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                                          Lijiang Old Town

Location: Yunnan Province

Transportation: Bus service from Dali or Kunming, Air service from Shanghai

Summary: You must pay a visit to Lijiang. I have been there for two days and I enjoyed every minute. You never get tired of the old town nor the Naxi people. People enjoy shopping can take their time and buy some really beautiful Naxi wooden carvings. Price index is low here, and if you know how to bargain, you will get really good deals. (Hotels, food, etc). Lijiang is getting very popular in China, and is normally crowded during national holidays.



Lijiang Old Town, also called Dayan (Big Inkslab) Town, covers an area of 3.8 square kilometers and is located in the southeastern part of the Lijiang autonomous county, leaning on the Lion Mountain in the west and Xiangmian Mountain in the north. Lijiang was originally built at the very beginning of the Yuan Dynasty when the first emperor, Hu Bilie, led his army on a southern expedition to Yunnan province. Retained as an intact, authentic historic town, Lijiang is an old community of national ethnic groups such as Naxi, which is rarely found in China.


The Old Town is a mountain town situated on a plateau 2,400 meters above sea level. The snowy cap of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 30 km to the northwest, is reflected in the clear streams and pools around the village, adding to Lijiang's great beauty. The town is famous for its unique layout. Combining the architecture styles of Han, Tibetan, Bai and other ethnic groups, the Lijiang still preserves in its overall structure the traditional natural aesthetics of the Naxi (also spelt Nakhi and Nahi) people and their interes in life.


Crisscrossed by crystal-clear rivers and meandering cobbled streets, the town, with Sifang Street as its center, spreads out in all directions. The streets and houses are built along the contours of the mountains and the flowing rivers, and their forms are varied and diverse. Most of the dwellings are brick-and-tile structures with carved doors and painted windows. Traffic across the rivers is facilitated by a large number of tiny stone bridges. According to a well-known saying, "each of the households is built by the stream and surrounded by willow trees", lending the town its reputation as the "Oriental Venice" and "Suzhou in Highland." (Suzhou isn't this nice, really)


The charm of Lijiang Old Town also lies in its ethnic culture and folk customs, which infuse fresh ideas into ancient tradition. The Naxi people have adhered to the wisdom handed down from the old Dongba civilization, which considered humans and Nature as brothers. Even more interesting, Lijiang Old Town has no walls. It was said that the hereditary ruler of Lijiang used to be surnamed "Mu", and to have "Mu" encased within a frame or a wall would be "Kun", which means in Chinese "siege" or "predicament". Therefore, there is no wall around this town.


Lijiang looks unsophisticated and picturesque, having both the benefit of a watery and a mountainous environment, thus gaining renown from both domestic and foreign tourists. In December 1986, the State Council designated Lijiang as a famous ancient historical and cultural city of a national caliber. In 1997, the UNESCO put Lijiang on a list of the world's major cultural heritage sites.