"Pingyao The secret city of China" Pingyao by kdoc13
Pingyao Travel Guide: 189 reviews and 824 photos
I was first drawn to Pingyao when the UN named it a World Heritage site. What about this place could be so fascinating. It doesn't show in most web searches (before 1999) and even today information is hard to get about it.
The magic of Pingyao comes from its walled city. There is a new city just outside the walls, but the walled city is what you want to see. It is ancient China. Seriously, imagine being able to go back in time to the 1200's in China. This is what the city would look like, smell like, and in many ways act like. Most of the city has no indoor plumbing, and the old walled city has none. The only modern things are the photographers, and vendors who flock to to the western faces that love to visit the city.
The city is about the size of Canton Ohio, in terms of population. It feels like a lot more when the tourists descend. I think that the city itself has about 50,000 pople. Most of them are moving outside the wall. Oh yeah, there are people that live inside of it. That is part of the charm. It can be crowded and hectic, but it is the best representation of what traditional Chinese life was like, even if there are some modern touches.
If you are from certain countries, you will need to apply for a visa for entry into China. If you are going to Beijing or Shanghai first, this will mean you need to get a visa for more than one region. As an American, my visa was limited to the Beijing district, and I had to apply a few months in advance.
Also, due to the ever growing number of toursits, there has been some talk of limiting the number of tourists who are allowed to visit the city.
Hotel facilities are available, but I was there on a day trip with a flight in on the morning and laving that night. An expert in Chinese travel can probably set up a package for you.
One last thing. My camera was confiscated and detained at the airport due to a picture of the Dali Lahma (not sure about the spelling) on the camera case. Since this is a rural area, the government may not be as lenient as they are in the big cities. My camera case also had a picture of Mao on it, but I think that was irrelevant. Know what you can and can't bring into the country before you go.
- Pros:It is everything you go to China to see, but in a smaller city.
- Cons:It is dirty, poor, and there are a lot of people who want to sell you things.
- In a nutshell:Great for a weekend getaway if you are near by, and worth going out of your way for.
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