Initially, I had planned to spend the whole week in Beijing, but my friends suggested a short trip to Pingyao in the Shanxi province. Pingyao is a walled city that dates from the 15th century. It has preserved almost intact its traditional architecture, so it is a good option to see what Imperial China was like.
I got my train tickets through the Beijing Tourism Agency and booked a hotel through a popular website. The bullet train has reduced travel time from twelve hours to four and half.
To visit the sites, you to buy a single ticket that is valid for the day. Since it was November, the main attractions and museums closed by 4:00pm. It was well past midday when I arrived to Pingyao, so I decided to spend the rest of the day walking around the town and visiting the shops that sell crafts and memorabilia. I visited the temples and museums the next day.
You can climb some of the towers in the city and get a good view from above.
The city became increasingly charming as it turned dark and people started lighting the red lanterns that adorn almost every house and building.
The next day I explored the main sites in town. One of my favorites was the taoist temple Cheng Huang. At the entrance, you are welcome by the Chinese Zodiac Signs.
I also enjoyed a lot the Xie Tong Quing Draft Bank Museum, particularlly, the underground section.
The Confusian temple was algo among my favorites.
To make this place even more magical, there is an opera theater exquisitely decorated. I wish I had seen a show, but my train was schedule to leave soon.
I wish I had had more time to explore this city with more detail. I missed a few sights and others I visited somewhat in a hurry. Anyway, I think that Pingyao was my favorite place in this visit to China. I hope to go back to continue exploring this fascinating country and culture.