Shuhe Ancient Town, also named Longquan Village (which literally means dragon spring village), is located in the north of Lijiang Ancient City. In Naxi language, Shuhe means "a village at the foot of a peak". As the earliest habitation for Naxi ancestors, Shuhe Ancient Town is regarded as a living specimen of the Naxi ancestors' transition from an agriculture civilization to a commercial culture. Similar to Lijiang Ancient City, Shuhe Ancient Town is surrounded by a murmuring river and interlaced with smooth flagging. It is a compact village hidden in the forest, and it lies near mountains and rivers. It is a more peaceful, smaller version of Lijiang Ancient City.
Qinglong Bridge has a history of more than 400 years; it is the landmark building in Shuhe Ancient Town. The entire bridge was built with stones, and is 25 meters (82 ft) long, 4.5 meters (15 ft) wide and 4 meters (13 ft) high. In early spring, the old bridge is decorated by verdant willows, which form a famous scenic spot in Shuhe.
Sifang Street, a market in the center of Shuhe village, covers an area of about 250 square meters (2,691 sq. ft). It is very lively during market days. Visitors can buy many leather products at the market. Surrounding the market are shops, all of which have archaic wooden facades. Travelers can buy various handicrafts here, such as unique ornaments and costumes reflecting ethnic styles.
Along the street about 100 meters (328 ft.) away is the fountainhead of a river surrounding the ancient town, a deep pool named Long Pool (Dragon Pool). From Long Pool, the overflowing water winds through the village and the bubbling sounds can be heard miles away. The locals regard this as a sacred spring, and built Beiquan Temple (North Spring Temple) here as a place to pray. Master leatherworking is enshrined in Sansheng Palace, which is the most unique part of the temple.
Features of Shuhe Ancient Town
Four kilometers (2 miles) to the northwest of the Old Town of Lijiang, at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, lies a compact village hidden in the forest, the Old Town of Shuhe. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has listed it as an important component of Lijiang as it is a well-preserved example of a town along the ancient tea route and one of the earliest settlements of the ancestors of Naxi people. It is called 'the hometown of springs'.
Ambling along Sifang Street, you will feel time slowly flowing backwards. Though it is only 30 meters long (32 yards), the smooth flagstone remind you of their flourishing past. Listen carefully, you can even hear the light ringing sound of busy horses' hooves from far away places.
Qinglong Bridge, built of stone pieces, measuring about 25 meters long (27 yards), 4.5 meters wide (4.9 yards) and 4 meters high (13 feet), was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Among the countless old stone bridges in Lijiang, it is regarded as 'the First'. The deck has been pock-marked over hundreds of years, revealing the solemn passing of history.
There is a deep pool at the end of the street, called Long Pool (Dragon Pool), from which the overflowing water winds through the village, and the bubbling sound can be heard miles away. Fishes in the pool are appreciated by every tourist, because they are close to people. When you throw food to them, they will fight each other for it. Beside the pool lies a broken stele. When knocked by a stone, it sends out a sharp and light ringing sound, which is very pleasant. Above Long Pool is a temple called 'Sansheng Palace'. Standing against the wooden railings, you can have a bird's eye view of the village presenting a poetic rural idyll.
In addition, the Old Town of Shuhe was once famous for its developed leatherworking and education.
Best time to visit Shuhe Ancient Town
The peak period for visiting Shuhe Ancient Town is from May to October. Actually, Shuhe is worth visiting during any season, so if you do not want to experience a crowded scene, avoiding that period might be a good option.
How to get Shuhe Ancient Town
1: Daily shuttle buses depart from Lijiang Ancient City to Shuhe Ancient Town, a great convenience for travelers.
2: Visitor also can take a taxi there, which takes about 20 minutes, or they can bike, which takes about 1.5 hours.