The Discoverer
China isn’t lacking spectacular natural scenery, and Lijiang can hold its own. From deep river gorges to towering Himalayan peaks, this ancient city has its fair share of eye-catching goodies. But they don’t stop there. Lijiang City blends its natural backdrop perfectly with historical sites, nooks and crannies, and a unique culture. It’s no wonder people have lived here for centuries. It may miss most international tourists’ top 10 lists, but it’s a gorgeous destination for travelers in the know.
Lijiang
EDITION 44 | 4:51 read time
Lijiang, Yunnan, China | @wayfaringminimalist
China isn’t lacking spectacular natural scenery, and Lijiang can hold its own. From deep river gorges to towering Himalayan peaks, this ancient city has its fair share of eye-catching goodies. But they don’t stop there. Lijiang City blends its natural backdrop perfectly with historical sites, nooks and crannies, and a unique culture. It’s no wonder people have lived here for centuries. It may miss most international tourists’ top 10 lists, but it’s a gorgeous destination for travelers in the know.
Lijiang, Yunnan, China
N 26.85° / E 100.22°
Map of Lijiang
#FunFact
Despite having a population of over 1.2 million people, Lijiang doesn’t even crack the top 20 biggest Chinese cities! In fact, compared to the rest of the country, it’s a backwater town.
When to go
@jasminegy
March-May
Don’t let those snowy mountains in the background fool you - Lijiang’s weather is actually quite mild with warm winters and cool summers. The city can, however, experience drastic swings in a single day, so it’s best to layer up. Avoid the monsoon season (July-August) as well as Chinese public holidays (Labor Day and National Day) to beat the crowds. We recommend March-May to see the sights without the crush of holiday-happy tourists.
Discoveries
#lijiangoldtown  | @sou.good
Just Like Old Times
Poking around the UNESCO heritage site of Old Town Lijiang is a must when visiting. But by midday the narrow cobblestone streets are packed with tourists. Get up early and explore the main streets before the rest of the crowds get there. Once they arrive, step off the main path to find more peaceful walks. You can also skip over to the nearby village of Shuhe, which offers its own delightful experience.
"It takes some effort to find the less touristy areas, but when you do, Lijiang has some of the most intriguing nooks and crannies - where people hold garage sales, or music performances with just a handful of people in the audience. Some places also reveal wonderful views, especially with the mountains as a perfect backdrop." -@jasminegy
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain | @heydonie
It's All in the Name
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a breathtaking piece of the Himalayan mountains right in Lijiang’s backyard. There are some pretty touristy things you can try, like watching the local village’s musical performance or taking a cable car to the top of the peak. But the best way to experience the mountain is from Blue Moon Valley. This series of stunning blue pools offer fantastic photo opps. Head for the top pool and crawl over some big stones to get away from your fellow travelers.
Old Town of Lijiang  | @dan_sporean
Imperial Delights
Lijiang is full of stunningly well-preserved historic buildings. One of the most popular to visit is Mu Residence, a mini Forbidden City that features ornate rooms and beautiful gardens. Also worth checking out is Wenchang Palace, a slightly lesser-known mansion with incredible views. Also make sure you visit Black Dragon Pool for the hands-down best view in the city.
Tiger Leaping Gorge  | @emontielle
Mother Nature Never Fails to Impress
Tiger Leaping Gorge is more than a fantastic name. It’s one of the best hikes in the world, and, unlike most of the region, much less touristy. Meaning, the trail is actual rocks instead of pavement. Wander the edge of one of the deepest gorges in the world, admiring the rocky cliffs with only the Yangtze river as your companion. This is a two-day hike, so stay at one of the guesthouses along the way.
Jingyi's Discovery
@pandaberriesadventure
"Another beautiful mountain is the Thousand Turtle Mountain which is relatively quiet as it remains unknown to most tourists. The drive from Lijiang takes around 2.5 hours. Entrance is around £15 per person. Inside you have other options of taking a cable car up to the top, or an electric car which will take you to a few of the sights around the area. We took the walking route - it was really pleasant, well-signed. It took around 2 hours up and then a bit of rest up on top, with 45 mins back down. It is beautiful with red rock mountains and spectacular rock formation, I would highly recommend it!"
instagram Follow Jingyi
Eat This
@sou.good
Noodle Game Strong
Like any Chinese province, Yunnan has its own unique dishes that you have to try. Many of the food stalls or local restaurants serve these key dishes. First, check out the mixian, or “crossing bridge” noodles. These delicious rice noodles are served in hot soup, meat, and veggies for a flavorful dish. Next, grab yourself a fried cheese roll from a street vendor for a tasty snack. The next treat to try are the rose cakes offered in almost every bakery in the city. Savor these melt-in-your-mouth treats that will be a nice reprieve after the spicy Yunnan cuisine. Finally, you can’t escape China without a traditional tea tasting. Soak up those herbal fumes and enjoy feeling fancy.
Stay Here
#lijiang  | @jakeanddannie
Lijiang Luxury
There are a lot of quaint local guest houses throughout the city that many Chinese tourists love to stay in. But if you don’t speak Chinese, making reservations can be tricky. If you have a local friend or guide, they can set you up. Otherwise, there are several gorgeous hotel options, like the Lijiang Zen Garden Hotel or the larger Bivou Lijiang. No matter where you stay, be sure to write down the address, as the narrow streets can turn into a maze at the end of the day.
guide me
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain | @ariyaling.photography
Sun Icon Sun's Out, Sunblock On
Enjoy the fresh air and the sun, but remember you are at high altitude, where you can get winded easily, and moreover the sun burns your skin very fast! Don’t be fooled by the fresh air, and wear sunscreen! -@khundenis
Music Note Icon Get Loud
Ask around for the music square, and when you find it, sit down and bang on the drums with locals and other travellers alike! A fun way to truly experience Lijiang's unique music style. - @jasminegy
Friend Icon Go Further
Lijiang has a very laid back South East Asian or even Tibetan feel, very different from other places in China. It provides a fascinating insight into the unique local culture from the many different ethnic groups in the region. Although most visitors only visit Lijiang for a couple of days, using it as a base for trips to Tiger Leaping Gorge or Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, you could easily spend several weeks exploring the sights and local villages. - @travelboostguides
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