With winding streets filled with colorful umbrellas and glowing lanterns, Lijiang feels like a dream! Located in the northern Yunnan Province, Lijiang is a fantastic destination to visit if you want to experience local Yunnan culture and cuisine. It’s also a great in-between stop if you plan to travel to other places in Yunnan like Shangri-la and Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Before visiting Lijiang I had just traveled to two small Chinese villages – Furong in the Hunan Province and Xijiang in the Guizhou Province – so Lijiang was a nice place to relax, shop, and enjoy beautiful rooftop views!
Where To Stay in Lijiang
The main attraction of Lijiang is the Lijiang Old Town, so it is best to stay near that area of the city. You can either stay inside the old town itself, or the area right outside of it. If you stay outside the old town I recommend staying near the north gate, where there are lots of shops and restaurants conveniently located nearby. The southern part of the old town is not as active and has less to do.
I stayed outside the north gate in a boutique hotel I found on Trip.com. It was a great deal (about 70 RMB) for a large room that was just a 10 minute walk to the Old Town gate.
If you do choose to stay inside the Old Town, just keep in mind that cars cannot drive inside so you’ll have to carry your luggage through. Many people stay outside the Old Town for one night if they are coming late from the airport or train station, and then move to a hotel inside the old town the next day so they can find their hotel more easily inside in the daylight. The Old Town is a bit of a maze when you’re going through for the first time!
Things To Do in Lijiang
Lijiang Old Town
The old town is a maze of alleys and wooden shops, selling everything from Yunnan snacks to dresses and drums. The Old Town itself is pretty big, and you can wander for hours around to find new shops.
Also this is where those umbrellas are that everyone takes their Lijiang photos in front of. Did you even go to Lijiang if you didn’t take a photo in front of the umbrellas? 😉
Black Jade Dragon Pool
This famous site is a close 15 minute walk north from the Lijiang old town gate. It costs 50 RMB to get inside, and your ticket is valid for a month. On a clear day you can see the beautiful jade snow mountain in the background. Unfortunately it was foggy when I went, but still very pretty!
Find A Rooftop
Cafes and restaurants in Lijiang Old Town have great views! I recommend walking up towards Lion Hill for good coffee shops that have nice views over the city. I went to several different coffee shops (sometimes twice a day) to see the different views. You can never have enough coffee on a rooftop!
While walking around I also passed a hotel with a great little orb to sit in and take photos!
Unfortunately you had to be a guest staying there to take photos, so I found a different restaurant with another orb like it. It was nice during the day, but especially beautiful at night!
Visit Jade Snow Mountain
This scenic area is north of Lijiang and you can take a van or hire a driver to take you. The area has three attractions – the Blue Moon Valley, Yak Meadow, and the Jade Snow Mountain itself. There are various buses and cable cars that will take you where you need to go. I just went to the Blue Moon Valley and it was lovely! Unfortunately it started raining when I was there, but I still had a nice time. It’s a popular place for people to take wedding photos, and they have Yaks there that you can take photos with.
Other Things To Do In Lijiang
- Rent a bike to Shuhe Village: I didn’t actually do this, but heard it’s lovely. I had just traveled to several villages in other places and preferred to spend my time in Lijiang Old Town, but if you have more time this is a nice day excursion.
- Elephant Hill: The Elephant Hill is a mountain you can hike inside Black Jade Dragon Pool area. Unfortunately they have a rule that you need 4 people to go at a time for safety. I waited and chatted with the security guard for awhile but decided to go back and explore more of Lijiang Old Town instead. I was going to Tiger Leaping Gorge soon so I knew I’d get those mountain views in.
Travel to Lijiang in the Yunnan Province
Overall, I found Lijiang very charming and worth a trip to see. I didn’t stay long – just for one day before going to Tiger Leaping Gorge, and one day coming back from Shangri-La. For me that was the perfect amount of time to see what I wanted.
There are people who recommend staying longer and doing day trips to the surrounding areas, so it depends on what you’d like to do and how much time you have. Some people say Lijiang is too touristy now, but I still think it’s a fun place to spend time in while exploring Yunnan. It’s a fun flavor of China mixed with something else!
Check out my other adventures in Yunnan: