Travel Guide Asia China Yunnan Lijiang



Lijiang Park

Lijiang Park

© Degolasse

Lijiang (丽江) is the historic capital of the Naxi people. Left almost derelict following a major earthquake in 1996, the past 10 years have seen the town restored, cleaned and polished up by the Cultural Tourism Agency. Lijiang old town (including Dayan, Baisha and Shuhe) was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 4 December 1997 and lies in the Himalayan foothills at an altitude of 2,400 metres. It has the feel of a living museum, a pulsating network of tiny winding streets, canals, ancient bridges, water wheels, wells, shrines and temples. The centre of Lijiang looks like a fairy tale in the evening, when the small canals, bridges, cobble stone streets and wooden houses are lit up by red Chinese lanterns. It almost feels like going back in time. Looming in the distance is the enormous and captivating mass of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain - the best view is from the lovely Black Dragon Pool park. This is the most photographed location in China, with its temples and white mountain tops reflected in the lake.



Sights and Activities

  • Canals, water wheels, bridges and tiny winding streets in the Old Town.
  • The Mu Palace - a very well preserved palace/fortress of the Naxi.
  • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain - three cable cars run to different points on the mountain (or it's a very long and challenging hike).
  • Black Dragon Pool Park - a very well kept and serene park with amazing views over Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and a great tea house next to the pool.
  • Visiting surounding Naxi Villages - a particularly good day out by bike.
  • Listening to a performance by the Naxi Orchestra.
  • Take a short bus ride to the start point for the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek



Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.

Local Festivals

  • Snow Mountain Music Festival - a Chinese Rock festival.



Getting There

By Plane

Lijiang Airport (LJG) is served by a limited but growing number of scheduled regional and national flights, particularly to Kunming and Chengdu. Jinghong/Xishuangbanna, Chongqing and Shenzhen are other destinations.

By Car

Lijiang is currently the last point on the major highway network though the road to Shangri-La is being improved.

By Bus

Buses are available to many destinations, including Dali, Kunming, Shangri-La and Hutiaoxia Town (for Tiger Leaping Gorge).

By Train

There is a 3 trains a day to Kunming, one of which travels overnight. One train a day also goes to Dali..



Getting Around

By Public Transport

Local buses connect important locations across the new town, though no traffic is allowed in the old town.

By Foot

The best, and only, way of exploring the fascinating old town is on foot.
Also interesting is a trek to Baisha ancient town, all the way up to Weihai Lake. It starts at 2,500 metres and goes up to 3,200 metres. This is a full day trek. At the lakeside, you can have a lunch in the local Naxi people's house. There also some local guesthouses where you could spend the night. If starting from Lijiang, you can take local transport first to Baisha village, and find the mountain trail for trekking. This trek will take about 4 hours through the forest.

By Bike

Many guesthouses hire out cycles, and this is a good way of getting out of town, particularly to visit traditional local villages.
Biking from Lijiang old town to Baisha ancient village is a great idea. It is about 10 kilometres and takes around 1 hour. It is north of Lijiang, with very nice views of the Jade dragon snow mountain.




Lijiang isn't the cheapest place in China to eat, but does have a good range of eateries, including many restaurants serving Naxi specialities as well as flash international restaurants and standard Chinese fare.
A particularly nice area to eat is the line of cafes with balconies hanging over a small canal to the southwest of Sifang Square. A favourite for travellers is the Prague Cafe, which has a nice cosy atmosphere and serves good, reasonably priced food despite being in quite a touristy area.




There are several bars located along the apty named "bar street" which face each other across the narrow canal. A unique experience during the evenings is hearing how men and women sing limericks to each other, often from one side of a canal to another. It’s quite a lively scene and there is singing, screaming, drinking and dancing. This is not only done by the Naxi, Chinese and Western tourists often also join in adding to the celebratory atmosphere.





  • Lao Shay Youth Hostel is a very nice hostel in the old city. Check out the website for a map to find this guesthouse, because the alleyways can be very maze like. The people that own this guesthouse also own a satellite guesthouse located on a lake in a nearby village.
  • Lijiang Inn reservation. US$10-$20 per room/per day. Airport pick up. For more information, please contact


There are plenty of traditional-style guesthouses in the Old Town. The Moon Inn is particularly good value.


You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)



Keep Connected


Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.


China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 26.873199
  • Longitude: 100.231407

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This is version 28. Last edited at 14:20 on Sep 1, 18 by Unphilteredidea. 9 articles link to this page.

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