Old Town of LiJiang is the most charming place I’ve visited in China so far. And the natives seem to know that, hence overcharging everything from water to town protection fees ( 80 yuan – which I never remembered paying- I’m not exactly sure how this works though).
I came in by a night train from Kunming and so I had to work my way in from the train station.
Here, there will be many touts approaching you. There are 2 types of them, the ones that offer transportation to the Old Town for 10 yuan per person (sometimes more!) or the ones that will offer you free transportation to the Old Town where you stay at their hotel after you’re satisfied with the place. Something tells me that even if you’re not fine with the place, you’re going to end up there. They usually have their tricks.
I didn’t make do with any of the touts, but waited for Bus No 16 to Old Town. Fare is only 1 yuan but my goodness it is crowded! I’d say I was stuck on someone’s armpit for 5 minutes, then freed only to sway with the rest of em’ for a good 15 minutes.
Aha, the perks of backpacking, You get close to the locals, real close indeed.
The bus will not drop you right in front of the Old Town. Just get down, walk along the food stalls and turn right at the first bend. An easy 3 minutes walk. If you’re feeling hungry, get food here before entering Old Town as the price of food more than doubles inside.
In Old Town, be prepared to get lost even with the map your hotel/hostel owner gives you. It’s part of the whole process, and it’s fun! Every corner of the streets provides good snapshots. I think I walked and walked for half a day!
Here, I bought a tour package to Shangri-la for 550 yuan -3 days 2 nights. This isn’t the normal price though, it’s severely bargained, I changed the destinations quite a bit and there was 5 of us in a group. There are also lots of touts on the streets asking you to go to places with their car. Prices are ridiculously cheap, some as low as 20 yuan but I never tried them. If you did, drop me a comment on how it went .
More on that in my next post.
For lunch, I ate at one of the ‘food courts’. Let’s just say my meal didn’t go well. The price, the taste, the everything. I never had any of my favourite meals in LiJiang. Old Town’s especially bad since prices are hiked up for tourists. My friend who spoke Chinese well got the same thing for 10 yuan, when compared to my other friend who had to pay 15 yuan for the exact same thing (a bowl of fried rice that was so horrible no one finished it btw) . Bargaining helps.
Be extra careful of ducks/meat that looks glossy because there have been news than the gloss is made of plastic. If they’re too cheap, they might be too good to be true (real)
If your budget is really tight, walk a little out of the Old Town and pay much less for food, plus this way, you get to sample original local cuisines, since the ones in the tourist areas are usually fusion food catered to their taste buds.
(Back to LiJiang Old Town)
At night, you can try one of the many clubs lined up near the windmill. It’s usually 200 yuan per person. I didn’t go in, but from the outside, it looked pretty hilarious with many people dancing awkwardly, quite a show.
Walking through the streets of Old Town at night is a completely different experience than doing it during the day. If in the morning it’s a sweet baby at every corner, at night it’s a crazed kid high on sugar. The lights, the cold, the amount of people.
I could have walked for 2 days in the Old Town and still not be bored, but the floor is horrible and bloody hell my feet was painful, even with my running shoes.
For souvenir collectors , forget your fridge magnet. They don’t sell them here in Yunnan. The only place I found one was in Dali, and it was of a Tibetan mask. Nothing to do with China, but pretty still. I’ll give you the exact location in the post on Dali.
Feeling cra cra crazy,