They tell you when visiting the Yu Long Mountain range to behave yourself and be respectful. The local ethnic minority believe the mountain is a god and it’s not surprising. The pale grey snow dusted rocky peaks tower over Lijiang wherever you go, as if the local landscape were pierced by a giant stone spear from beneath the ground with tremendous force. It’s not quite Everest but it’s not far off in its monolithic grandeur. Every time you look up it will take your breath away because of its sheer size and beauty. We are quite a long way from Shanghai.
Lijiang is not too unlike Dali, charming cobbled stones lining the streets of old towns full of ethnic charm, delicious local food, craftwork and souvenirs. It doesn’t have the stunning range of street food that Dali has but it has great ethnic restaurants with unique and tasty dishes. And an unusual dual open waterway system, one canal for household water for washing and one to supply toilets. I do hope that kid I just saw peeing into the waterway was using the correct one. Just a little reminder you’re still in China.
Of course Yu Long has replaced Er Hai sea as the main tourist attraction. It’s remarkably easy to get very high up onto the mountain base. A long motorway leads up a steep slope followed by a short cable car ride. Although you are starting from 2.3 km it is advisable to buy an can of oxygen, you can get them almost anywhere, to avoid altitude sickness. And of course it’s China so even at that altitude up a mountain deep in the countryside there’s 4G service. I can’t get any service on the tube in london a few meters below ground but in China - 3.5km above sea level - no problem.
If you live here and want to get out of the smoggy city in the winter I can’t recommend Lijiang enough or if you’re ever visiting China in their dry season (and make sure it’s the dry season) I recommend heading to Lijiang for the experience of a lifetime.
Frustratingly our guide dropped us off where we couldn’t enter the mountain until after dawn so I had to snap this instead.
The old towns are charming and a great place to find delicious food and to get little girls who don’t normally like to walk too much to run around all evening.