Panorama of Lijiang

Lijiang Old Town


Entrance to Lijiang

Numerous Koi (fish) swim around in the quieter parts of the streams of Lijiang.  They and the aquatic grasses (not very visible on this photo) are put in by the local government.  

Entrance to Lijiang
Lijiang was listed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a world heritage site.  Its harmonic and unique architectural styles,  successful integration of nature and society, and cultural diversity made Lijiang one of the four entire cities to be listed as world heritage sites.  The others include the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Hakka Tulou in Fujian and the Pingyao Old City in Shanxi.

Entrance to Lijiang

Entrance to Lijiang

Lijiang canals

The Baishui River is diverted into many branching canals.  Since the city is constructed on a slope, these canals are more like running streams.  The water quality is not as good as before but is still good enough for restaurants to keep their clams in.  Yes they are edible!


Lijiang canals

Planks crossing the canals into shops and houses.

Canals are almost as numerous as the endless alleys in Lijiang.  There are no good maps of Lijiang's alleys.  Make sure you know where you are going, or speak Chinese.  Or else you will sure get lost in the maze of alleys.  The Market Square (Sifang Jie) is the best landmark in town.  A good way to keep track of where you are going is go only upstream or downstream, i.e. follow the direction of the stream network.


This is a monument commemorating the inclusion of Nakhi Nation into China's Ming Dynasty (as a Chinese Protectorate).  The Nakhi Language (a Tibeto-Burmese language) is still spoken by the local Nakhi.  The Chinese Empire, during its many dynasties, include many small kingdoms that were protectorates.  These kingdoms managed all their domestic affaires but need to support the Emperor in times of war.  These alliances often shifted but the Nakhi kingdom is well-known for their loyalty to the Ming Dynasty. 


Central Square, Lijiang
The Market Square (Sifang Jie)  It was a major trading point for traders along the old Tea Route and the "Southern Silk Road" from the old Chinese capital of Chang'an to Myanmar (Burma).  

Lijiang residence

A typical house in Lijiang, the owner named this house "Harmony House"

Lijiang, near the palace

Beside the walls of the Palace 

Lijiang Main street
Along Lijiang's main street which links the Market Square and the main entrance.  The row of houses behind me were completely destroyed during the great earthquake of 1996.  They were rebuilt by the locals using the same architectural style.  Before the great earthquake, Lijiang was very poor because its mountainous terrain and position as China's southern frontier.  There was no tourism.  Tourism mushroomed after the quake and now there are too many tourists (in summer).  Unlike many Chinese cities, the people of Lijiang respect their own traditions, culture, and multiculturalism.  It is extremely commercialized to cater to tourists, but art and culture are not compromised 

Lijiang Main Street

People of Lijiang have really nice gardens.  People who live next to the canals all have willows by the streamside

Lijiang alley
The Chinese character reads "He", the last name of the royal family of Lijiang was "Mu" (木), commoners were named "He" (和) (but not everybody though, their family names are sinicized)

Lijiang Market Square
Market Square.  The fade shade of orange is a few Koi fish.  The Market Square used to be a hustling market.  After a day of trading, people barred up these streams and let the Market Square flood for a while.  Then they remove the bars to let the water go downstream, carrying the garbage away (it would have been tea and vegetables mostly).  Not anymore of course.  The use of the water was strictly controlled.  You could only wash yourself and your clothes in the morning before a certain time, wash your food during a certain time, and the rest of the day the streams were reserved for potable water.  This was of course to prevent contamination of food. 

Lijiang Market Square

Lijiang garbage collector

Garbage collection truck, the only motorized vehicle allowed in Lijiang.  The vehicle plays a tune, and people take out their garbage when they hear it.  That means no garbage is let sitting on the streets and alleys at any time, which means no smell. 

There are NO vehicles in Lijiang other that this one, really.  I haven't seen one for days.  People, including tourists, are remarkably good citizens in the city, especially compared to other Chinese cities.  Our guide told us maybe it's because most people in Lijiang were born and raised locally, Lijiang is their real home.  In other Chinese cities, many just live there to make a living and they don't really care about their adopted city

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