Don’t get me wrong. Unlike some travelers who miss the peaceful, undisturbed old town of the 90’s, and hate the commercialized, tourist-filled UNESCO World Heritage site of today, I love Lijiang Old Town.
My advice to you – expect no quiet, rustic town, but a mix between a shopping mall and a theme park.
Yes, no doubt, the old town has been hijacked by tourism. Commercialization may have marred its originality to a certain extent. Yet, the authentic architecture, winding lanes, delicious local food, and friendly Naxi people are refreshing and endearing.
When you see the city in the first minute, the over-crowded tourists might turn you down. But once you stay in the town long enough, wonder into some quiet backstreets, walk along some stone bridges and fish-filled streams, and try its delicious local food, you will love this town.
One can view 2/3 of the old town from Mu’s Mansion
Most of the shops in the old town are run by the Hans. Yet, most of them don’t live in the town, while the Naxis, who are the original residents, still do. Even though it has been commercialized, the old town is still a fascinating place to see how the Naxis carry their culture and live their lives today.
I love the food in Lijiang, as well as in Shangri-La. YUMMY!
Hijacked by Tourism – There are two shows daily, performed by some Naxi women, who will wear the traditional Naxi dress and dance in the center of the old town – Sifangjie (四方街).