Situated in Pingyao, Shanxi Province, the Rishengchang Exchange is widely considered to have been the first bank in China. Established in 1823 during the Qing Dynasty, what began as one man’s efforts to manage the accounts of his own company developed into a private banking enterprise that, at its peak, controlled almost half of China’s economy.
Now converted into a museum, the Rishengchang Exchange comprises 21 buildings surrounded by three courtyards, with counters situated either side of the front yard. In one corner of this courtyard, an elderly man dressed in a traditional 19th-century robe writes out exchange bills bearing the red Rishengchang stamp, which he then issues to visitors as souvenirs.
In 2006, the Rishengchang Exchange was included on the list of monuments of the People's Republic of China.
There’s a coach that departs from Taiyuan train station that reaches Pingyao in two hours. Once there, the ancient walled city of Pingyao can be explored by foot or via rickshaw. Visitors are able to purchase a joint ticket that will cover entry into 20 small attractions around the city.