Lijiang and Shangri-La City
Lijiang is a town in the Southwestern province of Yunnan and is so beautiful that walking around the town makes you feel like you’ve fallen into a fairytale. With breathtaking snowcapped mountains, rivers and streams, clear fresh air and extremely friendly people, this is a place you can’t miss out on. The main ethnic minority found in Lijiang are the Naxi minority. There are around 320,000 Naxi people who walk about the town dressed in their traditional outfits, often carrying baskets on their backs with live chickens and fresh vegetables.
Close to Lijiang you’ll find Gyalthang (Tibetan) or Shangri-La, also know as Zhongdian. Shangri-La was a fictional place first described in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. This place is where you’ll start to breathe in the fresh air from Tibet and experience some Tibetan culture.
The Old Town of Lijiang is a well preserved ancient city booming with culture, even though it can be quite touristy in parts. The town has around 800 years of history and was built along a line of mountains that give the old city a fresh supply of water which was, and still is, vital for the towns existence. Inside there are more than 350 bridges – the town has been described as an oriental Venice and has some similarities to other water towns such as Suzhou.
The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain can be seen towering over Lijiang and the Old Town. Consisting of 13 peaks, the highest being 5,600 meters, it’s home to many wild and rare animals and plants.
It’s a famous spot for mountaineering, skiing, snowboarding and explorations. The best hiking trails are along the Western part of the mountains which follows the Yangtze River.
A ticket for all attractions inside is 230 yuan and is valid for 2 days. The mountain is easily accessible by bus or local mini cars.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest and most impressive gorges on earth. The gorge is inexpensive and convenient to travel to or hike through. If you were to hike the trail, it’s best to start at a spot close to Lijiang and hike two days and eventually meet the most impressive section of the gorge on day two in a place called Qiaotou.
The gorge is split into 3 segments – the upper gorge, middle gorge and lower gorge. They all havedifferent points of interest along the route and each route has a different difficulty level. The gorge runs along the 3rd longest river in the world, the Yangtze River.
Accommodation along the river isn’t expensive or luxurious, but it is comfortable for the night. The scenery is spectacular and the gorge is home to many different kinds of wild plants and animals, some of which are endangered.
The ticket to enter the gorge is 65 yuan. If your visiting Yunnan make sure that Lijiang and Zhongdian are on your list of places to visit!
by Cameron Hack
Hey, my name is Cameron and I have lived in Beijing now for around a year and a half. I am originally from the South of England a city called Portsmouth. Whilst living in China I have been teaching English and in my spare time I like to travel to different places both inside and further afield Beijing. I hope you enjoy what I write and that it will give you some tips and practical advice for your travels.
You can see my adventures around China by following me on Instagram by searching @cameronhack.