Lijiang Old Town (Dayan)

Lijiang, China

One of the few well-preserved old towns in China, Lijiang Old Town is home to the small ethnicity of Naxi. Ever since its inclusion in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Government has proactively helped in its maintenance and preservation. Specially the canal system running throughout town is a work of ingenuity and awe.

Visitors come to this town through Kunming or Dali via bus, train or plane. There on out, taxis and buses are available to take you to the South or North Gate of the old town. If your hotel is in the center of town, you will have to do quite a bit of walking on cobbled pathways to reach it since motor vehicles are not allowed inside. Best time to visit is in Spring or Autumn when the weather is milder. There is a maintenance fare of RMB50 that all visitors have to pay. Tour group operators will normally pay on behalf of their group while some hotels may also charge it from tourists. Remember to get a receipt though, as that will be checked in a majority of Lijiang’s paid attractions. Good, clean bathrooms are available all across town but do dress appropriately for the strong sun. The town has gotten quite touristy and gets crowded in the evening. So, to experience its charm and old-world ways, take a morning stroll through Lijiang before 10.

Most of the pathways in Lijiang old town are flanked with eateries and vendors selling souvenirs and crafts. You can even get special window panels, carved in centuries old Naxi style, to take home. And the food is just the cherry on top. The houses, built alongside streams, are also representative of Naxi culture and make for a wonderful view. There are specific establishments that you can visit to learn more about this Chinese minority’s past. Mu’s residence is probably one of the most visited. It was built by the ruling family of the area and is like a smaller scale Forbidden City. Entry price is RMB60.

Behind that is the Wangu Tower and for a RMB50 admission price you get amazing views of not only the small Forbidden City look-alike and old town but also Lijiang’s modern city, the mountains and the villages beyond.

Black Dragon Pool/ Jade Spring Park is a free attraction and has many interesting bridges, pavilions and constructions that visitors can admire.

The Dongba Culture Museum has history and culture preserved in the form of old buildings, statues and artwork copied from the lives of Naxi people. It costs RMB30 to enter.

Another thing that is a must in Lijiang town is a musical performance in the evening. The venue is the Sifang Square (which is the smack dab middle of town and has wonderful photographing opportunities) and locals, both young and old, gather to put on an energetic song and dance show. Another musical performance also takes place every evening in the Naxi Concert Hall called the Naxi Ancient Music. Both have their own charms.

Other Attractions In Lijiang