Early next day after our one day Dali tour, we arrived in Lijiang in the afternoon after a traveling Dali to Lijiang train for 3 hours. To my surprise, the local government here did a good job of having a building code not higher than 10 floors, I guess. Which make Lijiang preserve it’s ancient feel while its business is growing.
Outside the station, you can find people offering for a ride going to downtown and to the ancient village. Instead of taking a taxi, we bargain somebody to take us to the old village where our hotel is located. It’s 10 kilometers from Lijiang Railway Station to our destination and we paid 10 CNY each. But it would be better if four of us traveled by taxi, I will tell you later why.
Finding our hotel
We arrived in Ancient City but it’s not clear where exactly is our hotel, so we phoned up the hotel for help. I also asked one of the hotel receptionist around if they know where. Well, they gave me a map and I ended up in a lovely hotel but that was not the one we booked. We shouldn’t book it online and just walk into that beautiful boutique hotel.
The property map is incorrectly registered in Booking.com. We asked help from another hotel to talk to our hotel owner in Mandarin. They finally said to stay and wait for them to get us. After two hours of waiting, somebody arrived, sigh.
We walked for 10 minutes to reach the place. To my surprise, that is not the hotel listed in Booking.com. So we keep on asking what’s going on? We’re asking ourselves if it’s safe to here. We became paranoid so we talked to the lady if we can just refund and transfer to another hotel since something is wrong with their listing. Can’t trust them, they even didn’t ask to surrender our passports. After 30 minutes of conversation, they agreed to negotiate with other hotels.
We went back to that lovely hotel which is a little more expensive but the son of the hotelier said it’s ok, money being transferred is enough for two rooms. Yehey!
Later we found out that the lady was a middle woman trying to bring guests to hotels to get commissions. I wonder how can she register it in Booking.com or in CTrip. So if you are planning to travel to Lijiang, there’s plenty of small family owned hotels even in peak season. Better go straight and walk in to avoid problems.
From Jinhong Road, walk along Yishang Wenming Alley and turn right in the second corner. Follow the map location until you reach a small alley on your right. If the door is closed, just ring the bell.
Black Dragon Pool
The next morning, after eating our breakfast, we went straight to the famous Forest Lake. It is only 20 minutes walk from our hotel.
In the gate, there is a desk that will ask you Protection Ticket worth 100 CNY. We got no choice but to get one, it’s good for 7 days. I heard people saying that they were able to get inside without the Protection Ticket since tourist areas have plenty of gates and alleys. You just need to find them.
We walk around and saw the famous temple with the Yulong Mountain in the background. The mountain wasn’t big as I thought. For you to get the best view, you’ll need to have a 150 mm to 300 mm lens to get a better shot.
There are local people offering photographs and then have it edited and printed later on. But the photos they edited were not professionally done, so better take a photo by yourself, google a snow mountain and paste it in your original photo. I think that’s better than paying something and make you disappointed.
The park is big, I think they have the same size with New York’s Central Park. There are plenty of trees and flowers around, wild ducks diving into the lake and some Japanese Koi fish.
Local people are not required to pay Protection Fee. Most of them go here for recreation and exercising. Elder people were doing some traditional folk dance and we enjoyed dancing with them.
We spent an hour going around the park. This time, we grab a taxi to the South Gate of the Ancient City for only 9 CNY.
Exploring Ancient City of Lijiang
This is the biggest Ancient City I ever been in China. Unlike other Ancient Chinese towns, this village is not commercially modernized. I mean, you can’t find McDonalds or modern shops inside the village, which is good so tourist can feel the real throwback of the city.
One thing I notice, people selling this popular Bongo Drums. I’m not sure what do they call it in Chinese but I had a good time playing those instruments made from animal skin.
There are also places where you can book a tour to some tourist spots in Lijiang such as the Yulong Mountain or the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Tiger Leaping Jorge and the Blue Moon Valley.
There are tour packages available. We choose the package that includes Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Blue Moon Valley. Prices are ranging from 300 to 700 CNY. I heard from a Vietnamese tourist that they got tickets for just 300 CNY but their tickets do not include tickets to Snow Mountain. This time is peak season, so I think the 400 CNY we paid is worth enough. Early next morning we depart to Yulong Snow Mountain.
Yulong Snow Mountain Tour
After spending one day in Yulong Mountain, we continued walking around this big old village. We tried visiting the forest up in the hill but unluckily it was closed. We decided to walk to the bus station instead to get some tickets for Shangri-La. Each ticket cost 49 CNY. There is no train servicing between Lijiang and Shangri-la, however, construction is in progress.
Back to the town, we saw security guards inspecting Protection Fee tickets. We have the tickets but there are a hundred of alleys around the ancient city. I guess if you haven’t got your ticket, you can just walk in from the other alley.
The next morning, we walk to the bus station. The process is smooth. Just show your ticket to one of the ladies in the gate and they will tell you which bus you will take. It’s only 3 to 4 hours trip before you reach Shangri-la. We also booked our hotel just in front of the station. Read our full story here.
There are many things you can do in Lijiang Old Town alone. I would recommend photographers to go to one of the coffee shops up in the hill and take a breathtaking view of the village. There are also plenty of foods to choose from and they were exotically delicious. There are also shops that sell handmade crafts and clothes.
You will really have a great time and experience walking around. This big ancient town will truly make your visit full of experience and knowledge about China’s rich culture and history.
We ended our Lijiang trip by taking a taxi from Old Town back to the railway station flawlessly for just 28 CNY.