Monday, September 15, 2014

China's hidden gem: Pingyao

Pingyao in 1997
Pingyao, an ancient walled city in China, was named one of the world's hidden gems in a recent CNN article.

It truly is, though its popularity for travelers in recent years would make it less hidden. It's a place that seems to be on every independent traveler's wish list to see in China.

But this Ming Dynasty city is still a treasure to see. Inside the six-kilometer wall that surrounds in, you'll find traditional courtyard homes with narrow alleys. The CNN article calls Pingyao "a magical place" that offers an opportunity to peak into China's past.

Pingyao was one of China's banking centers in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Chinese movie, Raise the Red Lantern, was filmed in a courtyard home.

I visited Pingyao when I lived in China in 1997. Foreigners inside the walls were an oddity then. I remember one toddler taking a look at me and then screaming for his mother as he ran to find her.

When I visited Pingyao, I took at express bus from Beijing to Taiyuan, which took about five hours, where I overnighted. The next day I took a two-hour mini bus ride to Pingyao. Travelers today can make the trip in four hours via express train from Beijing.

Are you going to China?

If a trip to China is in your future, check out my website, Cheryl's China, or feel free to email me with any questions.