A newly opened railway in Yunnan province will make the trip to the area much easier and cheaper.
The Dali-Lijiang railway, spanning 162 km, connects two important tourist cities in this southwestern province.
The railway will enable travelers to reach Lijiang from Dali in just 90 minutes. From the capital Kunming, the journey will take 10 hours, adding a third alternative to flights and buses.
Begun in December 2004, the railway winds through numerous mountains, with 98 km of its total length being bridges and tunnels.
Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997, Lijiang draws a constant stream of tourists from home and abroad every year.
Earlier, to get to Lijiang, travelers could only take a flight from Kunming, or trains from Kunming to Dali, and then a bus from Dali. An estimated 185,000 people shuttle between Lijiang and Dali on buses each year. The new train service is expected to reduce the cost of bus travel.
Lijiang residents are excited about the new service, but there is also concern over preserving the landscape and the quality of service with the influx of tourists.
Nie Tianyu, deputy director of the Lijiang tourism bureau, says he and his colleagues are well aware of the situation, and are preparing to strengthen tourism management.
Ma Jinzhong, director of the tourism bureau of Dali, is confident the railway will boost local tourism.
The Dali-Lijiang railway will extend into the far northern head of Yunnan's Deqin county from Lijiang.