Yunnan Province's

LIJIANG

Global Mark : 16.59 (up)    Top Ten : No1

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
5 4 2 3 5 4 5 5

4

16.44

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
26 100% 92%  (24) 100% 10 to 20 16.73


Description :
A charming minority old town, part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997, whose water canals conferred it the title of "Little Venice of Orient"

Comments : As with Dali, modernity means an afflux of Chinese tourists and Lijiang is not as idyllic as a backpacker destination as it was a few years ago. Still, it remains one of the nicest village in China and a good place to relax before heading North.

What to do : Walk the town, again and again, if possible off the main streets / Check traditional wooden Naxi houses / Relax by the canals / Make plenty of colorful photos / Listen to ancestral Music, long forgotten in the rest of China / Buy souvenirs / Eat tasty Naxi food or basic western stuff / Explore the countryside on bike / Prepare your  expedition to Tiger Leaping Gorge...

What you may not like : If you were there before,  the nostalgia of the past / The feeling, in some streets, to be in a minority supermarket designed for Chinese tourists / The toilets of most of the guesthouses / The little flies (because of the toilets ?)

How long ? At least two days to relax and explore the old streets,  a few more days to cycle the countryside.


Where to stay ? 

Get precise info, book online and save money !  >> Hostels

Most of the backpackers will prefer to stay within the old city. The charm of the place and the lay out of the guesthouses are indeed strong arguments. But this come with a price and during the high season, it is better to arrive early...

In the old city : All the below places are traditional Naxi Houses which means a two floor wooden building around an attractive garden or restaurant. A nice place to relax until you go to the toilet as they are nearly all "Chinese style". Attached bath are unheard of in Lijiang for budget prices...

  • Dongba House, "Holiday Inn", "MCA", one day they will make up their mind with the name (517 5431, email: dongba@hotmail.com) / The new backpacker's favorite / Dorm 20 (8), 25 (4) or 30 (3) in clean rooms / Dble 50 / HW 24 hours / Restaurant / Internet (20 perh) / Bikes (15 per day) // Go there for the relax backpacker atmosphere, the nice view from the bright rooms, the peaceful environment, the services. /What you may not like : The bid dorm with 2 levels beds, being where everybody seems to be, having to wait for the toilet or shower as there are only one of each for the whole house

  • Square Inn (512 7487), take the road on the right of the old market square and turn left / A new and promising guesthouse / Very nice Dble 60 (80 HS) / HW 24 hrs / Internet (20 per hour) / Bikes (10 per day) // Go there for the comfortable room, the relative isolation from the busy streets, the relatively correct shower / What you may not like : the HS price, the noise if the 30 rooms are full !

  • First Bend Inn (518 1688) / Dorm 25 (4), 30 (3) or 40 (2) in nice room (HS : 40, 50 and 55Y) / Sgle with big bed 80 (100HS) / HW 8-10 & 19-22 / Restaurant // Go there for the comfortable rooms, the green courtyard. / What you may not like : the price in HS,  the noisy restaurant if busy

  • Shangari of old Town (518 1435), a discreet place with 2 Sgl "bungalow style" rooms for 40Y and Bed in Trpl for 30 / HW from time to time // Go there for being original.

  • Sanhe Hotel (512 0891) / Dorm 20Y in 8 or 16 basic bed's room or 25Y in 4 or 5 bed's room / Dble 80 / Trpl 90 / HW 24 hrs  // Go there if you do not wish to follow the crowd as this place has been criticized by a famous guide book and is therefore quite empty, at least in low season. / What you may not like : the huge dorm with beds on two level, the noise when dances and singing are hold downstairs, the not so nice courtyard.


North of the old city (10mn walk
) : Except if specified, all the below places unfortunately have common "Chinese Style" sanitary.

  • Guluwan Hotel, "The No2 Guesthouse" (512 1446), the building next to the North Bus Station / Dorm 10 (4), 15 (3) or 20 (2) / Comfortable Sgle 30 / HW 19 to 21 // Go there for the cheapest rate in town, the comfortable and clean rooms, the convenient location if you leave early in the morning. / What you may not like : missing the show, having to go down to get the key every time you go to the dirty toilet (or leave your door open), the 2 hours only shower period.

  • Yu Quan Hotel (512 3522), just after Mao Square /Sgle 40 / Dble 70 / Trpl 90 / Quad 100 / Dble with bath 160 / 24 hours Hot water // Go there for the good quality-price ratio for the Sgl or the Dbl after negotiation, the nice lobby. / What you may not like : having to go outside the building to get a shower

  • Yun Lin Hotel (518 7666), after Ali Baba's Cafe / An old wing with cheap rooms / Dorm 20 in 2 or 3 bed's acceptable rooms / "Chinese Style" bath & toilet / HW 8 to 24 // Go there for the best price in town for Dble. / What you may not like : the ugly and quite depressing building, having to go outside for the shower or the dirty toilets

  • Lijiang Hotel (518 8766), next to Xinhua Bookstore / A traditional Naxi house with a little garden in the back of the modern hotel / Nice Sgl 60 / Nice Dbl 120 / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the cozy and ultra clean rooms, the "hotel style" reception, the girls in traditional costumes. / What you may not like : not being in the old city.

  • Jade Dragon Hotel, Yu Long (512 1032), a nice hotel with an old opposite building for dorm / Cozy Dbl with good bath 120 (180 HS) / Dorm 30Y in 3 to 6 beds / HW 7 to 20 for dorms, 24 hours Dbl // Go there for a bit of "luxury" during the LS or the acceptable 3 beds dorm. / What you may not like : the price of the dorm, the dirty WC, the inconvenient showers in another building, opposite the road (avoid to go naked in the street)

  • Lijiang Hotel (512 1911) / No more dorm but nice Dble with bath for 120 (180 HS) // Go there for the nostalgia when this was The backpackers place

 
Dongba House dongba haosi

The old Town Square Inn

sifang kezhan

First Bend Inn

di yi wan kezhan

Sanhe Guesthouse

sanhe binguan

Guluwan Hotel guluwan binguan

Lijiang Hotel

lijiang binguan

Jade Dragon Hotel

yu Long


Backpacker's Tips : Robbin, Singapore (Nov 06)
« I arrived just in an off-peak season on 4th Nov, weather was very cold, at least 2 thick sweaters plus gloves are needed if its not sunny. Gucheng is basically a big tourist trap now. There's inns around every corner in Gucheng, prices ranged from RMB60 to 150 for a 3 person room with adjoining toilet. Food in Gucheng costs around RMB 20-50 for a decent meal. Allocate yourself half a day in Gucheng if you like, but any more time spent there will be a waste of time. Dun waste your time with the touts, any price they quote or any attractions they recommend are almost definitely bullshit. Food outside of Gucheng can cost as low
as RMB 5. However, be careful what you eat in Lijiang CITY. All 3 of us felt perfectly well until we got to Lijiang and got nauseous and dierear. We ended up surviving on KFC. Strangely though, the food we ate up in the jade dragon mountain and the gorge seemed ok even though one would expect poorer hygiene up there.
The trip up to Jade Dragon mountains on horseback cost us about RMB 300 per person including the return trip by car. The view of the jade dragon mountain itself was not that great, but the view down on the valley was really great, especially when the sunlight hits only certain parts of the valley which made it look almost holy. The yak meat soup tasted great too but cost RMB15 a bowl, another ripoff.
We visited the town nearby called SuHe which also had a Gucheng that was even older and but only slightly less touristy than the Gucheng in the main city. If you walk deep deep inside, you'll eventually reach a part without any tourists, and the houses are authentic residential buildings, not shops. Even further in, you can climb up a small hill which provides a splendid view of SuHe. There's also has a small picturesque plateau perfect for a picnic or nap. We also met 2 taiwanese who recommended this place called Li Ming, which is supposed to have great scenery. They paid RMB 200 per person.»

Backpacker's Tips : Russ Weedon, UK (Sept 06)
«
Plenty of accommodation recommendations, but we had to add this one! We stayed at the Carnation Inn for 6 nights total after a disappointing and unfriendly first night in the Ancient Town Hostelling International place. Carnation Inn is about 200m up WuYi Street from SiFang Square then turn right by the fire hydrant. Very welcoming and very clean. The bottom line in Lijiang appears to be: don't settle for unwelcoming, cramped, uncomfortable accommodation. There is so much on offer here which is really, really good. »

Backpacker's Tips : Drew Alexas, USA (Feb 06)
«
Visited Lijiang twice (Jan. 2005 and Jan. 2006). Stayed at Gong Ye Inn (Located in the middle of Old Town, clean rooms, hot water, etc. 40 Yuan for a private room w/two beds, Tel: 0888-5105325 *Staff does not speak English).
Visited Black Dragon Pool in 2005 - it is very expensive now (20 yuan in 2005 - 60 yuan in 2006!!!!) but it gives you an opportunity to climb Elephant Hill for a great view of YuLong (Jade Dragon) Mountain. Also beware of the MANY people soliciting travellers (for trips to Tiger Leaping Gorge, Lugu Lake...., etc.) around and even inside the old town. If you would like to travel around Lijiang I recommend using a reputable service (There are many to choose from inside of the old town).
The western food inside the old town is delicious, but of course expensive. I usually walked to the newer part of the city to eat, but it can be a long walk (There are not many restaurants just outside the old town, you will have to walk around for a while). There is a new KFC just outside of the old town, but I'm not a big KFC fan so I didn't eat there.
If you're here to shop, be vigilant in your bargaining. The shopkeepers are used to dealing with foreigners and jack up the prices accordingly (Sometimes as much as 300 - 500% or more).
If you do plan on visiting, DO NOT come during China's two major holidays (Labor Day: May 1st - 8th and National Day: October 1st - 8th). This is the most popular time for Chinese tourists and rooms can be scarce. I've been to Lijiang twice (Both times during the Chinese Spring Festival holiday - Jan. 05 and Jan. 06, and there were not too many people although it gets a little cold in the evenings.A word of warning: if you decide to come during this time (Spring Festival), keep in mind that about a billion Chinese are travelling all over China so book tickets ASAP!!! If you're travelling by train, you can book tickets (departing from
Kunming) in Lijiang (but only 2 days in advance) and there is a commission charge of about 25 yuan per ticket. The sleeper bus to Kunming takes about 10 or 11 hours and if possible you should buy it in advance as well. I chose to take a plane from Lijiang to Chengdu for 1200 yuan for 2 tickets and the tickets were easy to buy (there are two offices just outside the old town where you can buy them - next to the bank). Have a good trip!!
»

Backpacker's Tips : Julie A. (Feb 06)
«
The gem of my trip to China: Moon Inn Guesthouse, in Lijiang. Recently opened (end of 2005), clean, quiet and charming. This courtyard is on a small hill 5 minutes from Si Fang square. Highly recommended. Moon Inn Just off WuYi rd, in an alleyway to the left (next to Zen hotel) mooninn@163.com »

Backpacker's Tips : Blaise Fiedler, France (July 05)
« The Black Dragon Pool Park now costs Y60, Y30 for students. It's a complete rip off - do not go. It's just a small park with a pond and 2 bridges. Not worth even Y5. So angry I paid.
A great family hostel to stay in the old town is called Mama Naxi GH, or Gu Cheng Xiang Ge Yun Ke Zhan. It's 78 Wen Hua, Wu Yi, Da Ya. Tel: 0888-5185930. Free Internet and laundry and the meals here are to die for - and the package dinner + breakfast only costs Y10. A bed will cost between 15-20y depending on the number of people sleeping in the room. When you arrive at a bus station just go to a service desk and ask them to call the guest house - within 10 minutes somebody will come and pick you up - you will NOT find the place on your own: Lijian old town is a labyrinth!
» 

Backpacker's Tips : Stefan Westerheide, Germany (Jan 05)
« Square Inn dbl, sb, hw, clean, friendly, English spoken 40 Y excellent value.
Lijiang though full of tourists is an absolute must see 360 degrees panorama view from top of Wango Fu Si = Lion Hill (15Y) is absolutely stunning, best time to go is late afternoon. Don´t miss walk up Elephant Hill: when in Black Dragon Pool Park (20 Y), nicest way up is the left one, takes about 1.5 h, don´t forget to bring water, on top fantastic view of Yulong Snow Mountain.
best Western food in Prague Café, a little more upmarket but still good value is Mishi.
Bus to Zhongdian 4.5 h, 35 Y
» 

Backpacker's Tips : Wang Xiaocong, China (Oct 02)
«For accommodation please check www.iyhf.org  for youth hostels in China. I stayed at one in the Lijiang old town during my holiday. A dorm bed there in rooms of 6, 8 or 12 costs 15Y for HI card holders and 20Y for other guests.
The Sun Room Cafe in Lijiang is now closed. In its place is a new cafe named "Mishi".
Internet in Lijiang now costs 5Y/hour in the old town and 2Y/hour in the new town. However, there are no signs in English for Internet cafes in the new town.
A bookstore featuring an extensive selection of books in foreign languages, especially English, including some Lonely Planet titles (for China and Southeast Asian countries) is now found in both Dali and Lijiang.It is called Mandarin Books (Wu Hua Shu Yuan). In Lijiang it is located on Xinhua Street somewhat opposite Sakura Cafe across the river.
»

Backpacker's Tips : Anonymous (Sept 01)
«There is a very nice new place to stay : the Ancient Stone Bridge Inn, a Naxi style hotel by the river, at the end of an alley next to an old stone bridge. Rooms around Y80-100. Great balcony to look at the town's life. »

Backpacker's Tips :  Davide Gallino, Italy (Aug 01)
« We stayed very well in a little guest house run by Naxi people, the White Horse (70 Yuan; common bath with hot shower and clean Turkish toilet). »

Backpacker's Tips : Olivier Boivineau, France (May 00)
« Sakura Guesthouse opened April 2000, held by same people as famous Sakura cafe (one hour before you get your order, but well worth it). Dbl 35 RMB, dorm 13 RMB/bed. Near market place, close to Sakura cafe. Comfortable, quiet, clean, shower 24hr HW, western and chinese toilets, charming (people and place)


Where to eat ?

Here also, plenty of western style restaurants for home-sick backpackers.

For back-to-normal priced beer, go to Sun Room Cafe during happy hour from 19 to 20 (beer at half price, 3Y for local beer). Internet (20Y per hour)

For Naxi food, head south-east from the stone bridge or North to Hei Long Park. Try the traditional Pottery rice dishes (6Y)

Tasty jiaozi soup (3Y) can be found next to the Sanhe Naxi Guesthouse. Baked potato (0.4Y) can be tasted South of the Old Market place. Bakeries can be found North of Bank of China.

Internet ? China Telecom, 1/F Post Office, 10 computers, 15Y per hour, 8-11:30 & 14:30-18

Bike ? In Mao Square or Square Inn for 10Y per day or in guesthouses for around Y15.


What to see / visit ?

  • The old town : (5), you never get tired of it... / Take the time to explore it, off the tourists streets. For a good panoramic view of the traditional houses roofs, get up the street on the right of the Old Market Square for 50 meters then turn left. You can also climb up to the Park.

  • Xuan Ke Museum : (4), Free / If Mr. Xuan Ke is around, do not miss this interesting Naxi cultural opportunity

  • Naxi orchestra performance : (5), Y35, 1h30, 8pm / A unique cultural experience that is becoming a bit too touristy for some travelers... 

  • Hei Long Tan Park : (2), Y20, Exp /A rip off for Chinese tourists, even so the place is relaxing (but so is the old town !)

  • The countryside : (4), half a day to one day / Take a bike and explore, preferably to the North toward :

  • Baisha (8km) : a tiny village with Ming Dynasty Naxi & Tibetan frescoes at Dabaoji Hall, Liuli Temple and Dadind Pavilion

  • Yufeng Monastery (14km, 5Y) : a small lamasery built in 1756 around the famous 500 years old 10,000 Blossoms Camellia Tree. The tree is covered with thousands of flowers from Feb to April.


Backpacker's Tips : Leon (July 05)
« I love Haku Cafe so much! Haku cafe,in the oldest building in the Lijiang ancient town, the 2 floors wood building was found before 1920s, and it is the oldest tea inn in Lijiang. In the cafe, you will enjoy not also the refined Yunnan local smaller bean coffee and local wine,but also the best naxi food, Chinese food and western food, and the price is just the 80% of the average price in the ancient town. There are several computers for guests to browse internet, and you can use your laptop to access internet by the fastest wi-fi(wiless internet service) in the Haku cafe. » 

Backpacker's Tips :  Quang-Tuan Luong (Dec 02)
«  I liked the Square Inn for its location close to the action on square street, and the friendly staff. The building and the room were very nice and atmospheric. To enjoy the old town, get up early before the hordes of Chinese tourists. Most of the people you will see on the streets at that time will be locals. There is a great view of the town from the top of Wangu tower, however there is an admission fee. Square street is a nice place to hang out by the evening, with people floating candles in the canal. The concert of the Naxi Orchestra is also an experience not to be missed. The temples with frescoes in Baisha are now extremely developed, with admission fee, lots of Chinese tours and vendors. In particular, upon entering and exiting the building where the frescoes are, you are channeled between rows of booths. The frescoes themselves are interesting, but photography is strictly forbidden. The bus that you used to get there #6 does no longer stop in front of the post office. Once you are in Baisha, it is quite easy to get back to Lijiang at anytime by sharing a ride or hiring one of the small trucks stationed on the village's main plaza. Morning buses for Jinjiang leave from the South station at 7.30 and 8.30 (the hotel staff said no buses leave from the North station, unlike the LP says). If you can manage it (the seats are numbered so you cannot seat where you please), try to get a window seat, as the scenery is spectacular in the first half of the trip. The trip takes nine hours, including the lunch break. Once you get there, you have to ride a local bus for 45mm before getting to the Jinjiang train station.  »

Backpacker's Tips
: Wang Xiaocong, China (Oct 01)
« The discussion is going on that an entrance fee should be collected for entering the old town.Once this is settled,Y80 will be collected from each tourist and the ticket will be effective for 5 days for entering the old town plus all the parks and museums in it including the Black Dragon Pool.I believe that the effect of this policy can be as gross as destroying Lijiang's status as a backpacker paradise.»

Backpacker's Tips : Wang Xiaocong, China (Aug 01)
« From August 1,2001,every passenger on the Lijiang to Daju bus who is not a local resident is charged 40 Yuan of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain entrance fee. The reason is that many tourists take the Daju bus to tour the Snow Mountain area in attempt to evade the entrance fee.»

Backpacker's Tips :  Davide Gallino, Italy (Aug 01)
« Lijiang is very touristy but pleasant anyway, there are still a few parts of the old city which are really untouched. The parts which are touched are pleasant anyway, with night torches all along and pleasant restos. Everyday at 8.00 PM there's a Naxi music concert (inside the concert hall on Sifang St., the main street of old city.) I've attended and although not overwhelming it gives you a chance to hear traditional music and see the rather old musician with their instruments and magnificent robes. From Lijiang you can take a plane to Kunming (420 Yuan, Yunnan Air - there's a bus going to the airport leaving from behind the Yunnan airlines office) or to Dali and spare yourself many more hours of bus. In Lijiang there are many places to stay. »

Backpacker's Tips : Chung Seow Lim, Singapore (March 01)
«I heard all visitor going to Jade Dragon Mountain have to pay an entrance fee (Y40, I'm sure about the charge, because I avoided it.) at a check point along the road. To avoid it, simply get on to the bus that bound for DaJu and announce that you are going to DaJu. You pay for the DaJu ticket (Y23), but get off when you bypass the mountain. Or better still, if you are coming from DaJu after the T.L. Gorge, you could go straight to the mountain without paying any entrance fee. By the way, as at Dec2000 all visitor going to Lijiang will have to pay an one time entrance fee of Y20 via the hotel they are staying. According to the authority, the money will go to the restoration and maintenance of the old city. » Note : the saving tip for the mountain from Lijiang is no longer available (see above). Maybe still from Daju...

Backpacker's Tips : "A side trip to an old Stone City" by Gregg Butenski (May 00)
«Not Baoshan the city between Dali and Ruili but rather the one north of Lijiang by about 100km. We're talking the "old stone city", not the nearby Baoshan which is the district seat. Confused? Get over it and go! Prior to Feb 2000 - when we visited - it was a 5 hour climb up and over the ridge from Baoshan the municipal seat to Baoshan the old stone city. Even in Feb 2000 folks in the nearby town of Daju told us we'd be walking. But then lo and behold the bus kept going and we rode up and over and to within a one hour walk (downhill!) to the old stone city. 
A new road was being built and the bus went as far as possible. By the time you read this, it will be that much further along. Probably a good thing and a bad thing in terms of the changes that will take place in this splendid village.
You can get there by direct bus from Lijiang. Alternatively, you can take on a visit after trekking Tiger Leaping Gorge in the northeasterly direction. From Daju take a bus bound for Lijiang and get off at the junction known as "55" (wu shi wu). From there you can pick up a bus en route from Lijiang to Baoshan.
A couple of homes in Baoshan have been turned into simple guesthouses and at least one more was under construction when we visited. Just inside the gateway as you enter the part of the village situated atop a large stone outcropping is the Mu Family Guesthouse. Home cooked Naxi meals, friendly folks and hot showers (when the sun's been shining). Y10 per bed.
»

 << Discover the Little Venice of Orient...


Bus Schedules :  

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Kunming 125/115 fast/sleep 8/13 8:10 to 18:30 10 various
Xiaguan 23 to 50 ordi /luxe 2.5 to 4 7:30 to 17:30 8 hour
Zhongdian 28 ordi 5 7:30/8/9 to 14:30 9 hour
Daju 23 ordi 3 8/9 to 13:30 6 hour
Jinjiang 45 ordi 8 to 10 6:30/8/12/14/17/18 6 na
Ninglang 31 ordi 6 7:10/9:30 2 na

Notes : Frequency to Kunming : 2 in the morning, every 30mn late afternoon / Bus to Zhongdian stop at Qiaotou (16Y, 2.5 hrs) / From Jinjiang, trains to Emeishan & Chengdu / Bus from Ninglang to Lugu Lake (3 hrs)

Trains  << Click there for trains from Jinjiang to Chengdu


The trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge : Minibus / SSS / R / Y16 / 2.5 hours

I decided to start in Qiaotou and leave my bag there as I would go later on to Zhongdian. I had been told to buy the ticket in the morning but, when I arrived was told that the 7:30 was full and that the 8am had only a few seats available. This was due to the fact that tickets were firstly reserved for those going to Zhongdian. So the minibus was full and the foreigners were all crushed at the back, not the best way to dream at the scenery (the Chinese, who had the best seats, were not too much concerned by it either as they kept talking to each other). When we arrived in Qiaotou, nearly everybody got off : the Chinese had apparently never planned to go to Zhongdian...

The trip to Emeishan via Jinjiang : see details at Zhongdian

See also the trip from Dali to Lijiang...

See also an adventure to Tibet (by Paul Meier) at Zhongdian