Squeezing the most out of life | An Aussie and a Colombian living life with a wandering spirit. Eight years together & over 60 countries up our sleeves, we're sharing the love |

Lijiang: where old and new worlds butt heads

With a history of over 800 years, a unique cultural blend of ethnic minorities, a killer mountain backdrop and UNESCO heritage listed architecture, Lijiang is not only popular among Chinese tourists, it’s in danger of being loved to death.

Sure, it’s beautiful, and if you focus on the details and wander away from the irritating masses, it’s possible to get lost in the romance of the place. But the intensity of Lijiang is also often compared to Disneyland, because everything is so over the top, over groomed, and over priced. We knew we had landed in a new world when we ordered a beer and it was four times the price we’d been paying in Dali!

It’s a town flaunting a strange mix of influences; on one hand Lijiang is conservative and takes great pride in maintaining it’s cultural history, on the flip side it’s not hard to miss the heavy dose of modern consumer mania oozing out of every overburdened shop front. A place where it’s not uncommon to see a traditionally dressed woman serving a tourist who’s decked out in skimpy leather, designer sunglasses and fur fringed thigh high boots.

At night the main bar strip turns in to a thumping den of bright lights, grating karaoke bars and theatre style restaurants, hungrily over charging tourists for Cultural Shows. If you’ve heard Chinese traditional singing before, you’d know that for foreigners, paying any kind of money to listen can only be understood as an acquired taste.

Having said all that we did appreciate what all the fuss is about, we’ve just been spoiled by the quieter pace of living in Dali. Lijiang is definitely worth a stop, especially if you need to feed a shopping addiction.


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