Lijiang is not connected by rail so it can be reached either by air or by road. Getting around Lijiang can be done using the city buses or taxis. If you have enough energy you can even try travelling everywhere on a bicycle. Long walks are highly recommended when sightseeing in Lijiang.
Hire a bicycle and explore the town in an environmentally friendly way!
Our Lijiang Transportation Guide below will tell you all you need to know about getting to and getting around Lijiang. To help you see and experience the best that the city of Lijiang has to offer we have many Lijiang tours and activities available. For some great general travel information about getting to, from and around China see our China transportation guide.
You can board buses at the bus station which is situated south of the old city. Bus # 11 will take you to the Old Town. You can ask to get off at Baixing supermarket. The other way to get to the Old Town is to take a taxi.
The airport is a 40-minute ride by taxi and will set you back by 80RMB/CNY (Renminbi is the official currency in China). The airport booking office provides buses for passengers to travel to and from the Old Town and the bus timings are set to suit flight timings. The Lijiang airport operates about a dozen flights a day.
Lijiang Airport (LJG), about 28 km (17.4 miles) south of Lijiang is situated at an altitude of about 7357.6 feet. Built in 1995, LJG is one of the busiest moderate-sized airports in Yunnan Province. From here, travellers can connect to Kunming, Beijing, Xishuangbanna, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guizhou, Guangzhou, Guiyang and Shenzhen. However, most tourists choose to fly first to Kunming and then to Lijiang or take the bus from Kunming to Lijiang. The much bigger Kunming Wujiaba International Airport offers international services and a wide range of domestic flights.
From Lijiang Airport, you can get to the city by taxi or airport shuttle bus. These buses will take you to the civil aviation ticket office in the Lantian Hotel from where you can take a taxi to the Old Town. The trip to the hotel from the airport takes about half an hour. You can also travel to the Old Town from the airport by taxi.
The Kunming Wujiaba International Airport operates several domestic and international flights. From Lijiang Airport you can take either a taxi or a shuttle bus to the city. The shuttle buses can be boarded at the Lantian Hotel civil aviation ticket office in the city. The shuttle buses charge around CNY15 per head. Once in the city you will want to go to the Old Town which will take you half an hour by bus. A taxi will charge you CNY10 for this trip. A taxi ride from the airport directly to the Old Town will cost you CNY80.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Popular vote says that it is most convenient to travel to Lijiang city by bus. Being located at the interface of Tibet, Sichuan province and Yunnan, the highways are well connected and developed. So visitors find it easy to travel between destinations like Shangri-La, Kunming, and Dali by road. Buses operate daily between Lijiang and Panzhihua of Sichuan Province.
Passengers can board buses at any of the four coach stations that have been set up for scheduled long-distance buses.
You can find the Lijiang Transport Service Centre Bus Station at Changshui Road at the southwest corner of Lijiang Old Town. If you want to go directly to the station then board buses #11 and # 8. Tickets can be bought at any of the ticket offices all over Lijiang city.
Travelling from Lijiang to Kunming? There are day buses that leave at hourly intervals from 8:20 to 11:20 hrs. The fare charged could vary between CNY153 and CNY 180 and the ride will take around 8 hours. The other option is a night sleeper bus. These buses leave at half hourly intervals starting at 18:30 hrs, with the last bus leaving at 20.40 hrs.
The fare charged is CNY139 per head and the trip will take all of 10 hours. If you want to travel from Lijiang to Dali you can take one of the buses that run every half hour. The fare charged ranges from CNY35 to CNY50. For commuting between Lijiang and Shangri-La you can take your pick from buses that ply at these times - 7:30, 8:00, 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:00 and 16:00 hrs. The ride will cost you around CNY35 per head.
For a trip to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang you can hop on to the bus that departs every morning from Lijiang. Fares are fixed at CNY30 per passenger and you need to time it right and board the same bus on its return journey. The to and fro trip will take around three hours.
Board the 9:30am express bus for going to Lugu Lake from Lijiang. The bus fare will be around CNY80 and the journey takes seven hours. There are buses for the return journey too, costing CNY50 per head.
In order to travel from Lijiang to Panzhihua you can board buses that leave at these times - 7:10, 7:30, 7:50, 8:20, 11:00, 13:30 and 18:00 hrs. Fares charged range from CNY45 to CNY68.
It is easy to find the Lijiang Tourism Bus Station as it is near the Naxi Hotel on Changshui Road. There are express buses for Kunming, charging CNY200, and for Dali, charging CNY50, at these timings - 8:30, 9:00 and 10:30 hrs. The Lijiang Express Bus Station is in Shangri-La Avenue, with most of the buses being bound for Kunming.
The biggest of the smaller bus stations is at the old Guluwan Hotel opposite Mao's square at the northern end of Xindajie. Buses from here go to Qiaotou, Zhongdian, Shigu, Kunming and Dali. Other sub-stations are located at the Lijiang Hotel and the Yuquan Hotel (Jade Spring).
Walking is the best way of getting around in the Old Town. For visiting the rest of Lijiang, taxis are the best option with the base fare being 8 Yuan.
As you will be doing a lot of walking it is best to invest in a pair of anti-skid shoes. The cobblestones can be quite tricky to walk on. Visitors have been known to fall from walkways and bridges right into the canals. The reason is that they are quite slippery when wet and there are no handrails to hold on to. To see the sights outside of the Old Town the options are walking, cycling or travelling by public bus, taxis or private mini-buses.
The mini buses and public buses in Lijiang charge similar fares for travelling within the city. Bus numbers are displayed on the front. If you are unsure of where and when to board buses and have limited time in hand, the best option is to rent a taxi or a mini bus for the day. Rentals can vary from 200 Yuan to 500 Yuan, with your bargaining skills and ability to speak Chinese determining the actual price.
Increased tourist traffic has been an incentive for Lijiang's city buses to provide better service in the recent years. Buses run on several routes, connecting all corners of the new city. The fares charged range from CNY0.5 to CNY1. Bus # 7 that leaves from Hongtaiyang Square in the north of the Old Town takes passengers to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Bus # 8 runs a circular route, with its starting point at the department store. Vehicles are not allowed into the Old Town.
Around one thousand taxis operate in Lijiang city. There are both small taxis and larger taxis known as Santana taxis. The small taxis charge CNY7 for the first three kilometres and then CNY1.6 per kilometre travelled. The Santana taxis charge CNY7 for the first 3 kilometres and then CNY1.8 for the additional ones. Inside urban areas fares are open to bargaining. For travelling outside the city you will find it cheaper to rent a car. Rental cars in Lijiang, however, become scarce during the peak tourist season.
You can do your sightseeing on rented bicycles too. Several places where is close to old town, A li ba ba and Peter's cafe in Red Sun Square rent out bicycles, charging CNY15~CNY30 for the day. Taking a Lijiang Bicycle tour is a great, environmentally friendly way to see the best of Lijiang.