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Lijiang Travel Guide

Lijiang Overview

Lijiang includes the heritage site of Lijiang Ancient Town as well as picturesque nearby surroundings. In 1998, Lijiang Ancient Town was inscribed into the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Commission of the UNESCO. The Commission called it ‘an exceptional ancient town set in a dramatic landscape which represents the harmonious fusion of different cultural traditions to produce an urban landscape of outstanding quality.

Lijiang is the ideal destination for nature lovers and anyone interested in ancient people groups and their customs. Lijiang is located within the northwest part of Yunnan Province, in the southeastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the northwestern part of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.

Chinese people also long for the lifestyle and the excellent environment in Lijiang and started pouring in. This started the new era of Lijiang.

Lijiang Facts
Lijiang Geography
Lijiang History
Lijiang Custom and Culture
Lijiang Climate & Weather
Lijiang Transportation
Best Time for Lijiang Travel
Best Places for Lijiang Travel

• Chinese Name: 丽江
• Location: Lijiang is located within the northwest part of Yunnan Province
• Dialing code: (+86) 0888
• Zip code: 674100
• Area: 7,485 square kilometers
• Main attractions in Lijiang: Lijiang Ancient Town, Lugu Lake, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Administrative Division: The government of Lijiang City sits in Gucheng District. Lijiang City comprises one district and four counties.

Population: It has a population of 1.1376 million. (2005)

Lijiang City is located in the northwestern portion of Yunnan and borders Sichuan. It is in a region where the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau converge.

Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Lijiang north and south of Dali Bai minority autonomous prefecture, west of Nvjiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture, eastern border connects to Sichuan Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture and Panzhihua city. Lijiang has a total area of 20600 square kilometers, and governed Lijiang Ancient Town, Yongsheng county, Yulong Naxi Autonomous county, Huping county, Ninglang Yi autonomous county.

Lijiang is located under the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Lijiang Dayan ancient town has nearly one thousand years of history, is the national famous historical and cultural town and the first ancient town in our country that listed into the world cultural heritage list. It fully embodies a harmony between man and nature, characteristics of multi-culture diversity. It is a living cultural ancient city yet.

Lijiang ancient city was built in the early Yuan dynasty (late of the 13th century) and Lijiang’s ancestor family Mu moved the rule center from Baisha to Lion Rock now. It has been a history of more than eight hundred years. Lijiang ancient city is located in the main traffic artery of Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet. Frequent business travel activities in ancient times made the local prosperous, soon to become famous fair and town. It is generally believed that Lijiang city first established in the early Yuan dynasty.

The late Ming dynasty Xu Xiake’s Yunnan Travel Diary described Family Mu’s tusi mansion in Lijiang Ancient Town was very beautiful that just secondary to emperor’s palace. And Lijiang was filled with houses, buildings that placed closely side by side, and the fair there was very buse which showed that the Lijiang ancient town was famous at that time. Lijiang ancient town was the location of Lijiang military and government office of the Ming dynasty and the Qing dynasty. Ming dynasty regarded Lijiang as Dayanxiang, in Qing dynasty it was called Dayanli, and after the republic of China it changed as Dayan town.

Ancient Naxi music
Naxi Ancient Music is the crystallization of the art created by the Naxi people influenced by the Confucianism and Taoism as the representative of the Central Plains civilization.The instrument has a flute, clarinet, reed flute, Nanhu (another kinds of erhu), Chung-hu, Dahu, Sanxian (three-stringed instrument), Pipa (four-stringed Chinese lute), Guzheng (Chinese zither), Chinese gong chimes, bell, conch, drums, Suona, trombone, cymbals, Lusheng and Kouxian etc, among them, there are a lot of instruments incoming from China mainland.

Dongba Rite
Naxi Dongba religion is Naxi primitive religion transited to a man-made religion. As many as 30 kinds of Dongba ceremonies are the main carrier of the Naxi Dongba culture, with the content of the hieroglyphs recorded in Dongba scriptures through various rituals, and passed down by religious ceremonies. These rituals try to interpret the contradiction between human and society and human and nature which is closely related to the Naxi ancestors production life and is rich in cultural connotations.

“Heaven worship”, “sacrifice to wind”, and “sacrifice to Ding Ba Shi Luo” and so on are representative.

God Su ceremony
“Suzu” is the Naxi traditional wedding ceremony, also called “Baomabao”.
Naxi people believe that everyone has their own god- God Su. God Su enshrines in every family Su basket. Under the auspices of Dongba, god will be invited come out from the bride’s home Su basket and come to the bridegroom family Su basket, and combine with other members of the family of bridegroom, never separate from now on. Wipe ghee in the bridge and bridegroom’s head is the most important part of the ceremony.

Baisha Murals
Famous Ming and Qing dynasty temple murals is the “Lijiang mural” or “Baisha murals”. It is the crystallization of the development of Naxi national culture during Ming dynasty feudal lords economic prosperity. These murals distribute in Baisha, Dayan town, Shuhe, Zhonghai, Yangxi, Xuesong and so on more than ten of the village temple.

Lijiang has three different climatic zones, ranging from subtropical in the southeast, to warm temperatures in the centre, and cold temperatures in the northwest. In addition, the characteristics of vertical climate in some highlands can also be seen in Lijiang. For example, Jade Dragon Mountain, with its higher altitude, has five different climatic zones, from warm temperate to alpine.

Lijiang has a clear annual distinction between the wet and dry seasons. The wet season spans May to October, with plenty of rainfall. From November to April belongs to the dry season. Additionally, because of its high average elevation, Lijiang has abundant sunshine all year round, favoured with fresh air and charming natural scenery.

The rainy season typically occurs between May and October with November to April being predominantly dry. If you travel to Lijiang at this time, remember bring an umbrella or raincoat. Regardless of the season, Lijiang still remains a favourable destination as the sunshine and fresh air enhances the beautiful surrounding landscape and scenery.

Spring: In April and May, daytime temperatures can range from 15 to 20°Celsius and warmer, and rain comes more frequently as Spring progresses. By early June rain may fall almost daily.

Summer in Lijiang, particularly June and July, is mild and comfortable, but the long season is usually very wet. Temperatures almost never get higher than 25°Celsius, and nights are cool and pleasant. From June through September rain normally falls every day. August in Lijiang may often see spectacular lightning storms, but the frequent rain may make August and September particularly chilly at times, and the usual cloud cover makes this time of year less than ideal for sightseeing.

Autumn: The rains are almost completely gone by mid-October, bringing bluer skies and slightly warmer weather. In October and November the temperatures are in the upper teens Celsius and the nights are crisp and chilly.

Winter: It is the southerly latitude that makes for a warmer Winter; despite the city’s high elevation. In addition, December to February is dry season, and nearly every day sees strong, warm sunshine. Daily high temperatures may reach 15° Celsius while night-time temperatures usually drop to just above freezing. Snow rarely falls in the city more than once a year, though the surrounding mountain areas may see occasional snowfall.

Climate Data Table for Lijiang

   Month
 Item
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
maximum
temperature
(℃)
16.318.922.826.126.625.627.727.723.921.718.115.9
minimum
temperature
(℃)
3.96.19.511.716.416.717.822.816.312.88.54.5
Rainfall (mm)2.56.617.121.455.9167.6242.2206.1161.670.816.69.7
Days of rainfall0.10.20.20.71.76.18.26.86.12.80.60.3

Airport

The territory of Lijiang has Lijiang Sanyi International Airport. There are many direct flights to Lijiang across the country, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Changsha, Wuhan, etc., of course, most visitors choose to fly to Kunming or Chengdu and to transfer from Kunming (Chengdu) or drive to Lijiang; If time matches there are some direct flights from Shanghai and other cities to Lijiang, but the flights are less than flights fly to Kunming.

Lijiang Sanyi International Airport
♦ Address: Qihexiang, Lijiang Ancient Town, Lijiang city
♦ Official website: www.lijiang-airport.com

Lijiang Sanyi International Airport is 28 kilometers distance from the county and it takes 50 mins fly from Kunming to Lijiang. Lijiang Sanyi International Airport is a plateau airport at an altitude of 2240 meters, the surrounding landscape environment is complex, and it is the second largest airport in Yunnan, and it was third international airport in Yunnan after Kunming Changshui Internatioanl Airport, Xishuangbanna Gasa International Airport.

There is shuttle bus between the airport and the county, the terminal is at the gate of Yunnan airlines ticket office in the new town, and the bus will pass by the one entrance of the ancient city of Lijiang, the driving time are 30 minutes, and price is 15 yuan. Or people can take bus No.1 in the New Avenue, straight to the airport.

Rail

There are two train stations in Lijiang, Lijiang Railway Station and Lijiang East Station. Lijiang East Station changed into freight station in August, 2011, which is the main transportation junction of Lijiang Travel and important part of Yunnan-Tibet Railway.

Lijiang Railway Station
Lijiang Railway Station is located in Dali-Lijiang Railway Line, which is the terminal of Dali-Lijiang Railway and is the second largest passenger train station in Yunnan province.

♦ Address: Shangji village, Nankou District, Yunlong County, 10 km from Lijiang downtown
♦ Tel: 0871-95105105
♦ How to get: people can take bus No.4, 16 and 18 to the Lijiang Railway Station

Bus

Lijiang Express Bus Station
Lijiang Railway Station is located in Shangri-la Avenue, and the buses there are only sent to Kunming.

♦ Address: No.925 Shangri-La Avenue, Lijiang New Town
♦ Tel: 0888-5120999/5128456
♦ How to get: people can take bus No.8 and 11 to the Lijiang Express Bus Station

Lijiang Passenger Transport Center
Lijiang Passenger Transport Center belongs to Lijiang Transportation Group co., LTD., is the Lijiang city’s largest and most standard bus station. It has both inside and outside bus line of more than 30, nearly 300 buses daily depart.Locals call Lijiang Passenger Transport Center as New Bus Station, and there are buses to Qiaotou town (Tiger Leaping Gorge), Shangri-la, Deqin, Kunming.

♦ Address: No.25 Kangzhong Road, the southwest of Changshui Road in Lijiang Ancient Town
♦ Tel: 0888-5121106
♦ How to get: people can take bus No.1 to there directly.

Best time to visit Lijiang:
Without too much variation between Spring and Winter, the weather of Lijiang invites visitors to come at any time. However, considering the fairly wide difference in day-and-night temperatures in Spring and Winter; Summer and Autumn are the most favourable seasons for coming here.

Except for Summer, when T-shirts and trousers are enough, it’s advisable to take warm clothes in the other three seasons.

Try to Avoid domestic travel seasons:
Try to plan your Lijiang tour to avoid the peak holidays. Because they are popular with Chinese tourists, these attractions may become more crowded in these periods.

The most crowded seasons in China are Chinese Spring Festival (usually in late Jan or early Feb.), International Labor Day (May 01 to 03) and National Day (Oct 01-07). Spring Festival and the National Day golden week are the most crowded time for travelling.

♦ Lijiang Old Town – With a history of over 800 years, , along with Pingyao, Shexian County and Langzhong, are the 4 best preserved ancient towns in China. Lijiang Old Town has deep narrow bluestone alleys, gorgeous natural landscapes, rich carved old wooden houses and industrious Naxi People. It is a peaceful town of recreations, an ideal place to explore the disappearing Dongba culture, the showcase of traditional Chinese architecture style and the cultural heritage to memorize the brilliant glory of the past.

♦ Lugu Lake – It is located about 300km away from Lijiang and is a plateau lake with a total area of 52 square kilometers, 2,685 meters above the sea level. Embraced by mountains, this lake is called the “mother lake” by Mosuo People that lives along the lake shore.

Lugu Lake has beautiful scenery, and the lake is very clear and bright blue. The mysterious Mosuo girl kingdom is suitable for understanding slowly for more than a few days, tourists can borrow bicycles riding around the lake and join in the bonfire party at night. Here still remains mysterious Male-leaving Marriages customs.

♦ Jade Dragon Snow Mountain – Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is in Yulong Naxi autonomous county, Lijiang, Yunnan province, 15 km north of Lijiang city. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, 5596 meters above sea level, is a national AAAAA grade scenic spot, Yunnan provincial nature reserve. And it is the biggest snow mountain in the south of northern hemisphere. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain has the natural landscapes of subtropical, temperate zone and Frigid Zone, constitutes a unique “the Spring Snow” subject landscape. After sun comes out, the snow is especially white, and pine is especially green.