There is no better place than Pingyao to experience a remarkably well-preserved Ming city, with its original walls and urban plan still intact. Made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, many locals still inhabit the city. The city was the financial center of the Qing Dynasty and is home to what is considered China’s first draft bank, the Rishengchang Exchange Shop.
Pingyao is very atmospheric. Walking along the high city walls and looking down on the traditional urban architecture feels like you are peering into the past. Climbing down to the pedestrianized streets and alleys gives a sense of going back in time, treading paths that have been used for centuries, the surrounding buildings having not changed much over all those years.
This would be a great time to try the local specialty, thinly sliced cold beef with soy sauce. The cuisine makes plentiful use of Chinese vinegar and salt, a very addictive combination, especially after adding some chili sauce.
There is an entrance ticket for entering the Old Town, which allows visitors entry into many of the sites, such as the Confucius Temple, Market Tower and the Temple of the City God.