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Lijiang Tours & Travel Guide

Lijiang Tours & Travel Guide

Lijiang has been listed in the World Cultural Heritages by UNESCO in 1997. There are so many sights and cultural activities to experience. Amongst all the scenic spots, Mufu is a must-see. Besides, there are still some places that will never fail to attract your eyes. When it comes to natural scenery, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain depicts a majestic backdrop to the Moon-Embracing Pavilion at Black Dragon Pond. Moreover, some boutique hotels such as Banyang Tree and Pullman Resort will offer you a most luxury and leisure time. As for the local lifestyle, various festivals will expose you to a wondrous world that is swimming with ethnic flavors. Wherever you go, you will find a harmonious combination of tradition and fashion in Lijiang. Let's customize your Luxury Lijiang Tours.

"No complains on other guides, all was as expected. But I wanted to highlight the above guides, especially Lijiang, as they deserve good recognition, hope all is well and talk to you next time. Val Pilch Family of 3 from America" » Read More

Introduction to Lijiang

Introduction to Lijiang

Located northwest of Yunnan province there is a fairyland call Lijiang. It is a peaceful place scattered with fresh water, limpid streams, breathtaking snow mountains, and what’s more, is untouched by modernity. 

Although remote, Lijiang has a pleasant climate and a wide variety of tourist resources. The earliest history of Lijiang is dated back to the the Period of Warring States. With the booming prosperity of the Tang Dynasty, the local economy had its peak since the Ancient Tea and Horse Trail opened the door for commercial and cultural exchange between Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in the past.

Today, Lijiang is an attractive tourist destination where the Naxi people live in exclusive communities. As one of the 55 ethnic groups in China, the Naxi people are renowned for their splendid Dongba Culture which is characterized with a mixture of Tibet culture and Han culture. In Lijiang you’ll be able to access various souvenirs of Dongba culture.

The extraordinary charm of Lijiang is due to the preservation of this ancient town listed as a World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1997. The ancient town was once the center of the city and continues to maintain its original purpose which reflects the simplicity of the local people. The antique buildings and profound cultural heritages are well preserved. If you take a stroll along the Square Street in it, you will be captivated by the tranquil surroundings and amazed by the local lifestyle.

Amongst all the scenic areas, Mufu is a must-see. Additionally, there are some places that will not fail to attract. When it comes to natural scenery, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has a majestic backdrop to the Moon-Embracing Pavilion at Black Dragon Pond. As for the local lifestyle various festivals expose you to a world of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Wherever you go, you will find a harmonious combination of tradition and fashion in Lijiang.

The Best Time for Traveling to Lijiang

The Best Time for Traveling to Lijiang

The best time for traveling is autumn, and summer comes right after it.

Autumn is the season where Lijiang showcases its exceptional beauty. With comfortable temperature, extraordinarily blue sky, colorful trees and flowers silhouette against the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance, making you feel refreshed. Tiny bridges and cozy homes stand by a flowing river, and streams flow from the melting snow, which are incredibly limpid and cool. Dayan ancient town, Huyue Gorge, Baishui River and Lugu Lake are the strongly recommended places which are worth your visit.

Lijiang is in the Southwest Monsoon Climate Zone where there is a comparatively low temperature with a difference between the day and night. Many places in Lijiang are warm in winter and cool in summer. In July and August, it has most of its rainfall. Its annual average temperature is around 12.6-19.8℃ with an average temperature of 18.1-25.7℃ in the hottest month and an average temperature of 4-11.7℃ in the coldest month.

Tips: Stay warm in the spring and winter. If you visit Lijiang during its rainy season, it is advised to bring T-shirts, sweaters, coats, sun protective products and rain gear with you.

The Culture in Lijiang

The Culture in Lijiang

The culture of Lijiang has developed into a combination of the Naxi and Han culture after the movement of Abolition of Hereditary Chieftaincy and Bringing the Ethnic Minority Areas under the Unified Provincial Administration in 1723. Compared with the Naxi people inhabiting the Zhongdian “white land” (the origin of the Naxi Dongba religion) in the western bank of the Jinsha River and the Mosuo people residing in the Lugu lake district in the eastern bank of the Jinsha River, the Naxi community in the dam area is more influenced and assimilated by the Han culture. The process of assimilation sped after the earthquake in 1996 and later the development of tourism further contributed to it.

The culture has exerted an influence on every aspect of life in the Naxi community. Take clothes for example, the male of the Naxi people have already got rid of vests as early as the first half of the 20th century abandoned the tradition of wearing trousers that cover the knees and clothed themselves with Han costumes instead. Today, the garments of the local Naxi middle-aged women are the result of improvements made to Manchu costumes. The Naxi costumes in Zhongdian “white land” are more pure and close to those of the Mosuo people. These days, most of the women born after World War II no longer wear the traditional costumes.

The Dongba Culture

Like any other ancient culture in the world, the Dongba culture is closely linked to religion. It is the ancient Naxi culture that is passed down from generation to generation by the Dongba religion. The Dongba religion is an original religion of the Naxi ethnic group. The priest of the Dongba religion is called “Dongba” (means wise man). A priest is usually a generalist with a good knowledge of songs, dances, books, scriptures, history and medicine.

The Dongba Writing Characters

The Dongba characters are categorized as a primitive hieroglyph. From the perspective of the development of the shape of the characters, the Dongba characters are older than the inscriptions on oracle bones and have the early form of writing. They were originally marks and images written or drawn on wood and stones. Later, after paper-making was invented they were written on paper. In a way, the Dongba characters are the only living hieroglyph in the world and serve as the “living fossil” of the written characters in human society.

The Dongba Music

The Dongba music refers to melodies and tunes that are intoned and chanted with musical instruments by the priest while offering sacrifices and performing religious rituals. The Dongba music is an important part of the Dongba culture. This musical style gained popularity trough oral narration and has been preserved in Dongba scripture and pictures. Apart from the art of the divine, the Dongba scriptures are sung instead of read.

The Dongba Dance

The Dongba dance is a classical Naxi dance. The Naxi people have been famous for their talent in singing and dancing. Currently, the dances that are newly developed and prevail amongst the people are original dance, Dongba classical dance, group dance and new dance. “Maida Cuo” and “Rere Cuo” are types of original dance with a   combination of poems, songs and dances. Their features are as followed: singing while dancing, singing to promote dancing, dancing to promote singing and stop dancing when the songs end; no accompany of musical instrument; no limitation of the amount of people involved, no restrictions of places and occasions; and both genders can be involved. Their steps are quite simple. Generally, people put their right hands on the left shoulder of another or hold their hands with the person’s right next to them and move together eastward in a circle.

The Dongba Palace

As a major part of Dongba culture, palaces play an indispensable role in the inheritance and development of written characters, music, songs and dances. Located in Lijiang ancient town, the Dongba Palace opens a door for modern people to better understand the Dongba culture.

The Dongba Palace stands in the East Street of Lijiang ancient town. Five local auspicious ornaments are decorated on top of the door and the Dongba wood paintings are put on both sides of it. The unique decorations and entertaining activities inside the palace will expose you to the charm of Dongba culture.

The Dongba Painting

The Dongba painting is an important facet of Dongba culture. The types  are be subdivided into wood painting, card painting, scroll painting and scripture painting. Dongba paintings mainly represent the gods, demons, ghosts and goblins that the Naxi people had faith in back in the old days and expresses various ideal worlds in their mind. Some of the paintings also depict secular life in ancient Naxi society.

The Dongba Ritual

Offering sacrifices to heaven is the most important ritual for the Naxi people. The Naxi people are very proud of this ritual as they believe they are blessed by the heaven. The rituals are performed in spring and autumn, respectively in a certain place for offering sacrifices with one household or a clan as a unit.

Offering sacrifices to the god of wind, known as Hailaliken in the Naxi language, is aimed to release the souls of the people who came to unnatural death like committing suicide for love and dying in wars.

Offering sacrifices to Dingbashenluo (a god), known as “Shenluowu” in the Naxi language, is a mourning ritual for the demise of the priest.

Works of the Dongba Art

Works of the Dongba art refer to puppets made of wood and flours, clay statues along with various bamboo-knitting fabrics that are used in religious rituals. The works are rich in value of appreciation as they are unique in style and vivid in image.

Lijiang Travel Tips

Lijiang Travel Tips

Tips for Taking Photos in Lijiang

Morning is the best time to take a photograph of Lijiang ancient town because you can keep the beautiful scene when the green and lush town is in a perfect combination with the soft sunshine. Though the mansion of Prince Mu is a good place to take pictures if you’re to take a wonderful photograph of the whole town, you don’t have to go there. The front gate of the Wenchang Palace is also an ideal place for you. 

Such traditional scenic areas like the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is a must-see. The snow covering the mountain is not abundant in summer so it might be best to visit in the winter. The snow scene and icebergs in January and February are extraordinarily beautiful. You can’t miss it.

The Lashi Lake is also worth a visit. You can camp at the seaside and appreciate the sunrise and sunset on sunny days. The scene is so amazing that the amateur photographers do have to go there to experience it all by themselves so as not to make the trip in vain.

Safety and Health Care

In Lijiang, puddles originating from the snowcapped mountains and streams can be found in nearly all the villages. These puddles have become the main source of drinking water for the local people. In most cases, the local people drink the water directly. After a long and quick walk in the village, mountain or along the sides of the road, if it’s hot and you feel thirsty, don’t drink the spring water directly as the local people do. It’s likely to afflict you with diarrhea because the spring water is not boiled. Do not get down to the water and drink it directly. If you do want to drink it, scoop it up with your hands or spoon it with vessels like cup or glass, and then observe it to make sure there is no leech before you drink it. It is best for you to drink boiled water or bring some water with you.

When you are walking in the forest, make sure that you have tied up your shoelace and ends of your trousers tightly. It’s best for you to also wrap a scarf around your neck. If a flying leech should happen to fall on your skin, don’t try to pluck it away, but rather flap it to die (it will fall off your skin if it’s dead). And you should also watch out for beehives. Do remember not to disturb any beehive.

Shopping in Lijiang

Shopping in Lijiang

There are many small stores selling handcrafts in the alleys of Lijiang ancient town. Zizai Clothing Store, Dongba Pottery Bar, Juyi Yuan Gallery of Paintings, Shi Qingmao Wood Carving, to name just a few, are all ethnic handicraft stores featuring unique styles. As most of the handcrafts are man-made, the price is comparatively lower and bargaining is allowed. Not only can you pick satisfactory souvenirs, but you can also witness the whole process of making the handcraft.

Though there are many small stores in Lijiang, you should be adept in bargaining while shopping. All too often, the items here are overpriced. You can offer a price half of that charged by the store owner or even a lower one. Then, you act in accordance with the store owners response to your offer.

Located in the heart of Dayan ancient town, Zhongyi Market is a market for the local people. Yunnan herbs, funguses and small handicrafts are cheap there.

A Brief Introduction to the Catering in Lijiang

A Brief Introduction to the Catering in Lijiang

Naxi dishes are the main delicacies of Lijiang food. Additionally, many Chengdu and Sichuan restaurants run by non-native merchants can also be found inside and outside the ancient city. Some of the typical Naxi dishes are the Naxi banquet (including dessert, cold dishes and hot dishes, altogether 18 dishes), eight big bowls (eight dishes contained in big bowls), steamed rice cake (with brown sugar, sesames, peanuts, roses and laurels) and such funguses and mushrooms as matsutake, termitomyces and morchellaspp. All these are rare, scrumptious and nutritious, and Lijiang is the only place where you can enjoy them. Though not the typical local delicacies, salmon and dried salted spareribs are quite popular amongst the visitors.

The Square Street in the centre of Dayan ancient town is a street for snacks. On both sides of the narrow and short street lie dozens of small restaurants. You can enjoy the local rice-flour noodles at any of these restaurants. Two types of rice-flour noodles are offered there including clay pot rice-flour noodles and boiled rice-flour noodles in soup. Thus, the street is also called “the street of rice-flour noodles.” Moreover, if you want to taste traditional local snacks at a reasonable price, you can go to the agricultural product fairs there. Huadu Trade and Business Centre in New Street (near Baixin Department Store, Seven Star Street) offers various snacks from different parts of China and it  is open until 2 a.m.

Luxury Hotels in Lijiang

Luxury Hotels in Lijiang

Banyan Tree Lijiang

The hotel’s villas feature the architectural style of the Naxi ethnic group which faces northeast and provides stunning views of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The mountain rises 5,600 meters above sea level, which resembles a jade dragon nestling amid white clouds.

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