One of the classic travel route in China is traveling along Yunnan Province. Lijiang Old Town is one of the important stop on the way. Set in the vast plateau with elevation of 2,400 meters above sea level, Lijiang Old Town is the major hub to do some hiking even go up north to the infamous Shangri La. My first stop for this Yunnan Trip was Lijiang.
Getting to Lijiang Old Town from Chengdu
The easiest way to reach Lijiang is of course by flying. Taking flight is not that expensive either, sometimes you can get as cheap as RMB 400 or less than USD 100 from Chengdu one way. I’m not that keen of flying. I don’t know why but I prefer to travel overland as much as I can, you know it’s just a whole different experience.
I had booked my train ticket a couple months ago. In China, it’s better to book train ticket as early as possible as it tends to get sold out. There are two options to get to Lijiang by train from Chengdu. First is taking the high speed train to Kunming then transfer to Lijiang. It takes about 9 hours for overall however if you sum up the train fare, it’s almost the same with flying.
The cheaper option that I did, is to take the train from Chengdu to Panzihua by slow train. The train journey to Panzihua is about 13 hours (RMB 102 for hard seat, RMB 178 for hard sleeper). From Panzihua to Lijiang you can take bus for another 5 hours (RMB 95). It’s a good and cheaper option and I suggest you to take night train. The train station is about thirty to forty minutes away from the bus station so you gotta take the city bus to the intercity bus station in Panzihua, pretty easy to do it.
In my case, it was really a long journey because I left Chengdu at 1 p.m., reached Panzihua at 1 a.m. Then I gotta wait till 5 a.m. for the city busy, headed to the bus station, left Panzihua around 7 a.m. and reached Lijiang around noon time. All because I didn’t get the night train, haha!
What to do in Lijiang Old Town
Going back to the history, Lijiang Old Town was built in the late Song Dynasty and early Yuan Dynasty. You can see many bridges and waterways in the old town. Similar to Langzhong Ancient Town, Lijiang Old Town is also one of the top four ancient town in China I would say the best thing to do is just walking around the old town. it’s massive. Shops, restaurants, guesthouses, even bars, you can easily find them. Lijiang Old Town is more beautiful in the night because the warm light just brighten up the place, plus it’s less busy during night time. Remember to wear warm clothes as it can get cold in the night.
For me, I just walked around the old town and did not do much activities or sightseeing but I found this piece of information board a bit late actually so I didn’t have time to do them all. But if you visit Lijiang Old Town make sure you check the information board, I don’t really remember the exact location but it’s near one of the gate. You can find more information about this:
- Black Dragon Pool (RMB 80)
- Snow Mountain Academy
- The Naxi Folk House Museum
- Wangjiazhuan Christ Church
- Fang Guoyu’s Old House
- Mu’s Mansion (RMB 60)
- Dongba wedding ceremony from Yuyuan Bridge
- Performance in the square street
Other things you can do is doing a day trip to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain or Yulong Xueshan. The mountain is 15 km away from Lijiang Old Town, popular with visitors who’d like to go up to a snow mountain without any difficulties. Expect to pay a bit extra for this, maybe more than RMB 200. Unfortunately I didn’t do this, it’s enough for me to look Yulong Xueshan from the old town 🙂
Visit Baisha Village while in Lijiang
I love Baisha Village right at the first sight! It’s really quite compared to Lijiang Old Town. Getting to Baisha Village from Lijiang Old Town is pretty easy, just hop to bus no.6 and it takes only less than 30 minutes. Once I arrived in Baisha Village, I walked to the opposite direction not towards the old town and eventually ended up in a quiet residency area where local lives. I hardly saw people walking around.
I kept walking until I found an open area where I could see clear view of Yulong Xueshan. It was amazing, nobody except me. After taking a couple of pictures, I headed back to the bus stop and walked to where the old town was. I saw shops running normally, except it was pretty empty inside. It felt authentic to me.
Once, I followed a group of elderly people to a small field where they played some kind of sport. They took turn throwing a small round ball and measured the distance. I also saw some people painting murals on the wall, which is a part of their culture. Baisha Village is home to an ethnic minority named Naxi, so you can still also see them hanging around in the village.
Another village nearby is called Shuhe. You can take the same bus and stop before Baisha Village, they are not far from each other. Unfortunately I did not have time to visit Shuhe Village but from what I heard it’s quite interesting as well.
Traveled in 18 – 19 January 2019
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