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Pinggu: More Than Just Peachy

Pinggu, Beijing

Clinging to the eastern edge of Beijing municipality rests Pinggu district, a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of Beijing and Tianjin. It's well-known for being an agricultural sweet spot, providing sumptuous peaches and other fruit to China and beyond.

Peaches remain a focus of Pinggu, where visitors enjoy the mountain scenery while picking the fruit of their choice. In the world's largest peach cultivation area, the fuzzy fruit is not to be missed, but the strawberries, plums, apricots and pears also deserve a sampling. From August to October, the Autumn Peach Picking Festival is a prime time to catch the fruit at their sweetest as well as to take in some local culture.

Pinggu's Guajiayu Village has been dubbed "the most charming leisure village in China," where the new and old villages sit side by side. Tucked into the mountain landscape, over a hundred families reside in newly developed housing. The new residential project is at the advent of energy efficiency, where each roof shines with solar panels. Wind power is also exploited for residents.

Some of these comfortable new homes provide room and board for visitors at very reasonable prices. Tourists can enjoy an afternoon hiking or picking fruit, and then relax at Luming Lake to see if the fish have also built up an appetite.

Another highlight in nearby Donggaocun is the Beijing Huadong Musical Instrument Company. If you'd like an escape from the sun, you can pop into the factory that produces almost a third of the violins on the planet. Tours let you witness artisans crafting violins or guitars, and see the machines that do the grunt work.

Although many travelers don't know about Pinggu, this situation may change. Pinggu plays host to a number of growing festivals including the International Peach Blossom Festival, the Escape from Summer Heat Festival, autumn's Golden Week Peach Picking Festival and the Silver Winter Ice Festival. In addition to these, the young people come out in droves for the China Music Valley Festival, which has hosted the likes of Avril Lavigne and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Travelers who are concerned about hitting the China essentials should note that Pinggu's Jiangjunguan and Bolitai sections of the Great Wall are beautiful and less touristy than those close to Beijing. Pinggu has something to offer for everyone.