Visit the Naxi Concert Hall for a truly rare experience: listen to long-lost, ancient music dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Run by Xuan Ke, a knowledgeable, well-read scholar of Chinese music traditions, the Naxi Orchestra consists primarily of 70-90 year old gentlemen – some of whom play instruments long forgotten in other parts of China. Many of these haunting, lilting melodies would have graced the courtrooms, pleasure chambers, and teahouses of dynasties past.
Drive or bicycle to nearby Baisha village, where you can take a cable car up to the snow covered peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Range. Before leaving, see Impression Lijiang, a cultural show demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai regional minorities, directed by famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
Stop at Black Dragon Pool Park, where the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Range rises majestically in the distance above a tranquil lake and pagoda.
Explore Lijiang’s charming Old Town, a world of narrow cobblestone streets bordering canals lined with weeping willows. Browse among the many shops for local art, crafts, and tribal clothing.
Take a drive through Lisu County, then the land of the Yi people, where horses roam freely and wildflowers line the roadside.
Stop for a visit and a simple lunch in Longtan Naxi village. The Naxi are descendants of Tibetan nomadic tribes and have a matriarchal society dominated by women where marriage is not widely practiced. Their language, style of dress and cuisine are distinct from both the Tibetans and the Han Chinese.
Dine in a traditional courtyard restaurant serving Yunnanese cuisine, which is marked by its light, fresh, and spicy flavors, and liberal use of herbs, mushrooms and flowers as food. You will be joined by an expert in the Dongba religion, who is himself a shaman, and a master painter and calligrapher, one of only a handful of people who can still write the traditional Naxi script.
Drive to Xuehua, a delightful village of about 30 families of the Yi people. You will be greeted by a shaman of the Dongba, an ancient animist religion that predates Buddhism in China. You’ll also be introduced to his wife, the household chef, who will treat you an informal cooking demonstration and a delicious lunch of “Yi french fries” (pan-fried sliced potatoes) and other local specialties.