Wander Through an Ancient Town
Lijiang’s Old Town, the best preserved ancient town in China, is overwhelmingly beautiful. Pedestrian-friendly, its narrow cobblestone roads, canals and arched bridges promote hours of slow meandering. With high numbers of tourists, there is no shortage of friendly cafes and hostels. For an “authentic” experience stay in a traditional Naxi guesthouse. Souvenir shopping – Naxi trinkets in particular – is also plentiful here. The area provides a wealth of natural beauty; the nearby Tiger Leaping Gorge is impressive, and if the family isn’t up for a long hike, there are inexpensive buses that leave from Lijiang. At peak times the old town can feel a little overwhelmed with tourists, but it’s not difficult to avoid the heavily visited areas, and the volume of visitors speaks of the appeal of Lijiang, an important stop on the China tour.
The Trekkers: Swedish couple Thomas and Sanna Jönsson and their children Wilhelm (10), Carl (7) and Amanda (4), were joined by Carl and Elin Christensson and their sons Hugo (8) and Wilhelm (10).
How They Did It: Last Frontiers (21 5404 8806) allowed the Jönssons to tailor a set itinerary to suit their needs. Though a bit more expensive, it was worth it because of the remote location. All flights, transport, accommodation, meals and guides were included in the price, as well as the transportation of luggage by car while the family trekked the gorge.
Concerns for Younger Ones: The family’s travel agent didn’t recommend trekking with children under 6, but being experienced outdoor travelers the Jönssons felt that then-3-year-old Amanda would cope well. Sanna says that at this age a child can trek if you are well-prepared and able to carry them if necessary. Thomas occasionally used a hard frame backpack for Amanda.
Where to Stay: The families stayed at the San He Hotel, a Tibetan-style courtyard lodge (888 512 0891). They pre-booked inns during the gorge trek through their travel agent for as little as RMB 60 a night.