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Pingyao (平遥, Píngyáo) is China’s best-preserved ancient walled town. If you have any China mileage under your belt you'll appreciate the town’s age-old charms. While some ‘ancient’ cities may rustle together an unconvincing display of old city walls, sporadic temples or the occasional ragged alley thrust beneath apartment blocks, Pingyao has managed to keep its beguiling narrative largely intact: red-lantern–hung lanes set against silhouettes of imposing town walls, ancient towers poking into the north China sky, and an entire brood of creaking temples. In recent years, shops on the main commercial streets have developed a penchant for disco lighting, light-box menus and noise-making costumed jesters. But outside these central areas, the ancient city is little changed.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Pingyao.


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