Today will be spent entirely on foot, therefore we recommend wearing a pair of sturdy shoes to help you navigate the cobbled streets.
After breakfast, day four of your Yunnan discovery gets underway with a three-hour trip to Lijiang(taking approximately 3 hours). This magnificent labyrinth of traditional redwood and brick houses topped with grey slate roofs, as well as the quaint canals, stone bridges and cobbled streets were classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and are truly a sight worth seeing.
All around Lijiang locals pay close attention to the upkeep of small interior courtyards which bloom with multicolored flowers that give this town its beautiful aroma. In China, Lijiang is known as a true paradise and exists as the beating heart of Naxi culture.
Originally hailing from Tibet over 2,000 years ago, the Naxi first lived as nomads in Sichuan before settling in Yunnan. There are currently approximately 300,000 Naxi living in China, found most commonly in Yunnan and Sichuan. They are most notable for their expertise in canal building methods, which assure each home has running water.
The Naxi’s social organization structure is a source of fascination to many as it is both ‘matrilocal’ (whereby couples move in with the wife’s family) and ‘matrilineal’ (where succession favors females over males). In Naxi culture, there is no marriage as sexual liberty takes precedence over formalized unions. Children, who do not know their fathers, are raised by their mothers, aunts and maternal uncles.
Lijiang is also known as the ‘Big Inkpot’ due to the network of canals which flow through the village resembling an pot of ink that has been knocked over. Crossing over the labyrinth of alleyways you will arrive at the ‘Lion Hill’ which offers a fantastic view over the village below. At the top, there will be a chance for a quick break on the terrace so you can relax after your ascent to the top.
Afterwards, you will visit the Mu Palace which is named after the Chinese Empire warlords who ruled from this magnificent residence in this region during the Mongol Dynasty (13th century). The palace is a vivid example of Ming and Qing architecture, based on the same style of architecture as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Following the visit to the palace we will take you to the edge of the old town where you can enjoy the local market and get a feel for the ‘real’ Lijiang. Here you can see locals selling teas, vegetables, fruits and even daily tools in a vibrant and animated atmosphere.
From the market you will be guided back to the Black Dragon Pond Park in the north of the town which offers, on a clear day, a panoramic view of the famous Jade Dragon Mountain which you will visit tomorrow. We will then head back to the Old Market Place, the vibrant heart of the old town.
Once back, you will be free to enjoy the evening at your leisure, wandering around the town as the night falls and red lanterns are placed outside people’s homes creating the true feel of China you may have envisioned.
Please note: the order in which we visit the sites may be modified depending on the hotel you select.