Travel tips for vis­it­ing Pingyao, China

Timeless Travels Magazine - - CHINA -

Fly­ing

All ma­jor in­ter­na­tional air­lines fly to China, in­clud­ing United Air­lines, Bri­tish Air­ways, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, Qan­tas, Lufthansa, KLM and Air France.

The clos­est air­port to Pingyao is Taiyuan (Wusu In­ter­na­tional Air­port), which is c.60 miles (97km) from Pingyao. You can also reach Pingyao by trains and long-dis­tance buses. There are reg­u­lar trains from Bei­jing, Taiyuan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian and Lanzhou as well as bul­let trains from Bei­jing, Taiyuan, Xian and Yuncheng. A bul­let train from Taiyan takes 40 min­utes, and 4-4.5 hours from Bei­jing.

Visas

A pass­port, valid for at least six months, and a visa are nec­es­sary to en­ter the coun­try. Chi­nese em­bassies and con­sulates around the world is­sue a stan­dard sin­gle-en­try, 30-day visa, although mul­ti­ple en­try visas and 60-day visas can also be ob­tained. Visas can­not be is­sued at the bor­der.

Get­ting around

Pingyao is a small, walled city so you can reach all the sites on foot. There are golf carts that can take you from out­side the an­cient walls to your ho­tel if you have heavy lug­gage.

The Es­sen­tials

Time dif­fer­ence: GMT + 7

Lan­guage: The of­fi­cial lan­guage is Pu­tonghua, based on the di­alect spo­ken in Bei­jing, and known more com­monly as Man­darin Chi­nese. Out­side of the main cities and ho­tels, English is not widely spo­ken.

Elec­tri­cal cur­rent/ plugs: Plug sock­ets are of the flat two-or-three pronged va­ri­ety. The cur­rent is 220V AC, 50Hz.

Reli­gion: The ma­jor re­li­gions are Bud­dhism, Tao­ism, Con­fu­cian­ism and Chris­tian­ity.

Wa­ter: The tap wa­ter is not drink­able in China. Bot­tled wa­ter is ad­vised, but check that the seal is in­tact.

Pol­i­tics: China is a so­cial­ist repub­lic run by a sin­gle party, the Com­mu­nist Party of China.

In­ter­net: It is very dif­fi­cult to ac­cess the in­ter­net un­less you can con­nect us­ing a VPN. Google is banned so it is un­likely that you can con­nect to gmail. Ya­hoo mail works oc­ca­sion­ally.

Weather

Pingyao has a con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate with cold win­ters and hot sum­mers. The cold­est month is Jan­uary, when the av­er­age tem­per­a­ture is about -12°C, and 26°C is the hottest tem­per­a­ture in July. In win­ter, the wind com­ing from the north is usu­ally strong and dusty and the tem­per­a­ture varies greatly be­tween day and night. In sum­mer, it is rainy and scorch­ing. Tem­per­a­tures drop in the au­tumn and snow falls on the city in the win­ter.

Money

Cur­rency: China’s cur­rency is called yuan ren­minbi (lit­er­ally, Peo­ple’s Cur­rency). One yuan di­vides into 10 jiao. The most com­mon coins are 1 yuan, 5 jiao and 1 jiao and the notes are 1, 2 and 5 jiao and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 yuan. Dam­aged notes can be dif­fi­cult to get rid of.

Credit cards: Cash is the pre­ferred mode of pay­ment within the an­cient city, although some shops may take credit cards. There are no ATMs in the an­cient city of Pingyao.

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