world famous Old Town of Lijiang (Dayan Town) is located
in Lijiang City. Lijiang City comprises one district,
the Old Town District and four counties, including Yulong
County,Yongsheng County, Huaping County, Ninglang County.
The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly
adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial
and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape
of high quality and authenticity. Its architecture is
noteworthy for the blending of elements from several
cultures that have come together over many centuries.
Lijiang also possesses an ancient water-supply system
of great complexity and ingenuity that still functions
Any traveller coming to Lijiang is almost
always coming to visit the old town of Dayan, which
was declared a World Heritage Site in 1998. After a
7.2 Earthquake in February 1996, the Old Town was extensively
renovated, concrete buildings pulled down, and much
of the original 'authenticity' of Lijiang restored.
The old town of Lijiang has become a hotbed
for domestic tourism, making baseball cap donning Chinese
tour groups a common sight. Still, Lijiang, with its
functioning canals that line the narrow winding alleys
and the hundreds of years old Chinese architecture,
retains much of its charm and is one of the more impressive
stops in the entire region.
The dominant local ethnic minority in Lijiang
is Naxi, with many Yi and Bai in the area. The Naxi
are reputedly 'matriarchal' and hence the subject of
much interest among Chinese and foreign tourists, though
what this means is subject to much dispute. Naxi are
matrilineal, insofar as property is traditionally inherited
down the female line, and men move into their wife's
family home after marriage.
Lijiang history and culture is not as rich
and complex as nearby Dali, but it has been much more
successful in attracting tourists. Prior to the Mongol
invasion in the 12th century, Dali was the functioning
capital and the 13th largest city in the world, while
Lijiang a minor regional town.
Lijiang is also a very useful base for exploring
the rest of Yunnan. From here you can travel north towards
"Shangri-La" Zhongdian or Deqin, or take the
trek on the Tiger Leaping Gorge in one of the most naturally
beautiful areas of China.