Lijiang Travel Guide,Yunnan
The ancient city of Lijiang with gorgeous surroundings is resting in northwest Yunnan at the upper reaches of the Jinsha River.
Lijiang is incredibly rich in cultural resources, home to the Baisha Frescoes (a national historical relic) and "Naxi Dongjing Music" being living examples of Tang and Song Dynasty art, and also Dongba hieroglyphs, the only existing pictographs in the world.
Lijiang and environs are inhabited by several ethnic nationalities with interesting cultures. They including the Naxi, which have the largest population. The best way to see their genuine lifestyles is visiting their outlying villages, farms and rangelands.
Lijiang undoubtedly ranks among the most beautiful ancient towns in China. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997, incl. Dayan,Shuhe and Baisha Old Town. >> Lijiang Travel Maps
Best time to go
April and October are the two most ideal months in Lijiang.
It rains a lot in July and August. That's important to know because heavy rains can trigger rock and mud slides, which can block roads. This can cause long travel delays or even cancelled plans (such as your trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge).
January and February are not superlative months either because of wintry temperatures.
Dayan Ancient Town / Cultural relics / Ethnic Minority Arts
Getting there & away
From Kunming to Lijiang, min. 10 flights every day. There is daily flight from Lijiang to Xishuangbanan.
From the Lijiang airport, you can take a shuttle bus to Lijiang downtown.
Lijiang has two bus stations. Buses leaving from the 'Guluwan' station are for northern destinations, such as Zhongdian and Daju. The Lijiang main station dispatches buses to Dali, Kunming, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Baoshan etc.
- Don't forget to check in advance from which bus station your bus will leave.
- The bus schedule mentioned in Lijiang Bus Schedule might be modified at any time. Check the updated schedule at both bus stations and buy your ticket in advance.
Taxi: Lijiang Downtown, including the Black Dragon Pool Park, Y7
Shuhe round trip: Y40～50, Baisha round trip: Y80.-
Bus No. 6: Departing at Qixing Street and terminating at Baisha. Y1.-
Bus No. 7: Departing at Xing Da Street, Passes several crossroads to Baisha, Yufeng Monastery, Yuhu.Terminates at Yunshanping.
Hostels standing every 1m in the old town, prices varies from Y80~200 per twin/double room.
Washing machine, heated bath rooms, internet service, electricity-blankets and travel info. are available at most of the hostels.
Restaurants are as many as the number of the tourists in town. Most of them serve Naxi food, expensive but tastes so so. Also some western style cafe/restaurants for home-sick western backpackers.
For some real local food, if you don't mind the dining environment that much, recommend you take a taxi(RMB7) to Xiangshan market to try the cured pork steak ("La Paigu" 腊排骨 in Chinese). Many restaurants supply this dish but Yujie is the most popular one for some reason. Also, Tai'an Taro Chicken ("Tai'an Yangyu Ji" 太安洋芋鸡) is just 300m east of the market. All taxi driver know the place quite well. Another very old local restaurant call "Lao Lijiang" (老丽江餐厅) , it's located in Huadu Shangmaocheng(华都商贸城) at Minzhu Road, some 500m from the water wheel, but you need to cross the bridge. No traveler can be seen in this small restaurant at all, all local people. A hostel owner (also Naxi woman)l owner recommended it to our editor.
- The Dayan Old Town - The streets are paved with the local stone slabs, not getting muddy in the rainy season and being free of dust in the dry season. Many stone bridges and arches in the city were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties.Orderly roads and lanes extend in four directions from the central square. Residential houses are made of timber. Local people plant flowers in their courtyards.
It's hard to get tired of it. Take time to explore off the tourists streets. For a good panoramic view of the traditional houses roofs, get up the street on the right of the Old Market Square for 50m then turn left. You can also climb up to the Lion Mountain Park at the back of the town.
- The Mansion of Mu Clan - located just in the old town. It provides a fascinating insight into the local culture and traditions of Lijiang. When the clan chief moved his original residence here, the clan became the most powerful and prestigious in the region, reaching a climax during the collapse of the Ming Dynasty.
Over the years, many buildings in the complex were raised to the ground as a result of various wars and plundering. Today, the majority of the surviving buildings are a mixture of traditional Han, Bai and Naxi styles of architecture.
- Black Dragon Pool - 500m from Lijiang downtown, offers an excellent view of the Yulong Snow Mountains.
Admission Fee: free
- Baisha Murals - 8km from the town, a tiny village with Ming Dynasty Naxi & Tibetan frescoes at Dabaoji Hall, Liuli Temple and Dadind Pavilion
- Yufeng Monastery -14km away from the town. A small lamasery built in 1756 around the famous 500 years old 10,000 Blossoms Camellia Tree.
- La Shi Lake - 8km from Lijiang, abundant vegetation and famous for bird watching in winter.
- Shuhe -9km from Lijiang, an old town similar to Lijiang(Dayan) but smaller, less polished, more humanistic, more rural, less touristy and commercialized than Lijiang
Admission Fee: Y50.00
Access - by bicycling, trekking or taxi
- Yulong Snow Mountain - the southernmost marine glacier in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere. 13 peaks along the range stretching for over 35km from south to north. But there is little snow over the mountaintop now, not worth a visit by cable car at all.
The Ganhaizi Grassland is a famous tourist resort situated on the eastern slope of Yulong Snow Mountain, an ideal spot to view the mountain from. Within the resort, there are all kinds of entertainment facilities, including minority villages, camp sites, a bird paradise, ecological park, horse-racing track and a tram cart.
Near the Ganhaizi Grassland, a cable car carries visitors up the Yulong Snow Mountain. It can get pretty cold up here, so be sure you are dressed for the weather.
Getting there: Travel Agencies in Lijiang offer 1-day tours along this route from Lijiang.The main scenic spots are: Lijiang - 8km - Baisha Mural - 9km - Yufeng Temple - 20km - Ganhaizi and the Yulong Mountain Cable Car - 7km - Baishui River - 2km - Yunshan ping. RMB270, incl. all admission fees, bus fares and lunch.
If you prefer to travel independently, take the No.7 bus from Xin Dajie. The bus starts in Lijiang and goes to all spots along this route, stopping at Ganhaizi, Baishui River and the Yunshanping. The fare is RMB8 from Lijiang city to the terminal at Yunshanping. The bus starts at around 7am and ends at 6pm. There are around two buses a day.
- Altitude sickness-The higher the elevation, the thinner its air. Until your respiratory and circulatory systems adjust to a high elevation, your body suffers to some degree from oxygen deprivation. Altitude sickness can result. Symptoms include dizziness, tiredness and headaches - and difficulty in catching your breath when, for example, walking up steps.
The best defense is to not to go suddenly from one altitude to a much higher one. Do your upward journeys in stages so your lungs can more readily adapt to thinner air.
- Shopping - Souvenir prices tend to rise the closer you get to Sifang Square. And remember, always negotiate. You should be able to lower the initial price by 30%, sometimes more.
- Getting lost -It's easy to get lost in Lijiang Ancient Town because of its labyrinth of meandering passageways. But that's part of the enjoyment because you will discover picturesque alleys that you would not have seen otherwise.
- Photo-taking - for classic shots of the lanes of Lijiang Ancient Town, arrive before 8 a.m. Later, hordes of tourists jam the narrow passages, obstructing your camera's view.To capture Lijiang's picturesque sea of rooftops, go to the top of Chieftain Mu's Palace.
- Cable car attire - Wear warm clothes. It's freezing where you'll be going (a lookout near the summit of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain). Winter parkas can be rented before you board the cable car gondolas. The same is true for oxygen bottles, for those who may need one.
- Cable car timing - To avoid long, time-consuming lines waiting to board the gondolas, go early or late in the day. But before leaving Lijiang for the ride, find out if the high-elevation viewing platforms are expected to be shrouded in clouds when you'll be there. If so, you won't see much, including the stunning panoramic views of the mountains and valleys.