Pingyao is an ancient city with its center surrounded by fortified walls. This wzlled town is well preserved and can take you back in time while you are walking in the streets or visiting the city tower or the temples. At night, the vibe of Pingyao rises in front of your eyes, with red lanterns hanging in the streets, contrasting with the lightened towers and walls. When exploring the city, try to avoid all the bicycles that seem to want to run you over, but you can relax, this is a town without traffic jams –- cars are prohibited inside the walls.
There are a few day trips around Pingyao, and you should check the old village of Zhanbi Cun and the underground tunnels of the castle that are more than a thousand years old. These are nice spots, but remember that the true magic of Pingyao is inside the walls.
If you're heading to Beijing, you could stop on the way in Datong and visit the impressive Yungang Caves with giant Buddhas carved in stone. Unfortunately about half of the caves are eroded or destroyed, but as there are forty-nine caves open to the public, you will understand its magnificence. The night train from Pingyao to Datong will suit you -- you can explore it in a day and leave again from Datong to Beijing on another night train.
The best way to get to Pingyao is by train –- from Xi'an and Beijing there are at least three trains per day -– but remember to book in advance if you want to to take the night train, as the beds become fully booked two or three days before departure.
The hostels in Pingyao are traditional, usually with a few dorms but a lot of double and triple rooms. There aren't communal kitchens in Pingyao hostels, but there are plenty of food sellers in the streets. When booking a hostel in Pingyao, be sure that you choose one inside the walls of the old town and try to ensure a pickup from the train station.
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