A hidden gem of Yunnan Province, the city of Lijiang boasts a rich history, dating back to as far as the Song Dynasty. It has an old town charm, with canals and waterways flowing along ancient streets, as well as ponds, parks, and palaces, filled with ancient Chinese architecture. In terms of geographical position, it is pretty remote compared to other tourist destinations in the province but it has the advantage of good weather, all year round. The city also has great mountains, where visitors can go camping or take a hike.
Start planning your trip to Lijiang - here are some of the best things to do if you want to savor the beauty of the old town!
1. See ancient houses in Lijiang's Old Town
A stroll to check out the historical townscape is a great introduction to the rich culture of Lijiang. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 1997, recognized for its unique architecture, that has withstood time. Visitors can take photos with the ancient houses and courtyards as the backdrop. To learn more about the Old Town’s history, guests can take a guided tour of the area. It is open 24 hours.
Lijiang Old Town
Address: Gucheng, Lijiang, Yunnan, China
Opening hours: 24 hours
2. Watch the sunrise aboard a boat at Lugu Lake
The stillness of the mornings on Lugu Lake is ideal for any traveler, seeking a relaxing escape. It is recommended for visitors to rent a boat to watch the sunrise, but the vessels are also available at any other time of the day. Enjoy the picturesque views of the peaceful water and surrounding mountains, and in case you don’t feel like riding a boat, you can also take a motorbike around the lake. Visitors who wish to stay longer can book a night at nearby three-star hotels.
Address: Lijiang, Yunnan, China
Opening hours: 24 hours
3. Spend an afternoon at Shuhe Ancient Town
People traveling to Lijiang will never run out of old Chinese architecture, to see and appreciate. Just a few miles away from Lijiang Old Town is Shuhe Ancient Town, a historic site, ideal for a stroll on a bright sunny afternoon. Here, you can enjoy the ancient town charm by walking through the Chinese landscape and old buildings. Restaurants and coffee shops abound, as well as shops offering various souvenirs. The place is open until 7 pm.
Shuhe Ancient Town
Address: Shuhe Rd, 束河镇 Gucheng Qu, Lijiang Shi, Yunnan Sheng, China
Opening hours: 7:30 am to 7:00 pm
4. Go for a quiet walk at Black Dragon Pond Park
If you love being surrounded by the mountains and the water, Black Dragon Pond Park is an ideal place to go. Autumn is a great time to walk around the area and appreciate the natural scenery. Imagine trees with yellow and orange colored leaves and their beautiful reflection on the calm waters of the pond! Located near Lijiang Old Town, the beautiful Elephant Hill can also be spotted from this area.
Black Dragon Pond Park
Address: 1 Minzhu Rd, Gucheng Qu, Lijiang Shi, Yunnan Sheng, China
Opening hours: 7:00 am to 9:30 pm
5. Watch the Lijiang Impressions Show
The Lijiang Impressions Show showcases the tribal cultures of China. Known as the “highest real landscape performance,” the outdoor shows take place approximately 3,100 meters (10,170.6 feet) above sea level, with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as the backdrop. Performers are from different minority tribes of the province of Yunnan. They pair choreography with beautiful music, while explanations about the performances are also included in the show. Just make sure to arrive early, before 11 am because this show is pretty popular among travelers.
Lijiang Impressions Show
Address: No.19-9 Guodahuama Street, Old Town, Lijiang, China
Opening hours: 9 am to 12 pm
6. Learn about history at the Mufu Palace
Take a peek at the life of the wealthy families from China’s olden days, through a visit to the Mufu Palace. The complex is located at the foot of Lion Mountain, surrounded by plum blossoms and magnolia trees, which are most beautiful in February. The palace’s original structure was destroyed by a fire and an earthquake in 1996 and rebuilt right after. Tour guides are available in the area.
Address: China, Yunnan Sheng, Lijiang Shi, Gucheng Qu
Opening hours: 8:30 pm to 5:30 pm
7. Ride the cable car at Blue Moon Valley
Blue Moon Valley actually refers to a river that passes through the valleys of Jade Snow Dragon Mountain. It resembles a blue crescent moon from afar, which is why it was named as such. Visitors can take a hike or ride a bus, but if you want magnificent views of the whole area, you can ride the cable car. A trip to the Blue Moon Valley can also be combined with a visit to Spruce Plateau and Yak Plateau.
Blue Moon Valley
Address: Yulong, Lijiang, Yunnan, China
Recommended length of visit: 1 hour
8. Go on a food trip with Lijiang Insider
Get to know Lijiang through your taste buds! Lijiang Insider is an adventure company, once voted by CNN and NatGeo as the best way to experience the city. They offer private tours, aboard vintage motorcycles and jeeps, and they can take you to the best places in Lijiang for snacks, drinks, and meals. If you can’t join the tour, just make sure you get a taste of local specialties like Sanwen fish, chickpea bean jelly, Lijiang stuffed buns and salted pork rib hot pot.
Address: Yunyan, Lijiang, China
Website: Insiders Expeditions
9. Shop for souvenirs on Square Street
Square Street is a part of Lijiang Old Town known for its array of shops that offer souvenirs and other locally-made goods. Some of the things you might find here include herbal and medicinal products, teas, and silver jewelry. There are also restaurants where you can try the local fare. Other things you can do here include watching a mini dance show in the morning or in the afternoon. At night, the square turns into a jostling destination with bars and discos filled with party goers.
Address: Sifang Street, Gucheng Distict, Lijiang
Recommended length of visit: 2 hours
10. Take a hike at Tiger Leaping Gorge
Considered one of the deepest gorges in the world, Tiger Leaping Gorge is a popular outdoor destination among travelers visiting Lijiang. This World Heritage Site is approximately 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) long, with a series of rapids, surrounded by 4,000-meter (13,123.4 foot) high cliffs. Taking a hike to enjoy the scenery is possible, but the hiking trails are usually closed when there are heavy rains. There are also guesthouses in the area where visitors can stay overnight.
Tiger Leaping Gorge
Address: Yunnan, China
Opening hours: 8:30 am to 6:00 pm
A step back in time
Exploring Lijiang indeed feels like a step back in time. Savor the cultural heritage, experience the local lifestyle, and of course, don’t forget to enjoy the natural wonders, too. Happy travels!
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