Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

36 Hours In: Lijiang, China

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

36 Hours In: Lijiang, China

Article excerpt

Lijiang has an unusual (for China) troika of culture, history and natural beauty, and its Old Town is a top destination for Chinese tourists and a new favorite of the passport-carrying crowd.

The word "breathtaking" when applied to a Chinese city too often refers to respiratory-attack-inducing smog. But in the case of Lijiang, population 1.2 million, in the southwestern province of Yunnan, the word takes on its slack-jaw-in-awe meaning. The horizon here is Himalayan, and the blue sky above the city's stone streets, willow-lined canals and black-tiled roofs is reliably visible. This unusual (for China) troika of culture, history and natural beauty is why Lijiang's Old Town -- a Unesco World Heritage site and a center of the Naxi people, one of China's most vibrant ethnic minorities -- is a top destination for Chinese tourists and a new favorite of the passport-carrying crowd.

Friday 4 p.m.

BEYOND YAK MEAT Lijiang was built for commerce about 800 years ago, and a commercial city it remains. Once a crucial trading post on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road connecting Yunnan Province and Tibet, it now caters, in large part, to tourists from Beijing and Hong Kong (who apparently really, really like dried yak meat). The thing to know about shopping in the pedestrian-only Old Town is that many stores, like those selling hammered silver jewelry and tea bricks, repeat themselves on nearly every street. You'll find there are many Donga Paper Workshops, a chain that sells paper lampshades and books of locally made paper. Bunong Bells (73 Lower Xingren Lane, Wuyi Street; 86-0888-512-6638) sells stylized bells (from 160 renminbi, or $26) like those worn by horses on the caravan trail.

8 p.m.

DRAGONFLY DINNER In the front window of 88 Snack (88 Wuyi Street; 86-0888-518-3111; 88eat.com) a woman slices strips of pea jelly made from black beans. Behind this unassuming facade is the best restaurant in town for Naxi fare. The adventurous can try deep- fried dragonflies, which taste like especially crunchy seaweed. (Dinner, 110 renminbi for two.)

10 p.m.

GET FRESH The antidote to "Bar Street" (aka Xinhua Street), where nightclubs feature skull-thumping music and where boy bands with high hair dance in spotlights, is Freshnam Cafe (119 WuYi Street; 86- 135-7838-3745), on a quiet strip across town. People come to Freshnam, run by a Korean impresario, Nam Jiwoo, for the simple setting (black bar and small stage), the international beers and the music, which runs toward the folk-rock vein, though with any luck you'll catch a belly-dance number.

Saturday 9 a.m.

TAKEOUT, NAXI STYLEMorning is the ideal time to wander through the Old Town. Without the crush of other tourists, the arching stone bridges over the three branches of the Yuhe River that flow through town, the ivied walls and the flowering trees sheltering koi-filled canals seem even lovelier. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.