Lijiang, China – A Timelocked Trading Town Charm Meets Tourist Extraviganza

This old Tea-Horse Trade Route hub has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.  With all it’s possibility of charm and history,  you will never find a more central hub of Chinese tourists.   Thankfully, our visit was in December when it’s too cold for most Chinese to travel.   Imagine this place as the Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco,  the Old Town of Sacramento,  the Cannery in Monterrey or the Visitors Center in Yosemite.   Despite the endless trinket shops, the cheap food stalls, the constant beating of drums for sale or the shout of doormen trying to get you into their bar;  I actually really enjoyed this place.  It has a unique delight.   This isn’t a tiny village.  This is hundreds and hundreds of shops, stalls, guesthouses, endless arteries of streets and canals to get lost in.  However,  once you get lost in it and accept the fact that you are in tourist haven, you just let go and enjoy the ride.   It is a pretty town with its own unique beauty.


We came here without a reservation and I would suggest doing the same.  If you throw a rock up in the air, it will land on a place to stay.   We found a fabulous guesthouse that was also very cheap.  Kind owners and very helpful.   I can’t find the place on the internet, but I highly recommend a stay at the Na Yun Xi Gu Guesthouse.  5 star service and 5 star rooms at a 1 star price.


Aimee are we ready to go explore?


Not until lunch is over! Our first day we seeked out LaMu’s House of Tibet for some unique cuisine.   It was alright.  I loved the soup but the “Tibetan Burger” was really bland.

Should have had street food!   All kinds of folks are making  interesting dishes on every corner.

DSC09583DSC09578Exploring the town, we met these fine musicians.   Really enjoyed their performance.   All originals, no covers, just the way Ross likes it.


Plenty of artisians in town spending countless hours perfecting their craft.


Lijiang is THE place to chill.  Just like these cats.


And this dog.  I mean this is a BIG dog.  Bigger than 95% of Chinese people…


Where to go?  I’m so confused with these maps!  There are no easy streets in this town.  It’s all a maze!  I think the merchants like it this way. DSC09677

Finally we find a nice view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain that overlooks the town.


Time for dessert at the Prague Cafe.   This cheesecake was the bomb.


The town has some prominent artwork and is home to the Naxi script, which is the only language that (officially) still uses hieroglyphics today.

Does any one care for a smoke?


Funny enough, we had some of the best Sichuan dishes that I have had in China in Lijiang.  Better than anything we have had in Shanghai.   These dishes were mind-blowing and the spices epic.  I’d fly back to Lijiang just for this dinner.


Nightlife in Lijiang gets pretty crazy.  All kinds of bars and clubs with numerous types of music or dance.  Many cheesy places but many cool places too.

We enjoyed this band.


I enjoyed this beer. Yes.


After a long night out, it was time for some breakfast.  I can highly recommend N’s Kitchen.  Best breakfast I have had in China in a while.  The burger was outstanding as well.


Afterwards, we had this fantastic yogurt at this place you can only find in Lijiang.  I’m not a huge yogurt person, but this stuff was amazing.  The fresh milk and the red beans add a unique flavor.  I’m not sure it would meet USDA approval, but who cares out here in China.

North of town, by about a 15 minute walk, there is Black Dragon Pool Park.   This is a great place to get away from the tourist madness of Lijiang.   Definitely take the time to get up here if you are considering a trip to Lijiang.

Our two days in Lijiang were a critical departure for the wild beauty and solitude of Tiger Leaping Gorge, but it was nevertheless a really fun experience.  I’d come back here again and I recommend a visit to anyone who is traveling to Yunnan Province.

The road continues on……

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