The city of Lijiang is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan province, China. This isn’t a coincidence regarding the city’s beauty, charm and cultural value. After traveling the ancient city of Dali, I only spent a day and a half in this beautiful place. Now, I know how to make to most out of your precious time and explore Lijiang in only 48 hours!

Here’s how to explore Lijiang in 48 hours:

How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours

Walk through Lijiang Old Town

Lijiang’s ancient city dates back to the Song Dynasty (960—1279) and is therefore a must-see when in Yunnan. It’s one of the best preserved ancient cities in the entire country. Lijiang ancient city, 丽江古城, is included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List due to its picturesque streets , small rivers and narrow canals, cover 300 ancient stone bridges, green trees, colorful shrubs, old alleyways and antique houses.

The Square Market marks the center of Old Town where you can find useful things like ATMs or stations to recharge your cellphone prepaid card. The closer you get to the center, the touristy it gets. Therefore, I suggest starting at the middle point around Square Market and working your way further out.

How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours


How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours


How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours


How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours

  • Admission: 80 Yuan/person for the maintenance fee of the ancient city 
  • Opening Hours: all day 
  • Getting there:
    Take Bus No.11, No.8 of inner ring and outer ring, No.15 of inner ring and outer ring and get off at Gu Chengkou Station(古城口站).

Explore the Minority Cultures

There are 12 minority ethnic groups that live in Lijiang, the most famous of which are the Naxi. Keep your eyes open and you will probably see people of all the twelve minorities walking through town. If you like, you can even rent traditional clothes and pose for photos. 

Various restaurants, guesthouses or travel agencies (which are scattered around the city) also offer entertainment like the Lijiang Impression Show (印象*丽江) or the Dayan Naxi Ancient Music Concert.

How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours

Conquer the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

While I was in Lijiang, I absolutely wanted to go and see the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Mountain玉龙雪山). Luckily, the hotel we stayed at offered a special service and hired a driver who was able to drive us straight to the mountain for around $40 for two people.

It’s the southernmost snow mountain in the Northern Hemisphere with 13 peaks reaching over 4,000 meters. The highest peak is called Shanzidou(扇子陡). 

If you dare to climb the top of the mountain, you need to wear professional hiking gear and should bring oxygen. Bottles of fresh oxygen can be bought at the main ticket station on the bottom of the hill. 

Take the first shuttle bus which takes you to the picturesque bottom of the mountain with lakes and waterfalls and a beautiful view. Since I felt very sick that particular day, I was unable to hike for a long time. I had to return back to my Lijiang around 1.5 hours after arriving at the mountain area.



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How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours


How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours


How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours

  • Admission: 105 Yuan/person
  • Getting there:
    Take Snow Mountain Line Bus No.7 from Lijiang Ancient City or rent a van from Lijiang to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at 150 Yuan for a round trip.

What Are You Waiting For?

If this doesn’t convince you to travel to Lijiang, nothing will. It’s a place I definitely want to return to and stay a little longer. However, if you only have limited time, I strongly suggest to explore the ancient city and then venture off to see the beautiful Jade Dragon Snow Mountain! It’s totally possible in 1.5 days!

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Lijiang in 48 Hours

How To Explore Lijiang in 48 Hours (1)

  • Megan Indoe

    I really want to visit the Yunnan Province in China, everytime I see photos I am impressed! The mountains looks amazing! We will have to add that to our list!

    • It’s absolutely stunning there! It’s by far the most beautiful area in China for sure!

  • Rafiqua

    This place is so pretty, especially the waterfall area. I like the idea of renting traditonal clothes. I woner if someone rented the clothes and posed for photos, if they would be photobombed by a real traditional person 😀

    • Hehe that would be pretty cool! I have come to realise that the minority people are quite camera show and you need to be sneaky and quick to get good shots!

  • Gina Panozzo

    This is absolutely breathtaking. Your photos are incredible and it makes me feel like I’m standing there with you!

    • Thank you Gina! I’m so happy you like my photos 🙂

  • Great post! I’ve also travelled to Lijiang and only spent about 48 hours there as well! I also spent 3 days in Dali and loved it, especially cycling around the lake. In Lijiang, I also rented a bike but didn’t get to see as much. I didn’t make it to the Jade Dragon Mountain, but wish I had at least gone to the base after seeing your photos. That shot with the waterfall is especially beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Eric! I haven’t made it to the Lake in Dali but it’s on my list. Have you been to Shangri-la? It was on the list originally but then we didn’t have enough time to go 🙁

  • Charisse

    I love the traditional clothing. In every part of the world, that seems to be one of my favorite things to see. The mountains and waterfalls are beautiful! I hope I can visit China soon.

    • Thank you Charisse! You should definitely go and see China, it’s amazing!

  • Wow, you got some amazing pictures! Lijiang sounds like a really cool place, but I’d be most interested in the Jade Tiger Snow Mountains. I love hiking, and it looks surreal. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thank you so much Nathan! I did love the mountain and wished I could have hiked around more but I got so terribly sick that I had to return to the hotel! 🙁 but I will be back!

  • deany

    Your photos are wonderful. Makes me want to go back to China to travel around. You mentioned the 12 tribes how are you able to distinguish between the members of each tribe?

    • Thanks! They mostly wear different traditional clothes. Other than that, they might have a darker complexion than the Han Chinese.

  • The Lijiang Old Town has been on my must see list in China for quite some time. We are saving China for when we have extended vacation though since there is simply too much we want to see and do. I will be going through your posts to see more of your suggestions!

    Quick question though… is there anyway to make your font a bit larger? I have to zoom in to read like an old lady ahaha

    • Thanks for your comment! China is incredible! There’s so much to see and do for sure! Thank you for telling me the font problem! I made it bigger, can you let me know if it’s better now?