The Old Town of Lijiang (Lijiang Ancient Town) is the historical center of Lijiang City, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It preserves the architecture and traditions that trace back to the city’s beginning a thousand years ago as an important trading post on the Old Tea Horse Caravan Trail.
It is an ideal place to experience Naxi culture and cuisine. The historic main street of the Old Town today is lined with shops and restaurants. Its three ancient districts, with 800-year-old bridges and waterways, preserve the traditional way of life of the Naxi people as it has evolved over time with the cultural influence of Han Chinese traders who came during the time of the Ming Dynasty, and many of whom stayed and became a part of the cultural landscape.
The cultural cross-fertilization among Naxi and Han people and other ethnic groups leads to a unique and fascinating cultural fusion. For example, Lijiang Old Town is one of the best places to hear Chinese Classical music because the Naxi people learned it from Han traders at the time of the Ming Dynasty and continue to keep that style of music alive even as it has faded out in other parts of China.
Nightlife in the Old Town is lively and colorful, with many theaters presenting music and dance performances, as well as lively restaurants and bars where you can really experience the living culture among the people in the streets and restaurants and shops of the city.
Southeast of the intersection of Minzhu road and Fuhui Road, Gucheng District, Lijiang City, Yunnan Province, China
The best times of the year to visit Lijiang Old Town are from late March to May and mid-October to November. In winter it gets cold. The temperature goes down to nearly freezing, so warm clothes are needed.
The rainy season is from June through September, so umbrellas and rain gear are appropriate at that time. The cobblestone streets can be slippery when wet, so be careful.
The altitude is about 2,400 meters or about 7,800 feet, which may be too high for comfort for some people.
You can take the bullet train from Kunming Railway Station or Kunming Railway South Station to Lijiang. It takes around 3 hours to reach Lijiang Railway Station, and then take the bus to get there. Here are the recommended routes you may take.
- Take the No. 104 shuttle bus to Guguanwei Station
- Take the No. 105 shuttle bus to Nanmen Street Station
- Take the No. 4 bus to Guchengkou Station and walk 400 meters
- Take the No. 18 bus to Dayan Middle School Station and walk northeast around 900 meters to the South Gate of the old town.
Flights from Kunming's Changshui Airport take about 1 hour. Upon arrival, take the airport shuttle bus to Lantian Hotel in the downtown area. It takes about 30 minutes. And walk for about 1.4 kilometers to get to the old town.