Pingdingshan (平顶山; Pingdingshan) is a coal-mining city in Henan. It's highly irregular that people come here seeking touristy sights, however, there are a few things that might interest the wayward traveler.
Pingdingshan means "flat-top mountain" and is named after the visible mountain just northwest of the city center. Seventy percent of the population of 4.9 million (in 2011) is either directly or indirectly affected by the mining industry.
There are buses from Zhengzhou (郑州) all day long until about 20:00. Other cities nearby are probably similar.
By train, Pingdingshan is simply a midnight stop on the Xi'an - Nanchang (K790) or the Guangzhou - Taiyuan (K238) railway line.
The most important roads in town are Guangming road (光明路), Jianshe road (建设路), Zhongxing road (中兴路) and Kuanggong road (矿工路). Together they form somewhat of a trapezoid around the northwestern part of the city and most citylife can be found within the area. If you catch a bus, just imagine the bus running straight down the road which you are on. The train station is at the southern end of Zhongxing road (中兴路). There is a bus station just north of the train station on Zhongxing road and another bus station on East Kuang-gong road just east of Xinhua road (新花路).
Pingdingshan people seem to carry a regional pride with them, as their city is home to an ancient "Eagle" tribe which was probably one of the earliest in the country. Keep in mind as you wander the area that you are walking amongst some of the oldest landscapes within Chinese civilization. The area is mostly flood plain, except for the flat-topped hills to the northeast which lend the city its name. Take Xinhua road to its northern terminus and you'll be halfway up Pingdingshan mountain itself, a flat-topped butte of sorts, but usually green and comfortable on top. There is a stone stairway to the top, and a haunted carnival-type scene on the summit area.
Walk around the city, it's walkable in a day. Most locals like to visit Pingdingshan mountain or walk along the Zhanhe river (canal) which cuts through the city from west to east. There is a park lining the canal which at most times of night and day has something interesting to see. On Saturday and Sunday there is an open-air market between Zhongxinglu and Kaiyuanlu, with mainly pets at the Kaiyuanlu end. There is a pool table area and, for young children, amusement rides. Buy beer or drinks for ¥1-2 per bottle. There is also a KTV on the south side of the river not far from Zhongxinglu or Guangminglu.
Eagle City Square (鹰成广场-Yincheng Guangchang) is a fairly new city square and will be one of the largest in the province. It features a large, musical fountain with a giant megatron presiding overhead. Also, some classical Chinese waterway structures, a Greek-style outdoor theater and a few hills and ponds. In the evenings you can listen to the locals perform folk songs or maybe some Henan opera. There's also a drum troupe that comes once a week or so that one would be fortunate to come across. West Jianshe Road, just past Guanming road.
Along the Zhanhe, due west, there is a new Pingdingshan city being built, which is rumored to someday have Starbucks and Pizza Hut and all that business, but as for now, it's rather a vacant skeleton of apartment buildings and the newest government plaza. This "new city" is built right alongside the BaiGuishan reservoir. Meanwhile, there's a Pizza Hut on Kaiyuanlu at the end of Shuguangjie and a Papa John's on Tiyulu north of Jianshelu.
For historical culture, the Xiangshan Buddhist Temple (香山寺) might be the best around. Interestingly enough, it's the site of the first thousand-hand buddha sculpture, or Sakyamuni, to be created in China. The site itself is over a thousand years old, despite the structures being rebuilt periodically. There is a pagoda tower, a monastery and some nice flowers about. The site is eternally under development, as it truly is a national treasure -in religious terms - but getting there is quite easy and the crowd is almost non-existent. From Kuanggong road (矿工路) hop on the #8 bus going west toward number 11 Coal mine, and just tell the ticket girl "Xiang-shan-si", and she will charge you about three kuai and alert you when your stop arrives. Take a small motorcar to the summit of the site (¥6). The guy will know where you're going. From the bus station on Zhongxinglu, take the #16 bus and it will stop near the temple. Also, you can see the pagoda from where you get off the bus. Admission is ¥5.
Whatever you fancy. There are markets and street vendors all over the central area. Clothing can be picked up for pretty cheap prices. On the street or at hole-in-the-wall type shops, bargaining is always possible.
Jiutouya (九头崖) grocery stores are located all around town and can be easily recognized by their red and yellow signs.
There is also a couple of Dennis supermarkets: one on Kaiyuanlu at the end of Shuguangjie and one on Kuanggonglu at the end of Zhonxinglu.
The Cyber Market area is on Jianshe road, beginning just west of Zhongxing road. The building on that corner is a smaller version of the main market which is a block and a half east down Jianshe road. Buy computers, cell phones, electronics and any other tech hardware you may be looking for.
Hair salons are almost unanimously called Little Shanghai (小上海), clothing boutiques called Little Hong Kong (小香港) and Sichuan restaurants called little Decatur - I mean, little sichuan (小四川) .
Cuisine is not a reason to visit Pingdingshan. The most popular dish here is a bowl of Hui-Mian noodles, which are quite bland and quite a mouthful at the same time. However, the locals survive on it, so you won't do harm in giving it a shot. Otherwise, find a dumpling shop, or a little Sichuan restaurant (小四川) which there seem to be plenty of. There are restaurants and lots of food carts with malatang (you select a range of ingredients: meats, tofu, vegetables, mushrooms, etc. and, in the restaurants at least, are charged by weight). Lamian (handmade noodles) is also popular here. Probably the most entertaining dining experience is just another Mutton-kebab street restaurant during the warmer months. These places sell all parts of a goat barbequed on a stick with a variety of extra cold dishes like Sijidou (green beans) and xiaofanqie (baby tomatoes). Sitting outside at one of these places will guarantee friendly company within an hour. Don't expect any hot-pot, Sichuan or even Hunan restaurants to be very close to home, as the dishes are usually doused in vinegar and cut way too large.
The hot-pot restaurant chains Little Fat Sheep (of Inner Mongolia) and Qingma (of Chongqing) are both located on north Guangming road. Both are good standard hot pot places just more expensive than an authentic one.
To live cheap, there are RouJiaMo - stuffed breadrolls which are very soul-foodish, comforting and delicious. The stuffing ranges from pork and sprouts to tofu, onion and green pepper. Any one can be picked up for about ¥2 and your chances of getting a good mix are very high. You can find vendors in small stalls along streets or just selling off the street itself. These little 'sandwiches' are a good local alternative to the McDonald's and KFC locations you can find all around the city center.
Find a high school or middle school around breakfast, lunch or dinner time and you will find a cavalry of cart vendors selling some kind of Chinese burrito. They mostly have a wheat-based wrap with anything from pork sausage to egg to vegetable fillings. You can ask them to make it spicy (jia la jiao duo) as they have chili pepper on hand.
Nothing special in this category either. Many restaurants will serve you complimentary tea or just hot water.
Local people often buy a bottle of baijiu (白酒) and bring it to a restaurant for the meal, which is perfectly fine if you so desire. Such folks often end up stumbling drunkenly outside afterwards and emptying themselves liberally on the sidewalk, which also seems to be fine if you so desire.
The city shuts down relatively early by Chinese standards, as KTVs might close at around 00:30-01:00 and bars at 02:00.
The local beers are SiLing Superdry 四铃超干 (chaogan pijiu) and JiutouYa's own Oboist beer. You can also find Tsingtao all over town, however, be aware that Pingdingshan is some kind of special-alcoholic zone where beer is produced exclusively with a lower alcohol content. Your bottle of Tsingtao will clock in at a shy 3.1% alcohol (compared to the normal 4.9%) and most other beers are in the same neighborhood. This practice is even marketed with the claim that "Less alcohol = fresher flavor". Your best bet on getting tanked is to just drink BaiJiu or maybe search out the Siling Blue Bottle of beer which is a solid 4.0%.
The following bars are mostly the same setup. An open space with a short bar, then two levels of booths wrapped around the open space. They play Chinese pop and most people play dice-game over their beer, fruit, popcorn and cigarettes. The bartenders and servers are all nice and helpful. They sell beer and mixed drinks. Very few people speak English but you won't have a problem finding instant "best friends" at these places:
2046 Beer Club (er-ling-si-liu jiu-ba) - Laodong Road (a block south of jianshe road, second floor) - A good place to unwind after work, as it's probably the earliest opening bar (17:00-18:00) along with Pinwei bar. Probably the original expat bar in town. There was once as many as three foreigners in the place at one time! Has a stage where you can sing your favorite Chinese pop songs and quite a regular following of customers. The boss is a wild and crazy Hui minority who looks more like a hipster Mexican with his beard and baseball cap. Big, cheap (¥10) bottles of Qingdao, Snow beer and occasionally a homebrew on tap.
Pinwei jiu-ba Flavor Bar - Chaoyang rd. alongside the little canal beside the Pingdingshan Hotel on Jianshe road. An amazingly relaxing place open by a coal-mine boss which caters to a rather hidden collection of higher-ups and visiting Korean/Japanese businessmen. The prices here are just a bit more than usual (¥20 big qingdao) but the quiet and the small crowd makes it worth it. Good Mr. Huang and Lovely Ms. Jin basically run the bar every night. KTV rooms available in the basement.
Night Cat Bar (夜猫酒吧)- YouYue Road, from the small corner-Mcdonalds on Zhongxing road head east and the bar is upstairs on your right with a big sign. Cool bartender who maybe stays open latest of all the bars (02:30). Large bottle of Tsingtao (reduced alcohol) ¥15.
Brother Bar (兄弟酒吧)- Kaiyuan Road (running one block east of Zhongxing rd.) Upstairs across the street from the larger McDonalds. Nice bartenders and the boss loves a joke or two. Tsingtao ¥15.
Sister Bar (姐妹酒吧) - Despite the name and the fact that it is right next door to the Brother Bar it is of different ownership. However, you can expect the same prices, offerings and crowd. Tsingtao ¥15.
BaoBao Bar (包包酒吧) - Probably the best fun for a good value. It's bigger, cheaper and more laid back. The crowd here seems more well-off and well dressed. Try Chengdu's XueHua beer for only ¥10 per large bottle.
The next few bars are more like nightclubs with dancefloors, loud high-energy music and your occasional gogo girls in skimpy outfits:
[V] Party Disco On Zhongxing road. Biggest disco in town! Dancefloor, gogo girls, cheap mystery beer and a big, weird flat-footed crowd. You might catch a weird variety show on their stage but usually it is all DJs and dance music. Nevertheless, the staff is really friendly.
SoHo Club - The Chinese nightclub franchise found in every city with the same open gear-work decor, dancers, singers, chandeliers and high prices. Good looking men and women fill the place up around 22:00 and it empties at about 01:00. The girls behind the bar are sweet and talkative if you can manage the noise levels. One small bottle of Budweiser or Heineken ¥30. You may see a bottle of tsingtao here or there but don't ask for it because they won't sell it to you. Also, a variety of mixed drinks and novelty cocktails for prices you might as well not ask about. On north Xiuyu road (休育路) near the intersection with Kuanggong road.
Redu Bar - Upstairs from the SoHo Club. Consider it a cheaper, seedier, wackier version of SoHo. May or may not be the go-to hangout for LGBT bargoers. Have your wits and cell phone ready for mass phone number exchange or learn the phrase "wo meiyou shouji" (i don't have a cell phone). Also, be nimble on your feet as drunk goofballs seeking to spill their beer run rampant.
Yaoshan (formerly Shirenshan) - A classic Chinese mountain park. Some impressive rock formations and low-altitude peaks with stone trails up and down them. There is also an Austrian gondola to the mountain's summit for some stomach-wrenching heights.