Top Things to Do in Lijiang

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Lijiang Attractions, Foods and Shops...

 

Lijiang lies in the northwest of Yunnan Province at an altitude of 2,418 meters, and is listed as one of the four best preserved ancient cities in China, along with Langzhong Ancient City in Sichuang, Pingyao Ancient City in Shanxi and Shexian Ancient City.
Twelve minority ethnic groups live in Lijiang, the most famous of which are the Naxi, well known for their Naxi Ancient Music, considered to be the 'living fossil' of Chinese classical music.

Lijiang's recorded history dates back to the Song Dynasty (960—1279) and became known to the west in the late 19th century through a book written by an American Commissioner traveling in and out of Yunnan Province. The Lijiang Earthquake in 1996 caught the world's attention, and the ancient city is now a popular destination for many travelers who enjoy Lijiang's beauty and leisurely lifestyle. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit. ©

What to See in Lijiang

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge

One of the deepest gorges in China, Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡) is 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Lijiang in Shangri-la County, which is part of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. It can be dangerous in certain weather conditions, so good preparation is essential. The story goes that a fierce tiger could easily leap the gorge while being hunted down the mountain and thus the name—Tiger Leaping Gorge.

The gorge is formed by the narrowing of the river as it is forced between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain, at an altitude of almost 3,900 meters (12,795 ft). There are 18 dangerous shoals and the narrowest part of the river is only around 30 meters (33 yards).

The easiest way to take in the highlights in one day is by car. However, most travelers prefer to hike along the gorge for 2 days. This is one of the world's 10 classical Trekking Routes (Entry Level), so hiking along the Haba Snow Mountain roads for mountain views or trekking along the lower gravel road for splendid gorge views are both very popular and worthwhile. Guesthouses are available along the hiking route.

Tiger Leaping Gorge highlights include the exhilarating trekking, fabulous views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from the gorge, the sound of roaring water at night and delicious local food in Qiaotou Town (Hu Tiaoxia Town). Spring and autumn are the best times for 2-day treks.

  • Add: Hutiaoxia Town, Shangri-La County, Diqing, Yunnan
  • Admission: 65 Yuan/person
  • Opening Hours: 09:00-16:30
  • Getting there:
    Take a bus from Lijiang Coach Station to Qiaotou Town or Daju Town at 20 Yuan for 2 hours. Qiaotou Town would be the best choice. Rent a van at Square Street in Lijiang for about 200 Yuan/person for the round trip.

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Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake

The borders of Yanyuan County in Sichuan and Lijiang in Yunnan are home to Lugu Lake (泸沽湖), known as the mother lake by the local Mosuo People. It is surrounded by mountains and high hills and can expect snow for three months of the year. Lugu Lake is a rare unpolluted lake, the surrounds hardly touched, and the clean air, crystal clear water and charming scenery transform the area into a real wonderland.
A local 'pig chamfer' boat is a wonderful way to enjoy the natural landscape. The islands dotting the lake, the trees, the merging of water and sky make you feel as though time has stood still and you have stepped straight into a lovely Mosuo ballad.
One of the famous local customs is that of that of the 'walking marriage. Mosuo society is based on matriarchal traditions, and steady marriage is not a part of their local custom. Instead a man may go to a woman's home and live with her for a time, and then leave. Apart from a number of special customs, local ethnic dress is beautiful and colorful and offers good portrait photography opportunities.

Recommended things to do there include taking a local boat for wonderful views of the lake at sunrise, hiking around the lake as the locals do, enjoying the sight of local water and migratory birds, and walking over the marriage bridge to come across the right one. Two days is recommended for a good visit from Lijiang.

  • Add: Lugu Lake, Lige Vilage, Lijiang, Yunnan(very near Da Luoshui Village)
  • Admission: 100 Yuan/person
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00
  • Getting there:
    Take a bus from Lijiang Coach Station to Da Luoshui Village for about6-7 hours at 72 Yuan/person. The bus operates at 8:00 and 10:00 respectively.

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Lijiang Ancient City

Lijiang Ancient City

Lijiang Ancient City (丽江古城) is also called Dayan Ancient City(大研古城) and it is included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. As one of the only two ancient cities in China without a city wall, Lijiang Ancient City started to develop as a town during Southern Song Dynasty, about 900 years ago. During the Ming Dynasty, because of the location and beautiful natural surrounding area, the ancient city resembled a big ink stone, so it was named Dayan City at the time, Chinese for big ink stone.

Picturesque streets wind through the city alongside small rivers and narrow canals, criss-crossed by over300 ancient stone bridges. Green trees, colorful shrubs, old alleyways and antique houses from the Ming Dynasty make Lijiang Ancient City a classic and unique ancient water town, against a stunning backdrop of mountains and high plateaux. The local Naxi people make the most of local fountains, often including 'Three Wells'; The upper pool is for drinking, the middle for washing vegetables and fruit, and downstream for clothes washing.
Square Street is the heart of the town and it became the trade center for north western Yunnan. Natural bluestone pavements are flushed clean with fresh water late every night when the streets are empty; there is a crowded market in the daytime and this is a ancient street is very famous. We also recommend that you get up early in the morning to see older Naxi people dancing and singing to greet the day, not to be missed. Don't miss the delicious local street food, eithe.

  • Add: Lijiang Ancient City, Yunnan
  • Admission: 80 Yuan/person for the maintenance fee of the ancient city
  • Opening Hours: all day
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus No.11, No.8 of inner ring and outer ring, No.15 of inner ring and outer ring and get off at Gu Chengkou Station(古城口站).

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Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

In Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Mountain玉龙雪山) is the southernmost snow mountain in the Northern Hemisphere. It has 13 peaks, the highest one being Shanzidou(扇子陡). At well over 4,000 meters (13,123 ft), the mountain is famous as a place of rare beauty with an edge of danger

The mountain views vary with seasons and different weather. Some days the snow capped peaks peep out of the clouds like a shy young lady. On clear sunny days the mountains shine like dazzling crystal. The main views are Sky Reach Pillar, Yunshaping and the Rope Way to the Snow Mountain. The reflection of the mountain in the Black Dragon Pool (Heilong Tan) was once considered to be one of China's finest sights, but unfortunately there is no longer any water in Black Dragon Pool. Visitors will find a full day visit is needed to explore this grand mountain.

  • Add: Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang City, Yunnan
  • Admission: 105 Yuan/person
  • Opening Hours: 09:30-16:00
  • Getting there:
    Take Snow Mountain Line Bus No.7 from Lijiang Ancient City or rent a van from Lijiang to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at 150 Yuan for a round trip.

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Baisha Mural (Lijiang Mural in Baisha Village)

Baisha Mural (Lijiang Mural in Baisha Village)

The Baisha Mural in Baisha Village near Lijiang is remarkable for its distinctive painting style and historic value. Baisha is about 16 km from Lijiang City. This lovely ancient town was the earliest gathering place for the Naxi people and original home town of the Mu family, who later moved to Dayan Ancient Town, which became an administrative centre for the Naxi people. The Mu family subsequently became rulers and prefects of Lijiang during parts of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Most Baisha Murals date from the early Ming Dynasty and the late Qing Dynasty, over a period of about 300 years. Mu Wang, the magistrate of a prefecture at that time, hired many painters from the Han, Zang and Bai Nationalities as well as monks of the Dongba religion and Daoists, and they worked harmoniously together. The most representative of the Baisha Murals are those in Da Bao Ji Palace, estimated to be about 558 murals.

  • Add: Near Baisha Township Government, Baisha Village, Lijiang City, Yunnan
  • Admission: 30 Yuan/person
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus No.6 from Lijiang Ancient City and get off at Baisha Kou Station(白沙口).

Tour Idea:

Dry Sea

Dry Sea

Dry Sea (甘海子) is a vast natural meadow at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 25 km from Lijiang Ancient City. The grassland spreads like a huge carpet from the foot of the west side of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the skyline. Sand-skiing, grass-skiing, gliding, car-racing and horse-racing are all popular activities there, but above all it provides the very best, up-close views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
The 13 peaks of the snow mountain ranging from north to south are a spectacular sight. Shanzidou, the main peak, is especially splendid, resembling an opened fan reaching to the sky. In late spring and early summer the meadow flowers are very pretty. Many locals also use this beautiful natural grassland to graze their own livestock, including cattle, sheep and even domesticated yaks.

  • Add: At the foot of Jade Dragon Snow, Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang City, Yunnan
  • Admission: 80 Yuan/person for the entrance fee of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, including Dry Sea, Baishui River and Yunshaping. 172 Yuan/person for the big ropeway for a round trip
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-20:00
  • Getting there:
    Rent a van from Lijiang Ancient City at 150 Yuan for a round trip;
    Take bus No.7 in Lijiang Ancient City at 15 Yuan/person.

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What to Do in Lijiang

Lijiang Impression Show

Lijiang Impression Show

Lijiang Impression Show (印象*丽江) is a one hour show that is performed in an open air theatre. It was designed by acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou, and the main director and staff are from the same group that presents the Impression Sanjie Liu at Yangshuo. The show is performed against the backdrop of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, at an altitude of over 3100 meters (10,170 ft). Unlike other Impression Shows in China, which are performed at night, Lijiang Impression Show is presented during the day, which provides a different experience, still on a grand scale that relies on a precision performance and presentation rather than using lights for effect.

The show debuted on July 23, 2006. It consists of six episodes and the major themes are Impression Snow and Impression Ancient City. All 500 actors in the show are drawn from local villages, representing 10 ethnic minorities with their unique and colorful costumes, presenting their traditional song and dance and cultural traditions. The advanced water engineering and haze effects provide an amazing visual feast.

  • Add: No.19-9 Guodahuama Street, Lijiang Ancient City, Yunnan Province
  • Show time: 9:00-10:00; 11:30-12:30
  • Price: 190 Yuan/person
  • Getting there:
    Rent a van from Lijiang Ancient City at 150 Yuan for a round trip;
    Take bus No.7 in Lijiang Ancient City at 15 Yuan/person.

Tour Idea:

Dayan Naxi Ancient Music Concert

Dayan Naxi Ancient Music Concert

Naxi Ancient Music is a dying music, famous throughout the world. It had developed its own unique style by the 14th century, but its roots go back much further, and it is considered to be not only the oldest music in Yunnan Province but also in China and possibly even in the world.

Naxi Ancient Music is mainly influenced by Confucian and Daoist culture. It originated from Dongjing and Huangjing music from the Han Nationality, generally known as Song Music (Music from the Song Dynasty). At one time verses were sung with the music, but it finally became pure music as the Naxi tradition developed, often in isolation from its sources, thus it preserved some older traditions.

For the past 500 years, Naxi Ancient Music has only been only performed by men. So now when you go to the Dayan Naxi Ancient Music Concert, you will see all of the players are old men. The eldest is about 90 and some are in their 80s. Old music and antique instruments played by old men make this concert rare and attractive. Wherever you sit, you will be touched by the haunting depth and quality of the performance. This one and a half hour concert is a special opportunity, well worth experiencing.

  • Add: Naxi Ancient music hall, No.86, Misi Alley, Xinhua Street, Gucheng District, Lijiang, Show time: 20:00-21:30
  • Admission: 160 Yuan/person for Ticket A; 140 Yuan/person for Ticket B; 120 Yuan/person for Ticket C.

Tour Idea:

Vintage Sidecars

Vintage Sidecars

For something completely different try taking a vintage sidecar tour. This offers a unique opportunity to see Lijiang from a special angle. There are many different tours on offer to suit your budget, time available and the places you most want to see. The four-hour tour is the most popular.

Whilst you sit in the sidecar, your driver is also your guide, and very familiar with local places including the best routes, attractions, rare spots, restaurants and guest houses. The driver will ensure that you travel at the best speed consistent with safety. You can stop whenever you want to take a snapshot or walk around. Your guide will also show you interesting places like an old temple or even an abandoned airfield used by the Flying Tigers in WW2, depending on what interests you. You can drive to the other side of the snow mountain to take in a different view, or otherwise tailor your ride to your taste. This is a definite highlight on any Lijiang trip.

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What to Eat in Lijiang

Upstairs N’S Kitchen

Upstairs N'S Kitchen

An upstairs eatery overlooking the square in the old town, Upstairs N'S kitchen (二楼小厨) is a gem. Traditional architecture and pleasant views over the square from the balcony makes this an attractive and relaxed way to take your meals. It is ranked # 5 of all Lijiang Restaurants on Tripadvisor and considered by foreign travelers to be the best western food in Lijiang.

Their omelets, home-made bread, local coffee, burgers, French toast, sandwiches and pizza have all won high praise. Staff speak relatively fluent English and some can also provide good local advice about traveling in Lijiang. Mellow jazz in the background contributes to a pleasant ambience, and breakfast on the balcony is a great way to kick start your day.

  • Add: 2F, 17 Jishan Alley, Xinyi Street, Lijiang, Yunnan
  • Opening Hours: 09:00-22:00
  • Price Range/person: $8-$12
Maya Café

Maya Café

Within a short walking distance of the large Water Wheels at Yuhe Square, Maya Café (玛娅咖啡馆)is a very popular Indian restaurant with foreigners. The clean and neat surroundings and deliciously authentic food, with ingredients from India, are the best reasons for many customers to keep coming here. Food specialties are beef curry, deluxe hamburger, French fries and ice cream cheese cakes etc.

The owners are a couple from India and have been in Lijiang for some years. They are friendly and make you feel comfortable as soon as you set foot inside. Good food in a friendly environment make this a great place to chill out.

  • Add: No.33, Yu He Zou Lang Old Town, Lijiang, Yunnan
  • Opening Hours: Closes around 8pm every day and Closed on Sundays
  • Price Range/person: $1-$9

88 Snack

88 Snack(丽江88号小吃店) mainly offers local Naxi dishes which are delicious and cheap. Naxi fried rice, Naxi noodles and fried rice pieces are the most popular. There are many customers every day but it also has its own website which provides an online ordering service.

  • Add: No.88, Wuyi Street, Lijiang, Yunnan
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-21:00
  • Price range/person: $4

What to Buy

Dongba Culture Museum

This is a small museum that shows the Dongba culture of the Naxi people. The museum is located near the Black Dragon Pool, and a good place to learn more of the Dongba history and also its language. At the end of the hall there is a shop offering calligraphy and painting, Dongba Lucky Bells, local antiques and some silver items.

  • Add: Near Black Dragon Pool Park, Jiaoyu Road, Lijiang City
  • Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00
  • Admission: 30 Yuan/person
  • Getting there: Take Bus Nos. 3/6/7/8/9 and get off at Heilongtan Park Station (黑龙潭公园)

Lijiang Baoshutang Drugstore

This is a chain drugstore in China, with stores in Beijing, Hangzhou, Xiamen and some other big cities. The store mainly offers quality Chinese Traditional medicine and medicines for healing burns.

  • Add:Shangrila Raod, Gucheng District, Lijiang
  • Opening Hours: 24 hours

Bu Nong Ling (Bunong Bell)

Once part of the harness of horses on the tea-horse road, Bunong Bells have become a special and beautiful art of their own, and a unique item to take home. Bu Nong Ling is the most popular store selling Bunong Bells, because all the bells there are designed and handmade by the owner.

  • Add: East of the big stone bridge, Lijiang Ancient City

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