1. wasted stop at Shuhe old town
we took on a daytrip included in affordable China travel packages where one of the stops was ShuHe old town, smaller and much more laid back than its big sister Lijiang old town.instead of going around exploring the 'other' old town, we end up in a so-called Tibetan quack doctor at the far left of the town.the doctor-monks are said to correctly guess your health condition, and prescribe supplements to correct them. They never did. and the supplements, said to be from Tibet where the exotic heal-all herbs are gathered, are 5x more expensive than in the local drugstores. dont fall into the trap
Unique Suggestions: upon arriving the old town, go with the group to learn more about the Tibetan way of life and architecture, but dont go inside the quack doctors' area. go out anyways, and explore the old town urself. I did a bit of exploring. it was pleasant.
2. Wenchang Temple This is a scam.
We walked up to the area on the first day for a view of the old city. It was Ok. However, very soon after arriving a young girl came up to us and we had a small conversation. In the outer courtyard there is a small area where for 10 Yuan you can spin a horn around a circle of Chinese horoscopes. Of course, I did and of course I then had to reveal my Chinese sign. Next thing you are invited to cross the threshold. Beware.. a monk will want to tell you your fortune. I thought the 10 Yuan covered that!! NO…you are then told a whole lot of good things and given a cloth which you write your loved ones names and “given” a lucky jade Buddha. Then. Crunch time. Donation…sign your name in a book where other people have signed and donated….300 Yuan!!! Don’t get suckered!!! Don’t cross into the temple!!!
3. Anywhere you look...
Lijiang's Old Town is a tourist trap. Tour groups mass their way down the narrow, stone streets, designed not for them but for the few local people and possibly an occasional cart. Anyway, it can get annoying dealing with the crowds, so get out early (before 8:30 am) as the groups and most tourists start to clog up around 8:30.
Sadly, one of the draws of this town is shopping for souvenirs which you can buy for your friends and family memebers after tired affordable China travel packages. This is to the point that it's not a real experience you have here, but, once again, your relationship to the people is "you take their picture, they take your money". It's a sad state, but that's why people come here.
People also come here because this is so different from much of China, with its small streets and old style of architecture.
Unique Suggestions: It's worth a visit, but just get out early, then go find something else to do, like sleeping or hiking the gorge.
4. Accomodation Touts outside Lijiang Old Town
Upon first arriving at the Old Town of Lijiang, unless you look like you already know where you've going, you'd inevitably get "harnessed" by people trying to get you to stay in their guesthouses. They'd try to sell the guesthouse to you with endless description and even insist that you come and take a look.
My travel mates and I followed a lady to her guesthouse and it was such a long walk back to one of the small and dingy houses. It looked acceptable and so tired from a 12 hour bus ride from Kunming, we just accepted the offer. It was definitely one of the cheapest place we found, but then the toilet was really horrible! We found another place the next night.So my advice is that unless you want really no-frills and cheap accomodation, decline the "kind" offers of these touts and just stick to those trustworthy guesthouses you hear about on VT :)
5. Lijiang Old Town is a Giagantic Tourist Trap
I know I will get flak for saying this but I'm not the type to promote a place to earn popularity points.
Lijiang Old Town is a gigantic tourist trap filled with reconstructed wooden houses which are overpriced gift and souvenir shops, restaurants and guesthouses. The Unesco world heritage award, the new airport and the floods of local tourists have all but destroyed the soul of the place. Every day, the cobble-stoned streets are clogged with local visitors toting video cameras led by guides with little flags and loud hailers.
Genuine backpackers for affordable China travel packages are few and far between, many of them have decided to skip altogether and head for the other 2 villages in town or to Dali which is less touristy. Things were different before the earthquake of 1996. My friends claimed that this place was a backpackers haven then since it took at least 8-10 hours to travel here by bus from Kunming.
I think I came here too late.
Unique Suggestions: Only 2 original gems remain there. The Naxi Old Orchestra and the reconstructed Mu Mansion.
Since this is a commercial place, the night scene ain't too bad. Do check out the bar scenes and cafes for comfort food.
Fun Alternatives: Do visit the other villages, in particularly Su He Old Town.
For more via affordable China travel packages.
Lijiang Tourist Traps You Should Avoid I