Lijiang Old Town


The old town is centred on busy and touristy Old Market Square, with the Waterwheel defining the northern edge and the lively Zhongyi Market marking the southern limit (which is a good stop for a slice of old Lijiang's trading traditions or just some afternoon street food). The surrounding lanes are dissected by a web of artery-like canals that once brought the city’s drinking water from Yuquan Spring, on the far outskirts of what is now Black Dragon Pool Park.

Several wells and pools are still in use around town (but hard to find), including White Horse Dragon Pool. Where there are three pools, these were designated into pools for drinking, washing clothes and washing vegetables.

Much of the joy of the old town is to be had in wandering small twisting lanes that open into small courtyards, hidden teahouses or tiny temples like Puxian Temple. Don't stress too much about seeing it all – but do make sure to climb the flanks of Lion Hill at some point for sweeping views of the old town and mountains.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Lijiang attractions

2. Waterwheel

0.24 MILES

This wooden waterwheel is a popular photo op.

3. Puxian Temple

0.25 MILES

This pleasant little temple at the heart of the old town is among the best-preserved in Lijiang. Look for signs off of Chongren Alley near the Wanzi…

4. Lion Hill

0.35 MILES

Towering over the west side of Lijiang's Old Town, Lion Hill's 23 hectares of park land are a pleasant diversion. The obvious high point is the panoramic…

5. Mu Family Mansion

0.38 MILES

The home of a Naxi chieftain, the Mu Family Mansion was heavily renovated (more like built from scratch) after the devastating earthquake that struck…

6. Wàngǔ Lóu

0.43 MILES

At the peak of the park atop Lion Hill – views of Lijiang from here are unbeatable. Take a moment as well to admire the 1st-floor reproductions of Dongba…

7. Dongba Cultural Institute

0.57 MILES

The Dongba Cultural Institute is part of a renovated complex on the hillside north of the old town. Here you can see Naxi cultural artefacts and scrolls…

8. White Horse Dragon Pool

0.63 MILES

Ancient pool still used by the locals to wash veggies from the nearby market and clothes from surrounding homes. The White Horse Dragon Pool Temple next…