Pingyao County is 94 kilometers (58.4 miles) southwest of Taiyuan. With an area of 1,260 square kilometers (486.5 square miles), it has five towns and nine villages under its prefecture. Unlike those cities or counties south of the Yangtze River, Pingyao was not endowed with charming natural scenery but with a group of accomplished businessmen. Pingyao was the birthplace of the Jin Businessmen, who were one of the two famous Chinese business groups during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Owing to this, the first Chinese exchange shop was opened in Pingyao. Then, for the next hundred years, Pingyao was home to almost all of the large exchange shops in China. To a certain degree, Pingyao was to China during the eighteenth century what Wall Street is to the US, which not only helped promote the economic development of Shanxi, but also left us with a magnificent old city and a series of grand residences.
Pingyao has now become quite a hot tourist attraction even though it is no longer economically prosperous. It boasts the famous Pingyao Old City which was included in the United Nations World Cultural Heritage in 1997. From the top of the grand City Wall, you have a bird's-eye view of the Old City, a complete city built almost a thousand years ago. In the Ancient Ming and Qing Street, you can experience the town's former glory while exploring the rows of residences and shops all constructed in the original architectural style.
As a popular tourist city, Pingyao has a great number of hotels in its not very large old city area. Many of the hotels are delicately constructed and decorated in a Ming and Qing style, comfortable and easy for tourists to appreciate the authentic flavor of old Pingyao. Yide Hotel is highly recommended when staying in Pingyao. It is situated in a quiet little alley just a few minutes' walk from Nan Dajie, the main street of Pingyao Ancient City. It is a beautifully renovated courtyard house built in 1736 by a wealthy merchant during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. All rooms in Yide Hotel are well equipped with air conditioners, bathrooms and large kang-style beds. Besides Yide, Yunjincheng Hotel and Yuantiankui Hotel are also good choices.
Today, Pingyao's economic and government center has gradually moved outside the Old City. A residential area and commercial buildings have sprung up around the Old City. Department stores, super markets, and other entertainment venues show this ancient county's renewed vitality. While it does its best to keep its valuable old culture and heritage, Pingyao continues to develop into a modern new county.
For more information about our Pingyao tours and programs please go to http://www.greatwalladventure.com/ChinaCityTour/tour-pingyao.htm