For most in Hong Kong, China isn’t our first choice in destinations. Yet, it really is a place that needs to be explored more. Just a few hours from your apartment in HK lies one of the most beautiful places on the planet; Lijiang, a city in the northwest part of China's Yunnan province, which is home to the Naxi and several other ethnic minority groups. Full of charm from the old town cobblestone streets, canals and Central Market Square, shops and restaurants there really in no excuse not to have Lijiang on your bucket list. But, just to make sure it is on there, here are some more reasons you should visit:
The Scenery and Surroundings
Think fairy tales, National Geographic or glossy magazine spreads. Lijiang is home to some of the most spectacular scenery on this planet. Surrounded by the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (or Yulong Snow Mountains) it is hard to not catch a glimpse of its beauty at every turn. During winter months, you can head up to the mountains and grab your skis or during summer, late spring and early fall, the Yulong Snow Mountains are a great place to hike and enjoy the scenery of the natural forest. If you want to keep your feet on stable ground take a wander around Lijiang old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A well-preserved old city of ethnic minorities with brilliant culture, food and scenery. Located on a plateau which is 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) above sea level and surrounded by the tree-covered Lion Mountain in the west, Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north, vast fertile fields in the southeast and crystal clear water running throughout the old town in the Centre.
You could spend days exploring and relaxing in the Lijiang Old Town alone. And of course, a trip to Lijiang is not complete without a visit to world famous Tiger Leaping Gorge one of the deepest gorges in the world, measuring 16km long and a staggering 3900m from the waters of the Jīnshā River to the snowcapped mountains of Haba Shan. Voted one of the most unmissable treks of southwest China, this is nature at its purest.
The food in Lijiang is different from other regions in China and is absolutely delicious! Also referred to as Naxi food the most popular Naxi dishes include Dried Pork Rib, Chickpea Jelly, and Naxi Sandieshui. It’s also all about to hot pot here – Yak hot pot! Yak is one of the most popular dishes in Lijiang and can be enjoyed many ways, however, we really recommend heading to a local restaurant and ordering the Yak meat hot pot! The restaurants serving Yak and Dried Pork Ribs Hotpot are mostly located in the Xiangshan Market of the Xiangshan West Road. There are many cuisines in Lijiang including Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Korean and Japanese.
Side Trip from Lijiang
If you have more than 3 - 4 days in Lijiang we would really recommend travelling up to Shangri-la, a town on the border of Tibet which is home to a completely different culture and minority group. This is around a 4-hour drive from Lijiang city, but even the drive alone is an adventure in itself. Sweeping through cascading mountains and waterfalls, with scenery previously not know other than on T.V.
The town is split between Tibetan and ethnic Han residents, as well as a fair smattering of Naxi, Bai, Yi and Lisu, with the surrounding countryside entirely Tibetan. The town has got nowhere near Lijiang's crowds, and it's still possible to experience the area's Tibetan heritage and see the gorgeous countryside in near isolation.