Possibly the best preserved ancient walled city in China, according to the Lonely Planet. A breath of fresh air (literally) in comparison to Cunming and Xi’an, and more of what we were expecting of China.
Pingyao was a thriving merchant town during the Ming dynasty and centre of a large network of trade that extended from the south of China to Mongolia. Local businessmen had become so successful by the Qing dynasty that they created the country’s first banks and cheques, in order to facilitate the transfer of enormous amounts of silver from one place to another. The city fell into poverty in the 20th century, and thankfully, without the cash to modernise, it’s streets have since gone unchanged.
With a movie-set charm, it has obviously become a major tourist trap mobbed with megaphone-wielding tour groups. To escape the souvenir shops and Japanese paparazzi, we hired a couple of bicycles and got to see its 21st century wealth – dusty cobbled streets and architecture more akin to life in imperial China.
UNESCO World Heritage Site #11