The old town of Lijiang is surely one of Yunnan’s most charming ancient cities. Although largely destroyed in 1996 following an earthquake, it quickly rebuilt, thanks in part to its UNESCO World Heritage designation. Lijiang is the center of the Naxi minority, with its very specific culture, including its religion and writing of more than 1,000 pictograms. The culture of Lijiang and its old town is a nice place to relax and hang out for a few days.
Romanticism vs. mass tourism in Lijiang
Former major trading center on the road of tea and horses, and connected with Tibet and Burma, Lijiang is still rich, perhaps too: Lijiang has become in recent years a popular destination of Chinese tourists, who considers it a very romantic area and where to travel with its half. This is due in part to a local legend telling of the suicide of young people whose love was made impossible because of their different social background. Lijiang is now home to more and more shops selling the same souvenirs, some neighborhoods of bars and restaurants are now very noisy at night, it is necessary to know and adapt to it, otherwise look for a small quiet hotel on the outskirts of center of the old town, otherwise in a small neighboring village. Lijiang remains a pleasure to explore, but very early in the morning!
Tours and activities around Lijiang
Outside of Lijiang’s ancient city, its narrow streets and numerous canals, Lijiang is the focal point for a region rich in various activities, such as trekking in the Tiger Leaping Gorge or trekking around the Jade Dragon Mountains. by the small villages of Wumu, Baoshan or Daju. Nearer, you can explore the village of Wenhai overlooking the Lijiang Valley, on foot or on horseback, otherwise the ancient Naxi cities of Shuhe, Baisha or Yuhu, or Lake Lashihai. Lijiang is also the starting point for an expedition to Lugu Lake where we recommend a very nice hike to Baoshan to see Yading in Sichuan.
When to visit Lijiang?
It is possible to travel to Lijiang at any time of the year! Each period offers advantages and disadvantages: the temperatures during the winter are lower than the rest of the year, but this period gives you the near guarantee of a blue sky, and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, including the snowy peaks of the jade dragon mountain. As for the rest of Yunnan, spring and autumn have a moderate climate (neither too hot nor too cold), but some risks of rain. It is also the month of July and August with high rainfall, but not too boring for your discovery of the region if you do not plan long hikes. Summer is also becoming more popular for Chinese people in the area. You will find more details about the climate in Lijiang on the Weather Lijiang page.
Choice of Hotels in Lijiang
As we said above, be careful to select a quiet hotel if you want to stay in the old town of Lijiang. The Zen Garden Wuyi Yard and Village Green Inn are located in a quiet lane of Lijiang, as is the Zen Garden Lion Hill, but you still hear a little music from the bars and nightclubs of the city, until midnight every night. For more peace, choose a charming hotel in the village of Shuhe, like Arro Khampa or Bivou, our favorite in the region. For a more rustic stay and close to the locals, go for the Nguluko Guest House in Yuhu.