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Lijiang in the land of eternal spring

Lijiang Travel Blog

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the street leading into the old town

Lijiang in the province of Yunnan (the land of eternal spring) is one of these cities that are getting more popular very quickly. When we were there in 2008 there were already some westerners but we were still an exception. By now it already has been discovered by larger public. Hopefully this city, which is a success story for the Naxi minorities and for the policy to phase out polluting paper industry in favor of tourism, will manage to keep its character.

When we arrived at the new airport, Mr. Zhang, our guide was already waiting for us. He and the driver got us to the hotel, and there we discussed our plans. We would go visit the old town that evening and have dinner there. Then tomorrow, we would go to the literal high point of Lijiang, the Yulong Xue Shan, translated: Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

the water mill at the entrance of the old town

Lijiang is located about 400 kilometers northwest of Kunming, at the entrance of a valley where you can follow the river upstream all the way to Shangri La, the legendary ideal place for longevity and happiness, on the border of Tibet. Many places in China claim to be Shangri La, but according to our Chinese friends this one probably has the strongest case. We would not be able to go there now as our stay was too short, but being in and around Lijiang made clear to us that this is a totally different China from the big cities and huge masses, and pollution and traffic, that we see on TV sooften.

This is the doorstep of the Himalayas, the traditonal land of many minority tribes with all their rich traditions. They are in charge of their daily lives and to a larger extent than we may sometimes think in the west, and many places in Yunnan have been designated as tribal autonomous area.

the water mill at the entrance of the old town
Also these nay different minorities have some privileges compared to the Han Chinese.

Lijiang used to be the village of the Naxi tribe, until the industrialization came. Deforestation, heavy pollution and almost the extinction of the life of the Naxi were the consequence. Then there was an enormous earthquake and after that a choice has been made to get rid of the industry, and to develop tourism instead. And the Naxi themselves play a big role in it. They do things different from the big cities in other parts of China. They cherish their culture and history and have found a way to make their living out of it. Maybe it means that they have to make compromises by being opener to the outside world, but they have decided that it is a choice between either this, or losing it in a fastly developing China.

old twon Lijiang
In any event, Lijiang is much cleaner and much better maintained than many other cities in China.

The historic old town has been restored beautifully. Yes, there are hostels, shops and restaurants and even backpacker café's now. But the historic buildings are there, and well taken care of by the Naxi. We went to eat at a small restaurant in the old town, where it was warm and cosy inside (no tube lamps like in so many other places) with warm colors, hot rice, steamed and roasted meats and veggies, mushrooms. I will retrieve the name of the restaurant and write a review if i can.

The hotel that we had was located just outside of Lijiang city. It was a brand new large hotel with a fantastic view on the mountain massif of yue Long Xue Shan, our destination for tomorrow...

WalterC says:
Definitely looks like a nice place to visit.
Posted on: Dec 27, 2012
mountaingirl says:
I am envious of zour trip! This is one place that I have planned to visit this March during a vsit to Singapore but had to cancel as time was too short.
Posted on: Mar 04, 2012
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the street leading into the old to…
the street leading into the old t…
the water mill at the entrance of …
the water mill at the entrance of…
the water mill at the entrance of …
the water mill at the entrance of…
old twon Lijiang
old twon Lijiang
the small streams that run across …
the small streams that run across…
visiting a famous calligrapher in …
visiting a famous calligrapher in…
a window shutter with nice wood ca…
a window shutter with nice wood c…
tourists in the old town, for almo…
tourists in the old town, for alm…
gate in the old town by night
gate in the old town by night
the traditional picture script of …
the traditional picture script of…
the traditional picture script of …
the traditional picture script of…
the traditional picture script of …
the traditional picture script of…
atmosphere
atmosphere
one of the canals in the old town …
one of the canals in the old town…
traditional floating candles to be…
traditional floating candles to b…
Lijiang
photo by: Deats