Lijiang Old Town, also called Dayan Old Town, is a well-preserved ancient town for Naxi ethnic group. Old Town of Lijiang was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, including Dayan Old Town, Shuhe Old Town and Baisha Old Town. It is one of the four best-preserved ancient cities in China, along with Langzhong Ancient Town in Sichuan, Pingyao Ancient City in Shanxi and Shexian Ancient Town in Anhui Province.
The old streets are the network of the old town, flowing water is the blood, the bars and shops are the temperament and the Naxi folk customs are culture are the soul of Lijiang Old Town. You can not only explore the amazing ancient town with hundred years’ history, but also experience the spirit and feel romantic, relaxing charm of the town without city walls.
Lijiang Old Town was first built in the late Song Dynasty and early Yuan Dynasty, with a history of more than 800 years. From the beginning to the reign of Yongzheng in Qing Dynasty, Lijiang Old Town was under the rule of Mu Family, local commanders during that time in Lijiang. The name of the Mu family has close relationship with Lijiang Old Town without a city wall. If the Chinese character “Mu” is put into frame (represents the city wall), you gave the character “Kun” which means “siege” or “predicament”. This would means the Mu Family and their descendants would always be trapped like rat in a hole. Hence, Lijiang Old Town was built without a city wall.
The architecture in the whole town is a little different than most parts of China as it reflects the local Naxi style. The Naxi architecture is mostly influenced by a number of groups such as Han, Bai and Tibetan. Houses in Lijiang have roof tiles and made of soil and wood or soil and stone. Usually, there are two basic types, one is a courtyard enclosed by three sets of apartment and a wall; and the other is a big courtyard enclosed by four sets of apartments and five wells. At present, there are more than 6200 households, 25,000 people living in Lijiang Old Town. And about 30 percentages are Naxi ethnic.
Lijiang Old Town features wide cobbled streets ambling over stone bridges and waterwheel-driven canals filled with huge goldfish and lined with shops, small family-run hotels and hostels, cafes and bars.
Sifang Square is the center of the old town. There are four streets stretching from Sifang Square, namely Xinhua Street, Wuyi Street, Guangyi Street and Qiyi Street. Countless lanes extending in all directions form a network and connect every corner of the town. There are about 354 bridges, like wind and rain bridges, stone arch bridge, slab bridge, plank bridge, etc. These bridges make the old town more poetic and elegant. In 1997, Lijiang Old Town was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with Shuhe Ancient Town and Baisha Old Town.
Ticket: CNY 60/pp
Open Hours: 08:30~17:30
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1-2 hours
Tusi Mu was under the ruler of Naxi Ethnic Group during Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The Mu’s Residence is the Tusi Mu’s Yamen. In the heyday of Tusi Mu, it was consisted of 100 buildings. Hence, there is a saying “there is Forbidden City in the North, Mu’s Residence in the south”. 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. Enter into the residence, you’ll see Zhongyi Hall, Yi Gate, Wanjuan Tower, Hufa Hall, Guangbi Hall, Yuyin Hall, Sanqing Hall, Corridor, etc.
Ticket: CNY 50/pp
Open Hours: 08:30~18:30
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 hour
Wangu Tower is located on the top of Lion Hill and belongs to the back hill of Mu’s Residence. The tower itself is at 33-meter high and has five floors. Standing on the top the tower, you can have panoramic view of the whole Lijiang Old Town and rivers to the east, the new town of Lijiang to the west and the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range to the north and Naxi villages and farmland to the south. The structures and design of the tower are worth your attention. You can observe them carefully and appreciate the artworks of Wangu Tower.
Ticket: including Lijiang Old Town Maintenance Fee
Open Hours: 07:00 - 19:00
Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 hour
Black Dragon Pool Park, also called Jade Spring Park, was built during Qing Dynasty in 1737. Located in the north of Lijiang Old Town and at the foot of Elephant Hill, Black Dragon Pool Park offers spectacular view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain over its white marble bridge. A short visit to the park, travelers can see some exquisite temples, pavilion and bridges over the pool, including the Moon-Embracing Pavilion, Dragon God Temple and Five-phoenix Tower.
Ticket: CNY 30/pp
Open Hours: 08:00~18:00
Recommended Visiting Time:about 1 hour
Dongba Culture Museum, situated in the north end of Black Dragon Pool, is a museum presenting the Dongba culture of the Naxi people. Built in 1984, this museum has more than 12,000 Dongba cultural relics, like unearthed cultural relics, paintings, calligraphy of all ages, Dongba scriptures, religious articles, etc. This museum is designed by the development of Naxi dwellings, from the cave, nest building, tent, wooden building to three sets of apartment and a wall, four sets of apartments and five wells. The main building is built according to the traditional Naxi architecture with four sets, surrounded by mountains and waters. Travelers can learn Dongba culture from the relics, architectures and scenes of Dongba folk customs and religion.
Lijiang Old Town is settled in the Lijiang City Center area, about 29km (40 minutes by car) to Lijiang Sanyi International Airport (丽江三义机场) and 8km (about half an hour by car) to Lijiang Railway Station (丽江站). Tourist can get to Lijiang Old Town by taxi, bus and private car.
Check more about Lijiang Airport to Old Town & Lijiang Train Station to Old Town >>
For the location of Lijiang Old Town, it is good to spend half day wandering and exploring in the old town. To get out of Lijiang Old Town, you can use our private service with private guide and car for visiting Shuhe Ancient Town, Baisha Mural Painting and Former Residence of Joseph Rock for half day tour.
Learn more about: How to Get around Lijiang >>
Travelers can visit Lijiang Old Town through the West Gate, on the way, you’ll pay visit to Mu’s Residence, Lion Hill and Wangu Tower and wander through the old streets and lanes to enjoy leisure feel of the old town. This may take you half day to explore.
Spend another 2 hours to the north of Lijiang Old Town by visiting Black Dragon Pool Park and Dongba Culture Museum. If time permits, you can enter Lijiang Old Town through Black Dragon Pool Park and see the symbol of the town – Large Water Wheels and walk straight to Sifang Square to enjoy the evening performance held by the Naxi people.
When visiting some places in Lijiang, travelers should show the staff the Maintenance tickets. Those places include Lijiang Old Town, Wangu Tower, Mu’s Residence, Shuhe Old Town, Baisha Mural Painting, Black Dragon Pool Park, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, etc. This ticket is valid for a week when you are in Lijiang.
Show Time: 20:00~21:30
Place: Naxi Concert Hall
Naxi Ancient Music is known as a “living fossil of Chinese music”. According to research, this ancient music originated in the 14th century. It originally included three parts, 'Baisha Fine Music' (Baisha Xiyue), 'Dongjing Music' (Dongjing Yinyue), and 'Huangjing Music' (Huangjing Yinyue), however, the last one has long been lost in the river of time. To know more about Naxi, you can spend one night enjoying Naxi ancient music.
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
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.
Travel light when strolling in the old town. Bring a camera with you that you can take photos along the way. Sunlight is very strong in Lijiang, wear sun protection such as hats, sunglasses and use sun block, etc.
To shoot some amazing photos of Lijiang Old Town, photographers should not miss Sifang Square, Stone Archway, Five-Phoenix Tower, Naxi architecture and Naxi Ancient Music performance. It is better shoot in the early morning and late afternoon. To get more photography tips, go and check Lijiang Photography Guide & Tips.
Travelers usually enjoy 2-3 days in Lijiang to discover Lijiang Old Town (Mufu Palace), Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Shuhe Old Town, Dongba mural paintings, Black Dragon Pool, etc. for a classic savory of this romantic ancient city. Besides, if you are fond of the emerald alpine lake and mysterious matriarchal society culture of Mosuo ethnic culture, you can plan another 2-3 days at Lugu Lake to enjoy more peaceful holiday time!
Besides, quite a lot of visitors prefer travel Lijiang with Shangri-La where to seek the pure holy sceneries and Tibetan belief to catch the best essence of Yunnan province, which usually needs 5-6 days with best visits to Tiger Leaping Gorge with a memorable trekking experience, Sumtseling Monastery, Pudacuo National Forest Park, and more.
Recommended Lijiang Shangri-La Tour Package:
Furthermore, actually most travelers arrange Lijiang city as a part of their Yunnan travel to visit more top destinations in one go, such as Kunming famous as Spring City and convenient province capital, Dali with profound Dali Old Town and splendid Erhai Lake, Yuanyang with terrific rice terraces, Xishuangbanna with exciting tropical flavor and Dai ethnic dances, etc., which usually needs 6-15 days based on your exploration depth!
Recommended Lijiang Yunnan Tour Packages:
▶ 6 Days Best of Yunnan Tour (Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)
▶ 8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)
▶ 11 Days Amazing Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)
Know more about How to Plan a Lijiang Tour
Looking for a hassle-free way to get to Lijiang Old Town? Travel with China Discovery and let us take care of everything for you! Our professional local driver will pick you up at Lijiang Airport or Lijiang Train Station and then escort you to Lijiang Old Town directly. During the journey, our English-speaking guide will accompany you all the way and tell you some interesting stories or insider travel tips for your coming Lijiang tour.
We can also help you with the trip plan in Lijiang. The tour can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interest, budget and every special need. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help!
Top 3 Lijiang tours chosen by most customers to explore Lijiang in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.Customize a Trip
[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is available! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >