Lijiang is a city in the Western Chinese province Yunnan. It feels very different to the rest of China due to its remoteness and sure is worth visiting. Read why in this City Guide!
If you are into travelling to remote places, China can be quite fascinating. In my opinion, the most beautiful spots can be found further away from the metropolises like Chengdu, Shanghai or Beijing. My favorite province generally is Yunnan province, located in the South-West of China. One of the highlights here is visiting Lijiang. It’s worth noting that the city is quite touristic, but that also means that the infrastructure is wonderful, from good roads, to taxis being available everywhere to nice hotels. That said, let’s dive into what Lijiang has to offer.
The interesting thing about visiting Lijiang is that you don’t actually have to do a lot of planning. The whole old town is a highlight as it’s very historic and feels pretty sepcial.
I’d say that you can easily spend a day just walking through the streets, getting a sense of how a proper historic Chinese city must have looked like.
Sure, it’s all a bit touristic with plenty of shops and restaurants, plus the usual crowds, but I still thought that walking through the small streets is a magnificent experience, particularly as there are also a couple of canals.
I’d generally recommend staying in the old town as this is the really charming part of the city, there are also no cars or anything. Plus, you can also find another highlight just around the corner, the Heilong Pool.
Here, you can also find the Wufeng Pavilion, which is a great motive for some beautiful pictures.
Be aware that for entering the old town of Lijiang you need a ticket, but it’s not particularly expensive.
When you have seen most of Lijiang by walking through the streets of the old town, you may also want to enjoy a look of Lijiang from above. For that matter, I’d recommend climbing up the Tiger Rock, which is also a park of sorts. Once you’re up, you can enjoy a magnificient view.
While you need an entrance ticket, it definitely is worth it, particularly as you can also explore a beautiful temple. You may also climb up this temple to enjoy an even better view.
In this area of Lijiang, you can also find some very secluded restaurants and one of the best hotels in China, an Aman property.
While Lijiang itself is very charming, a lot of amazing places are to be found around the city. One of the highlights is supposedly the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.
It’s about a two-hour ride away from the city and I actually wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped, too. It’s nice enough to see this part of the mountain scenery (the ride is scenic), but the spot as such is overly touristic and not that special, in my opinion.
What’s supposed to be really great though is going for longer hikes here. You can also continue to cities further into the mountains, one of those is Shangri-La, which is supposed to be really beautiful as well.
One of the most famous spots to visit while in Lijiang are the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, located a mere 30 minutes North of the city. This area consists of several very high mountains, which can be reached by gondolas and partly also other parts of transportation.
As the main mountain is really high, you need to dress accordingly and bring oxygen, but you can also settle on some of the not that high mountains (around 4.000 meters), which still are a bit difficult when it comes to breathing, but oh-so beautiful.
While I thought that the chairlift I took for the one mountain was crazily scary (as was the bus ride to get there), the experience was really amazing. Plus, you can also enjoy some nice spots in the valley, including large lakes with crystal clear water.
I’d definitely recommend spending a full day exploring the mountains, but I can only stress that it is important to prepare for the temperature and oxygen level!
Lijiang definitely is one of my favorite cities in China and I enjoyed it a bit more than cities like Suzhou. Visiting Lijiang is just a very different experience to the rest of China as it feels much more historic, plus the nature and the mountains around are just amazing. If you happen to have the chance, make sure to pay Yunnan province in general and Lijiang in particular a visit!
Do you have any questions about Lijiang? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!