Since being declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997 the spectacular and beautifully preserved old town of Lijiang has boomed in terms of domestic tourism – weekenders from Shanghai or Beijing – though sadly foreign visitors still seem to have difficulty finding their way here. China’s a vast country with tons to offer yet unfortunately many potential visitors can’t see past the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors and Hong Kong. Yes of course – all wonderful sights….but there’s so much more that’s worth discovering.
In fact that’s the problem really – it is so large and there is so much to see – including no less than 40 UNESCO sites! Also, as with any destination, it’s often the less famous, less prestigious spots – the unscheduled stops or unexpected meetings that really make any trip which is why on our China tour, (South of the Clouds), we only attempt to cover the province of Yunnan. Yunnan alone is larger than most European countries anyway and stretches from the sub-tropical forests abutting Laos and Burma to the Tibetan Plateau in the north west and includes an astonishing array of landscapes, historical sites, cultures and ethnic groups. It’s also a logical addition to our South East Asia tours in that our itinerary starts in Hanoi in Vietnam, and ends in Thailand’s Chiang Rai Province. (Furthermore most of the ‘hill-tribe’ groups that are encountered in Northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam originate from and are still widely represented in Yunnan. Indeed Thais, Laos and Vietnamese themselves originate in southern China.)
Anyway enough waffle – here’s a selection of some of our favourite pix of old Lijiang – one of the highlights of our Yunnan tours.
The old town of Lijiang is spectacularly well-preserved and remarkably homogeneous in style and period. Much of the new town was destroyed by the 1996 earthquake though the low-rise old town miraculously escaped much serious damage.
Old houses clustered on the hillside.
The picturesque Black Dragon Pool lies in a park a short walk from town and is the source of many of the streams that flow through the old quarter.
The stunning lake-side tea pavilion by Black Dragon Lake – great spot for cuppa!
Even looks picturesque in a rain storm!
The Naxi people are the original inhabitants of this region and many still wear traditional dress. (More of these fascinating people in another post).
The photogenic cobbled streets, streams and narrow lanes of the old town. They even have weeping willows – these are classic China cliches!
And possibly our favourite – an atmospheric early morning shot in one of the old town’s narrow streets – a light morning mist and great light and shadows.