The history of the Old Town of Lijiang in Yunnan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, goes back to the 12th century. Among other noteworthy points, the Old Town was an important goods distribution centre for trade between Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet, where the Silk Road in the south joined the ancient Chama “Tea and Horse” Roads.
The Old Town of Lijiang is made up of the Dayan Old Town which includes the Black Dragon Pond, Baisha and Shuhe housing clusters, and is famous for its eclectic mix of old and new architecture. It is truly picture-postcard lovely with the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance helping to complete an archetypal Chinese setting backdrop. Lijiang’s trading traditions have been kept alive by the combination of traditional Nakhi culture and the Han Chinese merchants who settled in the area centuries ago. Their distinctive timber and mud houses are still being constructed to this day and are created simply from memory, without blueprints.
Lijiang Airport is located about 30 kilometres from the city. Although Lijiang is not a large town, there are around 1,000 taxis operating in the city and airport areas. The local bus station at Changshui Road in the south-west corner of the Old Town together with the bus station in Hongtaiyang Square north of the Old Town, operate long distance buses to Dali, Kunming, Shangri-La. For those wanting to do it Chinese style, bicycles can be rented from most hotels and hostels.
The popularity of the area has increased following its UNESCO World Heritage recognition and has now become a major tourist region. Definitive measures have been put in place to preserve the Old Town’s traditional culture.