place exhibits cultures and wood carvings including a history of the city.
- and the xie tong qing bank. It is interesting to see how was the old money but not its history, for that, we went to the National Museum of China at Peking to know the evolution of the Chinese money. And don’t miss the underground section which was the strong room.
The office tower can also be visited but it is not included in the ticket, it is the highest tower in the center of the city. About the wall, we get up by the north door in the morning, later in the afternoon, we wanted to go to the south one but it was not possible because the ticket only allows to enter to one of the gates so choose well if you want to walk on the wall.
The other thing we enjoyed also is the park, just at few meters at the right side of the exit of the xie tong qing draft bank. It is a nice and quiet place for a break, more to escape to the noise and the crowd of the main streets.
Our next city was Datong with its Yungang Grottoes of China.