The whole of Lijiang old town has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and it is a charming collection of narrow traffic free streets, elaborate sloping-roofed houses, quiet courtyards, winding cobbled streets fringed with tea houses and cafes by the side of small canals with fast running melt water from the peaks. The central square is often filled with local ladies and men in traditional blue and white costumes of the Naxi minority who gather in the afternoon sun to sing enchanting folk songs. Sit at a café by a willow tree with some Dali beer or hot Yunnan coffee and a Naxi sandwich and watch the world go by.
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Top things to do in Lijiang
On foot in Shuhe Ancient Town
North-west of the centre of Lijiang lies Shuhe Ancient Town, the former commercial district known for its leather and fur artisans. Known locally as Longquan village, Shuhe is thought to be the birthplace of the eminent Mu family of the Naxi minority ethnic group. A walk along it narrows streets and alleyways affords a glimpse into a previous era. The focal point is the broad street known as Sifangjie, to the west of which is the three-storeyed Kegongfang (Imperial Examination Archway), flanked by the western and central rivers. The old town area contains many stone bridges, one of the oldest being the Qinglong Bridge, built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). At the end of the street the Long Pool (Dragon Pool) is overlooked by the Sansheng temple.
Visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain dominates the scenery for miles around and has a continual covering of snow. On clear days the mountain is reflected in the crystal waters of the Black Dragon Pool Park. A cable car leads up to Yunshanping (Spruce Meadow), a meadow on the slopes of the mountain where there are spectacular views of the surrounding scenery that makes up the foothills of the Himalaya. An area known as Maoniuping (Yak Meadow) can also be visited, where local people used to graze their yaks. In spring and summer they can sometimes be seen wandering among the beautiful flowers that carpet the mountain.
Walk in Tiger Leaping Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world. It is 16km long and reaches a massive depth of 3,900 metres, from the strong currents of the Yangtze at the bottom (known as the Jinsha in this region) to the snow-covered peaks above. The gorge is named after a tiger that is said to have leapt across the 30-metre gap when fleeing from a hunter. From the small settlement of Qiaotou it is possible to walk into the gorge, passing through an area known as the 28 Bends, which involves 28 turns in the trail that leads up to the highest point on the hike. Small guesthouses are available within the gorge for an overnight stay.
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