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9 incredible things to do in Lijiang, China

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Lijiang is a popular travel destination for visitors to Yunnan, but what is there to do here and why should you visit? Read on to find out…

Outdoor things to do in Lijiang

Hiking in Yunnan

Most of the things to do in Lijiang, you will find outside. A trip here is a great way to get out and about in nature so dust off those hiking boots, pack your camera, and enjoy what this gorgeous Chinese city has to offer.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Perhaps the most famous of all the things to do in Lijiang is Tiger Leaping Gorge. Located on the Jinsha River, it is a scenic canon popular with walkers and tourists. It is considered to be one of China’s best hikes. Tiger Leaping Gorge is actually one of the deepest gorges on the planet, and it is an absolute *must* when visiting Lijiang. It is a 20km hike, but you don’t have to do it all in one go. There are guesthouses along the way, places to store your luggage and places to eat. The views from here are breathtaking, and it’s just something so amazing to experience while in China.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

This is a small mountain range. The highest peak is Shanzidou, which is 5,596 metres above sea level. The northwestern flank of the mountain actually makes one side of Tiger Leaping Gorge, so you can see it from here or visit the mountain itself. One of the best views when visiting Lijiang is via the tourist cable car at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This is operated by the Yulong Snow Mountain National Scenic Area and National Geological Park. It takes you up to an observation platform. This is at an elevation of 4,506 metres – and if you feel up to it, you can then walk up a few hundred steps to another platform. At 4,680 metres, this is one of the highest observation platforms in the world and offers amazing close-up views of the snow peak. The scenery here is absolutely beautiful and will be sure to take your breath away.

There is even a theatre on the mountain – this is the highest outdoor theatre in China, if not the world, at 3,100 metres above sea level. You’ll find it on a pasture highway. It is set up like an amphitheatre with the mountains making up part of the backdrop, and you can watch a Lijiang Impression show here. This is a cultural show all about the traditions and lifestyle of the locals – the Naxi, Yi and Bai people. With folk songs, rituals and plenty of dancing, it’s definitely a fun experience!

Blue Moon Valley

If you’re an avid – or an amateur – photographer, then a trip to Blue Moon Valley can’t be missed while you’re visiting Lijiang. This dramatic mountain scenery is some of the most stunning in the world, with 4 lakes and a bright turquoise-blue river that looks completely other-worldly. Blue Moon Valley is bound to inspire you! The waterfalls are actually fake and it can get very crowded due to how beautiful it is here (some people liken it to a sort-of Disneyworld) but if you do want to capture something seriously pretty on your trip to China, then this is a great place to visit. Many people have their wedding photographs taken here, and it’s easy to see why…

Lugu Lake

It is clear that Lijiang has no shortage of incredible scenery in and around the area. Lugu Lake (around 4 hours away but definitely worth the drive, and there are hotels you can stay at) is just another example. It is so rich with natural beauty that it will leave you in awe. This is an alpine lake at an elevation of 2,685 metres – it is the highest lake in the entire Yunnan Province. There are mountains all around the lake, and you’ll find five islands, four peninsulas, fourteen bays and seventeen beaches. One of the best ways to experience Lugu Lake is to hire a bike and cycle around it. People commonly describe the lake as ‘tranquil’, so if this is the kind of experience you’re after when visiting Lijiang and the surrounding area then you’re in for a treat.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay here, Lugu Lake Mosuo Park Hotel comes highly recommended. With free WiFi, bike hire, a buffet breakfast, outdoor areas and private bathrooms in every room, you’ll have everything you need. There is free parking, table tennis, daily housekeeping and much more. Combining your Lijiang trip with a visit to Lugu Lake is a great idea!

Other things to do in Lijiang

While the great outdoors makes up a big chunk of the things to do in Lijiang, there are some more suburban, town-based and indoor activities on offer too!

Explore the Old Town

This one is a given! The ancient town of Lijiang is beautiful to behold, with its tiny cobbled streets and beautiful surroundings. The small waterways and pretty old buildings add to the overall beauty. Lijiang is a tourist haven for many Chinese people, but still maintains a laid-back ambience. There are plenty of places to eat, drink, shop and relax. Just a walk around the old town will leave you feeling peaceful!

Hiking in Yunnan

Bar hopping in Lijiang Old Town

The ancient town in Lijiang is absolutely full of bars. No matter what your choice of tipple, you’ll find something (and somewhere) that suits you. Whether you’re more of a cocktail connoisseur or a whiskey whizz, there’s a bar for you. One of the biggest and best is Sakura Bar, which comes highly recommended by anyone who’s been to Lijiang! There’s a DJ, and the drinks are fantastic. Other popular bar recommendations include Stone The Crows, Le Petit Paris and Well Bistro.

Visit Baisha Village

Around 10 km north of Lijiang you’ll find the village of Baisha. The village is home to some stunning murals that are popular with tourists – for good reason. They have a recognisable painting style as well as plenty of cultural and historical meaning. These murals are fascinating. They include and depict a mixture of different religions from Mahayana Buddhism to Taoism. Baisha is also the political center (and birth place!) of the Naxi people. The village provides an opportunity to see their lifestyle for yourself, as long as you do so respectfully. There is an embroidery school you can visit, and plenty of little shops with locals selling their wares. An authentic and traditional Chinese village not far from Lijiang, this makes for a great afternoon out if you’re in the area. For a laid back way to spend a day, you can’t go wrong with Baisha Village!

Explore Shuhe Ancient Village

Another authentic Chinese village, Shuhe is very similar to Lijiang itself. However it is smaller and not as well-known, meaning it is quieter and cheaper. It is just a couple of miles north of Lijiang, but you’ll definitely notice how few people there are in comparison. With beautiful mountain scenery and small temples as well as lovely traditional homes and gardens, you’ll adore spending a few hours in the ancient village of Shuhe.

Places to stay in Lijiang 

There is a range of places to stay in Lijiang. From budget accommodation to something more luxurious, there is something for everyone. Here are some hotels that come recommended by previous visitors!

Anyu Dayan Hotel is a stunning adults-only hotel complete with bar and garden. There is free WiFi, a 24-hour front desk, room service and more. With breakfast on offer and activities organised by the hotel should you need them, you’ll feel comfortable here as you relax in style. The decor, dark wood offset with white linen and pale walls, gives off such a calm atmosphere – that, coupled with the trees and plants around the outdoor areas and the mountain scenery, should have you feeling chilled out in no time. They offer afternoon tea, and there is an airport shuttle service too. A great choice for somewhere to stay in Lijiang!

InterContinental Lijiang Ancient Town Resort is another fantastic choice. With traditional architecture and views overlooking the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, this place really is something special. There is a spa and heated indoor pool, an on-site restaurant, gym and more. The hotel is well-located and the staff are friendly – previous guests praise the comfortable beds and, of course, the spectacular views on offer here. With a warm feeling and welcoming atmosphere, you can’t go wrong if you choose to book in here.

Hotel Indigo Lijiang Ancient Town is perfect if you want something a bit more funky. The decor here is quirky and fun, with bright colours and curves all around. There is an indoor pool, spa and fitness centre as free internet, a kids club and free parking. With great amenities and a luxury feel, you’ll feel at home with this lovely hotel as a base for your Lijiang explorations. 

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