First Bend of the Yangtze River

The First Bend of the Yangtze River is a famous scenic area about 50 kilometers from Lijiang where the river takes an unusual turn of nearly 180 degrees, changing the flow from southeast to northeast. The Yangtze is China's longest and most important river and rises at "the roof of the world", the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Originally flowing southward in ancient times along the Hengduan mountains, movement in the earth caused the river to turn.

Located at the turn is the Naxi town of Shigu (Stone Drum). The area has a long history of military use as a crossing point in the river with many of China's famous ancestors using it. Liang Zhuge crossed here with his army during the Three Kingdoms period, as did Emperor Kublai Khan's army in the 13th century. More recently the red army crossed here in 1936 going north and there is a memorial monument to them in Shigu.

A drum-shaped marble stele, made during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), commemorating a Naxi victory over an invading Tibetan army, gives the town its name. Legend says a crack in the drum will stay open when there is war and will seal only when the world is at peace. Naxi and other ethnic minorities in the town give it a traditional and cultural atmosphere. A lively trade fair is held every three days in what has always been an important trading town on the Tibetan tea-horse trade route.

Hikers and sightseers come to the area to explore and admire the beautiful scenery created by the river and mountains. You can also take a boat ride on the river to view the beautiful first bend at first hand.