Lijiang is situated in China’s Southwest Province, Yunnan. Under the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, covered by the snow all the year, is where you will find this area, and when you step in, you’ll see cobbled streets filled with streams. Here is the homeland of the Naxi people. Their culture integrates a one-of-a-kind pictographic alphabet with shamanism.
This place was initially a wild forest area, later, the Naxi congregated in Baisha and built the first village, which was once the Naxi Kingdom’s capital. Following the rising of the famous Tea Horse Road, Baisha was expanded rapidly in scale and became a flourishing and full-fledged trade center.
The ecological environment of Lijiang is well protected, thanks to the local people who believe in Animism and coexist in harmony with nature. Take Lashihai as an example. The Naxi people cultivate and live here, and black-necked cranes also inhabit and spend the winter here.
The same goes for the Old Town of Lijiang, which is quite popular among Chinese tourists, especially during public holidays. The ancient town retains a large number of ancient buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties thanks to the inheritance and care of generations of Naxi people. The building materials are simple and plain but combined with the local people’s concept of conforming to nature, the ancient town has come vivid and won the favor of UNESCO and was listed in the cultural heritage.
ABC’s of Lijiang
Area: 748 500 km2 Average annual temperature: 13.1 degrees Geography: Lijiang is located in the north of Yunnan Population: 1,253,878 inhabitants (2019) The minority population accounts for 56.79% of the total registered population Elevation: 2400 m Ethnic minorities: Naxi, Yi, Lisu, Bai, Pumi, Dai, Miao Economy: Tourism, Agriculture, Crafts, Spices
Beyond the old town of Lijiang, you will find numerous scenic spots surrounding, and participate in the activities within this region. For instance, you can go for a trek in the Jade Dragon Mountains or the Tiger Leaping Gorge. You’ll find these places near the tiny villages of Daju, Wumu, and Baoshan. The Wenhai Village can be explored as well, which overlooks the Lijiang Valley. You’ll be able to see it either on horseback or on foot. You can also explore the ancient Naxi towns of Baisha, Yuhu, Lake Lashihai, and Shuhe. Lijiang happens to be a starting point when it comes to Lugu Lake expeditions and goes further to Daocheng and Yading in Sichuan.
Put together by the great director Zhang Yi Mou, most renowned for his work on the Beijing Olympics’ Opening Ceremony, this outdoor theater happens to be set over sea level by about 3300 meters. The Jade Dragon Mountain is used as a backdrop for it. This cultural show utilizes more than 500 actors and performers of different ethnic minorities, each of which articulates a narrative that celebrates the unique traditions of all 11 ethnic minorities residing in Lijiang.
You can travel to Lijiang year-round based on the types of experiences and sites you’re interested in seeing. Recommended seasons to come and visit include spring and autumn.
During the springtime (March-May), visitors will be comfortable here. It’s not too cold and not too hot (14°C is the average temperature during this period). You’ll find the sky to be clear and blue each day. You’ll also be able to see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain no matter where you are in the city. The flowers are regularly in blossom, too. In comparison to other seasons, springtime has the least number of tourists in Lijiang.
In the summertime (June – August), because Lijiang’s average elevation sits at 2400 m, the temperature doesn’t get any hotter than 24°C during the summertime. But the heavy rain from July to August does make it troublesome to get a good look at the mountain (because of all the fog). Meanwhile, the two months are the summer holiday in China, so there will be more tourists, and the car and hotel rates will be higher.
In the autumn season (September – November), the temperature is very comfortable, the air is crisp and clear, and the environment is filled with mesmerizing flowers and trees. It doesn’t rain very much after the middle of November, though you will see some rainfall sporadically in the season. This is when local Alpine grasses and wildflowers flourish. Autumn nights are chilly and crisp, so you will need to bring a coat along with you wherever you go.
Wintertime (December – February) is a cost-effective season to travel to Lijiang. The most popular destination during this period is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Its blue sky is clean between December and February. You find it warm during the daytime (typically over 4°C and going up to as high as 15°C), though the nighttime could be significantly cold (as low as -2°C). Tourist activity is minimal during the wintertime. It’s the most inexpensive season to visit it in. For information about Lijiang climate and weather.
The history of Lijiang would date back to the period of the Warring States (475-221 B.C.) and was the territory of the Dian Kingdom. In the Tang Dynasty, it was ruled by the Tubo and the Nanzhao Kingdom. Like the whole of Yunnan, Lijiang was under the jurisdiction of the Yuan Dynasty after 1253. From the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty, Lijiang was an important goods distribution center for trade between Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet, and is where the Silk Road in the south joins the Ancient Tea and Horse Roads. In 1996, a magnitude 7 earthquake occurred in Lijiang, and restoration and reconstruction were completed three years later. In 1997, UNESCO put Lijiang Old Town on its list of the world’s cultural heritage sites.
Dr. Joseph Rock was an Austrian-American botanist and explorer. He was the first foreign scholar to introduce Lijiang culture to the Western world.
In 1922, Rock came to Lijiang for the first time, engaged in research and expedition of plants, ethnic culture, geography, etc. He wrote lots of articles about Lijiang, these articles vividly reflected the geographic condition and ethnic culture of Lijiang. He continuously sent precious photos back to the United States and published them in the influential National Geographic Magazine, unveiled the mystery of Lijiang for the first time.
Rock lived in a two-story courtyard in Yuhu Village outside Lijiang, where he could see Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as he looks up. Rock stayed there for 27 years; Lijiang had become a hometown in his heart. Nowadays the Naxi courtyard where he had lived in Yuhu village has become the exhibition hall of Rock’s former residence, which displayed a large number of pictures taken by Rock and some relics in his residence.
The Naxi is one of the ethnic minorities in China, and most of them live in Lijiang. The Naxi people account for 19.3 of the population of Lijiang. The Naxi ancestors migrated from the highland of eastern Tibet to Lijiang in the 1st century AD.
There is still a matrilineal society among Naxi people, and women play important roles in the family. The religion of Naxi is based on a mixture of animism, Tibetan Lamaism, and shamanism. Dongba is the traditional religious clergy of shamanism, which is the most senior intellectual of the Naxi people, and also the main inheritor of Dongba culture.
The Naxi people have their characters for writing, it’s a kind of primitive pictograph and Dongba still uses it to write scriptures today. Dongba Scripture is not only an encyclopedia of the ancient social life of the Naxi ancestors but also a treasury of Naxi classical literature. The ancient myths, epics, legends, stories, and proverbs of the Naxi people are all recorded in the Dongba Sutra.
1.Cu Cha Dan Fan 粗茶淡饭
This restaurant’s name translates to “coarse tea bland rice,” a very common term that describes every day, basic food. Having said that, the food you’ll find here is hardly bland. There is no shortage of comfort food here. Matsutake from Shangri-La is the specialty of this store. The fungi are so rare that it is just as expensive as truffle is. It grows only in atmospheres that are pristine (such as the Shangri-La Forest). These mushrooms are foraged specifically by locals once a rain shower has ended (which is when these edibles emerge). The mushrooms must be consumed within a couple of days of being harvested to preserve the intense flavoring, fragile as it is.
Here are some traditional items to try out while in the ancient town of Lijiang. If nothing else, they make memorable souvenirs!
Dried Yak Meat
Anyone who enjoys eating beef jerky will appreciate dried yak meat, whether it is consumed spicy or sweet. This is a costly product, though, so the amount that you can eat might be limited.
These small cakes are filled with roses. You’ll want to taste these morsels after their enticing aroma gently wafts through narrow roads on the second when they’re taken out of an oven.
Yak Milk Products
Curious what the taste of yak milk is like? In short, it is similar to cow’s milk, the exception being that it is richer and “milky” in taste. In addition to being able to purchase ordinary yak milk, you can also consume it in the form of candy, yogurt, or ice cream.
Jidou Pea Jelly
Jidou pea jelly is a traditional snack in Lijiang that is made from chickpeas. Chickpea is a kind of yellow beans produced in Lijiang. It looks like the head of a chicken, that’s what its Chinese name means. The chickpeas are soaked, ground, and filtered into a slurry, and then cooked into a gray, and then put into containers to cool and shape. It can be served as a salad with some vinegar, soy sauce and chili, it’s very popular especial in hot summer.
Except for Banyan Tree Hotel and InterContinental Hotel, which are international brand hotel chains, the other hotels we recommend are all local hotels, quiet and comfortable, allowing you to relax after a long way trip.
Discover our selection of the best charming hotels located in Lijiang and its region, meeting all comfort and price ranges on the dedicated page of our site.
This selection is the result of our long experience and the positive feedback from our customers. Please take into consideration that in some more remote destinations, the choice of infrastructure and the range of comfort is sometimes limited. In this case, we do our best to retain the best establishments.
4 days | Wumu, Baoshan, and Tiger Leaping Gorge A superb hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge with stops in two typical and charming villages. A nice break in the most beautiful mountain landscapes of Yunnan.