Begin your 8-hour tour with a pickup from your Pingyao hotel, and hop inside your private, air-conditioned vehicle with your guide and separate driver.
Then, venture south from Pingyao toward the Wang Family Mansion. During your roughly 1.5-hour journey, hear fascinating facts about this historical gem, a residential complex built and expanded by generations of the wealthy Wang family from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
On arrival at the walled complex, sometimes known as the ‘Forbidden City of the Peasant Residences,’ enjoy a walking tour around some of its 123 courtyards and more than 1,000 houses.
Follow your guide to see highlights such as the Red Gate Castle and Gaojiaya building complex, admiring their elaborate Ming and Qing architecture. View the intricately carved doorways, wall reliefs, and stone statues, and listen as your guide recounts their meanings, and how they reflect the strict social hierarchy of the time.
As you explore the alleyways, learn how the Wangs built the compound to house their extended family before they were forced to sacrifice their wealth when China’s communists took power.
After lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, continue to Zhangbi Ancient Castle, a hilltop castle-village dating from the 7th century and famous for its tunnel system. Admire the city gate, and delve into the cobbled lanes, seeing the beautifully designed houses, shops, and temples embellished with Buddhist statues.
Descend into the tunnels, originally designed as the village defence system, and navigate the three interconnected three layers of corridors. View the subterranean caves, grain silos, and weapon storage facilities, and hear how the network was designed according to ancient astrology.
As you leave the castle, absorb the magnificent mountain views from the hillside before returning to Pingyao and finishing with a late-afternoon hotel drop-off.