Impressions of China: Lijiang (丽江)

My wife and I toured Lijiang (丽江), Shangri-la (香格里拉), Xi’an (西安), Jiuzhaigou Valley (九寨沟), Lhasa (拉萨) and Chengdu (成都) in December last year over 19 days. We covered quite a bit of ground; learning a great deal about life there while scratching a bunch of sights off our bucket list.  I also had the chance to work those photography grey matter of mine, and returned home with quite a haul.  I thought I’d pen down my thoughts about each place and share my favourite shots of each city we visited.


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We arrived at Lijiang via a domestic flight departing from Kunming (昆明). December is considered low season at Lijiang, which was fine with us because we like to avoid crowds. The air was a little chilly, with temperatures ranging from 12°C to 16°C in the day and dropping to a low of 3°C – 6°C at night. We spent 3 nights at The Tea Boutique Hotel on Lion Hill – a well-restored mansion overlooking picturesque Lijiang Old Town, before spending the next 2 nights at Banyan Tree Lijiang, just outside Suhe (涑河), which was another old town near Lijiang.

Courtyard at The Tea Boutique Hotel - Lion Hill, Lijiang Old Town

We spent most of our time acclimatizing to the thinner air at 2,400m above sea level, while exploring the nooks and crannies of Lijiang Old Town. I couldn’t stop gorging myself on their local snacks-on-skewers (云南十八怪) and downing can after can of a local drink (王老吉), but otherwise found much of Lijiang Old Town touristy. Suhe was a lot less popular with the crowds during the low season, and way less developed; more raw, but with less bustle and less “life”. Apart from its trademark postcard view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, I was hard-pressed to find anything else noteworthy during our 2 nights’ stay at Banyan Tree Lijiang.

Postcard view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance - Banyan Tree Lijiang, Suhe

On the sight-seeing front, we visited nearby sights such as Lashi Lake (拉市海), Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山) and Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡) while enroute to Shangri-la by car. Our guide-cum-driver was surprisingly honest – perhaps helped by the fact that we told him we were from Guangzhou, instead of Singapore. If I had to do Lijiang all over again, I would probably have spent 1 day less in Lijiang.

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About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.