Lijiang, in Yunnan province, is home to the Naxi ethnic group. Its biggest tourist draws are the picturesque Old Town of Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the imposing Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The surrounding area also offers both natural beauty and cultural heritage – not to mention incredible food.
Flights to Lijiang from Beijing during Golden Week start from around 3,000RMB one-way on Ctrip.com.
Ascend a snow-capped mountain Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, also known as Yulong Snow Mountain, is a small mountain range close to Lijiang. Cable cars are available to get you to the various scenic areas, including the peak, which is covered in snow 365 days a year. It’s easy to snigger at tourists lining up at base camp to buy canisters of oxygen – due to the considerably thinner air at the summit (like we did). But it’s better to buy the air than get to the top and realise you feel faint and wish you’d bought oxygen while you had the chance (like we did...).
Needless to say, bring warm clothing no matter what the weather at sea level. Visitors can get taxis or charter mini-buses from Lijiang’s downtown area for the 40-minute journey to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, around 200RMB each way.
Enjoy the world’s most dramatic theatre At the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is an outdoor
amphitheatre that uses the moody mountain vista as arguably the world’s most dramatic stage backdrop. The theatre plays host to Impression Lijiang (tickets from 190RMB per person), a musical production featuring dancers, singers and performers from the region’s ethnic groups. The show is part of Chinese film director Zhang Yimou’s China-wide ‘Impression’ series and bears Zhang’s trademark visuals and production style.
Expect incredible choreography , a cast of 100s, horses racing around the audience and dancing warriors in the
heart of the action. 19-9 Guodahuamu Lu, Old Town, Lijiang (888 888 2111). 190RMB.
Explore the Old Town The Old Town of Lijiang has a history of more than 1,000 years. The captivating network of narrow streets, bridges and waterways has been developed for tourism over the past two decades, but there’s still plenty of charm to spare – particularly the deeper you venture.
Once you push through the radius the average tourist is willing to walk, there are plenty of tranquil areas that have remained relatively untouched by the unrelenting march of gentrification. Head towards the vibrantly coloured Wanggu Pavillion, on a nearby hillside, for stunning views of the town’s rooftops below. As a rule of thumb, the higher you climb up the town’s hills, the quieter your surrounds become. Take bus 18 from Lijiang’s train station to the last stop; Old Town is about a 20-minute walk. Or hire a taxi.
Stay here Of the many five-star resorts in the area, the Grand Hyatt Lijiang stands apart for a number of reasons – not least thanks to its two separate locales. The Grand Hyatt Lijiang is located near the Old Town, framed
with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background. A 30-minute drive away is the Hyatt’s Mountain Lodge, nestled right at the foot of the awe-inspiring mountain. The two properties also offer different experiences – both ultra-luxe, naturally. 8 Xiangjiang Lu, Gucheng district (888 531 1234). The Cultural Exploration package (4,298RMB) includes two nights at the ‘City’ resort and one night’s stay in the Mountain Lodge, daily breakfast for two, entry to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, bicycle hire and more.