Lijiang Old Town

Lijiang Old Town in Yunnan has a history of over 800 years and is a popular and much loved place for both Chinese and foreign tourists. Dayan is the name of the main area and along with the towns of Shuhe and Baisha it is a member of the world heritage list. Surrounded by Lion Mountain in the west, Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north and fertile lands in the south, it was founded around the late Song Dynasty (960-1279) by the ethnic Naxi people.

Famous for the many waterways that twist and turn throughout the town, it is covered in willow trees that line the banks and nearly 350 bridges spanning the water that have been constructed through the centuries. Its water has always been the town's most important feature and it comes from the renowned Black Dragon Pool.

A busy trading place on the old tea-horse trade route between Tibet and Yunnan, the town has been influenced by different ethnic minorities including Bai and Tibetan as well as the Naxi people. This mix can be seen in the architecture and local culture and gives the town a unique feel. Wandering the narrow cobblestoned streets you can admire the different features of people's homes and original building style.

Visiting Lijiang is a chance to see a more peaceful way of life though the growing number of visitors is affecting this more and more and the locals are beginning to worry about its future. These are still a warm, welcoming and friendly people though and their town is an experience worth having.