Do ecotourism in Lijiang!! Have a great experience of the local culture, visit small villages and stunning landscapes and meanwhile support the local communities! Have a look at Xintuo ecotourism' website. They do amazing trips and know the most hidden and awsome places!!
Walk up to the Lion Hill and then go to Wangdu Tower. You will see both side of Lijiang, the old one and newer one.
A path begins from the side of the Waterwheel monument. There are some signs on route, but there are quite small. So go just uphill and don't go right from only corner where you might get lost (look sign to left). After a ticket gate just go up either stairs or a path.
Hi there micmik!
Im a nomad/tourist/student in the Kunming/Lijiang area for the past 8 months! I'll see what I can help a bit here!
here's a recap of what you typed earlier:
Day 1 : arrive Kunming at 3pm. Walk around Kunming town.
Day 2 : morning flight to Diqing (Shangri La). Arrive at 9am. Walk around and spend 1 night.
Day 3 : after lunch, afternoon overland (?) transfer to Lijiang. (Anything to see enroute?) Walk around Lijiang town.
Day 4 : Snow Mountain/Black Dragon Pool
Day 5 : cycling around outlying villages
Day 6 : morning flight back from Lijiang to Kunming.
I think your Day 1 is a bit constrained, but with your time, you can hang around downtown, enjoy some modest spring city weather. There is a temple called "yuantongsi" temple an old buddhist temple closes at 5-6ish. But since your day is limited here and Day 6, there's not much to see but enjoy the flowers. DO NOT GO TO BIRD AND FLOWER STREET. it has no birds. Shilin Stone Forest is one of the attractions of outer Kunming, pricey but a one-time 70% day go is all that's needed. inner Kunming has flowers... esp Cuihu Green Lake.
Shangri-La is gorgeous.
Lijiang is amazing! I will help you modify a bit on the Lijiang side...
Jade Dragon Yulong Snow Mountain and Blue Moon Lake (Lanyuehu) are near each other, should be good and sunny in April, save that for 70% to a whole day. Ride a yak too! (FYI don't waste money enroute to Jade Dragon on O2 bottles(80rmb) or a big winter jacket rental (40rmb) on ground kiosks if you don't need it. On site, on top of the mountain and a kiosk just before ascent, there sells it for much cheaper (60rmb, 30rmb respectively)
Lijiang Dayan old town, elephant mountain and black dragon pool are closer to each other than the Snow Mountain, so that would save you some time and physical energy. There's a neat Naxi museum near the black dragon pool, among other sites to visit and crawl. You may also like to visit Shuhe Old Town, Shuhe Ancient Town is much quieter than Lijiang old town, so you can hear the peaceful horseclops and river flowing adrift, with a daily dance in the theatre at 730pm (only if it's a good night). BIG but playful dogs happily stroll these streets. (Can you tell which one I like better :P) Located west of the highly anticipated and gorgeous ACCOR GROUP Pullman Resort and Spa [(answers your original #3 question!) (They're open April 1st, so check for their opening promotion ~ i think it's 3 nights, 1 free..)]
Day 5 is further exploration, or you can spend approx 50~80RMB (from Lijiang) to go up to Tiger Leaping Gorge, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to visit from many many foreigners, friends and myself! Go early, or spend the night there too. (It is approximately enroute from Shangri-La to Lijiang, so plan accordingly, if interested.)
Contact me if you'd like. I try to help people here and everywhere.
Cheers on your trip! Make a Story out of Everyday. Share life.
Andrew Ames AKA Darwin
PS I would leave you with some chinese character names, but this site doesn't allow it IE Cuihu 翠湖
I just spent the day at the gorge - no hiking for me. It is a beautiful place! Worth a visit for sure! We took a mini-bus (van) to Qiaotou (booked at our hostel) and were dropped off just outside Jane's Guesthouse. The van cost 35RMB one way and took about 1 1/2 hours. Jane was able to help us arrange a van to the Middle Falls for 150RMB per van each way. A van to the Upper Falls cost about 80RMB per van each way. Due to a rock slide we were only able to go to the Upper Falls anyway. To get back to Lijiang you have to walk into town and try to find a van labeled 'Lijiang'. That part was a bit tricky. While we were looking at the falls, we noticed the other side seemed to be more built up and a path to walk along the river. That seemed better. I think it was close to the hot springs. I don't know how to get there though. We were on north side of the river.
On the way to Tiger Leaping Gorge, do not miss this amazing part of the Yangtse River. This is one of the three longest rivers in the world, behind the Nile (in Egypt) and the Amazon (in Africa).
I visited this scenic spot many times and it is a great place for photo opportunities as well. See the photos below to get a good idea! :-)
For a good English-speaking tour guide to bring you around Lijiang and its many scenic spots. you can approach Eric through the website (http://www.lijiang-pro.com).
See you in Lijiang!
The Baisha frescoes can be found in the Liuli Hall and Dabaoji Palace of the Wenchang Palace to the north of Lijiang. The hall was built in 1417 while the palace was built in 1582. The frescoes were completed over a 350 year period from 1385 to 1743 and are stunning. Photos are not allowed of the frescoes themselves, only the buildings outside.
Just a few kilometres north of the visitor's centre for the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, you'll find this lovely man-made water feature known as Blue Moon Valley. A river known as the White Water River, as the water is very clear as it comes straight off the mountain, flows through an area of artifical steps which look really beautiful. The river flows into four lakes called Jade Water Lake, Mirror Lake, Blue Moon Lake and Billowing Lake. Traditional clothes are available to wear whilst sitting on top of a yak for those perfect photo opportunities!
The cable car takes you from an altitude of 3356m to one of 4506m where's there's a small centre along with a few shops, restaurant and a small post office - the highest in all of China! I feel for the young guys working here as it's damn cold! You can buy a postcard and get a special postmark put on it to let people know that you've been all the way up here, even though you cheated by taking a cable car!
The cable car takes you from an altitude of 3356m to one of 4506m where's there's a small centre along with a few shops, restaurant and a small post office. There are some 19 glaciers on the mountain with the largest located at the bottom of the peak called Shanzidou with a total length of 2.9km.
When you arrive at the lower cable car, (at 3356m), you'll no doubt have to wait in another queue. The cable car costs Y170 which includes the bus journey from the visitor's centre. After buying my ticket at 11.22am, I finally got on the cable car at just before 2pm so expect a long wait. I reached the upper cable car station where the temperature is a bit chilly to say the least so bring warm clothing. A strong wind was really blowing a gale across from the highest peak which is about 5500m. I was at 4506m - the highest point I've ever been on land before. Chinese people were walking around in hired out thick jackets and carrying oxygen cans (like long squirty cream cans) around with them and taking big breathes out of them every now and again. I was told that there was no need for them as you only need oxygen if staying for half-a-day or overnight but not for 30-60 minutes.
This is the nice Visitor's Centre inside the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park. The centre has various souvenir shops and food shops/cafes plus toilets and is where you buy a ticket for the cable car (see next tip). Before you get in the cable car you'll have to take a bus to the lower cable car station. The bus is included in the Y170 cable car fee. You'll be assigned a number on your ticket which you'll have to listen out for inside the centre. Mine was M15. The announcements came and went - D then E so it appeared that I would have to wait quite some time but the alphabet was missing some letters as, to the Chinese, they sound similar and so could be misunderstood. You'll see the strange alphabet on signs around the centre (it seems to go A, C, D, E, F, H and so on, see one of the pictures). I had bought my ticket at 11.22am (as it was mentioned on the ticket) and was finally called to the bus at 12.30pm. I then had to wait in some kind of holding area before getting on the bus which took me up a short way to the lower cable car station at 3356m.
The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain lies about 15km to the north of Lijiang and can be seen clearly from the town, especially from the Black Dragon Pool Park. Its highest peak, named Shanzidou, has an elevation of 5,596m or 18,359ft. The 13 peaks, which have the altitudes of at least 4,000 meters, are covered by snow all year round; the mountain is called the "Natural Glacier Museum" for it has all types of glacier. Move down from the mountaintop and you can see rivers and pools, which are formed by the thawed snow water running along the valley and through the forests. The plants and the animals are different according to the altitude, so are the views.
Instead of trekking up the mountain, you can simply take a cable car to an elevation of 4506m where walkways lead to awesome glacier views plus superb views of the main peak. Take bus No.7 (Y10) from Xin Dajie, before the Mao statue, in a small bus station on the same side of the road as the statue (sit on the driver’s side for the best views). It takes about an hour to get to the park entrance where you'll have to pay Y190 (not cheap! But I think the ticket lasts for two days). The bus will then drop you off outside the Visitor's Centre (see next tip).
I took in the Tiger Leaping Gorge on a day trip from Lijiang which also included the first bend of the Yangtze River. Around 15km in length, the gorge is located about 100km (62 miles) northwest of Lijiang, lying between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xueshan) and Haba Snow Mountain (Haba Xueshan). The Yangtze River passes through a series of rapids under steep 2000 metre cliffs. Legend says that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still 25 metres wide), hence the name.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a contender for the world's deepest river canyon, depending on the exact definition used. The gorge is not considered navigable. In the early 1980s, four rafters attempted to go down the gorge and were never seen again. In 1986, the first known successful attempt to sail through the gorge was made by the first expedition to float down the entire length of the Yangtze.
There are a couple of trials that run along the entire length of the gorge but I chose the easy and new 'low' path that cuts its way through the mountain at various places. This is the upper section of the three and the most popular for tourists to visit. Each section has its own Tiger Leaping Stone along with a leaping tiger statue on one side of the gorge. There is a warning about visiting, though, and this is that you shouldn't stop along the path as the area is prone to rock falls and, indeed, there were several guys standing along the path with loudhailers to make sure that you didn't stop. When you get to the end of the path you'll cross over a bridge and then there's a path that takes you down to the leaping stone.
My day trip to the gorge and the first bend of the Yangtze River cost Y180. This includes the Y50 entrance fee to the gorge itself.
One of the must see (and for that matter hear), things to do in the evening whilst in Lijiang is to pay a visit to the Naxi Orchestra. This music shouts China and is the ancient music, the traditional Naxi classical music that is regarded as a 'living fossil of Chinese music.'
The orchestra is made up of 33 men and women - the men wearing silk clothes and the women wearing the local costume. A woman announcer, who spoke both Chinese and English, came on stage and introduced some of the eldest guys - about 6 of them are in their 80's with the eldest at 86. Above them over the top of the stage are black and white photos of previous players. The woman announcer also mentioned about some of their instruments - the oldest of which was 175 years old and, of course, these are nothing like we have back home. There was no conductor - the 86 year old guy was the conductor who played some kind a hanging chime thing which he struck in time and he also chanted the rest of the orchestra at the beginning of each piece of music. The music is traditional Naxi music and also features some singing by the women, a flute solo and 2 operatic songs. All-in-all it was great to both see and hear and it will stay with me for a long time, as music does that to your senses.
Tickets costs between Y100-160.
The main market is located right in the southern part of the old town and is quite some experience. As well as the everyday fruit and veg, you'll also find live animals for sale such as chickens, ducks, rabbits and even dogs in very small cages. There certainly isn't a shortage of food for sale here. More photo's can be found in one of my travelogues.