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Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao

By Fang Sha ( Updated: 2015-01-23 10:18

Pingyao county, Shanxi province, is a land-locked area with four distinct seasons, so any season will give visitors quite a different experience. So, with that in mind, as winter is here, what things can you do in touring Pingyao? Well, here's a list:

·Explore history through the old walls

Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao

The old city walls in Pingyao county [Photo/]

The county has six old city gates and a long wall that lets you can see its past glory. Many tourists like to climb up on the walls in the early morning, but, if you don't want the crowds to ruin your view, you can visit at sunset when you don't have to push your way through a mob and the tickets are free. And, with the setting sun shining on the walls, you get a different feel and when the lights come on at night, it has a feel of mystery. Or you can get a bicycle and ride along the wall in the daylight.

·Wander along Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1636-1912) Dynasty St.

Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao
The Ming and Qing Dynasty St. [Photo/]
This street, in the southern part of the county, has a lot of old buildings hundreds of years old, and architecture, so, strolling along it is like passing through ime Although it is still in service and you can look at or get antiques, copper coins, china ware, and old weapons. If you're lucky enough, you may also see a patrol dressed in Qing Dynasty costumes, passing through and playing some drums.

·Visit Rishengchang, an early money exchange and Shanxi merchant culture museum

Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao
Rishengchang, the first bank in China [Photo/]
Shanxi merchants were successful businessmen in the old days and wielded great economic power in the Ming and Qing, as the first capitalists. So, they established China's first banks and Rishengchang was one of the most developed during that period. It lasted through troubled times at the end of the feudal period, thanks to its management system. Now, it is a banking museum, with more than 20 exhibition halls and many rooms kept just as they were in the past, and many related materials, to give you a rough idea of the history of banking in China.

·Folk performances

Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao

Folk performances of the Chinese feudal culture [Photo/]

A visit to Pingyao during Spring Festival will let you experience folk culture more than at other times, with a variety of activities for China's biggest festival. The activities usually last for a month and include colored lanterns, handicrafts, dragon and lion dances, silk-ball games, Shanxi dramas, folk arts exhibits, music concerts and group dancing. The traditional activities go back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and have been enjoyed for more than 1,000 years.

·Shuanglin Temple sculptures

Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao

The colored Buddhist sculptures in the Shuanglin Temple [Photo/]

The temple was built in the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-557) and the halls were mostly restored in the Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming. The 10 halls have more than 2,000 Buddhist sculptures from 11 dynasties, ranging from the Song (960-1279) to the Qing. The colored sculptures are treasures of the ancient arts. It was uncommon for temples to have secular images.

·Old county council

The county council building is one of the few old government structures to survive and its areas still have their original look, such as the bell tower, shrine, offices, grain storage, and jails for males and females. There are short plays given to recreate the scenes and activities of the council by local actors to engage the visitors more with feudal Chinese culture. The old council also holds the only imperial edict exhibition in China issued by emperors in different dynasties.

·Having a taste of Pingyao beef

Must-dos on your winter tour in Pingyao
The famous Pingyao beef [Photo/]
The county's beef has long enjoyed a reputation and was a must for visitors even during the middle of the Ming and there were many famous beef shops down through history, with 'Guanyun' being the largest brand now. You can get some packaged beef as a gift for family or friends.

Edited by Roger Bradshaw

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