"Looking for a Lost Shangri-la" Top 5 Page for this destination Lijiang by bpacker

Lijiang Travel Guide: 570 reviews and 1,889 photos

While the locals claim that ZhongDian is the inspiration for James Hilton's famed novel, NY times beg to differ. They cited Lijiang, a little town some 200 miles from KunMing. I wondered who was right before I went for the trip. From all the pictures that I have seen, Lijiang looked like a lovely canalised ancient town. So happily in mind, I conjured up an idealised Eastern vision of a Bruge(Belgium) since both were bestowed with a Unesco heritage award.
How woefully wrong I was!
The only thing the towns had in common were the cobbled stone streets. While Bruge still maintained the charm of an old medieval town , Lijiang Old Town was clogged with new souvenir shops, new restarants, hordes of tourists herded by flag-toting guides and Han-inspired buildings.
Sadly, this little town had lost its soul to the scourge of comercialism.
The last few gems of the town were the stalwart Mu Mansion that belonged to the last ruling family and the Naxi Orchestra.
While I savoured the last 2 gems, I asked myself whether I had arrived too late to see the old Shangri-la? Friends who arrived here before the earthquake of 1996 claimed they stayed in a town so charming that it remained the highlight of their trip. So, I remained hopeful and tried to look for hints for the Shangri-la lost.

Shangri-la is outside of Lijiang Old Town

Fortunately for me, there were a few saving graces. Su He Gu Zhen was one blessing. After witnessng the mayhem of tourists in LJ Old Town, we wisely made the choice to stay in another village altogether. Su He Gu Zhen ( Su He Old Town ) is an ancient tea trading town just minutes away from LJ Old Town but what a world of difference! Genine old buildings graced the town alongside with actual residents who live, work and play over here. It provided a nice respite from the crowds, neon lights and noise

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain was another. While the crowds threaten yet to ruin yet another magical experience, they thinned as soon as they had to do a little physical activity! Hiking thee was a mite challenging but few words can describe the exhiliration I felt standing at 4680m above sea level to look at the drifting clouds. Likewise for the little-mentioned Blue Moon Valley which had a lake so blue and clear, they mirrored the cloudless sky.

I had found my Shangri-la and they were for the most part, outside of Lijiang Old Town.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Pockets of Old Lijian Remain
  • Cons:Commercialism threatens to suck Lijiang's Soul Away
  • In a nutshell:Lijiang lies beyound the Unesco Awarded Town
  • Intro Updated Jan 9, 2008
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Reviews (44)

Comments (8)

  • katalin's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2010 at 4:45 AM

    it's a colourful country, very informative

  • bkoon's Profile Photo
    Apr 15, 2008 at 5:06 AM

    I wouldn't dare to try the worms and the larvae... I seriously think you can publish a book on all these food adventures....

  • Jan 30, 2008 at 3:12 AM

    Some five star food and local custom tips!!! Fabulous!!!!!!! highly interesting stuff! I wouldn't mind giving some of those grubs a go! I'm always up for trying weird food ;)

  • Jan 28, 2008 at 5:37 PM

    Hey gal, there was a write-up on Lijiang in ST Life today! You made the right choice to take the unbeaten path to visit Lijiang!

  • Hopkid's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2008 at 3:52 AM

    Great food write-ups! You are my kind of VTer! I look forward to reading more of your pages.

  • umashanker's Profile Photo
    Jan 24, 2008 at 2:11 AM

    Hi pang-jin-mei -:) Keep enjoying your food adventures and keep sharing.

  • Aidy_p's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2008 at 9:08 AM

    The roasted yunnan ham looks like our local "char siew" ya

  • robertgaz's Profile Photo
    Jan 8, 2008 at 7:18 PM

    You can wriggle it... just a little bit... with some vermicular victuals!


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