Lijiang is spectacularly located close to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, which combines with the Black Dragon Pool Park and the Five-Phoenix Tower to create a postcard perfect scene. The UNESCO world heritage old town (also known as Dayan) is remarkable for its picturesque waterways and traditional narrow streets and the rich culture of the Naxi people, who have made the plain their homeland for 1,000 years. It was also an important stopping point along the old Tea Horse Road, a vital collection of paths that lead from Tibet to Burma. What makes Lijiang extra special though is what surrounds the city. As well as the snow-capped mountains, within easy reach are wonderful Yak meadows, the dramatic Tiger Leaping Gorge and one of the very best viewpoints of the Yangtze River.
Further afield is the beautiful Lugu Lake, home to the Musuo people, who have a true matrilineal society where property and land passes from mother to daughter, and all children remain permanently attached to their mother's household. The small market town of Shaxi, located roughly halfway between Dali and Lijiang, is one of the best-preserved of the caravan towns of the ancient tea route into Myanmar and Tibet. The entire area around Lijiang features many ravines, creeks, cliffs and meadows, whilst the still heavily forested mountain bursts into bloom every spring, when the camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas start flowering.