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A truly ancient city that dates back almost 2,700 years, Pingyao is arguably one of the best-preserved places in the world - for which it won a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao served as the finance capital of China, home to a series of banking conglomerates who controlled the silver trade, on which the national currency was based.
While such banks eventually declined when faced with stiff competition from foreign corporations, Pingyao managed to preserve its heritage; among the top highlights include The City Walls, whose gates date from almost seven hundred years ago, and the Rishengchang Exchange House, once China's largest, most powerful bank.
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Our co-founder & CEO Catherine Heald lived in China for 7 years and returns often. She loves trekking in the rice terraces of Ping An, and hugging baby pandas in Chengdu!
Built between 827-782 BC, the ancient City Walls of Pingyao are over 2,700 years old. Shaped like a tortoise, the Chinese symbol of longevity, the wall comprises 72 watchtowers, a moat, and 3,000 firing-holes. The wall measures 2.5 miles (4 kilometers), and makes for a pleasant stroll.
Rishengchang Exchange House
The Rishengchang Exchange House is an excellent destination where one can learn about the fascinating banking history of Pingyao. Pingyao was the financial center of all of Mainland China during the latter part of the Qing Dynasty and featured the first bank in the entire nation – Rishenchang – which controlled half of the silver trade in the nation. At its height, the bank had over 400 branches, and it only went out of business in 1914.
Zhengou and Shuanglin Temple
The Zhengou Temple and Shuanglin Temple are located on the outlying parts of the city. Both are Buddhist temples, and Zhengou is noted for its flying eaves and early 10th century sculptures, while Shuanglin houses more than 2,000 decorated clay statues that date from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
Temple of the City God
The Temple of the City God, or Chenghuang Miao, contains several courtyards and halls and a beautiful wooden archway. It was originally built in 960 A.D. and has been renovated on two occasions – in 1544 and 1859.
Step back into China’s indelible past on this insightful 4-day journey through Datong and Pingyao. This luxury tour will take you to ancient monasteries and UNESCO-listed sites, including the Yungang grottoes, Shanhua Monastery, and the Nine Dragon Screen, while staying at the luxurious boutique Jing’s Residence.
This small, boutique hotel is nestled among the rambling alleyways and crowded shops of Pingyao’s old, walled city. Set in a renovated, restored mansion, Jing’s Residence features eighteen rooms built around four courtyards in the manner of northern China, and each room features plush beds, authentic, handcrafted Chinese furniture, and bright, cheery spaces. Tables and chairs are located outside each pavilion, allowing guests to relax outside, much as mandarins and merchants did in bygone days. The Residence also contains a dining room where guests can enjoy regional and international favorites; one standout experience is hot pot, wherein ingredients like thin slices of meat, noodles, and raw vegetables are placed into a pot of boiling soup and cooked at a table prepared in one of Jing’s courtyards. Amenities include a spa, exclusive meeting space, a cozy library, and a bar.