Nestled in a stunning valley below the snow capped peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the wildly picturesque UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Lijiang. It is the stronghold to a ethnic minority called the Naxi, originally migrants from eastern Tibet, they are matriarchal and speak a Tibeto-Burman language. The Naxi use a unique picture-script and have a strong musical tradition.
The town has expanded rapidly in recent years and to be honest the newer more developed side of town has very little to see. However the “Old Town”, known locally as Dayan, offers the visitor a wealth of sights and experiences that encapsulate the essence of ancient China! It is approximately 750 years old and still retains its original architectural style and layout even in spite of a huge 1996 earthquake. The town is a maze of narrow streets, canals and over 350 little bridges.
In the towns market square you can still see the local Naxi women in traditional costume going about life as they have for many centuries. Previously home to the Naxi kings is Mu Family Mansion and although on a much smaller scale, there are similarities in layout with Beijing's Forbidden City. The Dayan has numerous handicraft markets and countless restaurants serving reasonable quality local, Chinese and Western fare.
Lijiang is at an altitude of almost 8,000 feet (2,400 metres)