The vision of the Jade Dragon Mountain’s eternal snowfields shining above the elegantly upcurved, pantiled rooftops of Lijiang is one of the most evocative in China. An important way stage on the old Tea Horse Road, the town emerged a thousand years ago as the capital of the Naxi people, originally settlers from Tibet who still preserve their own Shamanic religious practises and unique pictographic script. The twin allures of Lijiang’s spellbinding backdrop and

The twin allures of Lijiang’s spellbinding backdrop and postcard-pretty old town, with its winding watercourses of babbling meltwater, have made it the most popular visitor attraction in Yunnan. Even so, it’s well worth braving the crowds to experience the beautiful UNESCO-listed architecture, and its serene backdrop of snow peaks. The timbered buildings, elaborately carved window frames, winding cobbled streets, Ming-era humpbacked bridges and secluded market squares are at their most picturesque in the early mornings before the tourist buses descend.

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