I was on a business trip to Taiyuan last October. Surprised, the work there was finished two days earlier than I expected. After I finished my work there, I still had two days more. So I decided to take a one day Taiyuan City tour and on-day extension tour to Pingyao to feel the local culture there. I have been to Taiyuan for a couple of time, but for business purpose, and I did not have time for sightseeing here before.
The attractions in Taiyuan are mainly historical relics. There is the earliest existing royal garden of China, Giant Buddha in Mengshan Mountain (similar with giant Buddha in Leshan Mountain). Shanxi Museum is a great place to explore the Jin culture. The best time Taiyuan is in autumn. In the spring, sunshine is strong here, with strong wind. And because the local Coal Mining Industry is developed, so there is always black sand in the air and sand storm us usual in spring time. Sunglasses and hat is indispensable here.
As the time is quite limited, so I decided to visit the main attractions there in the first day: Jinci Temple, Shanxi Museum and Chongshan Temple.
In the morning, I took a taxi from the hotel to arrival at Jinci Temple (if you want to save money, you can take Public Bus 308, 856, 804 to get there direct, it takes about 1 hour). Jinci Temple was built in honor of the king of Jin Dynasty and the queen Yi jiang. It is a collection of ancient Chinese sacrifice buildings, gardens, sculptures, murals and stone inscription art, which makes it one of the famous historical and cultural heritage. old Nan Lao Spring, the maid picture of Song dynasty, Qi Nian Zhou Bai are three unique sites here. There are also many attractive buildings in this scenic area.
Although Shanxi Museum is not as famous as Shaanxi Museum, it is one of main attractions in this city, so I decide to have a look. There are still many treasures to see inside. The museum is free, and there are volunteers to explain for everybody sometimes. From the first floor to the 4th floor, it took about one and a half hour to see all the things. There are also some temporary exhibitions here. The first two floors shows development of Shanxi historically the according to the time sequence. The top floor is a special exhibition hall. If you are interested in history and the culture of Shanxi, you will find it quite interesting.
My last stop in the day was Chongshan Temple, which is a Buddhist temple, as well as a royal temple in the past. This temple was built by the Kind of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Gang, in honor of her mother. There is an eleven-faced Avalokitesvara statue with one-thousand hands and eyes in Hall of Great Mercy. And each face represents a stage of Buddhism practice.
Wheaten food is quite famous in Taiyuan. After whole day touring, I went to Liu Wei Zhai Restaurant in Liu Xiang Lane to have dinner, which is a famous local old restaurant in this city. Then I came back to the hotel to have a good rest for the next day’s touring.
In the next day, I got up early to catch the bus in Jian Nan Bus Terminal. It departs almost every 20 minutes and cost about 25 yuan for one way. From Taiyuan to Pingyao, it took about 2 hours on the road. I was planning to visit Qian Family Couryard on the way, but the time was not enough. Therefore, I left it for the next trip.
The ancient city of Pingyao is located in central Shanxi Province, about 106 km away from Taiyuan. It is a cultural city with a history of more than 2700 years. There are many stones streets crossing in the ancient city. The buildings in the ancient city give priority to quadrangle dwellings with brick walls, tile roof and wooden structure. Rishengchang Banks, the city wall, Ming & Qing Street are must see in the ancient city. Nearly every building dates from the Ming (1368-1644) or Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. The car-free status and ancient street plan adds to the strong atmosphere.
is easy found in a busy street in Pingyao. It is established in Daoguang Emperor Era in Qing Dynasty and said to be the father of modern Chinese bank.
The city walls
of Pingyao were constructed in the 3rd year of the Hongwu Emperor (1370). The walls have six barbican gates. The east and west sides have two gates each. The north and south sides have one gate each.
has been the main commercial area for centuries in Pingyao. At the both sides of the street stands hundred of shops and stores and the majesty of them are built in Ming and Qing Dynasty. Here sells food, specialities, snacks, paintings, calligraphy, furniture, and a variety of souvenirs.
County Government Office ''(Yamen)''
is another highlights of the city. It is an ancient official compound built in 1346 in the Yuan Dynasty, but only one building remains from the Yuan period
Its houses the home and office of the magistrate sent to act as mayor, judge, and senior official. This yamen consists of an archway, ceremonial gate, various offices, a court, a prison, a residential area, meeting rooms and a garden.
County Government Office ''(Yamen)''
Walking along the street in Pingyao Ancient Street let me feel like walking in the historical picture scroll and read the history of this small town. The old walled city is also off-limits to taxis/cars. However if you are feeling lazy, you can hire golf carts that wander the streets. It is also possible to rent bikes for ¥10 per day, though the streets crowded with Chinese tourists may make this not much faster than walking.
I strolled in the ancient city to visit the main attractions here. And I had my simple lunch by buying some local snacks in the street to save time. In the afternoon, around 5:00 pm, I catch a coach to come back to Tiayuan, tired but interesting.
If you have enough time for the trip, you can stay a night there. That would be quite interesting and can enjoy the night view of it. I left it for next trip due to the limited time.