To add to its list of attractions, UNESCO recognized the Ancient City of Lijiang as a World Heritage site in 1997, Nestled beneath snow-capped peaks, Lijiang is a living museum as it is home to the Naxi people who have steadfastly preserved their centuries-old heritage. They still live in traditional homes, play ancient music and celebrate ethnic festivals with vitality. It is such qualities which now make Lijiang a prized draw card for Yunna’s tourism promoters. Tourism in Lijiang experienced sharp growth in the past few years thanks to its rich tourist resources. Lijiang’s charms are due entirely to its remaining an ordinary town and home to one of the China’s 55 ethnic group communities. Thanks Lijiang’s remoteness, the Naxi people have successfully resisted the type of development, which is rapidly changing the face of China.
For the most part, it is the ancient city of Lijiang, which is the magnet that pulls in tourists. The Naxi people settled in the city, formerly called Dayan Town, about 800 years ago. More than 4,000 families still live in the city. All the houses, both look like they did centuries ago. They have been built with the same rooftops, stones, and tiles and are linked together by a web-like network of narrow, criss-crossing pathways. And just as they did several hundred years ago, the canals still run past the households. Apart from the architecture, the Naxi’s cultural inheritance is very much evident in its music, which was brought into Lijiang during the warring years. From the Qing Dynasty onwards, it has survived relatively intact in remote and peaceful Lijiang. Lijiang lies 590 kilometers from Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province, and 196 kilometers north of Dali Ancient City.