Baisha Ancient Town, Lijiang, Yunnan Province, China

For the fourth and final instalment on the Lijiang series, we head to Baisha Ancient Town. Baisha is a 25 minutes drive from Dayan and has the same spectacular scenery along the way as when you go to the Yulong Snow Mountain. It makes the 25 minutes go by very quickly indeed! I arranged for the driver and car from the hotel and agreed on a set ¥200; this fee included ride out, waiting time, and a ride back. 

Naxi ethnic minority walking the streets of Baisha; GFX100S 100mm ISO-100 1/110sec f/11

For other posts in this series, please visit the links below:

Upon arriving at Baisha, I was surprised (in hindsight, I should not have been) by the lack of gates, entry huts, or anything that would resemble anything that looked like a tourist hot spot. I was further surprised to find more foreigners inside Baisha than in the much, much larger Dayan Ancient Town. It seems that foreigners prefer a more authentic experience! That’s just what they and I got, a wonderful authentic ancient town experience, with a twist.

GFX100S 200mm ISO-200 1/250sec f/5.6
Naxi ethnic minority selling fruits; GFX100S 161.6mm ISO-200 1/140sec f/5.6

Some of the shops have already started to cater to their future clientele, but in a more sophisticated way. There are some beautiful modern third wave coffee shops in the town (Soft Cotton Coffee was one I enjoyed), and a few museums too. I talked to some foreign tourists staying at bed & breakfast guest houses in the area and they said they’re stunningly beautiful with ancient exteriors and super modern and minimalist interiors.

Beautiful modern cafes interspersed with traditional shops; GFX100S 50mm ISO-200 1/56sec f/8

This part of Yunnan Province has many Naxi ethnic minorities. The Naxi people represent a sizeable ethnic minority in today’s China. The forefathers of the Naxi were a nomadic clan of Qiang people from the northern part of China. While Dayan used to have many Naxi people going about their daily lives, the cost of real estate and rentals has skyrocketed, so you see mostly Han Chinese or wealthy Naxi business people in Dayan. Baisha however is a different story; here you can see the Naxi going about their daily lives, seemingly undisturbed by the tourism developing around them.

The dogs are gorgeous in this part of China; GFX100S 109.3mm ISO-200 1/125sec f/5.6

I only spent half a day in this small town (it’s made up of two main roads filled with shops, restaurants, drinking venues and coffee shops), but I wish I had spent much more time there. There’s a cool vibe to the place, and it’s far less busy than Dayan, while still providing for all the things you want when on vacation (coffee, beer, stunning scenery, and museums too).

Imagine waking up to this view everyday! GFX100S 140.2mm ISO-200 1/160sec f/11
GFX100S 49mm ISO-200 1/400sec f/8

I love how accessible the town is, with no barriers to entry, no fees, and no registration required. The authenticity of the experience can’t be beat. Based on how quickly things change in China, I wonder how long it will stay this way, so I’d highly recommend adding Baisha to your next Lijiang itinerary. This concludes this series on Lijiang. If you’d like to read about others in the series, please click the related links below.

Comments (2)

It was a real joy to read about Your journey with the excellent pictures! Very inspiring work! Have a nice Sunday! Best regards; Laci

Hi László, thank you for writing in. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the journey. I’m hoping to make a number of small visits to unique cities in China in the coming months and hope that you’ll also enjoy them. There will be a post coming up soon from a recent trip to Qingdao, a beautiful “small” coastal city in China with “only” 11 million 🙂

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