North of Dali, bordering Tibet, the town of Lijiang is set in a beautiful
valley and makes another great spot to while away a few days or weeks. It's not
until you get into the old down-a delightful maze of cobbled street, rickety old
wooden buildings, gushing canals and the hurly-burly of market life-that you
realise Lijiang is more than a boring urban sprawl in the middle of nowhere.
In 1996 an earthquake measuring over seven on the Richter scale rocked the
Lijiang area, killing more than 300 people, and injuring 16,000. Damage was
estimated at over half a billion US dollars. While much of newer Lijiang was
levelled, the traditional Naxi architecture held up quite well. The Chinese
government took note and sank millions of yuan into rebuilding most of Lijiang
country with traditional Naxi architecture, replacing cement with cobblestone
and wood. The United Nations was so impressed by the survival of Lijiang that it
placed all of Lijiang county on its World Heritage Site list in 1999.
The town's reconstruction coupled with the unveiling of Lijiang's new airport
has led to a huge increase in tourists. One indirect result has been a cluster
of new tourist sights with fairly high admission fees. More worrying is the
influx of Han Chinese entrepreneurs running tourist shops and restaurants for
Han tourists, and souvenir sellers pushing out Naxi stalls. What used to be the
preserve of hardy backpackers is now a major tourist destination.
Lijiang is separated into old and new towns that are starkly different. The
approximate line of division is Shizi Shan (Lion Hill),the green hump in the
middle of town that's topped by a radio mast and looking at the Past Pavilion a
new pagoda. Everything west of the hill is the new town, and everything east is
the old town.
The easiest way into the old town is from the north, along Dong Dajie. This
area was largely reconstructed following the 1996 earthquake.From the
long-distance bus station head east one block and follow an alley lined with
snack bars heading north.The old town is a delightful maze of twists and
turns-although it's small, it's easy to get lost in, which , of course, is part
of the fun.
Main attractions:Old Town, Mu Family Mansion, Black Dragon
Pool Park(Heilong Tan Park), Xuan Ke Museum