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  1. Lijiang Old Town

  2. Lijiang Old Town

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Keywords: World Heritage Site, Historical and Cultural Ancient Town

Occupation of the Scenic Area: 3.8 square kilometers

Altitude: about 2400 meters

Location: Old Town of Lijiang is located on Yungui Plateau with Shuhe Ancient Town and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the north.

About Old Town of Lijiang:

The beauty of the Old City is also due to the integrity of geographical nature and harmony. In 30 km northwest to the Old City lies the unconquerable Yulong Snow Mountain of 5,596 m and the relics of glacier in the Quaternary Period. The spring is divided into three branches to flow into the Old City relatively from east, middle and west. The countless small branches are threading among the stone-paved lanes, just as the poem describes "spring crossing around each household forms a poem while flying willow before every household draws a painting". Many architects give highly praise for it and it has gained such a beautiful name as "Suzhou in Highland" and "Eastern Venice". A great number of travelers are attracted by the beauty and charm of the Old City and the Snow Mountain, keeping pouring and lingering on their primitive simplicity and quietness. And, now, the Lijiang Old City is being reported as one of China Historical Cultural Cities in the whole world's cultural heritages. Thus, as a bright pearl of our country, it will be more splendid.

Lijiang Old Town    Lijiang Old Town

Old Town of Lijiang

History & Culture

The Old City was firstly built at the very beginning of Yuan Dynasty when the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty, Hu Bilei led his army to be on a southern expedition to Dali and reached Lijiang crossing the Jingsha Rive by the leather bags. And the Old City with a long history of eight or night hundred years can be traced back to South Song Dynasty when it had a certain scale. Since Ming Dynasty, the Old City has been named "Da Yan Xiang" because it is located at the center of Lijiang plain, surrounded by green mountains and threaded with the green rivers, just like a jasper ink slab.

Ruled by Mu Ancestors:

In 1254, Mu ancestors in Lijiang area submitted to the leadership of Hu Bilei, the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty. Then it set up San Dan Administrative official under the submission of Cha Han Zhang administrative official. In 1276, it was switched to Lijiang Administrative Prefecture. In 1382, it set up Lijiang Military Prefecture when the former magistrate of the prefecture Ajia Ade was granted the surname as Mu and the rank as the magistrate of the prefecture of Ming Dynasty in hereditary system by the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang. The Old City of Lijiang and the buildings of Military prefecture (The buildings of Mu ancestors) are a symbol of politics, economy and power of the Mu's family with a distinctive style and imposing manner. The famous traveler in Ming Dynasty, Xu Xiake ever recorded it as "The magnificence of the palace can be compared with the emperor", and "the people's residence is scaled closely side by side" when he was passing here, which just truly reflects the prosperity and splendor of the Old City.

An Old Town without Wall:

When visitors walk into Lijiang Old Town, they may find that there is no city wall around it. The reason is related to an interesting story. Lijiang had been ruled by the Hereditary Mu family for more than 500 years. The Chinese character "Mu"(represents the governor of Lijiang) is put into a frame(represents the city wall), "Mu" may change to the character "Kun" that meas "siege" or "predicament". For a fear that the governor Mu family would be trapped into predicament, the old town never has a city wall.

Lijiang Old Town    Lijiang Old Town

Panorama and Night Scene of Lijiang Old Town

Architectural Style:

The building history of the Lijiang nationality has experienced from the ancient residence in caves, trees and wood plates houses with courtyard to its own residence model as "three houses with one screen hall facing the gate" and "quadrangle and quin-courtyard with lofts". The plain of the residence is characterized as the combination of central courtyard and inwards houses. The outer railings (Xia Zi) is also a main part of the residence.

Naxi Nationality & Dongba Culture:

The Naxi nationality keeps absorbing from the outer culture. Lijiang located at the southern Silk Road and the road of tea and horse trade, is the trade distributing center of Yunnan and Xizang province in ancient times. The culture is continuously influenced by the outer factors ranging from inner land culture such as Buddhism, Taoism since the Hu Bilei military forces stationing in 1253 to the later Christianism at the beginning of the 20th century. The culture, while absorbing others, improves itself with its original Dongba Church, Dongba sutra, Dongba pictograph, Dongba paintings and the ancient music known as the heritages from Yuan Dynasty. In the way of incorporating everything of different nature, the Naxi culture really enriches the mystery and connotation of the Lijiang Old City.

Main Attractions in Lijiang Old Town

 Mu’s Residence 

Ticket: 60 Yuan per person

Open Hours: 09:00~17:00

Mu' Residence is a splendid ancient architecture first built in Yuan Dynasty, which not only reflects ancient architectural style in central plains of Ming Dynasty but also remains the lingering charm of Tang and Song Dynasty. Mu’s Residence was called the miniature Forbidden City. Looked from a far distance, it likes a grand imperial palace and it is famous for the grandness and architectural buildings. 

 Wangu Tower 

Ticket: 50 Yuan per person

Open Hours: 07:00~20:00

Located on the top of Lion Hill, Wangu Tower is 32.8 meters in height with 123,000 dragon head of Naxi style on the top, which ranks the world's greatest. Standing on the top of the tower, you can hace panoramic view of the whole Lijiang Old Town and rivers to the east, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain to the north and Naxi villages to the south, which is magnificent.

Mu's Residence in Lijiang Old Town    Wangu Tower in Lijiang Old Town 

Mu's Residence and Wangu Tower in Lijiang Old Town

 Black Dragon Pool

Ticket: including Lijiang Old Town Maintenance Fee

Open Hours: 07:00~21:30

Black Dragon Pool Park, also called Jade Spring Park, is located at the foot of Elephant Hill. The well-arranged ancient architectures, exquisite temples, pavilions and bridges over the pool offers a spectacular landscape to the visitors. Standing on the white marble bridge, visitors can also have a view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which is holy and pure.

 Dongba Culture Museum

Ticket: 30 Yuan per person

Open Hours: 08:00~18:00

Lijiang Dongba Culture Museum is located in the north of Black Dragon Pool Park, established in 1984. Built according to the traditional Naxi architectural style with four sets, the museum has more than 12,000 rare Dongba relics including unearthed cultural relics, paintings and calligraphy of all ages, Dongba scriptures and religious articles, etc.

 Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang Old Town    Dongba Culture Museum in Lijinag Old Town

Black Dragon Pool and Dongba Culture Museum in Lijiang Old Town

Other Ancient Town in Lijiang:

Shuhe Ancient Town:

It is located in the northweat(4 kilometers) of Lijiang Old Town. Baisha Ancient Town is an important town in the Ancient Tea Horse Road and a living specimen of the transition between agriculture civilization and commercial civilization of Naxi ancestors.

• Baisha Ancient Town: 

It is located in the north(8 kilometers) of Lijiang Old Town.During Song and Yuang Dynasty, it was the political, economic and cultural center of Lijiang Area.

Shuhe Ancient Town in Lijiang    Baisha Ancient Town in Lijiang

Shuhe Ancient Town and Baisha Ancient Town in Lijiang

Distances from Other Scenic Spot in Lijiang:

Lugu Lake: about 103.9 kilometers

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: about 25.5 kilometers

Shuhe Ancient Town: about 6 kilometers

Lijiang Travel Guide

Tours including Lijiang Old Town

• 1 Day Lijiang City Tour to Lijiang Old Town,Black Dragon Pool,Dongba Culture Museum,Mu Palace and Lion Hill

• 4 Days Lijiang City Tour with Old Towns,Gorges and Snow Mountain

 4 Days Lijiang City Tour with Old Towns,Gorges and Snow Mountain

Admission Fee:¥0

Opening Hours: All Day Long

Attraction Transportation:

Kunming - Lijiang:

By Bus: you can take the long-distance bus in Kunming West Bus Station. It costs CNY 188/217 per person and takes 7 to 9 hours. The first bus departs at 8:50 and the last departs at 20:30.

By Train: It takes 7 to 9.5 hours from Kunming Railway Station to Lijiang Railway Station by train. The price for hard seat is CNY 90, hard sleeper is CNY 142/148/153 and soft sleeper is CNY 218/227. Then you can take the bus No.16 to get off at Qixing Street Station, or No. 18 to White Dragon Square Station. It is also convenient to spend CNY 40 to get to Lijiang Old Town by taxi.

By Air: It takes 1 hour from Kunming Changshui Airport to Lijiang Sanyi Airport. Then you can take airport shuttle bus to reach Lantian Hotel in the downtown area, CNY 20 per person and lasting 30 minutes. And you have to walk about 1 kilometer to reach. Or you can take bus No.8/11/16 to get off at Qixing Street Station.

Dali - Lijiang:

By Bus: you can take bus from Tourist Bus Station near the South Gate of Dali Ancient Town from 07:50 to 17:00, CNY 62/75/83 per person and lasting 2 to 4 hours. Then you can take bus No.8/11/16 to Qixing Street Station in Lijiang Express Bus Station. If you take bus from Dali North Bus Station, you can take bus No.8/11 to Qixing Street Station in Lijiang Transport Service Center Bus Station.

By Train: It takes 1.5 to 2.5 hours from Dali Railway Station to Lijiang by train. The price for hard seat is CNY 34, hard sleeper is CNY 39.5 and soft sleeper is CNY 104.5.

Urban transportation:

You can take bus No.2/13 to Parking Lot Station of Old Town, or take bus No.7 to Department Store Station then walk into the old town from the north gate. And you can take bus No.2/3/12 to South Gate Street Station and walk into the old town from the south gate.

Attraction Travel Tips:

About Maintenance Fee:

Tourists are required to pay CNY 80 per person as the maintenance fee and received a receipt in validity of one week once they pay. When visiting some scenic spot in Lijiang, they should show the receipt of maintenance fee to staff, such as Mu's Residence, Black Dragon Pool and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Naxi Festivals held in Lijiang Old Town:

Bangbang Festival: January 15 on lunar calendar

Sanduo Festival: February 8 on lunar calendar

Torch Festival: June 25 to June 27 on lunar calendar

July Festival: middle July on lunar calendar

Specialty in Lijiang Old Town:

In Lijiang Old Town, travelers can taste the local Naxi snacks, like Salad of Jidou Pea Jelly, Lijiang Baba, Mabu, Preserved Fruit, Buttered Tea, Er Kuai, December Ribs, Naxi Copper Pot, etc. And you can buy specialties in Square Market(Sifang Street) such as Dongba tapestry, Dongba tie-dye and Dongba woodcarving.

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